Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

September, 2001
Regional Report

Save Seed

To save some annual flower seeds for next year, let some flowers dry on the stalk and form seed heads. The seeds disperse by natural methods or you can clip the dried flower heads and save the seeds yourself. Dry the heads completely, remove chaff, and store in a cool place in an airtight container.

Start Garden Planning

Fall is the main planting season in the low desert and numerous plant sales at garden centers and public gardens are around the corner. Start taking notes about which shrubs, flowers, and groundcovers you'll need in your landscape, and shop around for the best deals on the highest quality plants.

Control Tomato Hornworms

These large green caterpillars seem to be popping up everywhere eating tomato, pepper, and even trumpet vine leaves. If you see dark pellet-like droppings on the ground, it\'s a sure sign a tomato hornworm in the vicinity. They are large and easy to hand picked and leave for birds to eat.

Improve Soil

To ready beds for fall planting, spread a 4 to 6 inch layer of compost or other organic matter on top of garden beds. Let it sit until weather cools and then dig it to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. Add a nitrogen source, such as fish emulsion or alfalfa meal, and a phosphorus source, such as bone meal. Most desert soils are high in potassium so it isn't necessary to add.

Fertilize Bermuda Grass Lawns

Continue to fertilize Bermuda grass monthly with 1/2 pound of actual nitrogen and 6 ounces of iron per 1000 square feet. If you plan to over seed the lawn with winter rye grass from mid October to mid November, stop fertilizing 4 to 6 weeks before to slow growth and vigor.


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