Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

February, 2002
Regional Report

Water Winter Lawns Correctly

For Bermuda lawns overseeded with rye, water every 5 to 10 days, depending on weather, soil conditions and rainfall. Water should penetrate 4 to 6 inches deep for ryegrass, which has a shallower root system than Bermuda. For dormant lawns that were not overseeded, water needs to penetrate about 8 to 10 inches deep. Water once a month. It should never be necessary to water established lawns daily. If necessary, adjust your automatic sprinkler system. Overwatering promotes fungal diseases.

Plant Vegetables

Cool-season veggies can still be planted. Enrich soil with a 4- to 6-inch layer of compost, dug in about 12 to 18 inches deep. Sow seeds of beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach and greens, peas, onions and turnips. Transplant members of the cabbage family, including broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

Protect From Freezes

The low desert has been hit with a series of freezes this year. Monitor the weather forecasts and protect annuals and frost-tender tropicals such as citrus, bougainvillea, hibiscus, natal plum and lantana. Wrap the trunks of young citrus, which is the most critical part of the plant. Trunk wraps can be left on until spring. Cover plants at sunset with frost cloth, burlap or old sheets. Remove the protection in the morning before 10 am, so it doesn't heat up too much underneath.

Monitor Veggies for Insects

Aphids and cabbage loopers may start showing up on vegetables about now. Cabbage loopers are small green caterpillars with chewing mouth parts, so they leave holes or jagged edges. Aphids are teeny-tiny with sucking mouth parts. They leave behind a sticky honeydew residue. Loopers are easily controlled by hand-picking. Blast aphids with a shot of water from the hose. Check plants daily to keep these insects under control and no pesticide should be needed.

Feed Citrus

If you didn't feed citrus trees in January, now's the time to provide one-third of their total annual nitrogen requirement. Water around the tree the day before applying to improve absorption. Fertilize should be applied at the edges of the tree's canopy or dripline where feeder roots are actively growing. The amount to apply varies depending on the tree's size and how long it's been planted. A mature requires about 1 1/2 pounds of actual nitrogen per year, so apply 1/3 of that, about 1/2 pound of nitrogen.


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