Friday, August 01, 2008

What to do in a Desert Garden in August?

There are tips on what to do in the desert garden this month
from the University of Arizona's College of Agriculture Maricopa
County Extension
There's also a lot of other helpful information and
FAQ's on that website.

Another site of interest on what to do in the garden here in the
desert is John Chapman's site.

Climate Information for August
in Phoenix, Arizona

    Average: 1.0 inches
    Record: 5.4 inches (1951)
Temperature (degrees F):
    Average High: 103.7 degrees
    Lowest High: 73 degrees (1951)
    Record High: 116 degrees (1972, 1975)

    Average Low: 79.2 degrees
    Highest Low: 92 degrees (1995)
    Record Low: 58 degrees (1917)

Note: Rainfall and temperatures vary widely within the valley depending upon elevation and microclimate.

To Do List . . .

    Plant Bermuda lawns during the active growing season, May through August.

    Fertilize Bermuda grass lawns each month beginning late April or early May with nitrogen according to the directions on the package.

    Apply Iron one per month according to the directions on the package.

    Apply one inch of water per week to Bermuda lawns.

    Raise the mowing height to 2.5 to 3 inches during the warmer months.

    Once every two or three years dethatch Bermuda lawns if necessary. Only dethatch during the active growing season, May through August. This enables the turf to quickly recover.

    To remove a Bermuda lawn:

    • Water and fertilize the grass to ensure that it is actively growing
    • Apply a herbicide with glyphosate according to the directions on the package
    • The grass will take in the herbicide throughout the entire root system, thus killing the plant rather than just knocking it back
    • After a few days water again
    • Reapply the herbicide to any of the turf that regrows
    • Continue this cycle (may take three or more times) of fostering growth and applying herbicide until the grass is completely killed


    Solarize garden soil: Prepare bed for fall planting, irrigate and then cover with clear plastic for six weeks. This will kill or drive out many of the soil pathogens.

    Prepare bed for fall planting

    Plant Seeds

      Snap Beans, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Collard Greens, Corn, Cucumbers, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce (Head & Leaf) Leeks, Mustard, Green Onions, Summer Squash

    Plant Transplants


    Cut back on fertilizing established roses to encourage plants to slow down for the hot summer

    Water deeply as temperatures climb

    Hose off plants in the early morning to increase humidity and control spider mites

    Toward the end of August and into September add an iron supplement if roses show yellowing from iron deficiency

Fruit and Nut Trees

    Late summer application of nitrogen fertilizer probably helps fruit sizing. This is more significant for fall ripening (navels & tangerines) than spring ripening (Grapefruit and Valencia orange) varieties.

    Apply nitrogen and zinc to pecan trees to produce normal size leaf growth and to enhance kernel development. Pecans also need more water than most other shade trees.

Landscape Plants

    Increase water application as the weather warms. Pay attention to irrigation needs of plants.

    Apply mulch to the ground around the base of heat sensitive plants keep the roots cooler and prevent evaporation. Keep the mulch several inches away from the trunk.

    Apply chelated iron to bottle brush, pyracantha, silk oak, and other plants with iron deficiency symptoms.

    Cut off spent blooms to stimulate rebloom

    Native and imported heat tolerant plants can be planted right through the summer months. They will need to be watered on a regular basis until fall.

    Transplant palms in the heat of the summer for best results

    Protect newly transplanted trees from heavy winds and dust storms by staking carefully

    Late August or early September fertilization will benefit most plants struggling to have a flush of growth before slowing down for the winter. The growth put on before dormancy will store more energy during the winter that will be available to the plant when it pushes growth in the spring.

Don't List . . .

    Do not expose citrus and other sun sensitive plants to sunburn by pruning during the summer

    Do not increase opportunities for fungal disease on turf by over watering or watering at night.

    DO NOT OVER WATER which will result in root rots. Allow the soil to dry out between watering.

Frequently Asked Questions
Damage is Noticed on the Fruit

    Citrus fruit split
      Inappropriate water management leads to sunburn, or tough rind that is then unable to expand as fruit matures. There is nothing to be done for this season, monitor irrigation carefully next summer.

Damage is Noticed on the Leaves

Damage is Noticed on the Stem or Trunk

Damage is Noticed on the Roots
Cultural / Environmental Questions

Insect/Pest Questions

Disease Questions

There is a gray or white powdery substance on plants

Seedlings and bedding plants wilt and die suddenly

Leaves, twigs (and in advanced stages, branches) of pears and pyracantha are dying back from the tips with a scorched appearance

There are brown balls/galls on the stems of oleander

Dry, thin bark cracks and splits to reveal black, powdery spores. Foliage above the wound is sparse and leaves may be small. Eventually branches die back to the canker.

Saguaro cactus has large black patches that are oozing and smell terrible

Whole tree, or significant portion of plant died suddenly, the leaves turned brown but did not fall off.

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