Spring Forward into Gardening

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It’s time to GET YOUR GARDEN ON!

The weather is great, the sun is shining, no frost in sight – it’s time to reap the rewards of spring.

Time Clocks

Celebrate Daylight Savings. We remind you to reset the clock on your irrigation controller the same time you reset your house clocks. What difference does it make? Water time is almost as important as water amount. Plants need time to absorb the water they receive and time to dry out before more water is applied. Irrigation should be completed no later than 1pm to ensure root systems have dried out. We suggest watering early in the morning during the warmer months; anytime between 5 am and 8 am. Checking in with your time clock a few times a year gives you the opportunity to protect yourself from the ‘time clock ghost’ Power surges, power outages and the ‘ghost’ may cause time clocks to reset themselves. This creates unwanted changes to water frequency and water start times. Checking your clock at the same time house clocks are reset helps prevent this problem. Be sure you have a rechargeable battery backup in place to ward off the pesky ‘time clock ghost’.

Water

THIS IS our favorite topic! Longtime readers know that we at Moller’s are proponents of deep and infrequent watering. Apply sufficient water to saturate the root ball of each plant. Enough time should then pass so roots can dry out. This time of year we suggest you water two to three times a week, just one time a day. Spring provides an interesting scenario for water application; our weather can be a little tricky. 60 degrees on a Monday can turn to 95 degrees by Friday. Learn how your time clock works. If an additional start time is needed, it can be added manually with the simple push of a button. 2 – 3 times per week water is ample for most gardens as long as the average temperature remains in the 80’s. If you have newly planted material such as spring vegetables or bedding plants you will need to water a little more often so the new roots can establish themselves. Just a few weeks is all it takes for the new plantings to make themselves at home.

Fertilizer

This is an important time to fertilize everything in the garden and we mean EVERYTHING. Your citrus trees are in bloom so apply a shot of organic fruit tree fertilizer to help the new fruit as it sets and matures into next years’ crop. (Be sure you use organics so you don’t burn the blooms off the trees before the fruit has set.) Frost burned shrubs will pop right out of their damage with a well fed root system and the warm desert sun. When in doubt, use an all-purpose fertilizer for all your garden plants including cactus and succulents–this is their growing season too. Dr. Earth and Foxfarm products are our favorite fertilizers. Palms put out new fronds in spring and fall; applying a fertilizer formulated for palms will encourage healthy growth. Don’t forget manganese spikes for your queen palms. Tropical plants such as camellias and gardenias also require unique feeding needs. It is important they receive the nutrients not present in our alkaline desert soil. Palm and Tropical Plant Food by Gro Power provides the necessary formulation to keep these beautiful plants healthy and bountiful. Blooming plants and flowers will explode with color after fertilizing. Miracle Gro and the aforementioned organics are great choices. Fertilize, fertilize, fertilize!

Pruning

Spring is an excellent time to get your pruning shears out and prune trees and shrubs into the shapes YOU will enjoy in your garden. Pruning shears require a little bit of maintenance. Make certain they are sharp, they may need a bit of oil. Be sure to have the right equipment for the job….don’t use hand shears to prune mature citrus branches. Cut away damage from frost bite to make room for healthy, new growth. This is the time to manicure your trees and shrubs; shape them into pretty specimens. Avoid the lollipops and trapezoids… unless you like that look in your garden.

Pests and Diseases

As we have discussed, spring brings plentiful blooms to the desert along with a bounty of pests and diseases. Here we point out a few problems and offer a few solutions for common garden issues.

Use the correct potion for the problem. Garden pest and disease control is NOT a one size fits all situation. It is imperative to correctly apply the chemical. Remember that many garden issues are ongoing and require multiple applications.

ROSES: POWDEREY MILDEW is a fungus that occurs in humid, temperate weather — in other words — in the spring. Foliage appears to be covered in mold and becomes wrinkled. Rose Rx and BONIDE Neem Oil are great for powdery mildew as long as the weather remains moderate. The threat of mildew disappears when evening temperatures rise. Be sure to mix the correct dilution and spray during the cooler part of the day to avoid burn damage to your roses.

ROSE CHAFERS appear for about 6 weeks in the spring. They attack the light colored blooms, consuming flowers as they open. This is a tough menace to battle; BAYER 3-in-1 provides some help for this pest.

BUD WORMS are another rose pest; the worm eats the bud before it even has time to open up. We suggest LIQUID SEVIN. It has been around forever and still does a great job.

CITRUS TREES: LEAF MINOR and THRIP show up on citrus trees as the weather warms up. If you are unsure which you have, bring in a leaf sample and ask one of our associates. Control the problem with CAPTAIN JACK’S SPINOSAD spray. Do not spray citrus until after your fruit has formed; you do not want to knock off the blooms before the fruit has set. Be certain not to use systemic pesticides on your fruits and vegetables — not healthy for the end consumer!

BOUGAINVILLEA: CUTTER BEES: Small, perfectly cut circles appear on honeysuckle and bougainvillea in the spring. This is the work of leafcutter bees. There is little you can do as the bees do not ingest the plant but rather use the foliage to nest. Bees are good, bees are necessary. Do nothing to cause harm to bees in the garden. We need our bees in the desert; we want them happy and healthy to conduct the business at hand–spreading good cheer and happiness to plants everywhere!

GREEN PLANTS: MEALY BUGS can appear on many garden shrubs such as gardenia and pittosporum, even cactus. This is not a discriminating pest; they can appear on many varieties of plants in the garden and in the house. Mealy bug is the fuzzy, cottony goop you find on stems and branches– not so much on the leaves. There are two treatments, BAYER Advanced Complete insect killer can be sprayed for immediate treatment. BONIDE Tree and Shrub Insect Control provides a systemic treatment to fight from the inside out.

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