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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Fertilize Fruit Trees Organically or Not Organically. Your choice.

Q. Can I start feeding my fruit trees now or should I wait until spring?

Solutions for Home Avocado Production in Las Vegas?

Q. I have started two avocado trees with the intent of having them available to my son if and when he buys a home in the Las Vegas area.  I went on-line and doubt that this is going to be possible unless he is willing to nurse them religiously.  Do you have any suggestions? Do you know if a myrtle variety the wax flower can be grown here?  I know it is native to Australia and some varieties are hardy to 25 degrees.

A. I would suggest that you take a look at my blog located at http://xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com/ and search the word avocado in the search box near the top. I’ve talked quite a bit about this plant and growing in Las Vegas in this blog. 

            I do not really recommend it for our climate unless you want to grow it more as a curiosity. Avocado trees do not survive much below freezing. In December this past month we had two solid days that never really broke freezing in some parts of the valley. 
            They are much too large for a greenhouse. Your son would be much better off trying some citrus rather than an avocado. And even with citrus here are some parts of the valley which will be too cold for any citrus to survive for more than about five years.
            If you really want to give your son a reliable fruit tree for our climate he would be better off with pomegranate, pistachio, apricot, peach or almond.
            If you still want to move ahead with your avocado then make sure you put it in a window that will give it full sun for at least six hours every day. Turn the container 180 degrees every week to prevent the plant from leaning in one direction toward the sun and growing at an angle.
            If you do not have this kind of window Then you will need to supplement The avocado seedling with extra light. If you do not supplement with extra light, the small avocado seedling will become tall, thin and spindly.
            You can use fluorescent lights a few inches from the plant on a timer with about 16 hours of light each day. This will work while the seedling is still small but eventually it will have to be planted outside.
            There are parts of the valley which have a better chance of growing avocado than others. Locations downtown surrounded by a lot of cement are usually much warmer than outside the city. These locations should be in places where it is not windy. But even in these locations when the avocado tree gets larger it will be damaged.
            There is the dwarf avocado called ‘Little Cado’ that you might be able to obtain from an online source that he could use in a container. The container would need to be protected when there is danger of frost. 
            I have never heard of a variety of Crape myrtle called wax myrtle. But then again there are a lot of things I’ve never heard of. There is a woody plant native to the US called wax myrtle and it should do well in most parts of the valley. That is the problem with using common names. If you have a scientific name for the plant I might be able to tell you more.

Sunburn on Plants a Major Desert Problem

Q. I have three 3-tier privets in the front of my house. One of them, showing in the two attached pictures, seems to have trouble at the top tier, which grew yellowish and small leafs, while the bottom two tiers grow normally. The top part of the trunk close to the sickly tier shows darker color.  Nursery people told me that the troubled shrub got too much sun and needs more water. But I have watered the shrubs (all three of them next to each other) with the same amount and same frequency. To tell me just the top tier of one shrub needs more water does not make much sense to me, right?

My question is: why only the top tier turn sickly yellow while others are growing normally? and what can I do to protect it from dying?  Thanks.

Suggested Reading for Desert Gardeners

Q. I happened upon your blog the other day.  I am curious if you'd have any info on education programs on site for learning to build gardens and grow food on desert land.  I study permaculture and green design in the Northwest and would like to eventually acquire some desert land to transform.

Backyard Orchard Weed Control? I like fire.

Q. My backyard is planted with a 20 tree fruit orchard similar to a small scale UNR orchard or Dave Wilson backyard orchard. I have added many truckloads of the free mulch from the orchard over the past 3 years, which has broken down and made the soil much better. The problem is last year I got overrun with bermuda grass. I put cardboard down, more mulch down, and the grass just came up through it. Do you have any tips on getting rid of it naturally? Is there any type of green mulch I could plant in the spring that would choke it out? What do you guys do at the orchard to keep the weeds out?