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Monday, November 24, 2014

Download My Notes and Presentation on Salinity

You can download my two presentations, and the presentation notes, on salts and salinity problems in landscapes that I presented at the Desert Green Conference in November. The Presentation Notes should be downloaded to read along with the presentation.

Click on the link below. Viragrow sponsored my presentations at the conference and they are posted on their website, not here. As with all of my presentations, they are copyright protected but are free for use by individuals, any nonprofit organization or corporate trainers.

These are PDF files. The presentations are quite large so it will take some time to download if you have a slow connection. I have tested all of them and they all download. They are on the website. Just scroll down to find them.

Go on this link to download my presentations and notes.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Do You Have Bottle Tree Problems? Contact This Guy.

These trees are native to Australia. We have been planting Australian bottle trees here in the Las Vegas Valley since the 1980's. Doug offered to help with your bottle tree questions. 

Att: Bob Morris…That was a great answer to the Bottle Tree query about watering.

I grow Bottle trees……I am happy to assist with any queries you may have with Bottle Trees.

Regards, Doug Sowerbutts.

Bottle Tree Plantations
PH: 0412 222 535

You Can Download My Presentation on Fruit Tree Pruning

This past week I made a 20 minute presentation to the Southern Nevada Arborists Group (SNAG) on establishing the architecture on fruit trees. You can download my presentation as a PDF file as well as notes for the presentation. They are quite large so it may take some time to download if you have a slow connection. I was supported my presentation by Viragrow so it is posted on their website. I tested the link and it works.

Click here, go to the website and download my presentation and notes

How to Clean Drip Emitters That Are Plugged

Q. How do I unplug drip emitters that are plugged?

A. Drip emitters can get plugged from salt accumulation and debris. Never cut irrigation lines that have drip emitters on it with a hacksaw blade. The plastic debris created by the hacksaw blade is nearly impossible to keep out of the irrigation lines. I will guarantee you that this debris will end up
Salt accumulation on drip emitters.
in your drip emitters and plug them. Cut PVC irrigation lines with a PVC cutter. It leaves no debris to plugged emitters. You can cut polyethylene pipe, the kind used for drip emitters, with a pruning shears.
PVC cutter
Make sure the ends of the drip lines can be cleaned by opening them up and letting water flow for 15 or 20 seconds about once a month. You can buy little figure 8 devices to go on the end of the irrigation lines or you can bend them over and slip on a small piece of PVC pipe to hold that shut.
Figure 8 for closing the end of a drip irrigation line

Secondly, put drip emitters facing up, not down. If salt accumulation is the problem and the emitters can be removed without damaging the drip system, remove and soak them in vinegar for a couple of hours.
Button drip emitter
If you cannot open the drip emitters to clean them, try poking a needle or pin through the opening to see if you can unplug them. In the past I have knelt down on the ground and lifted the emitter to my mouth, after I washed the outside, and sucked on the emitter to try to get debris cleaned from the opening.
If you cannot remove the emitters from the drip line, you might have to replace them. Make sure when you buy drip emitters they are the kinds that you can open and clean easily. Flag drip emitters are inexpensive and can be cleaned easily. Button emitters can be more difficult.
Flag emitters are easy to clean
Drip tubing with built-in, in-line emitters can be the most difficult. If you buy the built-in emitters, by a name brand such as Netafim, Toro, etc. make sure you have a filter on your drip system somewhere after the valve.

If you work on drip systems and have to cut the tubing, after you repair it, flush the system with water by opening the ends and letting it run out the ends. If you don't do this, debris will get pushed into the emitters and can become a problem. 

Planting Potted Fruit Trees in the Landscape

Q. We are ripping out an old, dead lemon tree and would love to plant my potted dwarf citrus trees in its place about a foot from the garage. I have a dwarf lime, Meyer lemon and a Page mandarin. They would be getting slightly less sunlight, but still would get sun for most of the day. They have all been in pots for about 4-5 months. Do you anticipate any problems with this idea?

A. Four to five months in a pot is not a problem. The roots are still exploring the soil in the container and have not been in long enough to cause a problem. In a warm location protected from the wind they should be fine.
These are small trees but put your drip emitters a foot to 18 inches from the trunk away from the garage to encourage root growth away from the foundation. This will keep the soil close to the garage drier and less likely to cause salt damage.
It would be better and more attractive if the plants were trained against a trellis or espaliered. You will need to keep the branches pruned off of the tree that are growing toward the garage.
Espalier citrus after planting
Some people will have a problem with it being planted that close to the garage. It is not going to be a problem for the garage. The roots will not be a problem for the foundation. We see citrus espaliered near a wall or foundation a lot. 
Remember that citrus is borderline in the Las Vegas Valley at the middle elevations. It just gets cold here and they may or may not work depending on the location. Pick a warm microclimate in your landscape that doesn't get a lot of wind. Cold winter nights below freezing I would throw a blanket over them.

Grubs Feeding on Lantana

Q. This season our Lantana has done poorly. For each plant we dig up there appears a bunch of grubs. What's going on?

A. I was alerted to this problem by a reader. The Lantanas were not doing well. That is surprising because they grow like weeds in the Mojave desert with a little bit of soil improvement, fertilizer and water. 

When they dug this Lantana to replace it, they found these grubs in the hole. Grubs like to feed on soft, succulent plant roots. They are general feeders so they will munch on many different plant roots. Fortunately they are pretty easy to control with traditional pesticides as a liquid a soil drench and organic pesticides. 

The organic pesticides that seem to work on a natural oil-based products such as thyme oil, Rosemary oil and others. They can also be controlled with insecticides made from bacteria or beneficial nematodes. They come in a variety of trade names but look for them in your organic section of the pesticides.

Grubs that were feeding on the roots of a Lantana. Taken by the reader.

Preparing Planting Holes for Italian Cypress

Q. Two of my Italian Cypress trees died so I am replacing them. What size do you suggest I buy and how to I prepare the area prior to planting and correct way to plant them?

A. Get the smallest plants you can find if that size is acceptable to you. I would start with five gallon plants if it were me. They will catch up to larger plants in a very short time.

Amend the soil with about 50% compost to a depth equal to the depth of the container. The whole should be dug a distance 3 to 5 times the diameter of the planting container. It is more important to dig the hole wide than it is deep. If the soil is particularly hard to dig beneath the container then I would take a posthole digger and dig a chimney at the bottom of the container and fill that hole with amended soil to improve drainage.

Thoroughly soak this area several times after you planted the trees. Five gallon plants should not need to be staked. With improved drainage they should be able to handle more frequent irrigations without problems if that is necessary.

Fertilize them once in January or February with an all-purpose tree and shrub fertilizer.

Put them on a valve with other trees and shrubs. They will do fine on the same valve with most of your landscape trees and large shrubs as well as fruit trees.

What Killed My Gopher Plant?

Q. What do think the problem would be with my three gopher plants? They seem to be getting enough water.
Gopher plant collapsing during warm weather
A. This plant is a Mediterranean plant which means it likes soils that drains easily, hot summers within infrequent irrigations and cool rainy winters. Normally this plant is very prolific and grows well in our desert soils. In fact you may see it pop up here and there once it's been planted.

Whenever I see branch die back on plants like this it usually indicates there is too much water remaining in the soil between irrigations. This means it is either watered too often or the soil does not drain very well or both. If this is the case, you will not solve this problem by simply giving it less water. You either have to take up the plant, amend that soil and replant it or move it to a new location that has improved soils and can handle frequent waterings.

If you cannot change how often the water comes on, you will have to change how rapidly the soil can drain the water. You will not change the soil by adding sand. This will make it worse. You have to use amendments such as compost and perlite.

Once you have solved this problem you could cut this plant back to three or 4 inches in height and have it regrow again. Dead portions of the plant you can remove completely. Fertilize lightly in the early spring.

Do's and Don'ts to Protect Plants From Freezing

Q. Are there any do’s and don’ts you can give regarding covering plants to protect them from the winter weather here in Las Vegas. I have some small citrus that are in the ground. 

A. This past week we had freezing damage up in the Northwest part of the Valley. Probably the single best publication on this topic comes out of Arizona and you can download it below. I have never thought much about using Christmas tree lights around trees or shrubs unless you can capture that heat. And those little LED lights don't put out much heat. In my opinion, the most sustainable way is to find landscape microclimates and cover plants with a blanket of some sort. 

Stay away from open areas that get windy and narrow passageways between homes. These narrow spots tend increase wind speed. The two damaging factors are low temperature and wind. Focus on these two factors to protect your plants.I worry a little bit right now with this unexpected cold weather about early snowfall. There are still a lot of leaves on the trees and if we get some snow, will see plenty of damage.

Streets that run North and South in the Valley tend to get colder than streets running East and West.I like to call these urban canyons.

Protect from cold damage click here

Cold damage to Sago Palm
Cold damage to bottlebrush
Cold damage to star Jasmine
Cold damage to Mesquite
Cold damage to agave

Creosote Bush for Desert LandscapesIn the Mojave Desert

Don't overwater this plant! And it doesn't require much in the way of fertilizers.Like any desert plant, they perform better if there is some organic matter added to the soil at the time of planting. In our Mojave desert soils there is almost 0% organic matter so a little bit will help get them established.

An old stand of creosote in the background and creosote which have been cut off with a road grader and re-grew from the base.