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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Learn How to Start Roses from Cuttings Sept 28

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the South Valley Rose Society are collaborating and offering educational meetings throughout the fall. On Thursday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at our Lifelong Learning Center located at 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev. (I-215 and Windmill Lane). Find out how to start roses from cuttings at this free, open to the public, workshop.

Bring your favorite cutting (miniature or mini-flora).  Bring your cuttings wrapped in a wet paper towel.  Cuttings need to have about 6 - 8 eyes (buds) and pencil diameter.

Hume has a been a member of the American Rose Society (ARS) since 1982 and a proud holder of a Life Subscription To ARS. Hume was the President of South Valley Rose Society. She also served as President of Las Vegas Valley Rose Society twice and first Vice President for 8 years. Hume has successfully started roses from cuttings for over 10 years.  Her percentage of success in cuttings survival rate is over 90 percent.  Hume likes everything roses: rose people, rose exhibiting, rose books and rose clothes.

All educational meetings are held at 7 p.m. at the Lifelong Learning Center located at 8050 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, Nev. (I-215 and Windmill Lane). For more information, please call the Master Gardener Help Desk at 702-257-5555 or email lvmastergardeners@unce.unr.edu.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Successful Lemon Tree Growing in Las Vegas

This comment was sent to me about growing lemon successfully in the Mojave Desert. From the looks of the fruit I think it is a Lisbon lemon, one of the true lemons unlike Meyer which is not a true lemon and much more hardy to winter cold than Lisbon. This tree is located in the NW part of the Las Vegas Valley, north of Grand Teton.

We planted our lemon tree in Fall of 2006 as a 24" box. It has grown to a height of 20 feet plus and has produced a major crop every year but one. In that year we had a major freeze and we removed over a hundred pounds of frozen fruit, we have had a full crop every year since.

Our tree is positioned in an alcove that faces south.

We wrap the tree every winter on the south face of the tree and leave a vent at the top so the heat build up from the wrap during the day can vent.
We hand fertilize on four sides of the tree in most years and have general fertilizer tank that we fill twice a year in the spring and fall.  

Pine Needles Added to Soils. Good or Bad?

Q. I've added some new shrubs under pine trees and they are all doing poorly. I've read that pine needles are acidic and can change the pH balance in the soil. I've also read that's not true. Could the pine needles be affecting the new shrubs?

A. I am on the side of "it doesn't make much difference". Yes, pine needles contain a lot of resin and they don't break down quickly. But having them on the surface of the soil, or mixed into the soil at about 5% of the soil volume, makes no difference at all!
Using pine needles like these from a Chir pine problem in desert soils when used as a surface mulch. If they are mixed into the soil, try to keep the amount less than 10% by volume. They decompose much faster when they are shredded. They help lower soil pH which is very important in desert soils.
            Besides the resin, there is some slight lowering of pH (more acidic) which in our soils is actually helpful. Hopefully you amended the soil under pine trees with compost at the time of planting.
            Digging a hole large enough for plants under pine trees can be difficult because of the roots of the pine. Don’t be afraid to cut pine roots when planting. Allow these cut roots to heal 24 to 48 hours before they are buried in the soil again.
            Look closely at the amount of light these plants are receiving. Some plants grow nicely with 50% or more sunlight available to them. Others need much more than this for good growth. As an example, Bermudagrass can handle about 10% shade while tall fescue can handle nearly 50% shade.
            Generally speaking, flowering plants need lots of light compared to non-flowering plants. Signs of a lack in light can be a general failure of the plants to thrive, leaf drop and a general thinning of the canopy, and leaf yellowing. You may have to remove some of the lower limbs to allow enough sunlight to the plants growing beneath the canopy.
            This link about pine needle mulch is from Clemson University in South Carolina where most soils are acidic. Our soils are nearly 100 times less acidic (more alkaline) than those in many parts of South Carolina!  
            The pH scale is logarithmic, not linear. A pH of 5.5, a common pH value for acid soils, is 100 times more acidic than our soils with a pH of 7.5. Our soils commonly range from 7.8 – 8.5.
            Pine needles decompose more quickly if they are cut or shredded.

Lawns Keep Weeds out from Its Density

Q. I have lots of weeds in my lawn and the more I pull it out, it seems the more comes up! Besides spraying with Roundup, what can I do?

A. The density of a lawn prevents weed problems. Weeds invade your lawn because the lawn is not thick enough to "choke out" existing weeds and prevent weeds from getting established.
            A lack of density can be from too much shade, mowing the lawn too short, disease or insect problems, not applying fertilizer often enough or a lack of water.
            Mow at least once a week. Mow tall fescue at a 2 inch height above the soil. Never mow or "weed whack" tall fescue below 1 1/2 inches in height. This opens the lawn up for weed invasion.
Line trimmers used 2 edge lawns like this one managed by a landscape company cuts fescue too short which encourages invasion by Bermuda grass.
            Bermudagrass lawns need full sunlight. Tall fescue lawns should receive no less than 75% of full sunlight. Some people will say 50% but I think that’s right on the edge. If it's less than 75% sunlight, remove or decrease the amount of shade by pruning trees causing this shade.
            How do you know the percentage of shade? Look at the ground under the canopy at noon. The amount of shade is easier to estimate during this time of day. If it’s 100% shade, open up the canopy with a few pruning cuts that remove entire limbs from the trunk.
By looking at the ground beneath the tree you can estimate the percent shade.The percent shade under the canopy of this tree, not out the open, is maybe 25%, not enough for fescue to grow well.
            Lightly fertilize lawns every 4 – 8 weeks when using quick release mineral fertilizers. In most bags of inexpensive fertilizer, half of the rate listed on the bag is enough to apply if you are using a mulching mower.
            Apply quick release fertilizers to fescue lawns 4 times during the year during the major holidays of Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving. Bermudagrass lawns are fertilized during the heat of the summer but ending by September 1 if overseeding.
            Slow release fertilizers are applied in larger amounts but less often. They are expensive but they save labor. Make sure a fertilizer application is applied at Thanksgiving if you want to maintain a green fescue lawn through the winter.
Osmocote is a well known slow release fertilizer
            Make sure lawns are irrigated overhead with “head to head coverage” from sprinklers. This means that water from sprinklers are thrown far enough to hit the neighboring sprinkler.
            Make sure water pressure to sprinklers is not above or below the range recommended for the nozzles of your sprinklers. Inappropriate water pressures cause poor coverage of the lawn.
            Avoid disease problems by irrigating during the early morning hours just before sunrise.

When Should I Prune Meyer Lemon?

Q. When is the proper time to prune Meyer lemon? We have a large crop of lemons ripening now. The tree is very dense and the fruit is on the outside perimeter of the tree. Last time I pruned it in January or February and had no fruit that year. Can I do it now in September or wait until October or November?

A. Meyer lemon, not a true lemon, is usually harvested in December or possibly as late as early January. But do not harvest it later than this. Harvesting time is your signal for pruning. Waiting longer than this can possibly remove fruit during that growing season.
Meyer lemon grown in protected culture in Afghanistan.
            Prune immediately after harvest. Do not delay harvesting the fruit or this can confuse the tree about when to flower again and may affect the quality of the fruit.
            It is strange your Meyer lemons are ripening now. Fruit can take nearly 11 months to mature. Harvest the fruit when sugar in the fruit reaches a minimum of 10 Brix. Brix is measured with a refractometer. It’s handier to taste the fruit and see if it’s ready. When it is sweet, harvest it.
            Citrus is not pruned much, only to remove crossed or broken branches. You could remove a few limbs too close together which would allow more light inside the tree canopy. Probably removing 3 or 4 limbs would be enough.
Citrus response to pruning cuts
            Make sure the pruning saw or loppers has been sanitized and sharpened before pruning. Do not leave any stubs unless you want regrowth from them.

Watering Lawn 3 Times a Day@3 Minutes Each

Q. I laid tall fescue sod earlier this year in my backyard. It has been great until about a week ago when half the yard turned yellow! I use an inground sprinkler system and water 7 days a week for 3 minutes at 7 AM, 11 AM and 3 PM. The soil is moist about 4 inches down.

A. Why are you still watering 3 times a day for 3 minutes each time? This might be okay for the first couple of weeks after laying the sod but those times should change.
            Your irrigation schedule during the heat of the summer should be once a day for a total of about 12 to 15 minutes if you are using pop-up sprinklers. The actual number of minutes depends on the precipitation rate and spacing of the sprinklers.
            These are determined by the type of nozzle, pressure used and irrigation design. Poorly designed irrigation systems require more minutes than well-designed systems.

With head to head coverage the water from a sprinkler is thrown far enough to reach the neighboring sprinklers

            The best time to water a lawn are the hours just before sunrise when the wind is calm. If you can't water for 12 to 15 minutes all at once because of puddling or water runoff, break your irrigation times into smaller increments, each about one hour apart.
Aerifiers punch holes in a lawn for better water and air movement to grass roots.
            Get all of the water the lawn needs for that day into the soil during the early morning hours. The lawn can "drink" from this reservoir of soil water until the next irrigation.
Lawn grass root development after aerifying

            Aerify the lawn with a core aerator 2 or 3 times a year until you can water the lawn for longer and longer periods of time without puddling or runoff. After aerating a few times, you should be able to easily wet the soil to a depth of 8 to 10 inches each time you irrigate.

Readers picture of the remaining grass in his long

Follow-up question:

Q. laid the sod in April and was worried that it was a bit too hot but it took root and was flourishing.  The sod is a raised bed on 4 inches of topsoil from Star nursery over the local clay which I tilled.  I dug a "core" of grass that recently died and had some living grass as well.  The living grass is still rooted strong but the dead grass pulls out very easily.  I don't see any bugs.  I was unaware of the proper watering and will adjust accordingly.  Do you think there's any saving this lawn or do I need to re-sod? If so, I'm assuming mid-October is preferred for Tall Fescue.  Also, for the first few months I was getting a lot of mushrooms.  I no longer get them.  Could this be indicative of fungus or disease?  Again, thank you so much for your help.
Mushrooms appearing in a lawn is a signal that something in the lawn has not finished decomposing. Mushrooms are decomposers.

A. The mushrooms are from decomposing woodchips, probably in the soil mix. It's not a huge problem and it doesn't mean there is a disease going on. When the wood chips are exhausted, the mushrooms will stop.

I would suggest about October 1 to rake or lightly vertically mow, also called a dethatcher, and rough up the surface of the soil. Seed a blend of tall fescue varieties at a rate of about 8 to 10 pounds per thousand square feet. Fertilize it and water it in. Then cover the seed with a top dressing about one quarter of an inch deep using a manure spreader. If it's cool enough, you could use steer manure and a spreader.
Dethatchers are sometimes called vertical mowers because the small blades that rotate on the shaft are spun vertically rather than horizontally as in a rotary mower.You can adjust the depth of the vertical cut so the soil is disturbed as much or as little as you want.These are vertically spun blades can cut grooves for better soil and seed contact.
I think you're going to have to reseed or re-sod the area and I think seeding is a better option for you. Your irrigation times after the seed germinates I don't think you'll have a problem.