10 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Gardening

You might not believe it, but you were born with a green thumb. It may have gone untended for a while, but it's there waiting for you to nudge it awake. Put away your theory of being a plant killer, that anything dies under your care. Forget those nagging thoughts of where your garden will live or when you'll find the time, it's there somewhere. It doesn't have to cost a fortune and you'll get more than you give. So, here are 10 tips for conquering your fear of gardening:

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Summer Checklist

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Drought-Tolerant Grasses

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Landscape Ideas

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June Gardening Tips for the Desert Southwest

Get ready for the arrival of hot, dry weather in June. By tending to chores, you can keep your garden looking its best

Watering Wisdom

Spring evaporates quickly in June heat. This is the time of year to increase watering, but to do so wisely.

Drought-tolerant plants are susceptible to root rot in warm, soggy soil. This is especially true of drought-tolerant plants, such as salvia, rosemary, acacia, and dalea. Allow soil to dry out between waterings.

For most non-drought-tolerant trees and shrubs, a deep watering every 10 to 14 days is sufficient.

Apply mulch to slow soil drying. Aim for a 4- to 6-inch-thick layer around annuals, vegetables, and landscape plants.

Capture rain water with a rain barrel.

Watering Citrus

With citrus, inadequate June watering leads to cracking rinds on ripening fruit in fall. Avoid this by watering deeply, but infrequently through summer months. When watering, soak soil just past the tree canopy, where feeder roots are located. By checking soil for dryness and learning to observe the tree¿s foliage, you can adapt this general irrigation schedule to your yard¿s microclimate:

For trees in the ground more than 3 years, water every 10 to 14 days. Soak soil to a depth of 3 feet.

For trees in the ground 2 years, water every 7 to 10 days. Soak soil 2 to 2.5 feet deep.

For trees in the ground 1 year or less, water every 5 to 7 days. Soak soil 1.5 to 2.5 feet deep.

Plant

Plant palms when soil temperatures remain above 75 degrees F. Dig a planting hole twice as wide and just as deep as the existing rootball.

Using twine, tie fronds up over the bud for protection. As new growth occurs, snip the twine.

Apply a root stimulator to soil after planting to encourage rapid rooting.

Fertilize

Feed established palms a fertilizer blended specifically for palms. The fertilizer should contain manganese, magnesium, iron, sulfur, and potassium.

Prune

Prune emerging flower stalks from palms if you don't want fruit.

Prune lower leaves that are yellow or brown. Use loppers with a larger cutting capacity of 2-1/2 inches. Wear a thick pair of gloves because many palms have thorns along leaf stems.

Test Garden Tip: Take care when disposing of pruned palm fronds. Place fronds where children or pets won't attempt to play with thorny stems.

Vegetables

Continue to plant -- using direct-sown seeds or transplants -- heat-loving vegetables, such as corn, tomatoes, beans, peppers, melons, and eggplants. You can also plant heat-loving herbs, like basil, rosemary, and lavender.

Start seeding for fall crops of broccoli and cauliflower after June 20.

In high mountain areas, get heat-loving crops like tomatoes and melons into soil by mid-month to ensure adequate time for fruits to develop.

Consider growing your vegetables in containers.

Free vegetable garden plans.

Inspiring vegetable gardens.

Pretty Fruit

Pomegranates (Punica granatum) fill a garden with beautiful scenery and delicious fruit. The variety 'Wonderful' (Punica 'Wonderful') produces large fruit on trees that can survive in poor soil with as little as 14 inches of annual rainfall. To increase fruit production, water trees weekly through summer.

Heat-Tolerant Plants

Give your garden heat-proof good looks by adding plants that shrug off summer sizzle. Examples include palo verde tree (Parkinsonia), Texas sage (Leucphyllum), baja red fairy duster (Calliandra californica), and Summertime Blue emu (Erimophila 'Summertime Blue').

When adding plants to the yard in June, provide shade the first few days after planting. Irrigate plants twice daily until they stop wilting. Drought-tolerant plants also need this TLC when first planted. They become drought-tolerant after root systems are established.

Deadhead

Remove faded flowers on annuals and perennials to promote flower bud formation. Use a bloom booster fertilizer on annuals to keep the flower show going strong.

More information on deadheading for extended bloom.

Fertilize

Apply nitrogen fertilizer to warm-season turf like Bermuda.

Feed roses to coax the next flush of flowers.

Southwest soils tend to be alkaline. If you need to acidify soil, try this trick: Gather pine needles, grind, and add to compost or use as mulch on planting beds. Whole pine needles make an excellent weed barrier for paths or beds.

Ultimate rose care guide.

Prune

Prune shrubs that have completed their bloom cycle.

Pinch mums near the end of the month.

Know what to prune and when.

Learn more about mums.

Stake

Plants start growing quickly as temperatures rise. Keep an eye on plants that tend to grow tall. Insert stakes before stems flop.

During summer months, install shade cloth to protect tender plants and ripening fruit from Southwest sun. Purchase shade cloth by the roll at garden centers or garden supply stores. You can craft your own shade cloth frame using grow tunnel hoops, tomato cages, or stakes.

Peppers and tomatoes benefit from shade to increase fruit set and reduce sunscald on ripening fruits. Choose a 50 to 70 percent density shadecloth.

South African succulents, such as living stones, aloes, and ice plants, also require shade through September. Use up to 70 percent shade, depending on sun intensity at your elevation.

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