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Put plants in full morning sun to draw bees

Here are some of the questions I encountered this past week at the Springs Preserve.

Question: I don’t see many bees this spring, even with plants blooming everywhere. Why?

Answer: We’ve experienced a significant decline of the honeybee population, but it’s still possible to attract bees. Position plants such as squash and melons where they receive full sun in the morning hours. Bees are more active at daybreak, and that’s when the pollen is most viable. Bees might also show up late in the day, but the pollen isn’t as potent then.

Q: Why isn’t my 4-year-old asparagus producing much?

A: Asparagus isn’t as prolific here as it is in cooler regions. But three years is too short. Under normal conditions, fertilize with nitrogen in early spring, and expect to harvest through February before ferns arise. Do not cut them back, because they are refurbishing the plants for next year’s crop. Remove them when the ferns turn brown next fall and then mulch the plants. If this doesn’t work, consider replanting or growing something else. You can grow asparagus from seed, but expect a high number of female plants. They produce thin, spindly spears; male plants produce thicker spears.

Q: How can I tell when to harvest ripe Anaheim chili peppers?

A: As soon as they get big enough to eat. These peppers are mild and flavorful when green but become hotter as they turn a glossy red. After the skin hardens and becomes leathery, harvest them.

Q: I’m planting potatoes for the first time and want to know when to harvest them.

A: First, barely plant the seeds below the soil surface. Then hill soil around the plant’s base as it grows. The potatoes will form in this hilled soil. When plants begin blooming, search in this loose soil for your new potatoes. Replace the soil to let the remaining tubers size up. Begin harvesting when the plants die down. In our alkaline soils, potatoes might be scabby if left too long after the tops die.

Q: Why are my carrots pale yellow instead of the typical orange?

A: It might be the variety or weather conditions. Carrots maturing during hot temperatures lack good root color and have poor flavor and texture. Plant carrots soon so they mature before it gets too hot.

Q: My new neighbor wants me to cut down my 25-foot-tall saguaro because he thinks it will fall and hurt someone.

A: Saguaros are deep-rooted and well-anchored in the ground so there is no fear of it falling over.

Q: Where can I get some Tifgreen hybrid Bermuda turf?

A: West Coast Turf sells Tifgreen, but you must order it; call 760-272-7720. Tifgreen is a beautiful turf with a low water requirement. It was overseeded last fall so it will give you an instantly green turf. There is a 500-square-foot minimum order.

Q: Does my grapefruit tree need pruning?

A: Unlike deciduous fruit trees, citrus trees do not need much pruning to enhance fruit production. About all you need to do is take out dead, weak or crossing branches, sprouts and suckers or branches whose growth interferes with traffic. If you must prune, do it now.

Q: Can I plant California poppies for a wildflower display this spring?

A: No. Plant them next October to get more color for a longer period of time next spring.

Q: Why are the leaves on my holly oak tree dying? Is it because of our high pH soil conditions?

A: This is a normal occurrence. It is a semi-evergreen, and the leaves were nipped by frost but will shed as the tree regenerates new leaves.

GROWING ROSES IN CONTAINERS

Let Cheryl Hume of the Las Vegas Valley Rose Society, who grows 900 roses in containers, show you how easy it is to keep container roses blooming all summer.

Her workshop is at 7 p.m. Thursday at 8050 S. Paradise Road. For more information or to make reservations, call 257-5555.

GARDENING IN SMALL PLACES

If you are having trouble growing gardens in small spaces, let Angela Callaghan of Nevada Cooperative Extension show you how to solve those little annoying problems at 8 a.m. Saturday at 8050 S. Paradise Road. For more information or to make reservations, call 257-5555.

GROWING TOMATOES

I’m giving an in-depth seminar on tomatoes at 8:30 a.m. every Saturday during March at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd. I’ll show you how to conquer its many challenges. The class also takes place at 8:30 a.m. on Sundays.

Linn Mills’ garden column appears on Sundays. He can be reached at
linn.mills@springspreserve.org
or (702) 822-7754.

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