Tomatoes planted now to set fruit after Sept. 15

Here are gardening questions I tackled this week at the Springs Preserve.

Fall tomatoes: Last week, I mentioned planting tomatoes this fall. I dug into the National Weather Service records for the past 30 years and found that tomatoes planted now will start setting fruit after Sept. 15, when night temperatures drop below 70 degrees. They’ll continue setting until Halloween, when night temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Weather averages remain good for maturing well into November. Star Nursery is bringing in tomatoes for you to select from this week.

No pomegranates: People get concerned when they don’t get fruit from their young trees the next year. Pomegranates take up to four years to produce. Hang in there, as they are beautiful bushes for our valley. There’s also a flowering pomegranate that never produces pomegranates, but I am confident your plant is still too young.

Don’t plant peach seeds: A tree grown from seed will not be true to type. This means a seed planted from a desired peach will not grow a tree that will produce the same fruit. It will bear fruit that is generally smaller and of poor quality. However, seedlings are used as rootstocks and they graft a known variety on it in order to produce the fruit you dream about.

Don’t cut back deer grass: Many professional gardeners want to cut down ornamental grasses, but it’s about to come into its prime this fall. Wait until spring to cut back. Enjoy its golden straw stem through the winter.

Groom irises: If you are not digging them up to thin, then remove all dead tissue for a better appearance. If they need thinning, remove all but six inches of leaves and dig up to thin out and replant around Labor Day.

No more lizards: It could be one of two possibilities for not seeing lizards any more. If you spray your yard with chemicals, the bugs they ate may have been sprayed and become toxic to the lizards or you might have cats roaming the neighborhood. We have lizards all over the Springs Preserve, because they have so many hiding places and we don’t use chemicals.

Want a maintenance contractor: It’s frustrating when searching for a qualified contractor. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has taken some of the sting out of the search. Go to www.snwa.com/html/land_contractor.html for a list of those who have become “Water Smart Contractors.” They’ve learned to promote water-saving irrigation and landscape designs for homes and businesses.

If you look elsewhere for a contractor, make sure the company has the following: It must hold both city and county business licenses; be properly insured; have a working knowledge of our watering ordinances; be knowledgeable about proper horticulture and desert environment concerns and be in good standing with the Nevada State Contractors Board and Better Business Bureau. Include in your proposal a maintenance schedule, including fertilization, repairs, plant replacement and when you want tasks accomplished.

Do not plant Mexican primrose: Yes, Mexican evening primrose is very beautiful at first but as years pass, it spreads by underground runners like a wildfire. It covers itself with dollar-size white pinkish blooms in the spring and early summer, but becomes straggly the rest of the season.

St. Augustine grass: This is a good grass for shaded areas when compared to Bermuda and Zoysia grass. It spreads by above ground runners and not rhizomes. Wide, flattened dull green leaves lay flat on the ground to give a lush appearance. Establish it by sod or plugs, or seed. It produces a thick thatch over time but is slow to recover if dethatched and doesn’t like overseeding. Like Bermuda, it turns golden through the winter.

New cactuses sunburning: When moving cactuses to a new location, they can become sensitive to new surroundings. Dave Turner said to cover them with cheesecloth until fall and then they’ll be OK.

UPGRADE TO WATER SMART LANDSCAPE

More than ever, savvy homeowners are realizing that desert landscaping is not only water-efficient, but more beautiful and ever-changing than a water-guzzling lawn. This class provides participants with a step-by-step process for converting grass to a Water Smart Landscape, including how to earn a rebate. It is at 2 p.m. Saturday and taught by experts from the Springs Preserve at 333 S. Valley View Blvd. Call 822-7786 to reserve your free seat.

Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at linn.mills@springspreserve.org or call him at 822-7754.

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