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August/September 2021 Garden Solutions

By Kelly Murray Young | Illustration by Gary Hovland

There is a ranchette near our home that always has a “free manure” sign posted. We’d love to take some to fertilize our vegetable garden but aren’t sure if that’s a good idea. What should we take into consideration before committing?

Manure can be one of the best amendments you can add to your vegetable garden. Considered by many organic gardeners and regenerative farmers to be the key ingredient for feeding healthy soil, animal manures are rich with organic matter, nitrogen, phosphorus and most other essential plant nutrients. Animal manures also may contain viable weed seeds, salts and human and pet pathogens. To kill any potentially dangerous microbes, compost the manure for 120 days before applying to soil that may contact the food you grow. Learn more about composting by downloading the University of Arizona’s publication, “Small-Scale Composting in the Arizona Desert,” at Proper composting will also remove some of the salts, making the manure safer for your crops.

We recently had a pink-and-yellow lantana plant removed that was at least 20 years old. It had grown to be very large and woody, more of a sprawling shrub than the ground cover we had initially understood it would become. What do you recommend as a replacement for a hot, sunny location?

You might consider one of the other lantana species to replace the Lantana camara you removed, such as Lantana montevidensis, also known as trailing lantana, which comes in blooms of white or purple. Wedelia (Wedelia trilobata) is another tried-and-true option for hot exposures. Wedelia sports yellow daisylike blooms practically year-round. To keep the plants as low groundcovers and prevent them from getting woody and rangy, plan on pruning them back to 8-inch stalks every third spring.

How often should I be watering my citrus? I just bought a house in Chandler with two navel orange trees in the yard and have no idea how to care for them.

When properly cared for, citrus trees can yield delicious fruit for decades. How much water to apply to your trees is influenced by the size of the tree, soil texture and weather. An orange tree with a canopy 10 feet in diameter requires approximately 14 gallons per day in August. A tree with a 20-foot canopy needs four times that amount of water: 56 gallons per day. Mature trees older than three years should be watered every 10-14 days in August. Therefore, approximately 140-156 gallons of water need to be applied per tree with a 10-foot canopy and 560-784 gallons per tree with a 20-foot canopy when you water. For more information, consult “Irrigating Citrus Trees” by the University of Arizona at


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