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Las Vegas gardening clinic offers tips on growing plants in desert

Spring has sprung, and a gardening expert at the Tractor Supply Co. provided tips for keeping plants alive Saturday at the southwest Las Vegas store.

Dennis Stewart’s biggest tip for new growers is to water their plants from bottom to top. Poke holes in the bottom of the planter and put a tray under the plant so the roots get the water first.

“You’ll drown your plants if you go from top to bottom,” Stewart said during a gardening clinic. “Let the roots do the work and suck up the water as they need.”

May 1 marks a good time to start growing summer fruits and vegetables, like cucumbers, squash, zucchini, peppers and carrots, Stewart said. When the weather gets hotter, make sure the soil stays moist by watering in the morning, evening and at night.

“Avoid watering in the afternoon because the sun will boil those roots,” Stewart said.

He also advised against metal planters for areas with full sun. He encouraged interested gardeners to start with seeds in small pots and regularly repot their plants, which will refresh the soil and provide more growing space only as needed.

For apartment residents or those with limited backyard space, he advised reading the labels on the seeds to make sure the plants received the appropriate amount of sun or shade. If a plant starts to die, Stewart advised repotting to kill any potential fungus.

“Take out the plants that are still alive and repot,” he said. “Start all over and take out what you can.”

Tractor Supply Co. employees planted a fruit and vegetable garden at May Elementary School in northwest Las Vegas last week to teach the students about sustainable living. Manager Holly Kirk said another garden is slated for Tyrone Thompson Elementary School in southwest Las Vegas next week.

“Right now it’s just a dirt level field, but we’re going to be donating the soil and seeds,” Kirk said. “People don’t realize even though Vegas is a desert, things do grow here.”

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.