How to Store Tomatoes for Better Flavor and Why

Were you ever told that your tomatoes will taste best if stored at room temperature? Why is that? Until recently there wasn’t a scientific explanation for why tomatoes lose their flavor after being refrigerated. Now we know – something happens that robs the fruit of flavor. Find out more in Malcolm Ritter’s article Why Tomatoes Lose Flavor in Fridge: Their Genes Chill Out.

If your tomatoes are blanched their flavor is also affected. Tests show that both refrigeration and blanching affect the aroma compounds that contribute to tomato flavor. Learn about this research and which months had the most flavorful harvested tomatoes in Two Approaches to Enhancing Tomato Flavor.

Monthly Gardening Tips

Calendar Gardening tips for February continue the theme of rose care and remind us there’s still time to plant cool season annual flowers. Seeds of warm-season vegetables should be sown indoors now for planting out in early April.  Plants such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, bean, cucumbers, etc., will be ready for outdoor planting about six to eight weeks after being sown.  If sowing seeds in flats outdoors, make sure to bring seedlings indoors on nights when the temperature is going to drop down below 40 degrees. There are also tips on pruning trees and shrubs, checking your plants for pests, on using pre-emergent herbicides, and more.

New! Kid w_ headphones Listen to February 4th’s Good to Grow radio show on February Gardening Tips. On it we share a few gardening tips if you’re eager to get a head start on spring since there are plenty of activities to keep you busy outdoors this month.

Related articles from the Learn»Gardening Topics Links page:

Rose Pruning Handout

Growing Roses

Roses for the Desert

Home Vegetable Gardening Planting Calendar for El Paso County

Home Vegetable Varieties for El Paso County

Low Desert Pruning Guide for Commonly Used Shrubs

Follow Proper Pruning Techniques – Earth-Kind® Landscaping

KTEP logoGood to Grow Radio Show

Kid w_ headphones  Floral Design – Listen to our recent “Good to Grow” show which features Sabine Green who is the New Mexico State University Floriculture program coordinator and a national accredited certified floral designer. You’ll hear some ideas for floral gifts as well as tips on keeping flowers looking fresh and colorful.

Other tips on keeping cut flowers fresh can be found in this article on Cut Flower Gardening/Care and Handling of Cut Plant Materials from our Learn»Gardening Topics Links page. The article also suggests some annuals and perennials that can be useful as cut flowers. Just be sure that you choose to grow flowers that will do well in our region.

Read more about our “Good to Grow” radio show here.

Listen live on Saturdays at 11:15 a.m. on 88.5 FM or stream from the archives at KTEP – Good to Grow.

Winter is Not Gray by Maria C. Del Rio, El Paso Master Gardener

Although many of our trees drop their leaves in autumn, winter in El Paso does not have to be gray. Many trees, bushes and plants can provide color and structure to our winter gardens.

Evergreens, both trees and bushes can delight us with their varied shapes and shades of green. Some of the native evergreen trees you may consider for your garden are Texas Mountain Laurel, Texas Madrone, Rocky Mountain Juniper, Afghan/Mondel Pine and Italian Stone Pine.

Hollies are another versatile plant with their dark green foliage and colored berries. All hollies bloom, but only the female plant produces berries, some red, some yellow; others are white or orange, a creamy color, or black. Be sure you have a male holly within about a half mile or there won’t be any berries for the winter season.

Read more »

Schedule the Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau

Speakers Bureau Penny Leslie_3-25-14

Credit: El Paso Master Gardeners

El Paso Master Gardeners love gardening and love to share information about gardening. We educate and inform through a variety of activities including a Speakers Bureau.

Our Speakers Bureau features an ever expanding array of gardening topics developed by experienced Master Gardeners using research-based information and resources from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Read more »

How to Stay Busy in Your Winter Garden 

It’s winter so there’s not as much to grow as in other seasons. You can stay busy by protecting existing gardens and preparing for future planting, according to Dr. Joe Masabni, AgriLife Extension small-acreage vegetable specialist, in Winter Isn’t the Time for Gardeners to Sit Back and Wait. Some tasks are to remove any weeds that continue to grow throughout the winter months and to sort out any stored vegetables like onions or garlic to remove any spoiled or rotting plant materials. It’s also a good time to take soil samples and send them off for testing. The results will let you know if you need to amend your soil to grow better vegetables or even produce a healthier lawn.

Read more »

Soil sample testing kits can be obtained from El Paso County’s Horticulture Extension office by calling 915-771-2354.

Related video from Texas AgriLife Extension 

Video Play Glyph Soil Testing

The Best Date to Start Pruning Roses in El Paso?

by Doc Stalker, El Paso Master Gardener

Heart w_Happy Rose Pruning Day

When El Paso’s winter days start to get a bit warmer, Master Gardeners begin hearing a lot of, “When should I prune my rose bush” questions. The answer is, “It all depends.

Some authors declare Valentine’s Day as the traditional date for starting to prune roses in most of Texas. Others contend that all rose pruning must be over by February 14th. And yet another group of writers recommend rose pruning should always start three or four weeks before the average date of the last killing frost – which in El Paso means waiting to begin pruning your rose until the last week of February.

The truth is, Mother Nature has her own schedule for the start of rose pruning, and she frequently changes that official start date from one year to the next.

Read more »

New! Related articles from the Learn»Gardening Topics Links page:

Growing Roses

Rose Pruning Handout

Roses for the Desert

Earth-Kind® Roses

Earth-Kind® Rose Cultivars

Growing Tips for Earth-Kind® Roses

Plant and Gardening Questions? Ask an Expertask us picture

The Master Gardener Help Desk has closed for the winter and will reopen in 2017 on Wednesday, February 22nd. Until then, please submit your gardening questions to our experts using the Ask the Help Desk form. You will receive an answer by phone or email.

Caring for Potted Succulents in Winter 

by Jennifer Medina Salter, El Paso Master Gardener


Credit: Jennifer M. Salter

Over the past few months I have been collecting small potted succulents/cacti on my patio. Many of them are cold sensitive, and with colder temperatures here it is definitely time to change the plant environment. I brought my plants inside, but many people move theirs into greenhouses. Whatever the environment, remember that although most succulents/cacti are winter dormant they still have 3 basic requirements: light, water and temperature.

Read more »

Check Out Our Vermicomposting Series

Check Our Facebook Page: Vermicomposting Series Our Texas Master Gardener Composter Specialist, Bev Clark, is running an 8-part series of Facebook posts about Vermicomposting. The posts started on November 14th and there are two daily. Our Texas Master Gardener Composter Specialist, Bev Clark, is running an 8-part series of posters about Vermicomposting. Click here to see the complete poster series.




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Who We Are

The El Paso County Master Gardeners Association, as a member of the Texas Master Gardeners Association, is a non-profit educational and charitable organization supporting the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in providing quality, relevant outreach and continuing education programs and services to the people of El PasoCounty. Our local volunteers receive extensive training and experience in a wide range of subjects before certification as Master Gardeners. 

In collaboration with the County A&M AgriLife Horticultural Agent, we conduct community educational projects through workshops and demonstration gardens. Members of the Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau, Help Desk, and Information Table committees provide information, education, and recommendations on horticultural topics to all residents of El Paso County.

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