Double Your Fun: Vegetable Workshop and Plant Sale

This Saturday morning is your chance to talk with El Paso Master Gardeners about vegetable gardening and to purchase tomato, chili and herb seedlings propagated just for this event. We’ve been busy since mid-January planting seeds and carefully nurturing nearly 1000 plants to sell to El Paso residents. Several of the tomatoes propagated cannot be purchased in local stores and were selected for their suitability to our desert climate. Click here to see the Vegetable Gardening Workshop Fact Sheet which gives helpful information about the plants that will be available for purchase.

Master Gardeners knowledgeable in areas such as vegetable gardening, cylinder gardening, pest control, irrigation, and composting will be available to educate and answer your questions. Check our Event page to learn more and to see a map to the workshop and sale location. Sale proceeds will benefit the El Paso County Master Gardener Association.

How to Improve Your Soil
Ву Marge Gianelli, El Paso Master Gardener

Unless you live in a few choice areas in El Paso, you probably have light-colored, coarse, grainy soil. Water has a tendency to drain right through, leaving plants dry without access to water in the hot afternoon summer hours. In addition, your soil probably contains few nutrients to promote root growth and development. Another complicating factor is the alkalinity of the soil. Typically in El Paso, the soil pH is around 8. With some exceptions, a pH of 6.0 to 7.0 is ideal for plant growth. What is a gardener to do?

Many homeowners have adapted by planting native plants accustomed to growing conditions in this area. If you wish to do this and not worry about improving your soil, you can find out about these plants at your local nurseries and demonstration gardens, on this website, or call our local Extension Office (915-771-2354) and ask to speak to a Master Gardener. But if you want a vegetable garden or a wider variety of plants, you would do well to get your soil tested. The results will not only tell you the composition of your soil, but also recommend treatment. More information on soil testing and soil sample testing kits are available at the Extension Office.

Read more »

Related articles from the Learn»Links – Gardening Topics page:

Testing Your Soil-How to Collect and Send Samples
Improving Soils: Crucial to Long-Term Success…
Why Native Plants? – Gardening in El Paso
Ornamental Plants for Far West Texas (Annuals, Perennials, Flowers, Shrubs, Trees, Succulents, Groundcovers, Grasses, Turf, Vines, including Natives, with Water Use)
Recommended Southwestern Native Plants for the El Paso/Las Cruces Area (Trees, Shrubs, Perennials, Annuals, Grasses and Succulents)
Benefits and Uses-Finished Compost
Video Play Glyph
 Soil Testing

Getting Your Vegetable Beds Ready for Spring 

by Jennifer Medina Salter, El Paso Master Gardener

March is upon us and if you’re like me, you are itching to get your warm season vegetable garden ready. This is the perfect time to make sure that

Credit: Jennifer Medina Salter

everything is ready for planting those tomatoes in mid-March, so get those gloves on, head to the garden and let’s start with several jobs essential for a great harvest.

First, take a good look at your garden beds and weed out everything that does not belong. Then take your trusty pitchfork and give the bed a good tilling, removing any old roots, stones, etc.

Read more »

 Congrats to Our Latest Master Gardener of the Quarter

Dan Liss, who primarily volunteers at the Texas A&M AgriLife Vegetable Demonstration Gardens was selected as our Master Gardener of the Quarter for the fourth quarter of 2016. With the “Master MG of Qtr LogoDan LissGardener of the Quarter” program, El Paso County Master Gardeners recognize a Certified Master Gardener who has done an exceptional job within their committee or who has assisted the committee with its goals in an exceptional manner.

Here’s the essay written by the AgriLife Vegetable Garden committee to nominate Dan Liss for Master Gardener of the Quarter: We all know that the volunteer efforts of the members of our Association enable us to provide the quality services that we offer to the members of the El Paso community. Some folks are well known to everyone in the Association, but others have a quiet presence about them while providing their talent and time to insure that the job gets done.

One of those individuals is Dan Liss, our Master Gardener of the Quarter. Since he certified in 2011 Dan has volunteered well over 2000 hours, the vast majority of which were in the Texas A&M AgriLife Vegetable Demonstration Garden, helping to insure the garden was at its peak throughout the year. His truck is one of the first to arrive on Tuesdays and Fridays and he seldom arrives without a plate of goodies and recipes to share with the staff at the garden. Not everyone loves to manage the compost bin but many mornings, armed with his pitchfork, Dan is there making sure the job gets done.

Without his help and commitment, our annual Home Shows would not happen every year. He is one of the first to say “I can help” when it comes to hauling supplies and setting up our Master Gardener projects. He always has a smile and is eager to jump in, no matter the task at hand. As a co-manager of one of the largest sections of the AgriLife Vegetable Garden, he tends and harvests it as if it were his own. He is the consummate worker bee and a huge contributor to the Association. Congratulations, Dan, for being recognized as Master Gardener of the Quarter.

Submitted by Mary Ann McCravey, AgriLife Garden Committee Co-chair

Honoring our association members since late 2015, read about previous “Master Gardener of the Quarter” recipients here.

Monthly Gardening Tips

CalendarLonger days with warmer weather encourages us to start preparing beds for warm-season flowers and vegetables.  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. The Home Vegetable Gardening Calendar for El Paso suggests when to start the seeds and when to transplant outdoors. It’s a good time to remove weeds and prune winter-damaged plants. Check the Monthly Tips for March to get more ideas on what to do in your garden and landscape.

 Kid w_ headphones For tips on controlling and preventing weeds and for announcements about upcoming gardening talks and classes, listen to this recent KTEP Good to Grow radio show, “Spring Weeds and Events”.

 Video Play Glyph Here’s a video with some pointers on using the right weeding tools instead of herbicides to remove weeds in your garden: How to Pick the Right Tool for Weeding the Garden
Video Play Glyph
 If you haven’t yet pruned your perennials or ornamental grasses, here’s a video to give you some tips: Pruning Perennials

Related articles from the Learn»Links – Gardening Topics page:

Follow Proper Pruning Techniques-Shrubs, Trees, Vines, Groundcovers
Pruning Shrubs in the Low and Mid-Elevation Deserts in Arizona
Low Desert Pruning Guide for Commonly Used Shrubs (Includes Tips and Schedule)
Vegetable Planting Calendar for El Paso County
Vegetable Varieties for El Paso County
Vegetables – Easy Gardening Series
Verduras – Easy Series de Jardinería (scroll down for Spanish)
Growing Tomatoes in El Paso
Constructing Your Flower Bed

2 Easy Ways to Contact Our Help Desk

Do you have gardening or landscape questions and don’t know who to ask? The El Paso Master Gardener Help Desk is open Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and we’ll be happy to assist you. When you phone the Help Desk (915-771-2354) you will talk with a volunteer who will provide research-based horticultural information. If a Master Gardener is not available when you call, please leave a message and you will be contacted as soon as possible. Or, you may complete the Ask the Help Desk form which accepts photos and gives the option to receive an answer by phone or email.

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.

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»Links – Gardening Topics 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.

hat and clovers

You Shop, Amazon Gives

 When shopping at AmazonSmile, please choose El Paso Master Gardeners Association as your favorite charity. Thank you for supporting El Paso County Master Gardeners. 

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 »

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.




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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