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El Paso Master Gardeners Bring Home Awards – Again!
Each year the Texas Master Gardener Association, in cooperation with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas A&M University System, recognizes and presents awards for exemplary achievement. The El Paso Master Gardener Association has a long history of winning awards in various categories. At the Texas Master Gardener 2015 Conference in Belton, TX over April 16-18, 2015, the El Paso Master Gardener Association was recognized with three awards in their category of Medium Large Association for the year of 2014.
The El Paso Master Gardener Association was awarded 1st Place in its category of Medium Large Association in the Search for Excellence 2014 Awards as an Outstanding Association. This award is for an exemplary Master Gardener Association that has completed at least one or more programs or projects of importance to the community.
Roger “Doc” Stalker, representing the El Paso County Master Gardener Association, garnered 1st Place in the Search for Excellence 2014 Awards for exemplary achievement with the Outstanding Individual Master Gardener Award. This award is for an individual Master Gardener who is a certified member in good standing within a Master Gardener Association and whose involvement and contributions during the award year are of primary importance.
The El Paso County Master Gardener Association also was awarded 3rd Place in the Search for Excellence 2014 Awards in the Educational Program category for their Speaker Bureau entry. This educational award recognizes a program which is a teaching opportunity to a group and provides educational information about horticultural topics.
Master Gardeners in the News
Vegetable Specialist Dave Turner was recently interviewed by Denise Olivas of KVIA, a local TV station. Go here to see the interview and learn about Master Gardeners in the community, planting vegetables in El Paso, and some of the places to find our Information Tables. [Note: Regarding the ending slide in the interview, about 25 new Master Gardeners are trained each year and we now have 95+ Master Gardeners in El Paso County.]
El Paso Master Gardener Alice Parra’s cactus and native plant garden was featured in the recent El Paso Times article, Cactus Oasis. “What I love about her place is that she has a gorgeous back yard with a lot of wonderful cactus, succulents and lush tropical plants in between. She has the best way of mixing and matching it all up,” said Master Gardener Jim Hastings. Read More
Gardening for active adults was the theme of a recent article in El Paso Plus. We’re reminded by Denise Rodriguez, the County Extension Agent for Horticulture at Texas A&M’s Agrilife Extension office, that “Gardening is good physically and mentally for seniors,” she says. “It’s a great leisure activity and the most popular hobby in the United States.” Gardening can be easier for seniors when planting in raised beds or in containers. Both can accommodate vegetables and ornamentals. Helpful tips are in the article as are interviews with some El Paso Master Gardeners. Read More
We invite you to support El Paso County Master Gardeners by starting your shopping at smile.amazon.com.
Choose El Paso County Master Gardener Association as your charity and Amazon will donate to EPCMGA with every eligible purchase. Click the image to get started or to learn more. Thank you.
Call the Master Gardener Help Desk (915-566-1276) and talk with a volunteer during the hours given below for help with your gardening questions.
Monday 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Wednesday 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
If a Master Gardener is not available when you call, please leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible. Another option is to complete the Ask the Help Desk form to receive an answer by phone or email. The Ask the Help Desk form allows you to attach photos of your gardening questions.
KTEP’s GOOD TO GROW Archives:
Vegetable and Tomato Gardening
The Good to Grow archives have podcasts on a number of gardening topics of interest to the El Paso and Las Cruces areas. Below are a links to the KTEP webpage where you can hear these shows which share tips and ideas about growing tomatoes and summer vegetables.
Good to Grow – Tomatoes, Part 1
Replay from March 2013
Denise, Bill, and Norma talk with Dave Turner, vegetable specialist with the Texas Master Gardeners and president of the Master Gardeners Association. It’s Part 1 of our Tomato Show, and Turner will talk about how we should prep our soil and why now is the ideal time to plant our tomatoes instead of later in the season.
Good to Grow – Tomatoes, Part 2
Replay from April 2013
Bill, Denise, and Norma welcome back Master Gardener Dave Turner, president of the Master Gardener Society and vegetable specialist. Turner talks about pruning tomato plants, whether your tomato needs a cage or a stake, and how to protect your tomato plant from El Paso’s spring winds. He also talks about what to do if your plant looks wilted, and why mulching with newspaper is a great way to retain moisture and deter weeds.
Good to Grow – Vegetable Gardening, Part 1
Replay from March 2014 (Note: The Summer Vegetable Workshop mentioned took place in 2014.)
Denise & Norma talk with Master Gardener and vegetable specialist, Bill Hodge. In the first of a 2-part interview, Bill takes us through a few helpful steps in preparing our soil for planting summer vegetables. He also explains why some vegetables should be started from seed while others can be purchased as seedlings.
Good to Grow – Vegetable Gardening, Part 2
Replay from March 2014
Bill Hodge returns to the show to talk to us about the different varieties of corn & squash growing at the Master Gardener test garden at the Extension offices. He also explains why we don’t need a lot of space to grow our space-hogging vegetables – we can train them to grow UP instead of OUT.
Helpful Vegetable Gardening Articles
In Far West Texas, El Paso has a similar gardening climate to southern New Mexico. These articles from New Mexico State University address concerns and give vegetable gardening instructions for our area. When New Mexico Growing Zones are mentioned (CR457B), based on the number of frost free days, El Paso will be much like the Southern Zone.
Getting Your Vegetable Beds Ready for Spring
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 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. Next comes one of the most important things – adding compost to your existing soil. Compost, or decomposed organic matter, is often called “black gold” because of all the benefits it brings to the garden. Soils here in El Paso range from deep sand to heavy clay and caliche/rock soils with very little top soil so the addition of a 3” layer of compost is very important as it helps improve the health and structure of the soil. The addition of compost improves the soil’s ability to retain moisture and gives the soil a “crumbly” texture that makes it easier for the tender roots of your transplants to move through the soil. If you have an existing raised bed then add that 3” layer of compost and work it in. If you are building your beds from scratch, use equal parts of compost, top soil and sand and till them well. It is easier to work in the compost before your plant your beds, so cover your bed with 3 to 4 inches of compost and work it into the soil. I try to keep my garden chemical free, so adding lots of compost every year helps put nutrients into my existing soil. My beds have gone for several weeks without watering during this cool season and during the warm season can also go up to a week without additional water.
Lastly, it is time to check your drip irrigation system if you have one. Run the system and look for leaks or blockages which would prevent water from getting to some of the plants or drown others. It’s better now while your beds are empty than having to work around your plants.
Your beds are now ready to be planted and mid to late March is the perfect time to set out those tomato seedlings to get a harvest before the very hot weather arrives. However, our spring winds can tear those tender plants apart, so here’s a quick tip. After you have placed the transplants in the ground, surround each with a cage for future support. Take a large trash bags, either white or clear, and cut off the sealed end. Slide this over the tomato cage like a sock, until it is completely surrounding (and protecting) the transplant. You can hold it in place with clamps or clothespins on the cage. This will protect your tender plants from both the strong winds and the cooler nights of March and early April. When removed, you will have a strong, healthy plant.
Finally, here are links to two articles about compost that might be helpful to you:
Hope you enjoy getting out there and Happy Gardening!
Roses in El Paso
Springtime renews our interest in flowers and roses are an eternal favorite. The El Paso Municipal Rose Garden is a testament to how well roses grow in our region. To learn more about how the Master Gardeners and the Rose Society work with the city to beautify the garden, read about the Master Gardeners’ volunteer efforts at the rose garden.
A good time to see the rose garden’s first flush of abundant blooms is from early April until mid-May or so. To celebrate the blooms and showcase the results of our volunteers’ winter pruning efforts, the Master Gardeners will have a Public Tour of the Rose Garden on April 4th. (For more information, see the Events section on the right side of the page.) Visits to the El Paso Rose Garden can be enjoyed from spring through fall as repeat blooming rose bushes will continue to bloom in flushes through late fall.
Monthly Gardening Tips for April
Read April’s Monthly Tips for suggestions to help with your landscape and vegetable garden. Warmer weather calls for increased water on perennials, trees and shrubs. This month’s article also advises on what to plant this month and how to fertilize your roses and lawn.
Each month please read our Month by Month Gardening Tips. You’ll find them in the column to the right.
In August 2014 El Paso’s online news source, the Newspaper Tree, began featuring articles by El Paso Master Gardeners in their Health and Environment section. New articles will appear on the first and third weeks of the month. The articles will be discussing a variety of gardening topics for our area. You can read them by following the links below and by seeing other articles here.
Irrigation not as hard as it seems
Backyard vegetable, garden beds could benefit // August 20, 2014
More rainwater available than some realize
A little planning goes a long way//August 5, 2014
A tomato lover’s fear
Late blight kills plants // September 16, 2014
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 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 PasoCounty.