New Spring EPCC Class to Start –
Home Gardening in El Paso
Have you ever wanted to know more about gardening in El Paso? Whether you’ve moved here recently or have lived here for many years, you can learn something useful when you are taught by our Master Gardeners in the Home Gardening in El Paso class at EPCC. In this sixteen hour class you will learn techniques and information about growing vegetables, xeriscaping, lawn care, controlling insects and diseases, and more. These techniques will help you improve your gardening efforts in El Paso’s climate.
The Spring 2017 EPCC class starts Saturday, January 21 and ends March 4.
Home Gardening in El Paso” – Spring 2017
The class topics and instructors scheduled are as follows:
- January 21 Earth-Kind® Landscaping: Environmental Stewardship – Sarah Wood
- January 28 Soils and Fertilizers – Rex Morris
- February 4 Vegetable Gardening – Dave Turner
- February 11 Lawn is Not a Four-Letter Word – Doc Stalker
- February 18 Pest Management/Weed Management in Urban Landscapes – Mary Ann McCravey
- February 25 Irrigation and Composting – Bill Hodge
- March 4 Herbs and Container Gardening – Linda Doughtie Kaip
- March 11 Native and Adapted Plants and Trees – Jim Hastings
Registration starts Monday, December 5th and ends Friday, January 20.
Help Desk for Plant and Gardening Questions
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 using the Ask the Help Desk form. You will receive an answer by phone or email.
Check Out Our: Vermicomposting Series
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.
Master Gardener of the Quarter
We are pleased to announce Dixie Wicker as our latest winner of the “Master Gardener of the Quarter” award. Congratulations, Dixie! With the “Master Gardener 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.
Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market (AFM) Committee proudly nominates Dixie Wicker for Master Gardener of the Quarter for fall 2016. Dixie has shown unwavering support of this project over the last three years. Upon her request, she was allowed to step down as AFM Co-Chairperson, but in reality she “stepped down” in name only. Dixie is the ultimate gracious soul who continues to volunteer to serve as an Opener and Closer, taking more than her share of shifts. She is the gentle overseer who keeps us in line with our finances and supplies and doesn’t mind making that extra trip to Sam’s Club to pick up grocery bags at the last minute. Even when she has not volunteered to work a shift, she is always willing to help tie up loose ends by hauling boxes back to the garden or going out of her way to make bank deposits. She shows love and respect for all of our Master Gardener volunteers, whether it’s encouraging folks at the garden on Tuesdays, sending letters of gratitude and appreciation to volunteers, or bringing home-made goodies to share, you feel the love when you work with Dixie. It is this spirit of selfless giving, hard work and good humor that makes Dixie a very special Master Gardener. AFM is far better for her participation.
We’ve been honoring our association members since late 2015. See previous “Master Gardener of the Quarter” recipients here.
Seasonal Color with Bulbs in El Paso
by Sarah Wood, El Paso Master Gardener
“Bulb” is a general term often used to describe all types of plants that are capable of gathering and storing nutrients in a specialized underground storage structure. Classified as true bulbs, tubers, rhizomes and tuberous roots, these special plants offer seasonal blooms with low maintenance in gardens thoroughout El Paso. They evade drought by growing and flowering when the right combination of temperature and moisture occurs.
Iris (available in many colors) and the white Texas tuberose bloom in the spring. Rain lilies (white, yellow or pink) bloom in response to summer and early fall rains while gayfeather and society and edible garlic chives announce fall is coming. All these plants have low water requirements and will survive on annual rainfall alone when established.
Cactus in the Garden and on Your Table
by Jim Hastings, El Paso Master Gardener
Prickly pear cacti (Opuntia) are popular plants in local gardens. Their sculptural shape, brilliant blossoms and colorful fruit make them attractive all year round. Native to the Americas, they now are found all over the world.
Nopal is the Spanish word for the prickly pear pad. Cleaned and diced, they are called nopalitos (little nopales). The green pads and the fruit of all prickly pear varieties are edible. The pads have a vegetable flavor. The fruit is very sweet. Prickly pear pads are about 90% water. The fruit is about 85% water with approximately 10 to 15 percent glucose and fructose. They are rich in vitamins C and A, and beta-carotene. They have very little carbohydrate or fat. There are about 25 to 30 calories in a quarter pound.
The pads have thorns and aureoles surrounded by tiny sharp glochids. The glochids can become airborne and are very irritating on your skin or in your clothing. Dampen the pads to reduce glochid drift. Use a knife to scrape off the thorns and glochids. Trim the pad’s tough edges about ¼ inch.
Many smaller supermarkets with good Mexican food departments carry nopales year-round. They can be bought as whole paddles or already cleaned and sliced which makes using them easy. Dice the pads and sauté in a little olive oil until their sticky sap cooks off and they are an olive green in color. Use the cooked cactus in salads, soups, omelets and other dishes. Tunas, the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, can be found in some of the supermarkets when they are in season from August through October.
Is the “Mystery Tree” a Siberian Elm and What’s Eating Its Leaves? by Doc Stalker, El Paso Master Gardener
Homeowners and gardeners around El Paso often find ‘mystery trees’ popping up in flower beds, inside shrubs, and under the eaves of houses or garden sheds. Allowed to grow, the trees quickly become small to medium sized trees. While happy to have a free shade tree, property owners may soon notice that something decimates the leaves on their volunteer tree every year. Chances are that ‘mystery tree’ could be a Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila L.): a hardy, quick-growing tree found throughout the Southwest that can reach heights of 50 to 70 feet under the right conditions.
The Holidays are Coming – What Do You Need?
Please support the El Paso County Master Gardener Association by starting your shopping at AmazonSmile.
Three Wins for El Paso Master Gardeners!
We continued our winning streak by bringing home three awards from the Texas Master Gardener Conference in McKinney, TX. Immediate Past-President Jan Petrzelka won 1st Place for “Outstanding Individual Master Gardener”.
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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