What is the Takeaway from Our Tomato Research?

Tomato Trial Blind Taste Test

Credit: Blind Tomato Taste Trials (El Paso Master Gardeners Facebook)

What if you had the time and space to test different tomato varieties to see which had produced the most tomatoes, grew well in our high desert climate and tasted delicious? The good news is that the field trial researchers of the El Paso County Master Gardeners have done that research and testing for you.

During the summer of 2018, the field trial researchers conducted a one season, two-location tomato field trial to determine which new bush type determinate tomato varieties, resistant to the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus, could be successfully grown in El Paso County, Texas. Seeds were planted in February, transplants were set into the ground in March, and by July they were able to grade and taste test the harvested tomato fruit in three categories: Full-Size Tomato, Grape Tomato and Best of the Tasting. The blind in-house taste tests were conducted with other Master Gardeners who judged them in the categories of Overall Like, Overall Taste and Texture.

You can learn the results of the tomato field trial evaluation by clicking here. In this academic report the descriptions of the test varieties are on pages 1-2 and the Overall Yield Tables are on page 4. The blind taste test results and our recommendations are on page 8.

Tomato-Plant_johnny-automaticOnce you’ve read the tomato field trial evaluation, we’d love you to leave a comment on our Facebook post. Have you learned something that will be helpful with your tomato gardening? Did this report introduce you to new varieties to try? Thank you!

Help Your Tree Survive in El Paso

by El Paso County Master Gardeners

Nature designed trees to grow successfully in many environments. Unfortunately, our own actions often lead to shortened lifespans for trees in residential landscapes. Here are some tips to help your tree survive in El Paso.

  • Select a tree suitable for our desert environment. Before purchasing, do research to determine if a candidate tree is likely to survive winter temperatures in USDA Hardiness Zone 8a (15° F to 10° F), tolerates salty water, alkaline soils, and is wind and drought resistant. Trees prone to specific diseases and insect infestations in El Paso should not be high on your list of possible candidates. Consider trees native to our region to help ensure growing success. For additional assistance, call the El Paso *Master Gardener Help Desk at (915) 771-2354 or refer to the Texas Tree Planting Guide at: http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu/index.html.
  • Check the root system before buying. Purchasing a tree that is root bound, has major encircling roots, or an inadequate root system for the container size may lead to problems after the tree is planted. Don’t be shy! After all, you are buying the entire tree, not just the parts showing above ground. Carefully check the root ball before you buy, or ask the nursery staff for assistance.
  • Don’t leave a “to-be-planted-tree” exposed to drying sunlight and winds. A young tree in a container should be shielded from the wind and direct sun. Water daily or every other day to prevent tender, young roots from drying out.

Read more»

How to Pick Plants and Trees at a Nursery

by John White, Horticulturistnmsuaces

Growing Shade Trees

by Skip Richter, HorticulturistAgrilife.org

How to Keep Your Tree from Dying

by Curtis Smith, Horticulturistnmsuaces

Proper Handling of Garden Tools

by Rex Morris, El Paso County Master Gardener

Garden Tool

Tool Maintenance
How To… Step-by-Step Instructions

Garden Tool Storage
1. Keep tools off the ground and do not bunch together if possible.

2. Use wall hanging racks for larger tools.

3. Use pegboards for smaller tools. – Paint the tool shape behind its spot on the pegboard. – This helps you identify which tools are missing.

Read more »

Choosing Quality Gardening Tools

by Skip Richter, HorticulturistAgrilife.org 

Here’s Why to Wait to Prune Your Roses


Credit: Hot Cocoa Roses at El Paso Municipal Rose Garden by Marlene Stalker, El Paso Master Gardener

The recent mild weather in El Paso is helping give our rose bushes new life. This is a great time to visit the El Paso Municipal Rose Garden (open through November) to enjoy the new blooms after the hot summer. While you may see El Paso Master Gardeners there volunteering to care for the rose bushes, you won’t see them pruning the rose bushes during the fall. Winter pruning which helps produce a healthier rose bush is saved for the first part of the year. Read these helpful articles to learn more about the best timing for pruning your rose bushes: The Best Date to Start Pruning Roses in El Paso? and Limit Fall Pruning of New Mexico Roses.

By the Season – Gardening in El Paso

November Monthly Tips
Trees for High Desert Communities
Regional Recommended Tree List (TPG List)
Texas Tree Planning Guide: Planting, Pruning, and Care (text and video; Spanish version at page bottom of selected pages)
Help Your Tree Survive in El Paso (PDF)
Tools and Equipment (includes chain saw, lawn mower, sharpening tools, etc.)
Tool Tips – Care, Maintenance, and More
Why We Landscape with Native and Adaptive Plants
Watering Tips for Lawns, Vegetable Gardens and Trees

Weeds of Texas Turf (good photos for ID of weeds)
Weeds-Pest Notes Library (see weed management tips)

Good to Grow Radio Shows  (Current and Archived)

Tree Planting in the Fall
Cactus Appreciation
Edible Gardening
Community Gardens
Seed Collecting
Fall Gardening Tips
Proper Pruning Tips

Garden Weed Control
Watering Your Landscape

KTEP logoListen live on Saturdays at 11:15 a.m. on 88.5 FM or stream from the archives at KTEP Good to Grow.  Read more about our Good to Grow Radio Show, here.

Newcomer’s Gardening Snapshot for El Paso County

welcome  Many new residents arrive in El Paso each year from climates and growing conditions much different than the Chihuahuan desert. This Newcomer’s Gardening Snapshot highlights some main features of El Paso’s climate including our growing season, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones, U.S. Sunset Climate Zone, first average frost date, average rainfall and more. It also provides links to informative websites which are helpful for newcomers, identifies some local public gardens, and provides a contact for obtaining a Soil Sample Kit.

Read more »

Improve Your Skills with Our Informative El Paso Gardening Handbook

EPMG Gardening Handbook Cover 2018

There are many types of gardeners in El Paso. Some tend to their vegetable gardens, whether in raised beds or containers, while others pride themselves in their yards that feature native and adapted plants. Some have recently moved here and aren’t sure where to start now that they’re in the high desert, don’t recognize many of the desert landscape plants, and wonder if they can have a lawn.

Read more »

ask us picturePlant and Gardening Questions?
Ask an Expert

Do you have a question about your plants, gardens or yards? 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.

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 Paso County. Our local volunteers receive extensive training and experience in a wide range of subjects before certification as Texas Master Gardeners.

In collaboration with the County A&M AgriLife Horticultural Agent, Denise Rodriguez, we educate the community through various events, workshops, and demonstration gardens. Our Master Gardeners volunteer through our Outreach programs and community Projects to provide information and recommendations on horticultural topics to all residents of El Paso County.

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Webmaster: Mary Ann McCravey
Content Editor: Marlene Stalker

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