El Paso Master Gardeners Win with Research Project
At the 2019 Texas Master Gardener Association (TMGA) conference, the El Paso County Master Gardener Association (EPCMGA) was awarded 1st Place in the category of Large Association in the Search for Excellence 2018 Awards for a Research project. The Research award recognizes a Master Gardener project conducted with applied scientific methodology and with oversight provided by a Texas A&M AgriLife Services employee.
The Master Gardeners’ 2018 Research project began as an outgrowth of needed investigation when in 2017 the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV) infected most of the tomato plants propagated in the EPCMGA greenhouse. Vectored, or carried, by several types of whiteflies, the virus also infected backyard and small farm gardens across the county. Inquiries to identify the problem were made to the Master Gardener Help Desk and Information Tables. To prevent future large tomato crop losses, EPCMGA recognized the need to be able to recommend tomato varieties resistant to the TYLCV.
In the spring and summer of 2018, a team of El Paso Master Gardeners, led by Master Gardener Bev Clark, conducted a tomato field trial to test tomato varieties for their resistance to the TYLCV and identify which could be successfully grown in El Paso.
Home Gardening in El Paso
EPCC Classes Now Registering!
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 the El Paso Community College (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 Fall 2019 EPCC class starts Saturday, September 7th, and ends October 26th.
Registration has started and ends Friday, September 6th.
Read our EPCC Class Page to learn about class topics, times, and information needed for registering at El Paso Community College.
Why to Be on Alert for Rose Rosette Disease
by Roger “Doc” Stalker, El Paso Master Gardener
You may have read about a fatal viral disease devastating individual rose bushes and rose gardens in many parts of the United States, including several Texas counties. At present, as ongoing research continues, only an extremely small percentage of roses are thought to possibly be resistant to Rose Rosette Disease (RRD).
RRD was first observed in the United States during the early 1940s. Abnormal growth in the various parts of the rose create RRD symptoms like malformed leaves and flowers, “witches’ brooms”, excessive thorniness, and enlarged canes.
For nearly seventy years little was known for certain about the causal agent or how the disease is transmitted. In 2011 research determined RRD is caused by the appropriately named Rose Rosette Virus (RRV) and vectored, or carried, by a tiny eriophyid mite (Phyllocoptes fructiphilus). This mite is so small it travels on wind currents, insects, and wildlife to feed on and infect other roses. If rose bushes are touching, the mite can crawl onto the adjacent bushes, and may also hitch a ride on animals, clothing, garden equipment or even insects that visit infested roses.
For those of us who grow roses or enjoy receiving them on special occasions, reports in April 2019 that RRD had been found within 300 miles of the El Paso County line was a cause for alarm. The rose disease was found in Midland and Odessa, Texas.
Because there is no known treatment or cure, roses infected with the RRV will die within three to five years. During that period, the infected roses serve as hosts for the virus. Eriophyid mites landing and feeding on infected roses become vectors of RRD and capable of spreading the disease to other roses. Early detection of RRD and the complete removal of symptomatic roses, including the roots, so far has proven to be the most successful management practice for controlling the spread of RRD.
Before panicking over the possibility of perhaps losing a beloved rose bush to RRD, please keep reading:
- To date, RRD has NOT been reported in El Paso County or New Mexico.
- RRD might not reach El Paso County, but there is no guarantee that it won’t.
- Gardeners should scout roses for signs of possible RRV infection when purchasing new roses and on roses in their landscape.
- If you discover possible RRD symptoms, call the El Paso County office of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at (915) 771-2354.
- For more information on RRD research, management recommendations, and symptoms to look for when scouting for RRD click on the following links:
Applications to Master Gardener Program Closed for 2019
The application period for admittance to the 2019 El Paso Master Gardener Program has closed and new applications will no longer be accepted. Applications for the 2020 Program will be accepted next year, so please look for announcements next summer about the start of the 2020 Master Gardener Program. Thank you for your interest in becoming an El Paso Master Gardener.
Vote for Our Chihuahuan Desert Gardens!
Our UTEP Chihuahuan Desert Gardens is a finalist in the Lark Label Loves Gardens Sweepstakes! It is one of nine public gardens to make it to this final phase where online votes will be counted all of August. Let’s help bring positive attention to our desert climate and the beauty we find in xeriscape landscaping.
If you haven’t yet visited the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens on the UTEP campus, plan to go this year. You can see the wide variety of plants that grow well here such as flowering shrubs and perennials in addition to trees, succulents and cacti. You may come away with ideas for your own landscape.
We encourage you to vote and ask your friends, family, and employees to vote for the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens. The voting is open to the public. Everyone voting can only vote once a day but can vote every day. The voting phase opens August 1 and runs until August 31, 2019. At the end of contest, the garden with the most votes wins $1000 towards educational and plant identification signage.
Vote for the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens! Just click this link today*: https://larklabel.com/loves-garden-choices/
*Note: An email address is required as part of the voting process.
Buzz Off! Prevent Mosquitoes to Reduce Disease
by Marlene Stalker, El Paso Master Gardener
Editor’s Note: El Paso has seen new cases of West Nile virus this summer. The article below covers how to control mosquitos and how to protect yourself.
Mosquito-transmitted diseases are on our radar now more than ever. The bite of an infected mosquito can spread West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue, and Zika. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s “Mosquito Safari” is an interactive audio-visual website that takes you around a house and neighborhood to learn where mosquitoes will breed so they can be eliminated. The website also discusses mosquito-borne diseases and how to control them.
How to Attract Pollinators to Your Garden
by Josie Gonzalez, El Paso Master Gardener
Bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies, and some beetles pollinate more than seventy percent of flowering plants. These important insects are called pollinators. Although bats, birds, and even lemurs can pollinate flowers, the vast majority of pollinating animals, world-wide, are insects.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, close to seventy-five percent of the flowering plants on earth rely to some degree on pollinators in order to set seeds or fruit. One-third of the food for humans comes from flowering plants and an even greater proportion of the food for our wildlife comes from them.
Although beautiful healthy plants are able to emerge without pollinators, no fruits or seeds are generated. Some El Paso gardeners have experienced this dilemma only to find themselves pollinating their vegetables with cotton swabs and tiny paint brushes. If you are one of these unfortunate gardeners, you have experienced the importance of pollinators or rather the lack of pollinators. Here are a few ideas that may help you to attract more pollinators to your garden.
Related articles from the Learn » Gardening Topics-Links page:
Revised Pollinator Plant Recommendations for New Mexico (annuals, perennials and shrubs; includes bloom season)
Plant a Honey Bee Friendly Garden (includes native bees & bee-attracting plants)
Create a Hummingbird and Butterfly Habitat
Easy to Find Us – Master Gardener Information Tables
This summer you can find our Information Tables, often with freshly grown produce, in two locations. El Paso County Master Gardeners are serving up helpful bites of research-based gardening information with a variety of vegetables for you to purchase. We grow the vegetables locally at our Ascarate Teaching and Demonstration Garden and our Texas A&M AgriLife Vegetable Demonstration Garden.
Our Saturday Information Tables have been popular at Ardovino’s Farmers’ Market for many years. Take advantage of our ability to answer your gardening questions. You’ll find free publications on gardening and how to become a Master Gardener. Produce will be sold as it becomes available.
On alternate Tuesdays you can find our Ascarate Information Tables on the grassy area outside the El Paso County Tax Office on Manny Martinez Sr. Drive. Come to ask questions, pick up free gardening literature on a variety of topics, and learn about the Texas Master Gardener program. Most Tuesdays will have fresh produce for sale.
Visit our Events page to learn more including the dates and times of both Information Tables.
Good to Grow Radio Shows
(Current and Archived)
Stressed Out Gardens (incl. positive aspects of gardening)
August Gardening Tips
4th of July Planting (Harvest bounties and fall planting tips)
Fall Gardening Tips
Summer Garden Care
Summer Container Gardening Tips
Watering Your Landscape
Irrigation, Part 1 of 2
Irrigation, Part 2 of 2
Proper Pruning Tips
Made in the Shade, Part 1 of 2
Made in the Shade, Part 2 of 2
Hummingbird and Butterfly Habitats
Garden Weed Control
August Monthly Tips
Watering Trees and Shrubs: Simple techniques for efficient landscape watering
Efficient Use of Water in the Garden and Landscape
Watering Trees and Shrubs: Simple Techniques for Efficient Landscape Watering
Watering Tips for Lawns, Vegetable Gardens and Trees – Gardening in El Paso
Lawn Water Management
Vegetable Planting Calendar for El Paso County
Vegetable Varieties for El Paso County
Texas Tree Planning Guide: Planting, Pruning, and Care (text and video; Spanish version at page bottom of select pages)
Help Your Tree Survive in El Paso (PDF)
Pruning Shrubs in the Low and Mid-Elevation Deserts in Arizona
Low Desert Pruning Guide for Commonly Used Shrubs (includes Tips and Schedule)
Propagation – A Variety of Techniques
Propagating Foliage and Flowering Plants
The Secret to Growing Tomatoes in El Paso
Tomato Problem Solver
Pests of Foliage and Flowering Plants
Bug Book-Insect ID and Control
Two Easy Ways to Contact Our Help Desk
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.
Shopping for Back to School?
Support Us with AmazonSmile
Whether you need to buy school supplies, clothing, garden or household items, when you start your shopping at AmazonSmile you can support the El Paso County Master Gardener Association. At smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the same convenient shopping experience as at Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of your cart’s value to El Paso County Master Gardeners. Look for this upper page banner when you donate:
You shop. Amazon gives.
Improve Your Skills with Our
Informative El Paso Gardening Handbook
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