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Make the Best of Beneficial Insects

by Connie Walsh, El Paso Master Gardener

Many insects are not pests since they pollinate flowers and vegetables and often feed on pests in our gardens. If you allow these beneficial insects to do their job, you can reduce the need for pesticides and improve local water quality.

There are two basic types of beneficial insects: parasites and predators. Parasites lay their eggs on or in the pest insects’ eggs or in the bodies of the pests. The larvae hatch and eat the pest. Predators work more directly. They eat the pest with powerful chewing mouth parts, or they suck them dry by using a tube-like mouth part.

Who are some of the good guys to be on the lookout for? Assassin bugs, bigeyed bugs, lacewings, lady beetles, minute pirate bugs, parasitic and predatory wasps, spiders, praying mantids, dragonflies, damselflies, and fireflies, just to name a few.

Keep these points in mind to make the best of the beneficial insects in your garden:

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Related Articles

Earth-Wise Guide to Beneficial Insects (photos + least toxic products)
Southwest Bugs
Pocket Guide to the Beneficial Insects of New Mexico
Landscape IPM — Beneficial Insects
Your Partners in the Garden: Helping Beneficial Insects
How Insects Grow & Change Form


Two Easy Ways to Contact Our Help Desk

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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.


Fruit Trees for El Paso

Peaches on Tree

Credit: Peaches on the Tree Before Thinning by Bev Clark, El Paso Master Gardener

by Jennifer MedinaSalter, El Paso Master Gardener

Nothing is sweeter than the taste of your very own fruit, grown and picked in your own back yard. Growing fruit trees in El Paso is not easy, but with some careful planning and work, you can reap the benefits. Here are some basics, and much more information is available at the Related Articles links, below.

First, choose where you are going to plant your tree. Fruit trees need abundant sun to flower and set fruit, so choose your location carefully. Fruit trees come in three sizes: dwarf, semi-dwarf and full sized, so you have options for the available space. Look for healthy looking specimens. Unless your selection self-pollinates, plan on planting more than one tree so they will have ample opportunity to cross pollinate. Late winter, when temperatures are cool and roots are dormant, is a good time to plant trees. Planting during the hotter months will make it difficult for the trees to become established and thrive. It may be necessary to properly stake young trees to protect them against our high spring winds.

Read more » 

Related Articles

Home Fruit Production — Stone Fruit (care manual and recommended varieties)
Fruit and Nut Resources
Fruit and Nut Resources: Citrus (plants in soil and containers)
Fruits and Nuts for New Mexico Orchards (varieties, care tips)
Texas Citrus and Sub-Tropical Fruit
Why Fruit Trees Fail to Bear
Training and Pruning Deciduous Fruit Trees (illustrated)
Pruning the Home Orchard (illustrated)
Follow Proper Pruning Techniques
Help Your Tree Survive in El Paso
Video Play Glyph How to Choose Fruit Trees
Video Play Glyph Deciduous Fruit Tree Pruning Videos
Video Play Glyph How to Identify Fruit Tree Problems


What Tree is for Me?

by Sabina Muñoz, El Paso Master Gardener

Red Bud in bloom

Credit: Red Bud in Bloom by Gail Hedrick, El Paso Master Gardener

Choosing a landscape tree is one of the most important decisions a home owner must make. Most trees have the potential of outliving the people who plant them, so the decision deserves some research and forethought.

What is the tree going to do? Will it provide shade, be a windbreak, screen an unpleasant view, provide fruit or nuts, provide seasonal color or ornamental blooms? Do you want an evergreen or a tree that sheds its leaves? Trees come in many shapes and sizes. They can be round, fan-shaped, conical, single-trunked and multi-trunked. Some can grow so big that they are disproportionate to home and neighborhood. Imagine what that cute tree in a nursery container will look like in a few years. The space you have should be large enough to support the mature tree without damaging walks and drives or interfering with utility and power lines above or below ground.

Read more »

Related Articles

Regional Recommended Tree List (TPG List)
Trees for High Desert Communities
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)
Testing Your Soil — How to Collect and Send Samples
Improving Soils: Crucial to Long-Term Success…
How to Improve Your Soil – Gardening in El Paso
Video Play Glyph Soil Testing (video)

Soil sample testing kits can be obtained from El Paso County’s Horticulture Extension office by calling 915-771-2354


tulips with beeBy the Season – Gardening in El Paso

March Monthly Tips
Vegetable Planting Calendar for El Paso County
Vegetable Varieties for El Paso County
Back to Basics: How to Start Seeds Indoors
Timely Tips on Starting Seedlings at Home (vegetables and flowering annuals)
Starting a Garden from Seeds — Gardening in El Paso
Earth-Kind® Composting
Benefits and Uses-Finished Compost
What is Vermicomposting and How Is It Done?
Home Fruit Production — Stone Fruit (care manual and recommended varieties)
Fruits and Nuts for New Mexico Orchards (varieties, care tips)
Training and Pruning Deciduous Fruit Trees (illustrated)
Low Desert Pruning Guide for Commonly Used Shrubs (includes Tips and Schedule)
Texas Tree Planning Guide: Planting, Pruning, and Care (text and video; Spanish version at page bottom of selected pages)
Trees for High Desert Communities
Regional Recommended Tree List (TPG List)
Help Your Tree Survive in El Paso (PDF)
Follow Proper Pruning Techniques-Shrubs, Trees, Vines, Groundcovers

Good to Grow Radio Shows  (Current and Archived)

Garden Design Tips
Spring Gardening
Spring Vegetables
Tree Selection
March Gardening Tips
Composting
Garden Design Trends
Gardening for Health
Rose Pruning
Spring Gardening Ideas
Irrigation, Part 1 of 2
Irrigation, Part 2 of 2
Tree Pruning Tips – Part 2
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.


Grow Your Own Transplants

by Skip Richter, HorticulturistAgrilife.org


How to Pick Plants and Trees at a Nursery
by John White, Horticulturistnmsuaces


Ready to Start Your Garden?

Bag and watering pailWhether you need to buy garden supplies or household items, when you start your shopping at AmazonSmile you can support the El Paso County Master Gardener Association. Asmile.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 amazon banner page banner when you donate:

You shop. Amazon gives.

Note: Only purchases at smile.amazon.com will support us or other charitable organizations (not www.amazon.com, nor the mobile app). Thank you for your support.


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 2018There 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 »


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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