Save the Date!

April is shaping up to be a busy month for those who want to learn more about gardening and see venues featuring native and adapted plants that do well in our area. Here are some of the upcoming events so you can mark your calendar. Soon we’ll be updating our Events page with more information.

April 7 –Vegetable Workshops & Plant Sale at the Ascarate Demonstration Garden featuring ornamentals, herbs, veggies, and herbs.
April 14 – El Paso Municipal Rose Garden Open House
April 14 – WaterSmart Plant Selection – TecH2O’s WaterSmart Landscape Series
April 28 & 29 – FloraFEST Native and Adapted Plant Sale at UTEP’s Centennial Museum & Chihuahuan Desert Gardens

Announcing the Sale of the
New 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.

For all these types of gardeners, the El Paso County Master Gardeners created a one-of-a-kind gardening handbook for our area. The El Paso Gardening Handbook addresses El Paso specific gardening concerns and best practices. With chapters on ornamentals, edibles, turf, native and adapted plants, woody plants, and climate, it will appeal to both experienced and novice gardeners. The handbook was written in cooperation with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and provides research-based information.

The handbooks are available for the purchase price of $10 each. Cash sales are preferred and no credit cards will be accepted.

For inquiries and purchase information, please contact the El Paso County Master Gardener Help Desk at (915) 771-2354, Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  Also, messages can be left on the Help Desk answering machine and your call will be returned.

Starting a Garden from Seeds by Martin Marin, El Paso Master Gardener

A little seed for me to sow… 

A little earth to make it grow…

A little hole, a little pat…

A little wish, and that is that.

A little sun, a little shower…

A little while, and then — a flower!*

Sounds simple? Getting a jump on spring by starting your plants from seed is not difficult. But we’ve all suffered failures in this process that maybe can be avoided by following simple basic rules.

Is the seed bed warm enough? With temperatures warming outside, the urge to plant is unbearable. But although the air is warm, the ground is cold. When this is the case, begin germination indoors. The ideal time is six to eight weeks before the last frost date or April 15th in our area. If you start them too soon, they will get leggy or outgrow their pots before it’s time to transplant them outdoors.

You are going to need planting trays, preferably with clear plastic tops to retain warmth and moisture and still let the light in. You can make seedling soil by using three parts peat moss, one part perlite and one part vermiculite (or buy some at the nursery). If you’re using peat pots, soak them in water first before adding soil.

Read more »

Related articles from the Learn » Gardening Topics-Links page:

Back to Basics: How to Start Seeds Indoors
Timely Tips on Starting Seedlings at Home
Vegetable Planting Calendar for El Paso County
Vegetable Varieties for El Paso County
Video Play GlyphHow to Start Tomato Plants from Seed

2 Easy Ways to Contact Our Help Desk

Do you have gardening or landscape questions and don’t know who to ask? The El Paso Master Gardener Help Desk is open now for the 2018 season. Our Help Desk hours are 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.

Tips for Soil Preparation and Improvement

As you start to plan your spring garden and maybe even start seeds indoors, you’ll want to consider the type of soil you have in your garden or raised bed. In the article Soil Preparation, by Joseph Masabni and Patrick Lillard, soil types are described and you’ll learn why and how to improve your soil. The benefits of raised beds are also described along with preparation and planting tips.

By the Season – Gardening in El Paso

March Monthly Tips
Video Play Glyph How to Care for Your Garden in March
Getting Your Vegetable Beds Ready for Spring
Starting a Garden from Seeds – Gardening in El Paso
Back to Basics: How to Start Seeds Indoors
Growing Roses (includes plant types and winter pruning)
The Best Date to Start Pruning Roses in El Paso? – Gardening in El Paso 
Video Play Glyph Pruning Roses for Maximum Display
Rose Pruning Handout
Pruning Shrubs in the Low and Mid-Elevation Deserts in Arizona
Low Desert Pruning Guide for Commonly Used Shrubs (includes Tips and Schedule)
Gardening with Perennials (including dividing; sections in Spanish)
Dividing Perennials
Texas Tree Planning, Planting, Pruning, and Care Guide (text and video; Spanish version at page bottom of selected pages)
Timely Tips on Starting Seedlings at Home
Texas Home Vegetable Gardening Guide
Vegetable Planting Calendar for El Paso County
Vegetable Varieties for El Paso County
Vegetables – Easy Gardening Series (scroll down for Spanish)
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)

Seed Planting
Container Gardening, Pt. 1
Container Gardening, Pt. 2
Rose Care
Rose Pruning
Rose Types
Every Rose Has Its Thorns
Spring Gardening Ideas
Tree Selection and Planting
Trees-What to Know Before You Buy
Tree Pruning
Vegetable Container Gardening
All About Tomatoes
Watering Your Landscape
Winter Weed Control

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.

Look for the Water Smart Workshops

The Water Smart Workshop series sponsored by TecH2O kicked off on January 13th with a talk by our Horticulture Extension Agent, Denise Rodriguez. The focus was on Earth-Kind® landscaping Deniseto show how and why it will benefit our El Paso landscapes. There are several more workshops planned on topics such as soil, plant selection, and lawns. Watch our Events page for more information as it becomes available. If you were able to attend the Earth-Kind® talk earlier this month, you’d have received a copy of this handout, 10 Ways to Make Your Landscape Earth-Kind®. Read it now and catch up!

How to Become an El Paso County Master Gardener

Speakers Bureau – Experts with Valuable Gardening Information

Speakers Bureau Penny Leslie_3-25-14

Credit: Penny Leslie by El Paso Master Gardeners

El Paso Master Gardeners love gardening and love to share information about gardening. We educate and inform through a variety of activities including a Speakers Bureau.

Our Speakers Bureau features an ever expanding array of gardening topics developed by experienced Master Gardeners using research-based information and resources from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

Read more »

Newcomer’s Gardening Snapshot for El Paso County

welcome signMany new residents arrive in El Paso each year from climates and growing conditions much different than the Chihuahuan desert. This Newcomer’s Snapshot highlights some main features of El Paso’s climate and provides links to helpful, informative websites. It also provides links to local gardens exhibiting native and adapted plants for local landscapes. We hope this information assists new gardeners in getting off to a fast start in their new Texas home.

Read more »

It’s Easy to Support El Paso Master Gardeners

clip art watering cansPlease support the El Paso County Master Gardener Association by starting your shopping at AmazonSmile. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the same convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to El Paso County Master Gardeners. You shop. Amazon gives.

Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations and you can use your existing Amazon.com account on AmazonSmile. You’ll know you’ve got it right when your AmazonSmile upper page banner shows this message: amazon banner.

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

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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