Category Archives: Experiences


by Carol Dimeff Sandoval County Master Gardeners toured Sananbio, Inc. in Albuquerque, doing R&D on new cultivars of lettuce. Plants are incubated from seed, then grown hydroponically under trademark LED lights, 30 cm. from light-to-bed. Production averages 500 lbs./10,000 sq. ft./day, with 12-15 harvests per year. Selection trials vary different light waves for optimal growth, including blue light for the development of anthocyanin. The LED lights are full-spectrum and have a long lifespan. Participants were offered to taste various lettuces as well as their “Salanova…

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Science Triumphs

By Dudley Vines, SCMG A few months ago Linda Walsh, a 2018 SCMG intern, emailed me (one of her mentors) worried about some spots on her cherry tree. She said they looked like tiny red bugs, but since they didn’t move she thought maybe they were some sort of scale or mites. She sprayed the tree with a light-weight horticultural oil, but didn’t see any noticeable results. Then, at the SCMG end of training celebration, Linda approached me and told me her continuing sad tale.…

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The Garden Sleeps

By Jan Koehler, SCMG There comes a time each year when even the most engaged gardener appreciates the declining day length and cooler temperatures which signal that the end of arduous toil, however be-loved, is winding down for the year. The amount of time spent watering pots or plots, denuding an area of unwanted plant growth, commonly known as weeds, and deadheading flowers to encourage yet one more flush of lively color or harvesting those tasty morsels of homegrown vegetables is finally coming to a…

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Simple seedling waterer

Watering Seeds and Seedlings

Have you ever washed out the seeds you were trying to get to germinate by applying too much water?  Have you ever used a mister to avoid washing out seedlings, only to discover that they dried up due to lack of soil moisture? That has happened to me on too many occasions, so I decided to look for a way to apply the right amount of water on my seeds and seedlings and discovered a very economical way to do it. I drilled holes of…

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HOMEscape Solutions (. . . another SCMG class that really works!!)

By Charlene Spiegel I took my first HOMEscape Solutions class in the spring of 2010.  I had just moved from California to Rio Rancho the year before and I wanted to create some sort of landscape out of the never ending sand dunes that made up my ½ acre property, which was located high on the mesa just west of Unser Blvd and suffered greatly from the constant winds and blowing sand. The class made a believer out of me! Not ever having been much…

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Who’s Afraid of Curly Top?

Who’s Afraid of Curly Top?

You may remember the old Shirley Temple movies, with that cute little tap dancing tot that could charm even the crustiest curmudgeon. Shirley was nicknamed Curly Top, and she even starred in a movie by that name.

Shirley Temple

But there is another Curly Top. And it strikes fear into gardeners’ hearts. I speak of the dreaded curly top virus. There are no sprays to prevent it, and no chemicals to treat it. I have lost tomatoes to the curly top virus, and you will probably have too, or will. Before you set out tomato plants in your garden next year, while you have lots of time on your hands now that it’s winter, look over this excerpt from NMSU ACES bulletin H-106 by Dr. Natalie Goldberg. If you’re an intern, you’ll have a class on Plant Pathology next Valentine’s Day led by Dr. Goldberg, who is equally as charming as Shirley Temple.

Curly Top Virus (Photo: N. Goldberg, NMSU - PDC)
Curly top virus (CTV), or beet curly top virus (BCTV) as it is more formally known, is widespread throughout arid and semi-arid regions of the world.(Photo: N. Goldberg, NMSU – PDC)

Reading this may motivate you to go out and rid your property of those tumbleweeds and mustard plants that seem to grow everywhere around these parts.

Curly Top Virus (click on link to see the complete bulletin)
Guide H-106
Natalie P. Goldberg, Extension Plant Pathologist

Curly top virus (CTV), or beet curly top virus (BCTV) as it is more formally known, is widespread throughout arid and semi-arid regions of the world. The virus is common in the western United States from Mexico to Canada and in the eastern Mediterranean Basin. The virus has a wide host range, causing disease in over 300 species in 44 plant families. The most commonly infected hosts include sugar beets (for which the disease was first named), tomatoes, peppers, beans, potatoes, spinach, cucurbits, cabbage, alfalfa, and many ornamentals. The virus also survives in many weeds, such as Russian thistle (tumbleweed) and mustard.

This disease is transmitted (vectored) from infected to healthy plants by a small insect called the beet leafhopper (Circulifer tenellus). The leafhopper is an effective vector because it is able to transmit the virus after feeding on an infected plant for as little as 1 minute and can subsequently
transmit the virus for the remainder of its lifetime.

While the disease can occur in commercial fields, it is particularly troublesome in home garden situations. The occurrence of this disease in home gardens may be due, in part, to the presence of alternate hosts that leafhoppers prefer to feed on, as well as an increased likelihood of infected source plants in the area. There are no chemicals available for controlling the virus, but several cultural practices can help reduce or eliminate infections. Although resistance to curly top is not known, growers may benefit from trying to identify cultivars that are somewhat tolerant of the virus. Good sanitation practices, such as weed and insect control, are also essential in limiting the occurrence of the disease. Home gardeners may also consider planting susceptible hosts, such as tomatoes and peppers, in a slightly shaded part of the garden, as leafhoppers prefer to feed in sunny locations. If the garden is in full sun, it may be helpful to place a netted cage over the plants when they are young. This netted material will provide a small amount of shade and, if the holes are small enough, may actually prevent leafhoppers from getting to the plants. If a cage is used, be sure the plant doesn’t actually touch the netted material, as this will reduce the effectiveness. Remove cages when the plants are mature, as they are less susceptible to infection and will benefit from increased light for fruit development. All diseased plants should be removed from the field or garden as soon as they are noticed so that they do not continue to provide a source of the virus for transmission to healthy plants.

Humulus lupulus var. Neomexicanus

Wild Hop- Humulus lupulus var. neomexicanus

-Southwest Plant of the Month Humulus lupulus var. Neomexicanus is a wild hop that is native to the streams and river areas of the New Mexico mountains and throughout the Western states region. Humulus (hops) belongs to the Cannabacea flowering family of plants that includes around 170 species grouped in about 11 genera that also includes its more famous cousin, Cannabis (hemp), as well as, Celtis (hackberries). Below, Sandoval County Master Gardener, Jim Dodson, son Aseph and daughter, Mary-Elizabeth, posing in front of some late…

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Pumpkins grown in compost

Compost and Curcubits

by David Pojmann Several years ago, I read an article about growing cucurbits in a compost pile. I finally decided to try the concept in 2016. My compost pile consisted mainly of leaves and various plants from the garden. I had started it in the fall and decided to use the compost in June. After sorting and screening the compost, I found that there were some spots that did not have enough water and had not fully decayed. I made a new pile of that…

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How Does Your Garden Grow?

Guest Column & Photography by Jim Dodson, SCMG Editor My garden grows on inspiration and encouragement from others. A year ago I landed in Bernalillo without a clue as to what I intended to do after twenty years as an Analyst Programmer. I took the time to participate in the SCMG program as a 2016 intern and a year later I am inspired and encouraged to become a hops farmer in 2017. This week I visited an amazing inspiration for my hops vision, located just…

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