Category Archives: Growing Tips

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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Puncture vine (a.k.a. Goathead) Tribulus terrestris

If you are new to gardening in New Mexico, you may not be familiar with the puncture vine, but once you step on one, you will become acquainted with this invasive weed very quickly. They are built to survive in an arid climate, and the seeds may last upward of twenty years, just waiting for the right climate in which to sprout. They are called goat heads because the fruit resembles the head of a goat or a bull. The fruits break up into several…

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Vegetables for Decoration?

If your garden is space challenged, and you can’t decide to use the available area for vegetables or flowers, you might consider using vegetables within the flower garden. For example, lettuce makes an attractive border in a flower garden. Nasturtiums are edible flowers. Other salad ingredients, such as spinach and arugula can also be integrated with flowers. I let a patch of arugula go to seed, and last fall, found arugula growing along the garden path. By late winter, it had grown to almost two…

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Observe the “Micro Environments” in your Yard

Observe the “Micro Environments” in your Yard In general, locations with morning sun and afternoon shade are cooler spots.  Filtered shade (under trees) are also cooler.  Full sun all day requires tough plants.  Even if the tag on the plant says full sun, it may not mean full New Mexico sun.  The plant also has to stand up to the heat.  Afternoon sun can be a hot spot, especially against a wall.  Read books, check out sites on the internet, observe plants in your neighborhood,…

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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.

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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Tree Care

Tree Care

Tree Care by David Pojmann There are major differences between country trees and urban trees. Country trees grew up in a favorable environment, along with others of their species, and adjusted slowly over the years to the soil conditions, water availability and micro-climates. They may have competed and won over other species of trees and other plants as well. Urban trees generally grew up in a nursery where their environment was closely regulated with the goal of fast growth over durability, and their roots were…

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Winter Gardening Tasks

Winter Garden Chores

Winter Garden Chores By Dudley Vines Winter is a slow time for gardeners. Many folks enjoy looking through nursery catalogs and planning next year’s garden. Winter is also a good time to clean, sharpen, oil, and otherwise maintain your garden tools. And hopefully, you’re enjoying some of your produce from last year, if you canned or froze it. Did you know that the Extension Service offers free classes and facilities for canning? Educational bulletins are available on the http://bernalilloextension.nmsu.edu/mastercomposter/index.htmlwebsite and here’s the canning center website.…

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Agarita (Berberis Trifoliolata)

Plant of the Month- Agarita

Agarita (Berberis trifoliolata) Agarita is a plant native to New Mexico, Texas and Northern Mexico Agarita is low maintenance, drought tolerant, evergreen, and hardy to 15 degrees F. It is adaptable to other soils as long as they are well-drained. It forms its best shape in full sun, but will grow in light shade. These shrubs are best planted in the fall, bloom in the spring and offer their berries for making delicious jelly in the fall. Plant Habit or Use: medium shrub Exposure: sun…

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Plant of the Month- Apache Plume

Fallugia paradoxa : Apache plume Ponil Rosaceae (Rose Family) Kingdom Plantae – Plants Subkingdom Tracheobionta Superdivision Spermatophyta Division Magnoliophyta Class Magnoliopsida Subclass Rosidae Order Rosales Family Rosaceae – Rose family Genus Fallugia Endl. – Apache plume Species Fallugia paradoxa (D. Don) Endlex Torr. – Apache plume Apache-plume is a slender, upright, deciduous to semi-evergreen, multi-branched shrub, 2-6 ft. tall, with grayish-white, pubescent branches. A shrub with white flowers and silvery puffs of fruit heads borne at the tips of very dense, intertangled, twiggy, slender branches.…

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