Category Archives: Growing Tips

Cold Frames for a Longer Season

Roy Archibald, SCMG A cold frame is a valuable tool for getting an early start in the garden and extending the season in the fall. We can begin planting at least a month earlier using one. In the fall adding a hoop cover can extend harvest for another month. The use of these adds an additional 60 days to our short gardening season. An easily constructed cold frame will provide protection from frost, temperature extremes, and drying winds. A cold frame in its simplest form…

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Winter Tree Care

By Dave Pojmann As we close one of the driest years on record, it’s time to think about the trees and bushes in our landscapes. Although the leaves have fallen, the roots of the trees are still active, and they need water to stay healthy. Young trees are especially vulnerable to winter damage if they don’t have enough water. A heavy soaking every three or four weeks is preferable to more frequent light watering. The water should be applied around the drip line of the…

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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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Winter Gardening – Planning for Spring Season by Loren Meinz Master Gardener

So, rather than winter boredom watching TV all day, there are some things we gardeners can and should be doing to get ready for spring season.  First, if you have fruit trees, January/February is the time for pruning.  After several years of my pruning efforts, my two trees are somewhat “odd” shaped, so this year I am hiring an arborist to give them a professional crew cut.  After pruning, consider applying dormant oil spray to rid the tree of left over pest bug eggs that…

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Neomexicanus Wild Hop

Growing Neomexicanus Wild Hop

CAUTION: — Growing Neomexicanus Wild Hop Can be addictive — and it is just about as practical as a mid-engine sports car. I have learned enough to know better over the past eight months, but I am more motivated now than ever to grow more next year. Not so much for my successes, but because of my experiences nurturing this amazing, fast-growing vertical giant that lights up the morning with bright fragrant cones that pack a delightful pungent bouquet. It was last October that I…

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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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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.