Category Archives: Growing Tips

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 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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Calylophus hartwegii: Hartweg's Sundrops / Fendler's Sundrops

July Plant of the Month- Hartweg’s Sundrops

July 2016 Calylophus hartwegii: Hartweg’s  Sundrops / Fendler’s Sundrops Form: Herb. Lifespan: Perennial. Growth rate: Rapid. Mature Size: 12-18″ high and 24″ wide. Flowers: Bright yellow, four petals, 24 hour lifespan, open in the evening and close the next afternoon just before the next set of flowers open. Bloom: Spring and summer. Fruit: Cylindrical seed capsule. Leaves: Green, linear to thinly lance-shaped. Stems: No thorns. Drooping to erect and become woody. Roots: Spreads by rhizomes. Wildlife: Attracts butterflies, bees, birds. Toxic / Danger: No. Origin:…

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Plant of the Month – Tulips

Plant of the Month –  Tulips Article & Photo by: Jan Koehler, SCMG Scientific Name: Tulipa gesneriana Linnaeus Other Common Name: Common garden tulip Type: Bulbs Family: Liliaceae Native Range: Temperate Central and West Asia through Siberia and China and North Africa Zone: 4-10 (8-10 need special considerations) Height: Less than 6” to 3’ depending on variety Spread: To 6” Bloom Time: Early, Mid and Late Spring depending on variety Bloom Description:  Perianth campanulate to cup-shaped; tepals caducous, 6, distinct, often blotched near base, petaloid, ±…

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Garden Planning

Article by: George W. Dickerson, Ph.D., NMSU Cooperative Extension Service Plan Vegetable Gardens before Planting Photo by: Sam Thompson, SCMG For productive plants and quality vegetables, take time to plan the layout and design of home vegetable gardens before tilling the soil. Choosing an appropriate site for planting depends on the number of family members consuming the produce, how much time the gardener has to care for plants and available yard space. Well-drained, fertile sandy loam soil and good sun exposure are important for optimum…

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Plant of the Month – Zonal Geranium

Plant of the Month: Zonal Geranium  Article & Photos by Jan Koehler, SCMG  Scientific Name: Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey (pro sp.) [inquinans × zonale] Other Common Name: Annual geranium, geranium, Type: Forb/herb, shrub, subshrub Family: Geraniaceae Native Range: South Africa Zone: 9-12 Height: 5-24” Spread: 12-15” Bloom Time: Mid-Spring until hard frost Bloom Description: Flowers can be single (5 petals) or double and come in clear white, pink, salmon, orange, red, magenta, lavender and bi-colors on flower head supported by stalks high above the leaves. Sun: Full…

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