Category Archives: Tips & Ideas

Southwest Yard & Garden – Growing Beautiful Bulbs Can Be a Breeze

Question: My friend recently gave me a bag of mixed bulbs to try in my yard. She assured me they’ll be easy to plant and manage, but I’m afraid of killing them before they even have a chance. What are the most important tips for growing bulbs here, and how can I know if I’m doing it right or not? Suzanne S., Las Cruces Answer: Don’t worry, I’ve simplified the steps for bulb planting in this column and included pro tips from a regionally revered…

Read More »

Southwest Yard & Garden – Comparing Apples to Apples: The Variety Game

  Question: We need help identifying this apple variety. Our tree was here when we moved in a little over a year ago and we don’t know what they are. Amanda M.W., Mayhill, NM Answer: More than 7,500 named apple varieties are grown throughout the world today, over 2,500 of which are grown in the U.S. Even if we narrow that down to the 100 or so varieties grown commercially in the U.S., it can be very difficult to determine exactly which variety you are…

Read More »

Southwest Yard & Garden – How Frost Affects Plants: The Champs vs. The Wimps

We harvested and weighed over 1,100 lb of unripe tomatoes from frost-bitten plants last week at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas. Photo credit M. Thompson. Question: Why did some plants in my garden handle the first freeze just fine, and others died back completely? Jane P., Albuquerque Answer: I was in Las Cruces last week when we got our first two freezes in Los Lunas. Luckily, my poor houseplants on the patio didn’t freeze hard enough—or for long enough—to cause permanent damage.…

Read More »

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.…

Read More »

Gardening in the Desert – The key is managing evaporation!

By John Zarola, with Dudley Vines Evaporation occurs due to intense sunshine, high winds, low humidity, and high temperatures—all of which we have in abundance. Methods we can employ to minimize evaporation include Amending the soil with compost to improve water retention; Avoiding bare soil by mulching, shading, and cover cropping Putting the right plant in the right place Incorporating efficient irrigation options AMENDING THE SOIL Compost is decomposed organic material. Amending soil with compost improves water infiltration and retention. Because compost decomposes (adding nutrients…

Read More »

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…

Read More »

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…

Read More »

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…

Read More »

Winter Watering, Pruning, and Landscape Assessment

By Sandy Liakus, SCMG Watering Watering in the winter is essential to tree and shrub health in our high desert landscapes. In order for most established landscape trees and shrubs to flourish in our climate, you must deep water them at least once per month in the donut feeding root zone. Continue this deep watering schedule through the end of April, at which time you will need to increase the watering schedule to two times per month. An exception to this rule is newly planted…

Read More »