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Monday, June 01, 2009

Gray Watering – & – Make Your Own Rain Barrel

By Melanie Deason, Master Gardener

Water your trees with collected water (especially those fruit trees that need extra water in warmer weather to help produce a nice crop of fruit). Move the garden hose around to a new tree every time you have bath water, and you'll save lots on your water bill.

Bathtub Water

Some folks save bathtub water (use biodegradable soaps shampoos and pump it out a window, using a little electric fountain pump attached to a smaller hose/brass adapter) that fits a regular garden hose.

  • Whether you are upstairs or on the ground floor, that little pump can move the water out of the tub and to the ground – into an old trash can with water spigot at the bottom, or straight to the tree.
  • Just stay nearby and listen to the pump because as the water lowers to the last inch, the pump will start to "slurp."
  • Turn off the pump by pulling the plug from the GFCI wall receptacle, WITH DRY HANDS, PLEASE, and not the pump cord, so as not to risk shock.
  • Also be sure the pump cord is NOT anyplace wet – like sitting on the wet bath towel.
  • By following these guidelines, you'll likely save lots of water on your water bill, and your trees will appreciate it.

Barrels for Water Catchment, with Spigot and Garden Hose Attached

You can buy one ready made for $80, or you can adapt an inexpensive plastic trash barrel with another $10 in parts.

  • Buy: ONE brass water faucet spigot (male with threads) that is straight and not curved down, and ONE short piece (3-4 inches) of white PVC (female/outside) that the spigot will screw into. Add TWO rubber washers (round, not garden hose flat) that fit snugly around the threads of the spigot.
  • Use a wood bit (has a center point plus two cutting side points) that is the exact diameter/size of the threaded part of the spigot to drill the hole. This type of bit will easily drill through the plastic barrel – on the SIDE of the barrel, about three inches from the bottom, but NOT TOO LOW, or you won't be able to hook the garden hose up to the faucet. (Of course, DO NOT DRILL THE BARREL BOTTOM.)
  • Each washer will be the 'bread' that sandwiches into EITHER SIDE of the barrel. To assemble, place one washer onto the spigot. Insert spigot into opening from outside the barrel. Attach second washer onto spigot inside the barrel. Attach PVC section. Tighten by hand and wrench lightly so to not stress the plastic barrel. Compression flattens the two washers and ensures the barrel does not leak.
  • Be sure the angle of the faucet is slightly horizontal, not pointing downward so the hose can be hooked up. (Test this hose hookup BEFORE filling the barrel with water.)
  • It's a little time consuming to convert trash barrels to water barrels, but if you're doing a few for catching water at your roof canales (or down spouts from the roof), then it's worth the effort.
  • Caution about Birds and Pets: Save the lid from these barrels and invert them; the curved part is down. Drill 3-4 holes around the side of the lid and 3-4 more on the top edge of the barrel. Fasten lid to barrel with wire. This way the lid is securely attached to the barrel and no wildlife or pets fall in to drown. ALSO, drill a half dozen or more large holes in the lid, so that water falling as rain or canale runoff can easily drain into the barrel.
  • At the end of the warm season, unhook the garden hoses and open the spigot, so any water trapped inside can drain out. If it catches canale runoff and freezes later, the barrel usually handles the stress.

Water-wise Water Features

By Paul A. Zeir

Combine beauty and conservation. Build your pond as part of your property's water collection and irrigation system. Roof run-off and landscape run-off can be collected in an ornamental pond, filtered for fish and plants and distributed to landscape and shrubs. Shading the pond itself with trees and aquatic plants cuts down on evaporation. Water attracts water!

Paul A. Zeir—REFLECTIONS Ponds & Fountains, www.reflectionsponds.com

Keeping the Critters at Bay!

By Joy Mandelbaum, Master Gardener

Already tried EVERYTHING to keep the rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks from gnawing on your plants and digging holes in your garden??

I have tried with success a product called Bobbex R animal repellant concentrate (32 fl oz. That makes 256 fl. oz.). It is non-burning and has no harmful residue. It can be used on fruits and vegetables, but not edible leaves, herbs or rough-skinned berries. Active ingredients include putrescent whole egg solids, castor oil, cloves and garlic oil.

Available from Bobbex, Inc., 52 Hattertown Road, in Newtown, CT 06470. Call them at 1.800.792.4449 or check their website at www.bobbex.com

Jade Plant Care

By Christina Gale, Master Gardener

The jade plant (Crassula) is a common, slow-growing succulent grown as a houseplant. It likes bright indirect light and will grow in partial shade. Water is stored in the leaves, stem and roots. The plant prefers dry soil, so let it dry out before watering again. Avoid getting water on the leaves because it acts as a magnifying glass and causes burns on the leaves if you put them in the sun. When pruning, use a sharp pair of scissors, make clean cuts so it will heal quicker. For large plants, you will want to prune to redistribute the weight so they don't get top heavy or lopsided. Make the cuts close to the branch so you won't leave unsightly stumps. If you like, prune them like you would a fruit tree and shape the plant you want it to look.

If you want to propagate plants from the cuttings, you can look for red-dish brown root hairs poking out of the branches. With root hairs your cuttings are good to plant directly into a new pot, much easier than from the leaves.

Pot-grown Tomatoes Give Higher Yields

By David Van Winkle, Master Gardener

Growing tomatoes in a pot can be more successful than in the ground. Last year, I grew a cherry tomato bush in a pot and it produced 670 tomatoes. My neighbor grew tomatoes in the ground, and his started flowering and blooming weeks after my potted plants. Tomato soil needs to reach 55 degrees to start this process, and potted soil warms faster than in-ground plants.

Gardening with Rocks

By Cathy Morlock, Master Gardener

You can't grow a rock, but the combination of a beautiful rock and living plants can make your garden a special place. Rock comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes and forms from small landscape gravel to river stones and large stone pavers. Its uses in the garden are nearly endless. Gravel can be used for pathways and for mulch. Medium and larger stones can be used for edging or planters. Benches, fire pits, patios, and raised beds can all be made from stone of various sizes. Big rocks can be used as features and focal points: a boulder can be partially buried to add mass, height, and a feeling of stability to the garden. Small, smooth stones can be used at the bottom of water features. In a Japanese garden, rocks and boulders represent islands, mountains, and holy places. Your rocks can represent whatever you like.

If you are a rock hound AND a gardener, what a lucky combination. Pick up specimens on your walks and hikes and introduce them to your garden in creative ways. The stone that is native to your area may look best because that is its natural habitat, but don't be limited – use what pleases you. Look for rocks and stones in different shapes and sizes. Use a combination of shiny, matte, and pitted surfaces, similar to the way you select plants with different heights and textures.

Observe how rocks and plants interact in the wild. See how a group of rocks looks together, partially embedded in the ground, revealing only some of their beauty, how the plants get started and then thrive among the rocks in a micro-climate using the rocks as shade or as water collectors and as temperature regulators (rocks heat up during the day and give off heat at night). Notice that you can create the same kind of scenes in your garden. This gives your garden the look of the surrounding landscape and the rook looks as though it belongs there, not as if you decided to drop a pile of rocks into the garden.

Above all, have fun with landscaping and rocks!

Design the Best Birdbath

Say "birdbath" and most people will think of a concrete basin on a pedestal, the kind often sold in lawn and garden shops. Though these baths make nice lawn ornaments, they aren't the best setup for most birds. For one thing, they're often too deep. A good birdbath mimics shallow puddles, which are nature's birdbaths.

Find a Better Birdbath

When you're choosing a birdbath, look for one with a basin you can clean easily. It should also have a gentle slope to allow birds to wade into the water. You can make your own bath out of a garbage can lid, a saucer-type snow sled, or even an old frying pan. But if you'd rather buy one, look for a birdbath made of tough plastic that won't break if the water freezes or if your dog knocks it over.

Setting Up a Birdbath

Try to imitate a natural puddle when you're installing your birdbath. Birds seem to prefer baths that are at ground level, but if you are concerned about cats, raise the bath two or three feet off the ground. And put it where you'll have a good view of the birds. It's a good idea to put some sand in the bottom of the bath, to give the birds sure footing. If the path is on the ground, arrange a few branches or stones so birds can stand on them and drink without getting wet (this is especially important in the winter). Place your birdbath in the shade, near trees or shrubs if possible. A shady location slows evaporation and keeps the water fresh longer. Birds can't fly well when they're wet, so they're vulnerable to predators when they're bathing. With cover nearby, they can escape quickly if interrupted by a cat or a hawk—and they'll be more likely to venture into the water.

One of the best ways to make your birdbath more attractive is to provide some motion on the water's surface. Water dripping from an irrigation emitter or old bucket with a hole in the bottom catches the attention of birds.

Keep the Birdbath from Freezing

Put a light bulb in a flowerpot and set the water basin on top. The heat from the bulb will provide more than enough heat to keep the water from freezing.

Keep the Birdbath Full and Clean Always

These two practices will make your birdbath attractive to large numbers of birds.

Adapted from www.birds.cornell.edu

Do it with Worms

By Sam McCarthy

Backyard composting? Too hard? Too smelly? Too dry in New Mexico? If one or more of these characterizes your experience with home composting, yet you understand the tremendous benefits to our environment that this simple activity can have, behold the amazing redworm. Compared with other methods, composting with redworms requires the least labor, the least water, and in most cases, the least time to complete. The best part (so good it should be illegal) is that worm compost—castings—is simply the most fabulous compost in the known universe.

To compost outdoors with redworms, you will need the following:

  1. A bin with insulated walls, and little or no air vents. Straw bales arranged in a rectangle or square are ideal.
  2. Wet bedding filling the bin for the worms to inhabit. Examples include: loose straw, leaves, and shredded paper.
  3. Food waste from your kitchen or your friends' kitchens.

How to set up your worm bin:

  1. Arrange the bales into a rectangle. Five or six bales are about minimum for one average household.A block or stucco wall or fence can serve as one of the walls. Wet the bedding thoroughly and fill the bin at least 12 inches.
  2. After two to three days, introduce the worms. One quarter or up to one pound is adequate to begin.
  3. Begin feeding the worms kitchen waste, slowly at first. Start with one day's waste per week for the first month, then move to two days' per week for second month, and so on until the worm population has increased sufficiently to accept all the waste you produce.
  4. All food wastes must be covered by bedding, either existing bedding or new bedding applied to the surface. When bedding is no longer distinguishable from compost, more must be added to the surface. There is no such thing as too much bedding, only too little.
  5. Maintain moisture at a high level by light, periodic applications and checking corners, edges, and depth frequently. Water heavily from the top when needed.
  6. Do not turn the pile. Turning compost will invigorate bacteria to the degree that the pile may become hot enough to kill the worms.

Other materials to add:

  • Light layer of soil periodically
  • Manure in thin layers – 2 to 3 inches
  • Yard debris
  • Shredded junk mail, paper, and cardboard

A pile can be fed indefinitely, either until you wish to harvest the compost or the begins to overfill. A second layer of bales can be added. At this time a new bin must be constructed and the process started again. If roots from surrounding bushes or trees can invade the pile, a layer of plastic beneath the pile may help. Remember, bedding is both a home and a part of the worm diet. Bedding must be added to the pile in quantities approximately twice that of the food wastes.

Redworms are for sale at the SF Farmers Market on Saturdays, or call the author at 310-3971.

Attract Bees to Your Garden

The Blue Orchard Mason Bee is a native species found throughout the U.S. This mighty pollinator, doing the work of 120 European honey bees, is not affected by many of the maladies harming honey bees. To attract and build a population of these industrious native bees in your garden, you need two basic elements: flowers to pollinate and nests to dwell in.

Blue orchard bees are most likely already buzzing around your neighborhood if you have fruit or flowering trees and the right spring blooming perennials and annuals.

Install Nest Tubes to Attract Bees

To attract bees to your garden and help them begin to build their population, you should provide Blue Orchard Mason Bee nest tubes in which they can raise their young.

These nesting tubes are put out in March and April when the recently mated female bees are looking for sheltered spots to lay their eggs. The female mason bees lay their eggs in the nest tubes. Here they hatch into larvae which the mother bee feeds with pollen from surrounding flowers. By mid-summer, the larvae turn into cocoons where they rest in their protective tube until they hatch as new adult bees the following spring.

Mount these nesting tubes in full sun on an east or south facing fence or wall. Here the mason bees will find them and move in.

If you find there are no cocoons in your nesting tubes by late summer (mid-August/September), you should order mason bee cocoons which will be sent to you the following January through March.

Plants to Attract Blue Orchard Mason Bees

To attract these industrious pollinators to your neighborhood, plant a wide range of flowering plants. Fruit trees (like apricots, almonds, plums, cherries, apples and others), flowering trees (like crabapples, ornamental pears, plums, cherries and others), flowering and fruiting shrubs like Ribes 'Crandall' (Current), Prunus besseyi 'Select Spreader' and 'Pawnee Buttes' (Sand Cherry), Philadelphus 'June bride' or 'Cheyenne' (Mock Orange) and Rhus 'Autumn Amber' (Three Leaf Sumac) and others.

Perennial flowers like Salvia juriscii 'Blue' (Cutleaf Sage), Erigeron 'Basin Fleabane' (Fleabane), Amsonia 'Jones’ Bluestar' (Bluestar), Rosmarinus 'Irene' (Rosemary), Nepeta (Catmint) and Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) are also excellent pollen providers.

Copyright © 1998-2009 Santa Fe Greenhouses, Inc DBA High Country Gardens, ® Reprinted with permission.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ten Modest Proposals for Good Gardening

By Mary McCormick

  1. Grow food. If you don't already, consider starting small. Try a few big pots (maybe recycled plastic ones, 15-gallon or bigger). Mix greens into high-water plantings. Buy or build a hoop house for nearly year-round fresh vegetables. Get some perennial food crops started: grape vines, rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, raspberry bushes, strawberries, a dwarf or semi-dwarf fruit tree or two. Plant herbs in or with your flowers or in pots. Grow sprouts on a windowsill.
  2. Mulch, Mulch again. Then, mulch again. Organic mulches retain water and also improve the soil as the materials break down. Let leaves lie on the ground over the winter, holding moisture in the soil.
  3. Water in winter. Anything panted in the last season or two needs winter water (late fall to late spring, while irrigation lines are shut down) every three weeks or so, unless snow or rain consistently falls.
  4. Organic Homemade Garden Remedies

    Garlic as a fungicide? Apple cider vinegar for leafspot, mildew and scab? Chamomile tea to prevent seedling damping off? Ground up grapefruit and lemon rind as cat and dog repellant? Check out and try all the natural, organic remedies on www.ghorganics.com

    Nourish the soil, and it will nourish the plants. There's a whole world of living creatures down there. They matter. Use organic nutrients rather than chemical applications. Apply microbial inoculants. Try alternatives to the toxins in insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides.
  5. Problem-solve. Look first at the big three: soil, sun and water. Stressed plants are more likely to attract pests.
  6. Experiment. Accept that not every plant will live. Know that not every plant will like the conditions where you put it. Understand that not every pruning job will look great when first finished.
  7. Expect changes. The variables are endless and inter-related, often in ways we don't know or wouldn't expect. One year will be different from another. Some plants will try to take over. Others will hardly hang on. Plants in rows, for instance, rarely grow with industrial regularity.
  8. Observe. Spend time in your garden, time when you're not officially gardening with a tool in your hand, time when you can just notice how all the life around you is getting along. In such quiet, you can often sense what needs doing. And then, spend a little more time in the quiet, before the doing.
  9. Don't get dismayed by what you don't know. Gardening is an exploration. Be unintimidated by the times when something doesn't work.
  10. Leave part of your property untended, wild, untrammeled. Here can be a place where plants and animals lead private lives, a place where you are not involved.

Mary McCormick Landscapes, 920-1531

Efficient water use is effective water use

By Dr. Curtis Smith, NMSU Extension Horticulture Specialist

Efficient use of water means more than reducing water use. It means the water must accomplish the purpose intended, the proper growth of plants. Water used to grow plants, but not used effectively is wasted because the plants do not grow as intended.

Landscape irrigation has several purposes, but ultimately the purpose is to sustain an attractive landscape while using the water efficiently.

One landscape use of water is to establish plants. At this time the plants are usually small and require less water than when they are large, but water must be provided frequently. After plants are established water is used to foster optimal growth. Maintaining optimal growth requires more water than that necessary to just keep the plants alive. However, during times of drought water is used only to keep the plants alive until the drought has ended. The plants may not be as attractive during a period of irrigation for survival, but if kept alive, the plants can return to an attractive state when the drought has ended. Water that does not accomplish the intended purpose is not used efficiently.

How to Water Houseplants Correctly

The concept of effective and efficient water use is relevant for growing houseplants also. Water is often wasted in watering houseplants because gardeners don't understand the unusual characteristics of common potting soils. These soils will resist wetting when allowed to dry. Effective water use requires the gardener to understand how to remoisten the soil. Potting soils also accumulate salts that ultimately damage plant roots if the water is not properly used. These two characteristics can create a challenge for gardeners, but there is an easy and effective solution.

When potting soils have dried, they often shrink away from the sides of the container in which the plant is growing and drains from the hole in the bottom of the pot rather than wetting the soil. However, pots without holes are not the answer to the problem, drainage holes are necessary. Some gardeners moisten the soil slowly by making several applications of water and gradually remoistening the potting soil, causing it to swell and close the channels that allow the water to run around the soil rather than moisten the soil. Another method is to place the pots in a dishpan or other basin and slowly add water and allow it to slowly soak in through the drainage holes. If the water level is raised too quickly, the pots will float and turn over. Once the soil is thoroughly moistened, the pot can be removed and surplus water allowed to drain and carry away salts that would otherwise accumulate and cause problems.

Fun Refreshing Drink Recipes to Try

By Joy Mandelbaum, Master Gardener

Rosemary Lemonade
  • Handful of fresh cut rosemary
  • 1 can of frozen lemonade, any size
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Steep rosemary in sufficient water to reconstitute lemonade, per directions on label for 10 minutes; drain, preserving water. Prepare lemonade, using rosemary water. Add a little crushed red pepper to fire it up!
Ginger Tea
  • 4 tbsp dried lemongrass
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, about 2" long, peeled and sliced
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 long, thin, red chile pepper, halved and seeded (optional)
Add lemongrass and sugar to the hot, no longer boiling water; steep 10 minutes, covered. Add ginger, mint, and chile and steep, covred for another 5 minutes. Strain into a pitcher. Serve hot or chill for 1 hour or more. Makes 4 cups.
Chamomile Lavender Mint Iced Tea
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 tbsp dried culinary lavender
  • 1 ½ tbsp dried chamomile (or 4 chamomile tea bags)
Crush mint leaves and put in a 1 gallon glass jar with lid. Add lavender and chamomile. Fill jar with water to within 2" of rim. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hrs. Pour through a cheesecloth-lined colander into pitcher for serving. Makes 1 gallon.
Sweet Iced Tea
  • 16 cups (1 gallon) water
  • 1 ¼-1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (packed) whole fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 tsp dried lavender
  • 3 tbsp (packed) whole lemon verbena or lemon balm leaves, roughly torn or snipped with scissors
  • 9 black tea bags
Place water, sugar, rosemary, lavender, and lemon verbena or lemon balm leaves in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, remove from heat. Tie the tea bag strings together into a knot, then drape them over the side of the pot of boiling water, making sure the bags are submerged. Cover and steep for 9 minutes. Remove tea bags, pressing gently to extract their flavor. Pour tea through a strainer into a pitcher and chill. Makes 1 gallon.

A Wise Herb

By Susi Keller, Master Gardener

Garden Sage, Salvia officinalis, not only survives but even thrives at the north side of my house, where I splashed it with an occasional bucket of water during the first year to get it established. By now it is practically left to its own devices, but it still provides me with fresh sage leaves throughout the year. Several other plants thrive in different, more sunny locations with little or no soil amendment and little supplemental water.

But its thriftiness is not the only reason I love this plant. Its silver foliage adds color and structure to the garden. Hummingbirds visit the pretty purple flowers and bees love them. Its medicinal and culinary uses are well known since antiquity. And I love to use it in the kitchen.

Saltimbocca alla Romana Recipe

From my native country, where sage is included in almost every recipe for chicken, veal, pork and more.

For four persons, you need 8 small veal cutlets pounded thin, 4 slices of Italian prosciutto, 8 sage leaves, 1 tablspoon of butter, salt, pepper, and approximately ¼ cup water or dry white wine. On each slice of veal, place a slice of prosciutto and a sage leaf and hold everything together with a toothpick. Place the assembled slices in a single layer in a pan in which the butter has come to a sizzling, and brown them on each side. Salt and pepper them to taste—remembering that Italian prosciutto is quite salty already—and let them cook for no more than six minutes.

Transfer the Saltimbocca to a serving plate with the sage leaf on top and without taking off the toothpick. Add the water or the wine to the pan and let it come to a boil before pouring this light sauce onto the meat and serve hot.

Chives – Oregano – Thyme

By Christina Gale, Master Gardener

These are the three popular herbs to use in cooking.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Chives are a member of the onion family and have been around for a long time. Chives grow in clumps like grass and do not form a large bulb underground. The leaves are the source of the onion flavor. A perennial plant, chives are perfect for the home gardener, even those with a brown thumb. If you grow your own, you will be blessed in the spring and summer with lovely lavender flowers shaped like a delicate puffball. These flowers are edible and make a colorful garnish for any dish. However, be aware that the flavor of chives becomes harsher after flowering. To avoid flowering, simply keep snipping the leaves back.

Care: Remove flower stems before flowering to increase leaf production. Chives may be cut to within 1-inch of the ground four times a year to maintain a supply of succulent fresh leaves. The pink flowers can be used in flower arrangements or used in salads.

Oregano (Origanum heracleotium)

Greek oregano may grow two feet tall with a rounded sprawling spread of 18-inches. White or pinkish-purple flowers appear in mid to late summer. Oregano was originally grown in Greece and Italy. It is used as a flavoring for vegetables, chile, wines, meats, fish and sausage.

Care: Leaves or sprigs can be picked whenever available for fresh use. As soon as flowers start to appear it is ready to harvest. Cut to 1 ½-inches above the ground. Oregano dries easily and retains good flavor. Hang to dry or spread on a clean dish cloth in a protected area.

Thyme (Thymus, mother of thyme – Thymus citiodorus, silver thyme)

Thyme is a perennial plant that grows in a soft compact mound about 12 inches across and 8 inches high. Plant in full sun, in moderately-rich and very well-drained soil. Feed lightly once a year in the spring. Plants are quite hardy; in very cold winter areas provide winter protection with straw. Thyme is a non-fussy plant and usually grows disease and pest-free.

Thyme's origins are in the Mediterranean area where it was much loved by the Greeks and Romans. Use it in cooking chicken, rice, grain dishes, vegetables and casseroles.

Care: Trim back after flowering to promote new growth and stop plant from becoming woody and sprawling in the wrong direction. Leaves can be picked at any time. Take only one harvest. Leave 1- to 3-inch stems.

The rewards of gardening with native plants

by Joy Mandelbaum, Master Gardener

Why use native plants in your landscape? They are the perfect choice for easy-care gardens. Once established they need little attention.

But the sheer enjoyment defies description! Many are delicate flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees that maybe you have seen on hikes. If you want to learn about these plants that you have seen in the wild, what better way than to try growing them in your own garden. No plants attract the pollinators, butterflies and hummingbirds better than our own native plants. Let nature be your guide as to where to plant them in your garden, just observe where they grow in the wild and what grows with them. An added benefit is the feeling that you are cooperating with nature, not amending soils, watering and fertilizing to MAKE something thrive in an alien environment. You can re-create the harmonious communities we see in nature.

Native plants require the art of observing the more subtle textures, forms, fragrances and colors – the are for the connoisseurs. Native plants create a sense of place; you don't have to wonder what state you are in, or even what part of New Mexico you are in. You can read the elevation, moisture, sunshine of an area just by observing the native plants that grow there.

Unlike exotics, native plants maintain an interactive and beneficial relationship with other plants and animals in their environment, as they provide food and shelter for a wide range of organisms. They live in true community – supporting life forms as diverse as mammals, birds, butterflies and other insects, fungi, bacteria and nematodes. They are already adapted to local conditions and thrive within the water available, soil fertility and tolerate natural levels of insect populations and pathogens. You can literally read an area by what grows there – like 4-wing salt bush can be an indicator of organic matter in the soil, like ancient burial sites. Miners could tell where mineral deposits were by what grew there.

Not only do native plants provide edibles for wildlife, but also for us. Many parts of plants are collected for herbal remedies, teas, medicines. These plants have a rich and varied history, telling us a lot about the peoples who preceded us.

So, check out your local nurseries for native plants. Do not collect them from the wild, as they have little chance of surviving being transplanted and we do not want to deplete what grows in the wild. Here are a few try:

Check the Native Plant Society of New Mexico at npsnm.unm.edu for more information. I also recommend the book Native Plants for High-Elevation Western Gardens by Janice Busco and Nancy R. Morin, which includes site preparation, planting, and starting plants from seed.

  • Rocky Mtn Red Columbine
  • Heartleaf Amica
  • Foothills and Wyoming Paintbrush
  • Rocky Mtn Bee Plant
  • Richardson Geranium
  • Scarlet Gilia
  • Rocky Mtn Iris
  • Dotted Gayfeather
  • Spurred Lupine
  • Bergamon
  • Stemless Evening Primrose
  • Scarlet Bugler
  • Crandall, Sidebells, and Rocky Mtn Penstemons
  • Rocky Mtn Townsend Daisy
  • Pine Dropseed
  • Sideoats Grama
  • Blue Grama
  • Fringed Brome
  • Nodding Wildrye
  • Mtn Muhly
  • Indian Ricegrass
  • Little Bluestem
  • Rocky Mtn Maple
  • Big Sagebrush
  • Fendler Ceanothus
  • Alderleaf Mtn Mahogany
  • Red Osier Dogwood
  • Littleleaf Mock-orange
  • Wild Plum
  • New Mexico Locust
  • Sumacs: Cutleaf, Grolow, Threeleaf, Staghorn, Scarlet
  • Rocky Mtn Ash
  • Quaking Aspen
  • Narrow Leaf Cottonwood
  • Rocky Mtn Juniper
  • White Fir
  • Oaks: Scrub, Burr, Gamble, Emory, Wavyleaf

  • Golden Currant
  • Serviceberry
  • Gooseberry
  • Blueberry 'rubel'
  • Banana
  • Red & Yellow New Mexico Palm
  • Twisted Leaf
  • Santa Fe Cholla
  • Cow's Tongue
  • Engleman's Pencil Cholla
  • Claret Cup
  • Santa Rita
  • Spineless Prickly Pear
  • Scabra
  • Harvard Perry
  • Americana
  • Spanish Broom
  • Lena's
  • San Francisco
  • Moonlight

Know your plant zones

To determine if a plant is sufficient cold hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures; the lower the zone number, the colder the winter. Santa Fe is rated zone 5, meaning our temperatures don't drop below -10 degrees Fahrenheit. However, some areas around your home, like a sun-free north side, could possibly drop below that number. You should plant the hardiest specimens in these areas. Similarly, some zone 6 plants can make it through our winters when planted in a sheltered, mulched south side location. Any plants rated zones 3-5 will survive our winter temperatures. It's always wise to stick with plants rated for the zone we live in.

Favorite Sun-Loving Plants

by David Salman, Santa Fe Greenhouses

Some of my favorite plants for extreme heat include:


Dasylirion wheeleri
(Sotol) with its sculptural form and attractively toothed blue-green foliage
Hesperaloe parviflora
(Texas Red Yucca) with its arching evergreen foliage and summer long display of coral-red flowers on tall spikes
Agave parryi
(Parry's Century Plant) with its magnificently spined rosette of thick leaves

Note that all these succulents prefer spring planting in Zone 6 and colder climates, as they need the hot weather to establish their roots.

Desert Grasses

Muhlenbergia dubia
(Pine Muhly Grass)
Nassella tenuissima
(Silky Thread Grass)

With their graceful foliage and tawny seed heads, these are the perfect companion plants to the beautiful succulents.

Heat-Loving Perennials

Agastache rupestris
(Licorice Mint Hyssop)
Antirrhinum 'Dulcinea’s Heart'
(Cold Hardy Snapdragon)
Salvia x 'Raspberry Delight'
(Raspberry Delight Bush Sage)
Stanleya pinnata
(Prince's Plume)
Zauschneria arizonica
(Hummingbird Trumpet)

Various varieties of Calylophus (Sundrops) and Penstemon (Beardtongues) are all very cold-hardy natives that bloom for months at a time and love the heat. Several of these are also top-notch for attracting hummingbirds.

Visit www.highcountrygardens.com for more sun-loving plants.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Native Plant Medicine

By Mark Wood

Common Medicinal Plants of the Santa Fe Area

  1. Grindelia squarrosa
  2. Conyza canadensis
  3. Juniperus monosperma
  4. Gutierrezia sarothrae
  5. Helianthus annuus
  6. Verbesina encelioides
  7. Artemisia ludoviciana
  8. Pinus edulis
  9. Urtica dioica
  10. Populus deltoides ssp. wislizeni
  11. Sphaeralcea coccinea
  12. Anemopsis californica
  13. Salix exigua
  14. Prunus virginiana
  15. Brickelia californica
  16. Achillea lanulosa
  17. Mahonia repens

(Non-natives, naturalized & common)

  1. Verbascum thapsus
  2. Lactuca serriola
  3. Malva neglecta
  4. Taraxacum officinale
  5. Erodium cicutarium
  6. Ulmus pumila
  7. Capsella bursa-pastoris

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Urban Forestry

By Joran Viers

Humanity Has a Long History With Trees
  • Some scientists theorize our long distant ancestors’ two-legged stance evolved while still arboreal;
  • Most major religions have strong, central themes that involve trees;
  • Trees provide lumber, fiber, food, beauty, windbreaks, and ecosystem services related to air and nutrient cycling.

Humanity is Urban
  • Many people live in dense cities;
  • People tend to plant trees near their homes;
  • Thus, many trees live in cities:
    • “Artificial” ecosystems;
    • Degraded soils of limited volume;
    • Poor water infiltration;
    • Heat stress;
    • “SPD” – stupid people disease.
  • Urban trees need special understanding.

Random thoughts on trees…
  • Trees have secondary growth – they get wider and taller over the years.
  • Trees are long-term investments:
    • Don’t try to save the runts of the litter!
    • Get it off to a good start.
  • Don’t: under-water, over-prune, apply weed-n-feed herbicides.
  • Trees will face, and may survive, threats by environment, insects, diseases and people.

Root architecture (1 of 2)
Trees begin in the soil…
  • As seeds;
  • In terms of overall health and growth – root system functioning is critical;
    • Very dynamic – up to 8 flushes of root hair growth per season;
    • Soil compaction and degradation hinder and thwart root function;
  • If the roots don’t work, the rest won’t either!

Understanding root architecture and function is critical to understanding trees.

Root architecture (2 of 2)
Trees “belong” in forests
  • Mutual, multiple canopy controls branching and structure – tall, narrow trees are natural.
  • Urban trees are often broader than their wild cousins – this often results in “over-branching” and poorly attached branches.
  • Urban trees are often planted well outside their comfort range – the wrong plant in the wrong place.

Functions of Urban Trees
  • Shading:
    • Cools buildings, lowers energy needs;
    • Cools landscapes, increases outdoor comfort:
      • Leads to greater community interaction in common spaces, increases quality of life.
  • Windbreaks and visual screens;
  • Aesthetics:
    • Form, blossom, fall color, etc.;
    • Subjective but subject to reality check.

Back to the Soil
  • Physical and chemical properties influenced by parent material (texture, pH);
  • These are very hard to change.
  • Can vary greatly over short distance;
  • Human activity can degrade, or improve, a soil’s structure;
  • Structure has more to do with biology than geology.
  • Soil alkalinity leads to iron and zinc deficiencies. This condition is chronic and must be addressed every year, maybe more than once a year: acidify the soil or add chelated micronutrients.

Soil Compaction
  • Decreases ability of soil to hold water and air;
  • Increases bulk density of soil; root can’t penetrate through soil;
  • Can occur quickly on damp soils – even walking across the grass can do it;
  • Can be alleviated to some degree with mulch, water and rest, with core aeration, with vertical mulching.
  • Under pavement, roots follow interface between soil and concrete.

Buying and Planting a Tree
  • Know what species (singular or plural) you want – don’t buy something just because it’s for sale!
  • Buy the smallest container size you have the patience for; quicker establishment, faster growth, lower cost.
  • Select one with single, straight trunk, no bark damage, no dead stubs, no drying, yellowing leaves.
  • Best to plant in fall, or spring.

Planting a tree
Keys to Planting
  • Add no soil amendments or fertilizers.
  • Set plant high in the soil – make sure the root flare is visible!
  • Dig broad, wide hole and settle tree into native soil.
  • Prune it while you can reach it!
  • Water well, and often enough. Take soil type into account!

The Potted Root System
  • Artificially confined, watered and fed.
  • Often has too much soil in pot – tree too deep.
    • Find first lateral root – this is important at planting.
  • May have circling roots:
    • These must be straightened, if possible…
    • Cut off if not.
    • If too many, put it back.
  • Will go through a transition once planted in your landscape, but this takes time.

  • Water well – deeply and regularly;
  • Mulch basin, but keep mulch off trunk;
  • Don’t stake, unless absolutely needed, and then:
    • Stake loosely to allow trunk movement;
    • Remove stake after one year
  • Don’t fertilize for at least 2-3 years (if at all);
  • A few judicious pruning cuts may be in order…

  • All pruning is injury and costs energy, so have a real reason;
  • Formative pruning during early growth is best value and effect;
  • Central leader, permanent scaffold branches, crossing and weakly attached branches, subordinate lower branches, dead and damaged branches;
  • Leave low leaves for more efficient trunk growth.

Branch attachment

Branch Attachment: In spring, first flush of growth comes on the branch – lays down a ayer of wood; later growth of trunk lays down another, overlapping layer of trunk wood.

Compartmentalization Of Decay In Trees.

Best Pruning Cuts:
  • Outside the branch collar, not into the branch bark ridge.
  • Three-step cut to remove weight before final cut.
  • Use the proper tool:
    • Bypass pruner;
    • Pruning saw.
  • All pruning hurts the tree;
  • Pruning cuts over 3” in diameter should be avoided when possible (increased chance of decay prior to compartmentalization);
  • Dormant season is preferred, but summer pruning has less regrowth;
  • Never take out more than 30% of leaf canopy in one season!

Maintenance and Hazard Pruning
  • Done to more mature trees;
  • Prevent hazards by thoughtful anticipation;
  • Trees can cause many thousands of dollars of damage and even take lives; don’t push things too far.
  • Leave this to the professionals, they’re trained and have insurance!

Tree critical root zone
Root “Pruning”
  • Sometimes done on purpose…
  • Mostly and accident, caused by excavations of some sort.
  • Damaging large roots deprives the tree of much water, increases likelihood of blow-down, and can lead to infections by wood decaying and vascular system plugging fungi.
  • Protect the critical root zone!
  • Radius of CRZ = 1.25’/1” diameter-at-breast-height (dbh).

Tree Pests
  • Environmental considerations most likely cause of tree health problems, but…
  • Under stress, trees are more vulnerable to attack by opportunistic organisms:
    • Insects;
    • Diseases.
  • Start by alleviating the stressors;
  • Treatment requires identification and knowledge about potential damage.

Leaf Attackers
  • Insects: honeylocust plant bug, aphids, cottonwood leaf beetle, grasshoppers, spider mites, etc.
    • Generally not terribly damaging, though very noticeable;
    • Action threshold is roughly 30% defoliation.
  • Diseases: phomopsis, anthracnose, powdery mildew, etc.
    • As with insects, usually not strongly damaging, but very noticeable.

Vascular System Attackers
  • Insects: bark and twig beetle
  • Diseases: verticillium wilt, cytospora
  • Generally very threatening to tree health.
    • Interruption of xylem and phloem flows;
    • Inconspicuous start of problem, so not noticed for awhile
  • Don’t be tempted by injected rescue chemistry – that relies on a functional vascular system!

  • Humans are the biggest threat to urban tree health:
    • Ignorance;
    • A little knowledge can be dangerous.
  • SPD begins at planting, continues through pruning, watering, fertilizing, pest control.
  • Humans are also the best (only?) cure for SPD.
  • Knowledge through education.

Trees for the Albuquerque Area

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly…
  • Many trees planted in the city ought not be!
  • Many good trees are hard to find.
  • These are my own opinions, and you are free to disagree.
  • Don’t forget we live in a desert!
  • Water is key for tree survival.

“Good” Trees
  • Grow reasonably well in our soils and climate;
  • Have relatively few pests and diseases;
  • Come in a variety of sizes and shapes;
  • Require a minimum of extra fuss to keep healthy;
  • Can be hard to find.

“Bad” Trees
  • Suffer in our soils and climates – Too hot, too alkaline, too dry
  • Are planted in sites to small for their ultimate growth;
  • Are abused and mistreated from the nursery onward;
  • Slouch and spit gum at passers-by.

Words of Caution…
  • Plant the youngest specimen you have the patience for;
  • Know most nursery stock has been poorly pruned and will need your correcting touch;
  • Saving the runt of the litter leads directly to unhealthy trees in the landscape;
  • Just because someone sells it, doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

Small Evergreens
  • Singleseed juniper* (Juniperus monosperma)
  • Utah juniper* (Juniperus osteosperma)
  • Texas madrone (Arbutus texana)
  • Chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei)
  • Bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata)
  • Pinyon pine (Pinus edulis)
  • Black hills spruce (Picea glauca densata)
  • Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia)
  • Palm yucca (Yucca torreyi)
  • Soaptree yucca (Yucca elata)
  • Arborvitae (Thuja & Platycladus species)
  • * Prohibited in Albuquerque – pollen.

Large Evergreens
  • Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica)
  • Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara)
  • Arizona cypress* (Cupressus arizonica)
  • Alligator juniper* (Juniperus deppeana)
  • Eastern red cedar* (Juniperus virginiana)
  • Rocky Mountain juniper* (J. scopulorum)
  • Afghan pine (Pinus elderica)
  • Austrian pine (Pinus nigra)
  • Italian stone pine (Pinus pinea)
  • Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergiana)
  • Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
  • Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris)

Small Deciduous
  • Arizona ash (Fraxinus velutina)
  • Raywood ash (Fraxinus oxycarpa)
  • Western chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
  • Netleaf hackberry (Celtis laevigata)
  • Bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum)
  • Mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
  • Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera)
  • Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)
  • Desert willow (Chilopsis linearis)
  • Mexican elder (Sambucus caerulea NM)
  • Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana)
  • Purpleleaf plum (Prunus cerasifera)
  • Golden rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
  • Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus)

Large Deciduous
  • Valley cottonwood (Populus fremontii ‘wislezeni’)
  • Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia)
  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
  • Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
  • Horsechestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
  • Japanese Pagoda (Sophora japonica)
  • Black Locust (Robinia psuedoacacia)
  • Zelkova (Zelkova serrata)
  • Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
  • Texas oak (Quercus texana)
  • Pecan (Carya illinoiensis)
  • Chinese pistache (Pistacia chinensis)
  • Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
  • Arizona sycamore (Platanus wrightii)
  • Arizona walnut (Juglans major)
  • Carpathian walnut (Juglans regia)
  • Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioica)

Trees to Avoid
  • Aspens, other Populus; Willows; Sweet gum; Leyland false cypress; Green ash; Catalpa; Chitalpa; Most maples…

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Bob Pennington's Table of Tomatoes

variety namecolor"days"size  disease resistanceremarks
Ananas Noirbicolor801-1.5 lbIHe  sweet,rich,delicious
Beefy Boyred7012-16 ozIHy FVF1F2TSta beefsteak hyb bred for flavor, high solids low gel
Better Boyred75.75-1 lbIHyVFNone of best tasting garden tomatoes
Black Cherryblack65cherryIHe sweet rich complex flavor
Black from Tulared/brwn75-80.5-.75 lbIHe sets well, Russian
Black Krimdrk brwn75-9010-12 0zIHe best seller
Black Peardark red806 ozI  round pear shape, delicious & beautiful
Bonnie Bestred728-10 ozIHe old time favorite
Brandywine pink801-1.5 lbIHe legendary, exceptional flavor
Brandywine Blackblack80-1201-1.5 lbIHe real tomato taste
Brandywine Redred801 lbIHe lucious old-time flavor
Brandywine Yellowyellow90-1001 lbIHe creamy texture
Caspian Pinkpink8010 ozIHe maybe best tasting pink
Celebrityred708-12 0zDHyVFFNTAvery heavy fruit set, best seller, outstanding performer
Cherokee Chocolate mahogany75 d10-16IHe selected from Cherokee Purple, awesome flavor, productive
Cherokee Purplepink/purp 80-908-12 ozIHe some drought tolerance
Early Girlred524-6 ozIHyVFF best selling early
Gardener's Delightred65cherryI? aka "Sugar Lump" big yields of 1" fruit
Green Grapegreen70cherryD? a local favorite, sweet & juicy
Green Zebragreen/yel753 ozIHe uniqe salad variety, sweet & zingy
Husky  Redred685-7 ozIHyVFFASthuge production in small space, a short internode ind, 4-4.5' max
Husky Goldgold685-7 ozIHy limited quantity due to seed shortage, great flavor
Japanese Blk Trefelered/grn853-5 ozIHy round pear shape, delicious & beautiful
Julietred601 ozIHy 1999 AAS winner, lucious "grape" variety sweet and flavorful
Lemon Boylemon yellow 728 oz +IHyVFNthe fiirst and still best tasting lemon yellow,
Matinared582-4 ozIHe very early, terrific flavor, like that of beefsteaks, long bearing
Mortgage Lifterpink85very largeIHe mild delectible flavor
Mr. Stripeyred/yelo561.5-2 "IHe huge crops, striped, tangy flavor
OG 50 Parks Whopperred6512 oz+IHy a favorite for 20 yrs, the standard for tomatoes
Oregon Springred583 -5 ozDHyVtolerates both heat and very cold temps, produces all season
Patiored703-4 ozDHyFAStstill the best for small pots, min 12" wide, plants are only 2' tall
Paul Robesonblack75mediumIHe one of best blacks, 1st AFN year
Persimmon Orangegold orng801-2 lbIHe lucious old-time flavor
Quick Pickred606-8 ozIHyVF1NTearly, trouble free, heavy yielder
Rainboworange/red80-854.5 "IHy firm meaty, low acid, delicious
Red Currantred70-75tinyIHe a different species than other tomatoes, lots of tiny sweet-tart fruit
Romared783" longDHeVFthe most popular past tomato, large harvests,good flavor
San Marzanored80 d3.5" longIHe most productive paste, watch for drying out
Siberianred57-602-3"D? egg shaped,dwarf spreading habit, tolerates cool temps
Small Fryred651 oz -DHyVFNAStbursting with sweet flavor
Solidackidrk pink751 lbIHe low acid, intensely sweet
Stupicered521-2 ozIHe Czech variety, cold tolerance,superior flavor, sweet
Sungoldorange 57cherryIHy fruity, sugary, and delicious, a local favorite
Super Fantasticred7010 ozIHyVFNlarge harvest of delicious large fruit well suited to most climates
Super Sweet 100red651" cherryIHyVFlong strings of up to 100 fruit, extra VitC
Sweet Peared621/4"I   truly tiny red and scrumptchy
Tumblerred45pingpongDHy early and bred for baskets,
Ultimate Openerred575-7 ozIHyVFan early bred for flavor, and size,strong, high yielder
Viva Italiared723 ozDHyVFFNASt1st paste hyb bred for taste and disease resistance, huge yields
Yellow Currantyellow701/3"IHe like its red cousin a different species ridiculous yields of tiny fruit
Yellow Pearyellow781.75-2"IHe tiny pears , very sweet/garden candy
Yellow Perfectionyellow70-753-5 ozIHe juicy.thin-skinned, very popular
Zapotecpink80largeIHe Mexican variety, deeppink/ribbed, sweet slicer or stuffer

Friday, May 01, 2009

Season by Season Rose Gardening

By Jack Ortega, Santa Fe Rose Society
American Rose Society, Consulting Rosarian

Root Stock (Most two to three years old)
  1. Own root (Tend be smaller and longer to mature. Very hardy)
  2. Grafted (Quick to grow not as hardy as own root.)

Rose Bush Purchase Options
  1. Bare root (mail order, Grade#1 is best as has at least 3 canes and thick as a magic marker)
  2. Container (gallon size types)
  3. Plastic bag container. (Very small-short root system and check for dry/damaged canes)
  4. Rose information: www.helpmefind.com/rose/ or the American Rose Society web site

Types and Characteristics of Rose Bushes
  1. English, shrub, old garden, ployantha, or landscape roses
  2. Climbers
  3. Hybrid Teas, Grandiflora
  4. Floribunda
  5. Miniature
  6. Some roses are disease free.
  7. Keep your tags and/or label of your rose bush

Rose Bloom Characteristics as Applied to the Garden
  1. Color (single color, like colors or mix)
  2. Fragrance
  3. Once blooming or repeat blooming
  4. Bloom structure (single or spray, single petal or multi-petal)

  1. In the ground
    1. Dig a hole at least 2 feet wide and 2 ½ feet deep
    2. 1/3 top soil, 1/3 compost material, 1/3 sandy soil mix.
    3. ¼ cup of soil sulfur to buffer against our alkaline soil
    4. Space each bush 2 to 2 ½ feet apart on all sides for most roses. More space is need for larger varieties.
    5. Plant the crown at soil level. Then mulch 1-2 inches so the top of the crown is at ground level.
    6. Mulch types for moisture retention, build up top soil, protect ground and bush.
      • ➢ Pecan shells
      • ➢ Tree bark—small to medium only

  2. Rose Bed (ground level or raised) Long term this is best method.
  3. Container
    1. Good for miniatures, floribundas and hybrid teas
    2. 80% potting soil and 20% top soil mix.
    3. Container can be above ground or in the ground.

  4. Planting locations
    1. Best—north and east side
    2. Good—south side (try avoid walls)
    3. Worst is west side against a wall.

  5. Remove and discard all damaged and infected branches and leaves.
  6. Remove all tags on the rose bush as it will kill the cane.

Water and Feed (Air and Water)
  1. Water deeply in accordance to your city schedule. (3 times a week and mulch helps)
  2. Late June through late July try to water in the morning to assist in reducing stress.
  3. If you water in the evenings avoid wetting the leaves (Mildew or Black Spot)
  4. Feed you roses a good rose food (As per instructions or cut the requirement in half and feed twice as often). The rose fertilizer can be water soluble or granular. Osmocote band fertilizer is a good time release product.
  5. Please feed at time you water this will eliminate leaf burn.
  6. Once a month use fish emulsion at rate of 1-2 ounces per gallon of water.
  7. Loosen the soil using the bicycle tire spoke method using a long nose shovel.

  8. Alfalfa Tea- Fifteen (15) cups of alfalfa pellets as applied to a 30 gallon trash can. 1 ½ cups of Epsom Salt. Let it sit in the sun for 3 days. Try and stir at least twice a day. Feed in mid July. Apply one gallon for large bush and ½ a gallon for minis. Best fertilizer you can apply.

  9. Stop feeding your roses at the end of August.
  10. Reduce watering in September. Your best blooms occur in September.
  11. First freeze about 10th of October and our first hard freeze in late October. The best winter protection is a healthy bush to welcome the winter.
  12. In winter water at least once a month. Mound your bush at least 4-6 inches late October.

Insects and Disease
  1. Aphids are present in early spring and late fall. Very light green in color (the fly) nest on top part of new growth. Suck new leaves and buds. Plant leaves will have sticky syrup like substance. You may also notice ants on leaves eating the sticky substance.
    1. Treatment: Wash them off everyday; insecticide type soap, systemic insecticide, or spray insecticide. Use as directed. Please don’t add extra product.

  2. Spider mites are present from early June to late August. You can’t see them. They live under the leaves and eat all the substance of the leaf. They will start at the bottom of the bush and work their way up. Leaves will turn crisp and dry in substance. Leaf color will change to light green to brown. Seems like your bush is drying up and needs water. They will take over a large rose bush in 7-10 days. The bush will not have any leaves left.
    1. Treatment-Use a water wand three times a week in the morning. Spray water around your bushes. Keep things wet and cool as they like it dry and hot. Or you can use a systemic insecticide.

  3. Powdery Mildew and Black Spot season starts as the nights cool usually in early July. At time we will also experience these diseases in spring if it is real wet. Leaves will get a white powder like look, will begin to curl up and turn a dark green to black color. Black spot leaves will turn yellow with round black spots on the yellow section.

    1. Remove (cut) the diseased portion of the bush immediately. Place in plastic bad and throw away. Clean pruner blades with alcohol between bushes and when finished.
    2. Spray bush with fungicide as directed. Try to find one with a potassium bicarbonate base. These are very safe and effective. I like the product Green Cure.

  4. When you spray use a light spray method. Spray early in the morning or one hour before
    sundown. Move canes with garden stake to shake of excess spray. This prevents leaf burn.
  5. Use dormant oil in January and February to kill spores of fungus and disease. Pick up all dead leaves prior to spraying.
  6. Leaf cutter bees

NOTE: Santa Fe Rose Society meeting are held on the first Tuesday of every month at 7 pm at Santa Fe Greenhouse. You may contact Jack Ortega at 505.988.4614.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

HYPERTUFA PLANTERS – Stone look alikes you can make yourself


  • Plastic sheeting or trash bags
  • Molds – plastic or ceramic bowls/tubs, foam coolers or nested cardboard boxes lined with plastic. Stainless steel is not easy to unmold.
  • Rubber gloves and dust mask
  • Large mixing tub or pail and trowel
  • Measuring container
  • Sifted peat moss
  • Vermiculite or perlite
  • Portland cement (must be Portland, not a quickcrete product)
  • Fibermesh reinforcing material (optional)
  • Cement coloring agent (optional: add ½ cup per quart of cement; add more if desired)
  • Water
  • Wire brush
  • Wood dowels, ½ to 1" or drill for drainage holes


Determine if you want to use the inside or outside of mold to shape your piece. For beginners, using the inside is easiest; your planter will have smooth sides. (See notes below.) You can line the inside of the mold with plastic if desired to facilitate release. Finished planter should be 5-6" deep for best results.

Cover work area with plastic; work out of direct sunlight in a place you can leave your planter for a week or more to cure undisturbed. Do not allow planter to freeze during curing time. Large planters will be heavy, so you may wish to make them where they will be placed in your garden.

Put on your mask and gloves and mix one part vermiculite or perlite with one part peat in your tub. Blend in one part cement. Mix well. Add a handful of fibermesh, if using. Reserve a cup or so of the mixture. Begin to add water slowly, blending well. Add enough water to create a damp mixture that sticks together when you squeeze it. It should hold its shape. If mixture is too wet, you will need to quickly add some of your reserve dry mixture. It is much better to get your mixture right the first time as your planter will be stronger.

Beginning at the bottom, press handfuls of the tufa mixture into the mold so it's at least 1" thick. The larger the mold, the thicker the tufa should be. 2" is best for large molds. Too thick is better than too thin. Pat and tamp well to remove air bubbles and bond the tufa. Work your way up the sides of the mold, keeping consistent thickness on the sides. You can make the top edge smooth or textured. At this point, press a piece of dowel into the bottom to create drainage hole(s); leave in place as planter cures. You can also drill drainage holes once trough is dry.

Loosely wrap the mold in plastic for drying. Periodically uncover and mist the mold with water so it cures slowly. After 2-7 days, the tufa will be firm enough to remove it from the mold. Keep the planter covered loosely with plastic and allow it to cure another 1-3 weeks until completely dry. The longer the cure, the stronger the piece.

When the planter is dry, use the wire brush to do any additional shaping or texturing you desire. Any visible fibermesh fibers can be burned off with a small torch at this point. Because concrete is highly alkaline, it is best to let the planter weather a few more weeks, uncovered, before planting. Rinse it frequently with water to allow the lime to leach out.

To plant your planter, cover drainage holes with landscape fabric or plastic screening to prevent soil from blocking holes and leaking out. Fill with soil and plants as desired. Your planter should last for many years outside.


  • You can choose to form your planter on the outside of your mold. With this technique you can create a textured outside surface. It is important with this method to make the top surface (which will be the bottom of your planter) level so your planter is stable on a hard surface.

  • Other molds to use for larger containers include nested cardboard boxes lined with plastic, or a Styrofoam cooler with a smaller box inside. These large molds will take a long time to cure.

Harvey Cornell Rose Garden Pruning with Jack Ortega – April 26, 2009

There are no mistakes in pruning!

How to work with climbers, hybrids & teas.

You must discipline your children & your roses!

Tools & Supplies

Felco & Corona are the best pruners. If you prune every year you will not need loppers. A little saw is useful too, a drywall saw is o.k.
Scissors for miniature bushes and to get into tight spots without damaging around them.
Get a little sharpener for pruners, Newman’s has them.
After every bush spray with pruners with alcohol and wipe them off with an old towel. Roses have sugars that accumulate on the blades so it keeps the blades cleaner as well as helping to prevent the spread of diseases.
Elmer’s Glue

Climbing Roses

Climbers are unique but you can use these same rules on other kinds of cascading bushes.
Balance the shape of the bush by spreading canes to both sides but do not force too much change in one season.
Old canes will be blackish & gray, middle aged canes will be green and new canes will be green and smooth. Regenerate with the new canes, older canes are more susceptible to disease.
You can take out a third of canes, take out as low as possible on older canes, help generate new canes.

Feed 1 cup Epsom salts (magnesium) spread around, scratch in, water in. Epsom salts also helps generate new canes & greens up the leaves. O.K. on any kind of roses.

Remove one third of the old canes yearly. If it only has 3 canes leave it alone.
Bud eyes are the new shoots starting on canes.
End of April is good for pruning because you can see the bud eyes
on a long lateral cane do not prune, cut end where it is getting spindly, about a foot or less. Clean up. Conservative pruning for climbers.

Shrub Roses

The English just shear off the tops down about a foot, 1/3 of the height left.
Jack recommends to take off about a 1/3 at a time.
Look at canes growing toward center or crossing and remove. Leave as many straight lines as possible when done. Take out canes with thin spindly top growth, it gives small flowers.
Spray now for aphids. Jack uses Orthenex (toxic) on tops only, twice – 7 days apart. Insecticidal soap is good but it must make contact with the aphids.
Either angled or straight cuts are O.K.
Deadheading is a good practice, it regenerates the bush and creates air circulation to avoid powdery mildew which accumulates at the tips. Clip those part off and put in a plastic bag, clean pruners. Use Green Cure spray for powdery mildew, order on-line. http://www.greencure.net/

Rugosa Roses

Leave them alone – no spray, no pruning. Just fertilize and take out the dead wood. Very light pruning.

Hybrid Tea Roses

Take down at least 18” from the ground IF the plant allows you to, look for the bud eyes to guide pruning.
On these smaller plants use ½ cup Epsom salts.
Fish Emulsion is a slow starter but it is good for worms.
Use compost material when you plant them for bacteria
Compost, topsoil and sand for good drainage
You must allow air to get into the roots, roses do not like wet feet.
Feed a water soluable fertilizer (faster) or granules, which are slower
Grow Power & Yum Yum have to be added every month.
Can use Miracle Grow from time to time – cut dosage in half and use every other week, using fish emulsion on the other weeks.
Osmocote has a rose formula, use every 5 to 6 weeks.
Dave Austin has a slow release formula:
Do Epsom salts in spring only. It can create salts accumulation problems in the soil, be careful.
Fish emulsion once a month, get at Walmart.

Note: I did not find in on-line at Walmart but did find one listed at True Value Hardware:

He feeds plants from May to the end of August. Be sure to keep them hydrated so you don’t burn them when you add the fertilizers.

Once a month take a long nosed shovel, push it in about 8” and twist slightly to de-compact the soil and let air into the roots. Don’t worry about it being open, compost will sift down there. Do this about one foot out from the plant and every foot to 18” all around, perpendicular to the plant.

If not fed enough you don’t get enough bud eyes.
Be careful when pruning early that you don’t take too much in the event of a late freeze
The bud eyes are where the new leaves are coming out
Use stakes to help shape the canes and keep them from crossing, not too drastic in one season.
Use a little Elmer’s Glue on cuts to keep out bugs & diseases.
Hybrid teas only put on one bloom per stem, make it as strong as possible.
Reduce watering at the end of the season to signal to the plant to create more sugar (anti-freeze) to harden up for winter. Bud eyes need moisture to sprout, a wet winter may cause them to sprout earlier than they should. In Summer water on city schedule – 3 days a week.
Pecan mulch is good, it ages nicely and gives a good topsoil in about 3 years (and it’s fun to watch the birds go after the bits of pecan left in the mulch). In winter mound the mulch in around the bush and spread new mulch in spring. Move mulch away to feed.

Spread fish emulsion around the dripline: 1 – 2 oz per gallon water.

Alfalfa pellet tea is the best fertilizer.
½ cup alfalfa pellets per gallon water or make a large batch in a 30 gallon container with 15 cups alfalfa pellets. Do this from the 15th to the 30th of July. Put the container where it will get sun. Stir twice a day, it ferments in 3 days. Can also add ½ cup Epsom salts. Use one gallon per bush. The ground has to be warm enough when you use this. Gives especially great results in 2 to 3 years.

Planting New Rose Bushes

Raised beds & pots are best if you have caliche soil because of lack of drainage, they hate wet feet. Sandy soil is O.K. – use 1/3 top soil, 1/3 compost & 1/3 sand.
Add soil sulfur
The bottom of the crown should be at soil level, then mulch to the top of the crown (1 to 3 inches)
Mulch 4 to 6” in winter for spring protection (don’t feed after the end of August)
New basal breaks from bottom, if they are exposed to the cold they will die so the mulch protects them in spring, can use dirt too. Don’t peek and expose them. Around the 10 May you can start watering in the center and start washing the mulch away but you can keep them covered
Use a bubbler to water gently.
Where the old leaves are is where bud eyes will be, clip off old, dried, brown leaves – do not pull them off. You can also hose them off.
In February you can use a dormant spray – be sure to get around the ground in the mulch and litter where the eggs overwinter.

Other notes:

Deb says bush roses bloom 8 to 10 weeks after pruning and hybrid teas about a week after that so come back in June to see everything in bloom.

Alice recommends Heirloom Roses of Oregon, they rate rose by scent:

More info on using Epsom Salts in the garden: