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Southwest Yard and Garden

This column comes through the Grant County Extension Service out of New Mexico State University.

Guest columnist this week: Alissa Freeman - Senior Program Specialist and Director of the pollinator-friendly NMSU Learning Garden at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas.

Question: I recently attended a native plant seed-saving workshop and collected a few different native plant species. How do I grow these seeds?  

Emilio B., Belen, NM

Answer: Not only are native plants a beautiful addition to any landscape but they also require less water, are adapted to our climate, and are a vital resource for native bees and other pollinators. Many native plants are available commercially, but it can be a fun and rewarding experience to try growing native plants at home. The first step is collecting seeds—go on hikes, walk around the bosque, and find your favorite areas that have plants of interest. When collecting seeds, make sure they are dry and ready to harvest and only collect a small percentage of available seed to keep the plant population healthy. Following seed collection, clean the seeds by peeling away excess plant material. Be sure to dry seeds out before storing in a cool, dry location to prevent molding.  

822swygRose leaves with symptoms of salt burn. Photo credits L. Peters.

Question: Can you tell what seems to be plaguing the various rosebushes in my backyard?

– L. Peters, Sandoval County, NM

Guest columnist this week: Alissa Freeman - Senior Program Specialist and Director of the pollinator-friendly NMSU Learning Garden at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas.

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Question: I’ve heard that homegrown tomatoes shouldn’t be stored in the refrigerator because they’ll lose their flavor. How does that work?

Sarah M., Las Cruces

Answer: The short answer is that volatile organic chemicals (aka volatiles) in tomato fruits are responsible for providing complex flavors—beyond plain old sweet and tangy tastes—and many of these volatiles are released when chilled to around 55°F or lower, thereby creating a noticeable loss in flavor. That’s why we’re told to keep tomatoes out in the open instead of in the crisper. The long answer winds up being a rich story of customer relations, plant breeding, plant physiology, chemistry, marketing, classical music, disappointment, and hope. 

Question: I’m adding plants to my home landscape, and I’d like to make it a bird-friendly habitat. What are some bird-friendly plants?

- Yours Truly (Marisa Thompson), Los Lunas

rust on hollyhock eileen r. las cruces 7 11 19Undersides of these hollyhock leaves are covered with rust pustules. Photo credits Eileen R.Question: What’s causing this rash of dark brown fuzzy spots on the undersides of my hollyhock leaves, and is it killing my plants?

- Eileen R., Las Cruces

swyg1These two branches from the same peach tree at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas on May 29, 2-18 had noticeably different peach sizes. Photo credit M. ThompsonQuestion: My peach tree branches are hanging lower as the peaches get bigger. Is it too late to thin the fruit?

-     Savannah M., Alamogordo, NM

img 4521Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Agriculture Agent John Garlisch leads a “Summer Raised Bed Gardening” workshop in Albuquerque the first week of June. Photo credit M. Thompson.Questions: What time of day should I water my raised bed garden? Why is water pooling on the soil surface? When is the right time to pull garlic?

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