Due to Covid-19, the Los Alamos Master Gardeners canceled their 2020 Garden Tour. To encourage gardening during this time, they are offering occasional articles and photos on gardening in Los Alamos. Information will also be placed on the association's website http://lamgonline.org/index.php and on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/losalamosmastergardener/ If you have questions about gardening in Los Alamos, contact Carlos Valdez, at the Los Alamos office of the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service - 505-662-2656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to get advice from a Master Gardener in your area, ask Carlos for a name. The Master Gardeners' mission is to provide education to the public on safe and proven garden methods.
|Show/Hide||Tomatoes in Los Alamos County|
|Tomatoes in Los Alamos County by Doris|
As it warms, we all get anxious to plant our tomato plants and harvest those luscious fruit. That is especially true this year with Covid 19, when many of us are spending more time in the garden and possibly gardening for the first time.
Our average last freeze day is May 15th, so wise people suggest that we wait until after that date to plant. However, many of us want to push to an earlier date, especially as the days get warmer. Last year in White Rock, I planted the tomatoes on May 4th. A White Rock friend, who also planted early, said all of hers were frost bitten after May 22nd. Not true of mine, but there are microclimates. This year, they were in the ground on May 11th. That afternoon a brief but hard rain came, even with a bit of hail. They had been hardened off for several days and made it through the rain in flying colors.
|If your tomato plants have grown tall and thin, making them weak and susceptible to wind, plant them deep. They will develop roots along the buried stem. I have had some so tall and thin that digging the necessary deep hole was very difficult, so we drug a trench, very carefully laying the long stem on its side and gently curving the top of the plant above soil level. Whether you purchased or grew your plants from seed, remove the lower leaves when you plant deeply.
|If you have concerns about a freeze, there are methods to help. Used gallon plastic milk jugs with the bottom cut out serve as a quick and inexpensive night time shelter. Covering with a light cloth that would not break the plants could provide what you need. Wall-of-Water helps to shelter them from our cooler nights and days. No matter how you may shelter your tomatoes, keep a watchful eye and remove the protection before the summer heat causes damage. Denise George, Master Gardener and expeirienced tomato grower, forwarns us that plants can burn in a Wall-of-Water. As a lot of our garden know-how is obtained, she learned from experience.
|Denise also reminds us that tomatoes need support such as stakes or cages to keep the fruit off the ground. At our home we use 2 sections of cattle fencing tied at the top a sort of double lean-to. We have not had any toppling issues with these fences.
|What type of tomato to grow? That depends on your garden and what you like to eat. Ask around, experiment. In the past I have had great luck with Early Girl. Not any more. Last year I did an experiment and grew 12 different types all recommended by other gardeners. Six did well, 6 did not. Why? The season, the water, the soil, or me (the gardener)? I always grow a Brandwine, while others say our season is too short for them to ripe and the plants are all leaves with few fruit. But getting a few delicious, juicy, funny shaped Brandywine is worth it for me. If you are a first time gardener, try sticking to the smaller cherry tomatoes. I think they will encourage you to continue to be a tomato grower.|
|There is definitely a difference between White Rock and the town of Los Alamos. An article by Stephanie Walker, New Mexico State University Extension Vegetable Specialist, places White Rock and Los Alamos in different planting areas. https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/CR457B/welcome.html What you do in White Rock differs from Los Alamos. The NM Extension Service offers an immense amount of information on home gardening. https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/
Locally, we are fortunate to have in Los Alamos an office of NM Extension Service. You can contact Carlos Valdez, Horticulturist, at 505-662-2656 or email@example.com to ask your questions. Their web page will provide information on gardening in Los Alamos County. https://losalamosextension.nmsu.edu If you want to speak with a Master Gardener, Carlos Valdez can help you find someone in your area. The Master Gardeners' mission is to provide education to the public on safe and proven gardening methods.
|Raised Beds by Denise|
Tired of gophers, rocks and bending? Consider what Los Alamos Master Gardener, Denise George and her husband did to make gardening easier. Following is her story.
|After years of being outwitted by clever gophers and of listening to the complaints of my aging knees, it was time to investigate using a raised planting bed in our vegetable garden. By stapling strong steel mesh to the bottom of the bed, no gopher would be able to feast on our garden bounty. Planting, weeding, and feeding could be done in comfort perched on the edge. We opted for a kit which contained everything we needed for a 12 by 4 bed except for the mesh. It took only a day to assemble.
|We filled it with a combination of compost, manure, and top soil in the expectation that the vegetables will thrive in such a fertile environment. This was the hard part especially since we underestimated the number of bags needed!|
We laid drip irrigation hoses and in early April planted cold weather seeds: spinach, lettuce, beets, and, carrots, laid row cover, and waited for germination. We are now enjoying delicious fresh lettuce and spinach salads as we are thinning the rows.
|In early May we planted bush bean seeds which germinated quickly as the weather has been so warm. We added two pepper plants and a few radish seeds.
|Thus far we are calling the experiment a success although like all gardening projects it will require a few tweaks. For example, the soil in the raised bed dries out much faster than the surrounding soil. When we switch over the cool weather bed to warm weather vegetables, we will redesign the irrigation. Its early days yet and many harvests to anticipate.|
|Show/Hide||Trials and Tribulations of Gardening|
|Trials and Tribulations of Gardening by Caroline (Cas) Mason |
Master Gardener, Caroline (Cas) Mason and her husband, Rod, know that gardening is not always easy. But they like other gardeners, they keep at it, enjoying the challenge and as much as the results. Following is her story of the loss of a tree and her request for suggestions on what to do next. Cas and Rod's garden was on the 2018 Garden Tour sponsored by the Los Alamos Master Gardeners. If you went, you saw this lost tree as well as the gardens surrounding their home on La Senda Dr in White Rock.
|On the last day of 2018, a giant snowstorm wreaked havoc through Los Alamos.
For us the devastation was personal: a 50 foot pinon crashed to the ground and lay horizontal on the snow. We mourned the tree, there from before the area had even been planned. We had fashioned our garden around this venerable tree, and now it lay with its roots in the air.|
|What to do? After the snow melted, the tree was removed leaving an empty patch of ground. This patch is in the direct view from our windows and every day when we looked at it we knew we had to grow something there which would honor the previous occupant.|
As the summer wore on, we put in a path of bark and moved the bird feeder. We found an old wooden bench in Santa Fe and a friend gave us a large blue ceramic pot.
We were finally ready for living plants. But which? There was a honeysuckle that promptly died.
Autumn came. We had some plants which we hoped would survive the winter but in general the area was barren. There was blue fescue grass, thyme, lavender, barberry and coral bells, all planted to the north of the path. Most of these managed to live through the winter. But the south side was bare.
|So now we have a few plants that have been added this year. A new ninebark proves to be loved by deer but probably will live as it has now been sprayed.|
Still it looks desolate!
|Show/Hide||June - Flower of the Month Penstemon|
|June - Flower of the Month Penstemon|
In his book, Penstemons, Robert Nold wrote that penstemons offer a 'combination of drought-tolerance, relative freedom form disease, ease of garden culture, and beautiful flowers.' We are fortunate to be able to grow this lovely plant in our climate. Now is the time to see many in bloom. Outside of the Los Alamos Nature Center, 2600 Canyon Road, is a garden of numerous types of penstemons. Although the Center is temporarily closed, the garden can be viewed. The Los Alamos Master Gardeners' Demo Garden, corner of Oppenheimer Dr. and Central Ave, has penstemons in several locations. Bloom times vary, so look for distinctive blooms as the summer progresses.
Here are photos of several now blooming in Los Alamos County.
|Show/Hide||Patience in the Garden|
|Patience in the Garden|
Master Gardener, Dena Brant, is pleased that with patience, the garden is now blooming. All those who know Dena, also know that a lot of hard work went into her garden of color.
|A flower welcome: Pansies, Petunias, Calendula and Hydrangea welcome guests to the front door.|
|Dena is pleased to grow carnations that for the first time actually bloomed!|
|Roses bloom well in June. Dena worked hard fighting the thrips that love to eat the new buds.|
|Another greeter for visitors - red lilies blooming by the front door.|
|Adding a water feature to your garden attracts wildlife, soothes the soul, and personalizes your space. A water feature can be as simple as a bird bath rock:|
|or as complex as a waterfall.|
|They provide a relaxing sanctuary. They add beauty and personality to your space:|
|They invite visitors: some welcome:|
|Some not so welcome:|
|A simple fountain adds the relaxing sound of running water:|
|Consider adding a water feature to your garden. No space is too small. You will discover benefits that far exceed the investment. Photos provided by master gardeners, Denise George, Rosmarie Frederickson, Cathe Ragsdale, Kimberli Tanner and Robert Walker.|