NEW The Master Gardeners
All I wanted was a tomato. A filledwith-sunshine, juicy, red tomato. What could possibly go wrong? Well, a lot, as it turns out: poor soil, cold and windy springs, rodents, insects— all conspired against me. But I found help. I joined the Santa Fe Master Gardener Association. And so began an education that continues today as I strive tomakemy plot of caliche the source of something other than tumbleweeds.
The Santa Fe Master Gardener Association is a 250-person army of gardeners dedicated to overcoming our bedeviling horticultural challenges. Each year, working under the leadership of our local extension agent and New Mexico State University, 60 Master Gardener interns attend an intensive, four-month-long weekly lecture series to learn the basics, from drip irrigation to building soil, to composting, to growing perennials, native plants, shrubs, and trees that do well in Santa Fe. Lectures on plant diseases, insects, and pests help students to protect their efforts. All Master Gardeners continue to learn and share their successes and tips with neighbors and the public.
Throughout the year (but mostly spring to fall), Master Gardeners are deployed throughout the community to offer educational programs and events. The flagship event is the annual day-long Garden Fair held at the County Fairgrounds (3229 Rodeo Road) on the first Saturday inMay— May 7th this year. Plant sales, lectures, demonstrations, and tours set the stage for the growing season. It gets busy, so arrive early!
Have a question? For the next few months, “Ask A Master Gardener” tables will be staged on weekends at Santa Fe Botanical Garden, both Payne’s Nurseries, Newman’s Nurseries, Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, and at various public locations in Eldorado. Help can also be found on Monday andThursday afternoons at the fairgrounds (May-September). To submit questions year-round and to see the table schedules, go to www.sfmga.org.
A free monthly series called “Let’s Grow” offers classes on cactus propagation, native plant selection, garden tours, herb harvesting, and more. The Santa Fe CompostAction Team(SCAT) offers workshops on hot composting and vermiculture (worms). Demonstration gardens at the fairgrounds are open for viewing any time the gate is open. A rose garden, xeric garden, cactus garden, and herb garden are on-site, along with a soon-to-be-expanded vegetable garden. Master Gardeners also tend the Cornell Rose Garden (Cordova Road and Galisteo), the gardens at El Zaguan and the Randall Davey Audubon Center on Canyon Road, and the New MexicoWildlife Center in Española.
From 10 to 10:30 a.m. Saturdays, tune into KSFR 101.1 FM to hear a lively and informative gardening show. Past broadcasts can be heard online. A free, locally produced e-newsletter is offered monthly to subscribers. Send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Master Gardeners will be writing a monthly article that will appear here. We look forward to sharing our secrets and tips with you. Formore information about activities and events, check out the Santa FeMaster Gardener Association website at sfmga.org.
So, what about that tomato? I’ve gotten pretty good at growing cherry tomatoes (maybe its my name), but that big beautiful, beefsteak eludes me yet. But, gardeners are perennial optimists: THIS year, I’ll succeed!
Cherry Payne has been a Master Gardener since 2014. In addition to a yellow lab named Toby who supervises her efforts, she has thousands of red wiggler worms as pets. She tries to garden in Eldorado. Contact the Santa Fe Master Gardener Association at sfmga.org or call them at (505) 471-4711.