NEW The Mas­ter Gar­den­ers

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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

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 sfm­ganewslet­ 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

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 or call them at (505) 471-4711.

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