Plant ques­tions? Ask a Master Gar­dener

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - ARTFULLIVINGBYDESIGN - By Paul Wei­de­man

THE SANTA FE MASTER GAR­DEN­ERS OR­GA­NI­ZA­TION IS BOOM­ING with in­ter­est— drought or not. There are more than 200 mem­bers, and ev­ery year sev­eral dozen peo­ple com­plete the train­ing (which is all booked for 2018). One of the new­est ini­tia­tives is the Santa Fe Na­tive Plants Project started by Deb­o­rah Far­son, Laura McGrath, and other mem­bers. They call them­selves SNAP­Pers. The point is “to spread a phi­los­o­phy of gar­den­ing that is more geared to na­tive plants that sup­port our na­tive pol­li­na­tors and are bet­ter com­po­nents of a healthy ecosystem,” McGrath said. “They’re more adapted to the soil, they don’t need the pes­ti­cides, and they can dig in and sur­vive drought.” Ex­am­ples in­clude the shrubs or small trees Apache plume, moun­tain ma­hogany, New Mex­ico privet, and desert wil­low; and peren­ni­als and or­na­men­tal grasses such as pen­ste­mons, Mex­i­can hat, and silky thread­grass.

The Master Gar­den­ers have work­shops on all kinds of use­ful tech­niques. One of them is soil amend­ment, which is usu­ally nec­es­sary when plant­ing veg­eta­bles in the Santa Fe area, but it isn’t required for some plants. “Na­tives don’t need a lot of amend­ing,” Far­son said.

It is not too early for gar­den­ers to busy them­selves with seeds, cold-hardy plants, and soil prepa­ra­tion, but heavy-duty plant­ing waits for the tra­di­tional last-frost date, May 15. Un­til then, you can get your en­thu­si­asm go­ing, and in­crease your savvy, by spend­ing time with a good book or two. Far­son and McGrath, who are both se­nior mem­bers and for­mer pres­i­dents of the SGMGA board, men­tioned Steppes: The Plants and Ecol­ogy of the­World’s Semi-arid Re­gions (mul­ti­ple au­thors) andWild Plants of the Pueblo Prov­ince: Ex­plor­ing An­cient and En­dur­ing Uses byWil­liamW. Dun­mire and Gail D. Tier­ney. Other pos­si­bil­i­ties are The Un­daunted Gar­den: Plant­ing forWeather-Re­silient Beauty by Lau­ren Springer Og­den and Grow­ing the South­west Gar­den: Re­gional Or­na­men­tal Gar­den­ing by Ju­dith Phillips.

What kinds of things doMaster Gar­den­ers do? “We work with the County Ex­ten­sion agent, Tom Dominguez, and we an­swer urban hor­ti­cul­ture ques­tions, so he’s free to con­cen­trate on ranch and farm ques­tions: the in­come-pro­duc­ing realm,” McGrath said. The ex­ten­sion agents in the Santa Fe County of­fice are Jac­que­line Baca, di­rec­tor 4-H, fam­ily, and con­sumer sci­ences; Christina Turner, 4-H; Cyd­ney Martin, fam­ily and con­sumer sci­ences; andThomas Dominguez, agri­cul­ture. “This time of year we start get­ting ques­tions about piñon scale. Peo­ple will phone the County Ex­ten­sion of­fice and they take mes­sages. We ac­tu­ally have of­fice hours at the Ex­ten­sion of­fice at the fair­grounds (3229 Rodeo Road) onMon­days andThurs­days from1 to 3 p.m. and peo­ple can drop in or call us.”

Master Gar­den­ers work at theWildlife Cen­ter in Es­pañola, teach­ing classes about soil test­ing and drip ir­ri­ga­tion, and in the Ban­de­lier Gar­den at El Zaguan on Canyon Road. They have a wildlife gar­den and a pol­li­na­tor gar­den at the Ran­dall Davey Audubon Cen­ter, where mem­bers teach peo­ple how to build wild bee houses.

You can ask ques­tions year-round at www.sfmga.org and ev­ery Satur­day morn­ing, you can find an “Ask theMaster Gar­dener” ta­ble at New­man’s Nurs­ery, at both Payne’s Nurs­eries lo­ca­tions, and on the Sec­ond Street Brew­ery pa- tio in the Santa Fe Rai­l­yard. They’re also ac­tive in El­do­rado — at the Vista Grande Li­brary on May 12 & 19 (11 a.m.-2 p.m.), at the Agora Shop­ping Cen­ter on May 26 (11 a.m.-2 p.m., then on Fri­days in June at the El­do­rado Farm­ers Mar­ket (3:30-6:30 p.m.)

The Santa Fe Master Gar­den­ers have done a ra­dio show for years: “The Gar­den Jour­nal,” broad­cast live each Satur­day from 10 to 10:30 a.m. on KSFR 101.1. Show reg­u­lar Jan­nine Ca­bossel (the “Tomato Lady” at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Mar­ket) joins hosts Chris­tine Salem and Bob

Moon­shine yar­row and pur­ple cone­flower cap­tured by Joy Man­del­baum at the Ran­dall Davey Audubon Cen­ter

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