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Starting from Seed: Growing Native Plants Does Not Have to Be a Pain in the Aster

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Southwest Yard & Garden 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.
Seed from bush morning-glory (Ipomoea leptophylla) being collected (top image), followed by seed cleaning (bottom left), and packaging seeds (bottom right) for storage at the Santa Ana Plant Nursery in Bernalillo, NM. 
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 …

Monitoring Restoration Success

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Southwest Yard & Garden 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.




QQQQQQQuestion: I volunteered this year and helped plant coyote willow poles for a riparian restoration project. I wanted to follow up and learn about how scientists monitor the health of these wetland ecosystems following restoration. -Eric L., Bernalillo Answer: I recently visited the Pueblo of Santa Ana, about 20 miles north of Albuquerque, and took a tour of these bosque restoration sites with Nathan Schroeder,Restoration Division Manager in the Pueblo of Santa Ana’s Department of Natural Resources, to better answer this question. The Rio Grande flood plain on the Pueblo has changed significantly in the past sixty years due to flood control and channelization projects, many of which have adversely affected the riparian and aquatic communities. Many of their restoration proje…

Selecting the Right Turfgrass Variety for Your Yard

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Southwest Yard & Garden Reprint from 2009. Guest contributor Dr. Bernd Leinauer, NMSU Extension Turfgrass Specialist
Warm- (tan-colored) and cool-season (green) turfgrasses in late winter. Photo credit “Turfgrass Irrigation” NMSU Extension Circular 660 (https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/CR660/welcome.html).

A turfgrass research plot in which different turfgrass varieties are evaluated. Photo credit “Turfgrasses for New Mexico” NMSU Extension Guide H-508 (https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/H508/welcome.html). Question: I want to plant a lawn with a grass that uses less water than ryegrass. Do you have any suggestions? - B.L., Raton Answer: Dr. Bernd Leinauer, NMSU Extension Turfgrass Specialist, provided this information. I am frequently asked about plant selection, but this can’t be answered without addressing two other areas: human expectations and irrigation system performance. I hope this will clear up some general misconceptions about turf water use. A plant's water requirement is …

Salt Burn on Leaf Edges: Causes and Solutions

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Southwest Yard & Garden By Dr. Marisa Thompson
Rose 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

Answer: Thanks for sending such great photos with your rosebush question. These photos depict rose foliage with varying degrees of browning edges on the leaflets and some white crusty buildup on leaflet surfaces, especially at the margins. Some of the leaflets have a burned look with black edges.
First off, the leaf margin damage looked to me like salt burn, and I asked Dr. Curtis Smith, retired NMSU horticulture specialist, to weigh in. Dr. Smith agreed that the tissue necrosis at the leaflet tips and margins might be due to salt burn. Salt accumulation at these points is caused when dissolved salts are brought up to the leaves from the roots during transpiration. This could be due to salts in the soil or in the irrigation water that accumulate over time. As…

Pollinator or pest? When to draw the line with the Lepidoptera order (moths and butterflies)

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Southwest Yard & Garden 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.
Black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes) caterpillar (left) and adult butterfly (right) on the same dill plant, just weeks apart, at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas in July 2019. Photo credits Alissa Freeman.Question: How do you draw the line between pest and pollinator in regards to moths and butterflies?
-Anthony S., Ruidoso
Answer: That is an excellent question, and the answer really depends on the situation, your point of view, and several other factors. Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes both butterflies and moths, many of which gardeners enjoy watching flutter around in the home garden. Adult moths and butterflies are harmless to plants and use their siphoning proboscis (long mouthpart that is used like a drinking straw) to feed on nectar …

Tomato Flavor: Where Did it Go and How They’re Bringing It Back

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Southwest Yard & Garden by Dr. Marisa Thompson



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. Store-bought tomatoes are likely to have already been kept in cold storage, so it just may not matter as much where you keep them. The long answer winds up being a rich story of customer relations, plant breeding, plant physiology, chemistry, marketing, classical music, disappointment, and hope.
Have you heard the saying “If you want a flavorful tomato, grow it yourself”? One reason for this is that …