Newspaper Articles


by Shan Wheeler

What is more beautiful than butterflies flitting from flower to flower? Soon the Orange Sulphurs, Painted Ladies, Swallowtails, Monarchs, Viceroys and more will be emerging or migrating back into Texas. When they do, they will need food and to seek their chosen plants on which to lay their eggs. Various “nectar” plants provide the butterfly sustenance. “Host” plants are more specific depending upon the butterfly. Eggs are laid on a specific host plant(s) that, when the eggs hatch, will immediately provide the tiny larval (caterpillar) with plenty of its favorite food while it grows through its stages into an adult butterfly (only 9 to 14 day

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By Debbie Roland, Compost Specialist

Companion planting is a good way to increase the flavor or deter pests.   Here are a few examples of how and what to plant together. Beans and peas increase nitrogen in soil and can be sown for harvest or as a cover crop.  Don’t pull the plants out when the season is over, simply dig them back into the soil to replace nitrogen.  Swiss chard, kale, lettuce and spinach all require extra nitrogen and can be planted with beans and peas. Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives repel cabbage worms and aphids.  They can be planted with cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, carrots and peppers

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By Carol Siddall Master Gardener

I love asparagus. I grew up in El Paso, and my mother had a huge bed of asparagus. We ate it, gave it away and ate more. Back in the late ’50s, El Paso was known for its sand storms, so needless to say, no matter how many times we washed it, there was some grit. I cook it often, only now I have to buy it. Asparagus is a perennial plant. Some grow from seed, but most prefer to start with one- or two-year-old plants. These can sometimes be bought at garden centers, but always through mail order specialists. Growing your own asparagus is an investment of time and patience that pays off. Plant the root crowns in well-drained

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Linda Cranfill, Master Gardener

Last spring the Permian Basin saw an amazing rose bloom due to the mild winter.   Consider adding roses to your landscape this year.  Roses now being produced for the public market are easy to grow and have easy care.  Some are drought tolerant and bloom more than once a year.  They also live in companionship with a great many perennials and annuals so that you can have color all summer and fall with a little planning. First to consider is the location of the rose.  Roses in West Texas do best with morning sun and some afternoon shade.  Some can do well in full sun.  Many grow in containers with great success.  It all depe

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Carol Siddall, Master Gardener

This time of year gardeners, me included, are looking through seed catalogues and their gardening magazines.  I have come across some interesting and fun information I thought I would share with you. Winter blues? Try growing a few herbs indoors. They are fun.
  • Grow ones like rosemary and thyme to go into winter soups.
  • Grow the popular micro greens. All you need is a sunny spot, lettuce seeds and in a few days you will have greens full of nutrients to eat.
  • Take an avocado pit and let it sprout. Also try a pineapple top. Kids will love to

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Frank Wells Master Gardener and Certified Consulting Rosarian

  Legend says, Valentine's Day originated during the third century in Rome. Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage for young men. A young priest named Valentine was furious and defied Claudius by continuing to perform weddings in secret. Claudius eventually discovered this and sentenced him to death. During his time in jail, Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. Before he was put to death, Valentine sent a letter to the girl and signed it “From Your Valentine”. Later, around 496 AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 a day

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Linda Cranfill, Master Gardener

  Because of some unseasonal warm days in January or February gardeners think about pruning and preparing for spring.   According to the 2017 Farmer’s Almanac our last freeze should be around April 16th.  It is tempting to prune roses too early because we get warm weather and the roses start to produce buds, but wait.  If you prune too early a late freeze will damage the new growth generated from the pruning.   The  best time to prune roses in West Texas is after the last freeze.  A local rose specialist says if you want roses on Mother's day, trim 60 days prior. Take out diseased roses and prepare the bed

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By Barbara Porsch Herb enthusiast

In flower language, lavender means devotion. So what better herb to talk about right before Valentine’s Day than lavender, Lavandula spp. Lavender has a long history. In the Bible, it was called spikenard, and before Passover, Mary used pure oil of nard to anoint Jesus’ feet. The Egyptians used it in their mummification process, and residue of lavender was found in the pyramids. From the Egyptians, the Greeks learned about perfumes and aromatic herbs, and then the Romans learned from the Greeks and used lavender to perfume themselves and their homes. They also used it to treat ailments. During the Renaissance period they

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Debbie Roland, Compost Specialist

  Is your yard or garden a new creation?  If you have a new house which had dirt and caliche brought in or if you have hauled in soil to make a garden, the answer may be yes.  The Master Gardeners are dealing with this situation in one of the local gardens we tend. This particular location has raised beds that were filled with construction dirt.  Of course there is a concern about what chemicals could have been in the dirt.  The challenge we have is making soil in these beds that is healthy and will grow a mix of vegetables and flowers.   As we recommend to everyone, we have had the soil tested so we know which d

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