Master Gardeners’ Answers to Top Questions

The Sandoval County Master Gardeners  mission states that “Sandoval County Master Gardeners are dedicated in helping our community with gardening knowledge and assistance on community service projects. We keep our county green!” and to do this they offer classes, news, resources as well as advice on their website. They also work with us with our annual garden tours, where they function as gardening tour guides, helping people with their questions about the plants they see. They have listed a few frequently asked questions on their site that we would like to share with you. Below is a summary of the full article that appears here.

It’s late May. What type of problems should I begin to look for in my apple trees?

Bagworms are one of the easiest insects to detect, but can also do great damage before they are noticed.  They arrive usually in June as the eggs hatch and begin their feeding frenzy.  It is at this stage that they are most easily controlled.  They love the arborvitae family of plants, but can feed on anything with a luscious leaf on it.  Plants such as maple, box elder, willow, black locust, poplar, oak, apple, cherry, juniper and persimmon can all become victims of the bagworm.

What do I need to know about using manure in my garden?

 Manure is relatively high in nitrogen content. This makes manure valuable for composting but can be problematic if fresh.The most important thing to know is that fresh manure and vegetable gardens do not mix, in fact it could be deadly. Amending soil with aged, well-composted manure is acceptable practice.

It’s mid-July and I have very few tomatoes, what’s wrong?

There could be a number of reasons.

  • A lush plant with lots of leaves and no flowers may have too much nitrogen in the soil.
  • Plants  forming flowers but they are dropping off the likely problem here in the southwest is the heat.
  • Lots of green tomatoes that are not ripening, the problem is likely prolonged heat.

What do I do about those horrible green caterpillars that are eating my chiles and tomatoes?

Those hungry pests are tomato hornworms and they can defoliate a plant quickly. The only way to protect your plants, once you know they are around your garden, is to go on a search and destroy mission.

What can I do about squash bugs?

 Manual removal is the most effective approach according to NMSU’s Entomologist Dr. Sutherland. Pesticides are of limited effectiveness.

Last year I grew the most wonderful chile so I saved seeds and grew it again this year – but the chiles don’t seem to be as good, what’s happening?

Chiles cross-pollinate very easily. This is a particular concern if you save seeds.  If you are growing hot chiles and bell peppers together and save the chile seeds you might be in for a surprise and possible disappointment with the chiles grown from those seeds.

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