Issue: April 10
NMSU Extension Service, nurseries, garden clubs, and Master Gardeners are good sources of gardening information for new residents
Q. Our family recently moved to Alto, NM from Des Moines, Iowa. I would like to start a vegetable garden but do not know where to find resources, what plants will thrive or die here, etc. Could you direct me to the best info that will help me navigate through my 1st NM vegetable garden?
A. Welcome to New Mexico. You are wise to look for resources because you will find gardening here very different from gardening in the Mid-west. Our soils are different, the water contains dissolved minerals that affect irrigation, and the climate is a distinct concern.
There are a number of resources to consider when looking for information. I prefer to recommend the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service as a first place to look for information. Assisting residents with questions such as yours is what we do. The local NMSU Extension Service agent is one of the most knowledgeable people in your county regarding soils, water, and climate. Nurseries in the area and local gardening clubs are also good sources of information.
Your Extension agent can provide information about soil testing, an important first step when beginning a garden. A soil test tells you the conditions in your soil when you start your garden and what you need to add to make your garden as productive as it can be. Water tests may also be needed; again the Extension agent can tell you if that is needed in your area. The Extension office has publications from NMSU identifying garden plants for New Mexico and information about growing those plants.
Nurseries that sell plants in your area often know plants that do well in the area and stock those plants. Garden clubs are full of people like you who have learned by trial and error, through classes, and through the Extension Service, how to garden in your area. These are excellent sources of help.
Finally, the Master Gardeners associated with the Extension Service are volunteers helping your local Extension agent provide reliable, research-based information to gardeners in their counties. They often combine their personal experience with classes taught by the Extension Service to prepare them to help you.
You can also visit the web site listed below for gardening information.
Send your gardening questions to:
Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Cooperative Extension Service
9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112
Albuquerque, NM 87112
Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.