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New Mexico State University

2011 Southwest Yard & Garden archives

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Southwest Yard & Garden is a weekly column, written by Curtis W. Smith, Extension horticulture specialist, that addresses garden and landscape questions.

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications World Wide Web site at


  • January 1
    Prune tree to remove codominant trunk and prevent trunk splitting
  • January 8
    Tulip bulbs received as Christmas gifts should be forced or planted, do not try to save for next fall - Use chipped tree and shrub prunings in the compost or as mulch even though composting may be slow now.
  • January 29
    Test old seed to see if they are worth planting - Apricots will blossom and ripen later in Pecos, if the flowers and young fruit don't freeze


  • February 5
    Prune lilacs after blooming if light pruning, now for heavy pruning
  • February 12
    Mid-winter houseplant problems may be insects, mineral salt accumulation, or other things
  • February 19
    An old concrete lily pond with the bottom remove can become a large container garden
  • February 26
    Is this "living Christmas tree" hardy here?


  • March 5
    Many broad-leaf evergreens were injured by this very cold winter, wait to see if they will regrow
  • March 12
    EPA says there is no approved use for creosote in residential settings
  • March 19
    Proper houseplant watering compensates for shrinkage of potting soil
  • March 26
    Many broadleaf evergreen (including pyracantha) plants were injured by this winter's cold weather. Wait and see if they can produce new growth before removing them - Other injuries, such as herbicide damage, may also appear after this cold winter


  • April 2
    Raised beds are good for gardening, but keeping tree and shrub roots out can be a challenge
  • April 9
    There are several reasons that New Mexico soil is too hard to dig into, but a common cause this year is the fact that the soil is dry
  • April 16
    Cleaning water with vinegar can damage lawn unless diluted.
  • April 23
    Late April to early May is a safe time to move houseplants outside in most of New Mexico, but carefully adapt them to the outdoor environment.
  • April 30
    Check for the green cambium under the bark of Mexican elder trees and other woody plants when pruning them after this winter's cold spell. - Heritage bolita beans are grown by some growers.


  • May 7
    Mid-winter cold caused damage to roses and other plants, now late spring freezes and drying winds have caused additional damage.
  • May 14
    Mexican elder can be propagated from cuttings and seeds.
  • May 21
    Old rose bushes at historic homes can live for a long time
  • May 28
    There are numerous things that can stunt garden plants


  • June 4
    Although unlikely, it may not be impossible to grow roses from a long stem rose from a flower arrangement
  • June 11
    Spanish broom and some other shrubs frozen to the ground will benefit from the rejuvenation pruning to restore the plants.
  • June 18
    You can purchase chile varieties released by NMSU from the Chile Pepper Institute. - You can use rabbit manure in your garden
  • June 25
    Cut dead branches from rosemary after checking to see that they are indeed dead. - Newly planted trees often exhibit some signs of stress the first year, especially if the spring is harsh


  • July 2
    Compost will help many New Mexico soil problems, but a soil test will also help determine solutions to problems
  • July 9
    Symptoms of winter cold and now drought are showing up in trees. Proper watering is critical to tree survival
  • July 16
    Hot, dry weather and soil salts can resulted in stunted tomato plants or undersized fruit
  • July 23
    Wait until winter to prune figs, pomegranates, and other shrubs that are sprouting from the base after the great freeze of 2011 - When to harvest your garlic cloves
  • July 30
    Late planted squash is not always safe from squash bugs


  • August 6
    Blossom end rot in tomatoes and other garden vegetables is due to a failure of water to transport calcium to the tomatoes and other fruit as they form
  • August 20
    Some tomato varieties do better in hot climates and some garden techniques help
  • August 27
    Leaves from healthy plants may be left under plants as a mulch


  • September 3
    There are some small trees appropriate for small properties in hot climates
  • September 10
    When trimming indoor (or outdoor) cacti, be careful. You can start new plants from the trimmings
  • September 17
    Move old established roses at the end of the winter, but root prune them in late summer or early fall to increase your chance of success
  • September 24
    There are good, hardy trees to replace those damaged by last winter's cold weather


  • October 1
    Poinsettias and other short day flowering plants may stay outside until temperatures near freezing
  • October 8
    Soil and weather conditions could have contributed to poor tomato production this year
  • October 15
    Tree replacement is the ultimate solution to incurable slime flux disease, but often not an urgent matter. Prune dead branches before dormancy so you can more easily identify the dead branches
  • October 22
    Roses do not poison their soil, but there are several reasons roses do not do well where other roses have died
  • October 29
    Concrete debris can cause problems in the garden, but removing the concrete solves the problem.
  • November 5
    Several types of common insects may come in with houseplants in winter
  • November 12
    Wood ashes can be spread thinly over the landscape to minimize creating problems if they may not be disposed of in the garbage - Bamboo that died in the recent drought can be used as mulch.
  • November 19
    Painting trunks of thin barked trees helps protect against southwest injury, a disorder due to our sunny days and cold nights
  • November 26
    You can solarize plants before putting them into compost if you are not sure if they are diseased or not, or solarize the compost afterwards for safety
  • December 3, 2011
    Your compost pile does not need to be covered to continue the process of composting in the winter
  • December 17, 2011
    Development of black coloration on tree bark may indicate insect problems that should be managed
  • December 24, 2011
    Wait until spring to prune grapes and then follow instructions from NMSU Extension publication.

Desert Blooms website

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.