Virtual Extension Events

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October 3, 2020


I missed your “Ready, Set, GROW!” classes. Are there any other online classes or videos this fall?

- Linda A., Las Vegas, NM


Thank you for reaching out. Good news times two: 1) you only missed the first two of the "Ready, Set, GROW!" webinar series that runs twice a month through March 2021, and 2) each webinar is being recorded, so you'll be able to access them if you can’t attend the live sessions.

Image of peaches, tomatoes, and a leaf with pests
From peaches to pests to tomatoes and more, NMSU Cooperative Extension Service offers all sorts of online educational opportunities in the coming months. Photo credits M. Thompson

For years I’ve been inspired by the many people who show up to attend the various NMSU Cooperative Extension Service presentations and workshops we give across the state. In response to COVID, we’re now transitioning these learning events to web-based platforms so people can participate from home. And I’m being inspired all over again by how much people care about sustainable gardening in New Mexico. On September 16, we had 195 people in attendance for the second presentation in our “Ready, Set, GROW!” series, in which NMSU Extension Integrated Pest Management Specialist Dr. Amanda Skidmore spoke about creating garden habitats that support pollinators through the winter. Attendees were invited to post their questions in the chat box, and we used the second half of the hour to answer them directly.

The biggest challenge now, it seems, is getting the word out about each of these engaging online programs. In this week’s column, I’m highlighting some virtual events that are horticulturally focused. Please note that many other NMSU Extension programs are also free and being hosted online, from a diabetes management series with cooking demonstrations to 4-H youth development trainings for student success, and so much more. Contact your local county Cooperative Extension Service Office and check the statewide NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences or ACES Calendar for upcoming events. Remember that even if online events are hosted in a particular county, they are open to statewide attendance.

  • The “Ready, Set, GROW!” webinar series is held the first and third Wednesday of each month at 3 pm from September 2020 through March 2021. Upcoming topics include seed saving with Valencia County Extension Agent Lynda Garvin, planting trees in the fall with Doña Ana County Extension Agent Jeff Anderson, holiday wine pairings using New Mexico wines with Extension Viticulture Specialist Dr. Gill Giese, and more. The next session will be on growing and preserving herbs in the home garden by Mora County Extension Agent Suzanne Cole on October 7. For registration links and more details about upcoming and past sessions, visit Ready, Set, Grow!

  • In collaboration with Hidalgo County Extension Agent Savannah Graves, we’re hosting two live virtual Q&A discussion sessions: “Got Houseplant Questions?” on October 9 with a focus on winterizing houseplants, and “Got Tree Questions?” on October 16. Both programs will be presented by me, NMSU Extension Urban Horticulture Specialist Dr. Marisa Thompson, and will start at 4 pm. See Hidalgo CES.

  • The NMSU Plant Diagnostic Clinic and New Mexico Department of Agriculture have teamed up to host multiple series of pre-recorded and live sessions. I’m giving two of the presentations: “Tree Selection & Care: Avoiding Probable Pests and Disasters” (pre-recorded) and “Yard and Garden,” presented in partnership with NMSU Entomology Specialist Dr. Carol Sutherland. This will be a live discussion on November 4 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm on proper cultural practices and techniques to reduce plant stress and best management strategies for commonly found insects. Find more info at Pesticide.

  • The NMSU Sustainable Agriculture Fall Workshop Series is running on Thursdays through November 5, with topics including seed saving, herbicide resistance in weedy plants, beneficial insects, veggie growing, fruit tree pruning, and small farm drip irrigation. To register for individual sessions, see SARE.

  • A two-day online Soil Health Workshop will be held October 27 and 28 from 9 am to 3:30 pm. Topics include physical, chemical, and biological soil properties in relation to soil health management. Other topics include cover cropping, crop rotation, livestock integration into cropping systems, tillage management, organic amendments, grazing/pasture management, and cropland/rangeland assessment. For links to this opportunity and many more, visit the Desert Blooms blog version of my column.

I’ll list as many of these virtual opportunities as possible on the blog. Please let me know of other programs I should add. Your enthusiasm for these virtual events continues to inspire my work. Can’t wait to “see” you in class!

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook page.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!