January 7, 2012

1 - Prune fruit trees up until the buds swell and "show color."

Yard and Garden
January 7, 2012

I have 9 fruit trees, mostly apple trees. I need to moderately prune the trees to prepare for good harvest this year. I live in Peralta. When is the best time to prune? Thanks for your help.

Don D.

You should prune your fruit trees before they begin growth in the spring. Since you have only a few trees, you can begin in late February and prune through the time the buds begin to swell enough to "show color". People with more trees must prune earlier so that they have enough time, some will begin in January. Sometimes variouos County Extension Service offices have taught tree pruning classes. I have not heard of any planned this year, but you can contact your local NMSU County Extension Service to ask about programs. Your local NMSU Extension Service office can also provide you with publications ad advice about pruning. They are familiar with the climatic conditions in the various parts of each county and can advise you as to when you should expect to stop pruning. The NMSU College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences web site has numerous publications that may be helpful as well. Please see ACES Publications.

You can start your chile and tomato seedlings indoors now.

When can I begin plating tomato and chile seeds to grow indoors until spring? Is it too early now?

Alvin G.

It is not too early to begin your chile and tomato transplants now. Some chile seeds need a very warm environment to germinate quickly, so choose your warmest site. Plant propagation heat mats set for about 70 degrees result in very rapid germination of chiles and tomatoes. Once the seeds have germinated and emerged from the soil, you should move them to a location with bright or direct light for most of the day. If you choose a window location, sheer curtains will help diffuse the light and result in healthy plants. Once the transplants are growing well in their pots, heat is not as critical, but you shold keep temperatures above 60 degrees whenever possible. A cold frame is an excellent place to grow the transplants once the temperature warms enough to avoid freezing at night in the cold frame. A cold frame results in transplants better able to survive the move from home environment to garden when it is time to plant them outside.

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: desertblooms@nmsu.edu, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


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

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

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