Good To Grow

Saturdays at 11:15am

Gardening in the El Paso Southwest has always been a challenge. Enthusiasts have to contend with a variety of problems: scarce annual rainfall, less than ideal soil composition, and extreme temperatures among others. But southwestern gardening aficionados always seem to find a way to keep our desert blooming, beautiful and fruitful.

Each Saturday, Good to Grow will answer the many questions gardeners may have about plants, growing conditions, and proper care for El Paso’s varied gardens.

Good to Grow won 1st place in the annual Texas Master Gardener Conference in 2010.

  While you're doing your holiday shopping, don't forget the gardening enthusiast (or gardening beginner) in your life!  County Extension Agent Denise Rodriguez and Master Gardener Jan Petrzelka share their recommendations:  Sunset gardening books, books about gardening with succulents, gardening tools, and much, much more!

Aired Nov. 28, 2015


  Looking for that perfect host/hostess gift for the holidays, or trying to liven up your own tablescape?  Denise & Norma talk about do-it-yourself terrariums in mason jars.

Plus...will it be a good poppy year?  

Denise also sings the praises of delphiniums.

And if you're looking for a nice citrus tree for your patio, Denise recommends one that's a Texas Superstar.

Aired Nov. 21, 2015

  With autumn in the air, leaves are beginning to turn yellow, orange, and red...and are drifting off our trees into our (and our neighbors') yards.  Don't reach for that blower or rake - leave those leaves alone!  That yard litter is providing essential nutrients and protection for our landscape.   Plus...the more we know about the microclimates in our landscape, the better off we'll be preparing for the winter cold.

Read a related article here:

Aired Nov. 14, 2015.

  Is it a good time to plant garlic?  Which side goes up?

What about daffodils?  Do they need to go in the ground now for their spring bloom?

And that 1970's throwback, the terrarium, is making a comeback!  Find out what you need to know to care for plants in a terrarium.

Aired Nov. 7, 2015.

Ruby Cerino, The Prospecter


   The Texas Community Forestry and Tree Care Awards are held during the annual Texas Tree Conference, organized by the Texas chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture and the Texas A&M Forest Service urban forestry department.

2015 Award Winners:

The Gold Leaf Award–Landscape Improvement: THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT EL PASO

The University of Texas at El Paso is the 2015 Gold Leaf Award winner for their Campus Transformation Project. With the addition of 700 trees of 24 varieties, the project revives the natural arroyo terrain that once defined the center of campus before it was replaced with roads and parking lots. Planting a variety of drought-tolerant shade trees, environmentally sensitive shrubs, grasses and plants native to the Chihuahua desert will lower temperatures and help prevent heat exhaustion.

Arborist of the Year: OSCAR MESTAS, regional urban forester, Texas A&M Forest Service

This year’s Arborist of the Year, Oscar Mestas, is a regional urban forester with Texas A&M Forest Service in El Paso. A graduate of Stephen F. Austin University with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry, Oscar is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist and Municipal Specialist, a Society of American Forester Certified Forester, and is Tree Risk Assessment Qualified. Oscar served as editor for the Texas Chapter of ISA, founder of West Texas Urban Forestry Council, chairman of El Paso Tree Board and on the board of Keep El Paso Beautiful. Oscar exemplifies leadership, commitment, innovation, impact and sustainability in the world of trees and tree care.


  Fall is here...and our mantra on this program is "Fall is for Planting."  Make sure you plant trees & shrubs in November to ensure good root establishment by the Spring.  Plus...plant mums for fall color, and find out how to protect your outdoor plants from the cold nights that are sure to come.  And, cut back on watering your lawn now that Bermuda grass is going dormant.

Aired Oct. 31, 2015.

Gardening Checklist for November

This is still a great time to plant trees and shrubs, although the selection at local nurseries and garden shops may not be that extensive.  Many garden centers have much less inventory in the fall than they do in the spring, when temperatures are beginning to warm up and more people have gardening on their minds. 

El Paso Master Gardeners Facebook

  Our first official freeze date is coming up in a few weeks, and Denise Rodriguez and Norma Martinez will offer some advice on how we can prepare.  And with cooler weather upon us, it's time to ditch those summer veggies and start preparing seeds for your fall crop - spinach, kale, carrots, and so much more.  Plus, pumpkins are EVERYWHERE, and if you have one on your patio or are carving one into a jack-o-lantern, how can you keep it looking fresh?

Aired Oct. 24, 2015

  Trees are one of our most important investments.  They provide shade, cool our surroundings, and can last generations if properly cared for.  If you're looking into adding a tree to your landscape, Denise & Norma will be checking off a list of what you need to know:  What's the purpose of the tree?  How are you going to get it home?  How big should you dig that hole?  How can you care for it?

Aired Oct. 17, 2015

  Los Tree Amigos of the West Texas Urban Forestry Council are bringing you 3 great opportunities to learn about trees in your community at the 2015 Sun Country Landscape Conference.

  John White, garden curator of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens on the UTEP campus, joins us to tell us about the upcoming Sun Country Landscape Conference.  The conference, which aims to increase awareness & education about trees in El Paso, will feature a Spanish-language tree maintenance workshop for area gardeners & landscapers on Nov. 19...a session for industry professionals such as architects & planners on Nov. 20...and a homeowner session open to everyone on Nov. 21.  Early registration is encouraged by Oct. 31.

Learn more at and connect with the West Texas Urban Forestry Council on Facebook at

Aired Oct. 3, 2015

Fall is a great time for planting.  Trees and shrubs planted now will be well established by spring’s growing season and endure next year’s heat much better. 

Wildflower seeds should be sown this month into weed-free, well-tilled soil.

Purchase spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils, tulips, anemones, hyacinths, and ranunculus now, to ensure the best selection. 

  Trees are one of our biggest investments in our landscape.  When's the best time to plant them?  Which tree will grow best in your part of town?  Should you buy a staked tree?  We'll answer all these questions and more with John White, garden curator of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at UTEP.

Aired Sept 26, 2015.

Texas AgriLife Extension

  Earth-Kind Roses demonstrate superior pest tolerance and outstanding landscape performance, and they're some of the best types of roses to plant in our region.  Now that we're getting ready for our fall bloom, Norma & Denise run down what you should look for if you're thinking of planting roses in your landscape.

Learn more about Earth-Kind Roses here:

Aired Sept 19, 2015.

Salvador Vitanza, Facebook El Paso Bugs

  Norma & Denise talk about some of the questions that have been coming into the Master Gardener helpline recently (that number, by the way, is 915-771-2354).  Wooly aphids have been attacking pine trees, and spittlebugs are making rosemary plants look rather icky.  Plus, what's the best way to control those out-of-control weeds in your turf?

If you'd like a closer look at El Paso's coolest bugs, visit Salvador Vitanza's El Paso Bugs Facebook page at

Aired Sept 5, 2015.

Facebook El Paso Master Gardeners


  Denise & Norma are getting ready for cooler weather by sharing these September gardening tips.  Make sure you give your turf one last boost of fertilizer to carry it over into the winter and through the spring...deadhead and fertilize your roses to get them ready for their fall bloom...and sow your wildflower seeds directly into your garden beds.

Aired Aug. 29, 2015

Gardening Questions?

Aug 24, 2015

  Do you have gardening questions?  Submit your questions and photos here:  

You can also e-mail your questions to, or call Texas A&M AgriLife Extension at 915-771-2354, and they can connect you to a Master Gardener. Or, submit your questions, comments, and/or photos to the El Paso Master Gardener Facebook page:

Find the El Paso Master Gardeners on Instagram!

Here are some other helpful links: (Texas AgriLife Extension Service) to access the Extension Calendar and other Master Gardener activities. (El Paso Master Gardeners) to access a local calendar, colorful photos, and helpful information. for other gardening resources. (Recommended Ornamental Plants for Far West Texas)

(Home Vegetable Gardening).


    Denise & Norma talk with Sabine Green, a certified floral designer who will be leading a Floral Jewelry Workshop on Aug. 20 at 5:30 p.m. at the Garden Center, 3105 Grant.   Participants will learn how to mix fresh flowers with repurposed jewelry to create wearable floral art.  All supplies are included, but you are welcome to bring your own jewelry to repurpose!more info: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension 771-2354. Aired Aug. 8, 2015.

  With the summer heat, the last thing most of us are thinking about is gardening...but we are definitely ready for the fall to arrive!  And with the fall season comes an array of fall vegetables.  It's time to start planning for our fall veggie gardens, and Denise & Norma offer some helpful tips to get you on your way!

Aired Aug. 15, 2015.

  Denise & Norma talk with Rainwater Harvesting Specialist, Doc Stalker about rainwater harvesting.  You don't need to buy any expensive equipment to collect precious rainwater for your landscape.  Doc tells us about how we can take advantage of passive rainwater harvesting by channeling rainwater runoff to our trees, lawns, and raingardens.  Learn more at

Aired Aug. 1, 2015.

El Paso Master Gardeners Facebook


   Denise & Norma talk about the signs of overwatering and underwatering plants and turf.  Plus, if you have trees growing in your lawn, prioritize the tree over the turf - it will likely need heavier watering.

Powdery mildew is also a problem with summer rains.  Find out how to control it.

And the El Paso Master Gardeners are experimenting with growing loofahs!  Denise tells us more.

Aired July 25, 2015.

  Denise & Norma talk about the upcoming Master Gardener class taking place in September.  Do you have time to dedicate to learning about horticulture and sharing that knowledge with the community?  Sign up before August 24. Registration information available at 915-860-2515 and online

Denise & Norma also talk about containers.  Terra cotta pots are beautiful, but they aren't necessarily good for your plant!  They talk about a clever way to keep those attractive pots WITHOUT harming your plants.

Aired July 18, 2015

  If your grass has brown spots, there are 2 likely culprits - a faulty sprinkler system or nasty little grub worms.  Denise & Norma explain why you shouldn't panic if you find 1 or 2 grub worms in your yard...and when you should head to the hardware store to find the right chemical to treat them.

Aired July 4, 2015.

  Denise & Norma talk about how you can keep your veggies, flowering plants, and lawns alive while you take an extended summer vacation.  Mulching, deep watering, and early harvesting are key.

Aired June 27, 2015

  Bugs - are they a benefit or a nuisance?  It depends!  Most people have the "spray and pray" approach when it comes to bugs, but Denise & Norma talk about why it's important to identify the bugs invading your home or garden BEFORE you take any action.  Sometimes a blast of water will take care of aphids or spider mites, and hand picking tomato hornworms off your tomatoes is better than spraying a nasty chemical on your veggies.  To learn more about IPM, Integrated Pest Management, view this helpful handout:

Denise shares another helpful link to help you decide how to best use pesticides (  Or follow the Insects in the City blog at

Aired June 13, 2015.

  Denise & Norma talk with Amber Carroll, County Extension Agent 4-H and Youth Development.  Carroll talks about the upcoming STEM Summer Camp presented by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, that features fun, hands-on activities that will teach kids age 9-12 (even though they won't realize they're learning!) about the environment, water stewardship, engineering, rockets, and nutrition.  The camp is July 13-18, 8am-noon, at the Ascarate Park Pavilion, 6900 Delta.  Sign up by calling 915-860-2515, or visit

Aired June 6, 2015.


   The El Paso Master Gardeners are in full swing this Spring & Summer, conducting classes, workshops, and informative talks across the community.  From the Farmers Market at Ardovino's and Downtown, to Gardening 101 workshops, there are plenty of ways for you to learn more about gardening in harmony with the desert.  Norma & Denise give a full rundown of the activities, and you can learn more by calling the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service at 915-860-2515, or visit  Find the Master Gardeners on Facebook

Aired May 23, 2015

  Denise & Norma talk about some of the gardening activities we should be thinking about this month.  Now's a great time to install a new Bermuda lawn and to fertilize our existing lawns.  What annual & perennial flowering plants will add color to your landscape?  

Aired May 16, 2015.

  Norma & Denise welcome Picacho Hills resident Larry Felhauser to talk about the annual Art in the Garden tour taking place May 17, 11am-4pm, in the Picacho Hills neighborhood in Las Cruces.  This event features 6 gardens and 18 artists who are showcasing and selling their artwork to the public.

Learn more at

Aired May 9, 2015

Facebook, El Paso Master Gardeners

  Denise & Norma talk about a few of the most popular questions that have been called into the Master Gardener Help Line (915-566-1276).  What's the best way to rid my turf of weeds?  What's the best way to control invasive and hungry insects & bugs?  What small tree can replace my Mexican Elder?  

If you have plant questions, the Master Gardeners can be reached at 915-566-1276,, and on Facebook at

Aired May 2, 2015.