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.


   Norma & Denise welcome John White, Garden Curator of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at UTEP.  John tells us about the upcoming SunScape workshop, which helps homeowners learn how to garden sensibly in the Chihuahuan Desert with informational talks on landscaping, tree & plant selection, and irrigation.  

The SunScape class is Sat. Oct. 25 from 8am-4:30pm at the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, and registration is recommended by Oct. 23.  Information:  call John White 915-747-8994.

Aired Oct. 18, 2014.

  Denise & Norma talk about gardening in small spaces.  If you're looking for small trees or shrubs, think about a Texas Mountain Laurel, a Golden Ball Lead Tree, and even a Pomegranate Tree!  We'll also hear some helpful gardening tips for October, including when to seed wildflowers, plant cool-season flowers, and refrigerate your tulips.  More information on tree selection can be found via the West Texas Urban Forestry Council:  Plant the right tree for your space!

Aired Oct. 4, 2014.

  Denise &  Norma talk about some of the upcoming Master Gardener activities, including a great Fall Vegetable Workshop on Oct. 4 at the Ascarate Park Pavilion.  Get great information from Master Gardeners on how to get the best crop of carrots, garlic, potatoes, and more!  The deadline to register is Sept. 29, and you can call 915-860-2515 to register or visit  Denise & Norma also talk about the recent rains, and about next month's Home & Garden Show.

Aired Sept. 27, 2014.

El Paso Master Gardeners

  Denise & Norma talk about how to start a successful compost pile.  What kind of container do you need?  What materials should you toss in your compost bin?  How often should you turn it?  What should it smell like?  

Aired Sept 27, 2014.

  Denise & Norma welcome back  Salvador Vitanza, Extension Agent with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.  Vitanza tells us about the salt cedar beetle which is destroying salt cedars all along the Rio Grande, including in the El Paso region and into southern New Mexico.  The beetle was released to control the salt cedar tree, considered an invasive species to our region.  Should we concern ourselves with the beetle, or should we let it continue to multiply and destroy the trees?

Learn more about the Texas IMP Program at, and call Texas A&M AgriLife to find out where Dr. Vitanza will be presenting next: 915-860-2515. 

Aired Sept. 13, 2014.

El Paso Master Gardeners Facebook page

  Norma & Denise have your September Gardening Tips.  Start your cool-season flowering plants indoors...seed your winter veggies directly into the ground...prepare your roses for their fall bloom...and much more!  Plus, Denise explains why you shouldn't try to grow a pecan tree with your own cuttings.

Aired Aug. 30, 2014.

  Denise & Norma talk about getting a school garden started in YOUR school.  What materials do you need?  What kind of "red tape" might you face?  How can El Paso Master Gardeners help?  

Aired Aug. 23, 2014.

  Gerbera Daisies and Geraniums are swell plants for our patios, but they might have been neglected over the summer.  Norma & Denise talk about how we can keep them looking their best.  Plus, with fall around the corner, it's time to start your fall veggie seeds indoors.  What to plant when?  The Master Gardeners have provided a Vegetable Planting Calendar here:  And if you are curious about the vegetable varieties that do best in our climate, visit

Aired Aug. 9, 2014.

  Denise & Norma talk about what we should be doing in our landscapes in August.  We need to start planning for fall (it's almost here!) and think about whether some of our plants need transplanting.  Spider mites might also still be an issues despite the rains, and we'll also hear why we need to give some extra water to our fruit trees.  Denise also explains how we can spot iron deficiency and nitrogen deficiency in our plants (see attached images).

Aired Aug. 2, 2014.

  In a rebroadcast from Aug. 18, 2012, Norma & Denise talk with Doc Stalker, Rainwater Harvesting Specialist with the Texas Master Gardeners.  Find out how to take advantage of the rainfall to irrigate your plants.  Even the lightest rain can make a huge difference.  Learn more at

Aired July 26, 2014.

  Denise & Norma talk about a number of gardening-related activities in El Paso, including an upcoming workshop on Container Gardening with Herbs, taking place Aug. 9 at the El Paso Garden Center, 3105 Grant Ave.  Register by July 31 at 915-860-2515.  We'll also hear about the Master Gardeners' experiements with keyhole gardens, and about the upcoming Master Gardening class.  Learn more at

Aired July 19, 2014.

Facebook (El Paso Master Gardeners)

  Denise & Norma talk with Jennifer Salter, who is entering her second year as a Master Gardener.  Jennifer shares the challenges and rewards of entering the Master Gardener class and spending that first year learning about vegetables, trees, irrigation, roses, and much more...and sharing that information with the public.  The Master Gardeners are accepting a new class of students, and you can learn more by visiting or calling 915-860-2515.  The deadline to apply is August 8.

Aired July 5, 2014.

  Brown spots on your lawn? Maybe it's a result of poor watering...or it's grub worms. On the next Good to Grow, Denise & Norma preview some July gardening tips, including how to identify and treat grub worm damage.

Aired June 28, 2014.

Do you have pesky bugs or pests in your yard or garden you can't identify? Visit this link, courtesy of Texas A&M:

  In a rebroadcast from July 7, 2012, Norma & Denise talk with Salvador Vitanza, an entomologist with Integrated Pest Management, Texas AgriLife Extension.  Bagworms, spider mites, caterpillers, hornworms...and the list goes on!  What are the pests that damage our trees & tomato plants?  And what's the best and safest way to control them?  

Aired Sat. June 14, 2014.

  Denise & Norma share some gardening tips for the month of June.  Turf maintenance is a priority, as is deep watering.  And if your kids are already bored on their vacation, Denise tells us how to keep busy by making a succulent garden.

Aired June 7, 2014.


    Denise & Norma talk with Cheryl Garing, President of the El Paso Chapter of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico.  New Mexico?  Cheryl explains why the El Paso Chapter fits better with the Land of Enchantment than with our home state of Texas.  The Native Plant Society is open to anyone interested in learning more about native plants and hearing interesting speakers at their meetings every 2nd Thursday at 6:30 p.m., at the El Paso Garden Center, 3105 Grant.  Dues are only $25/year for individuals, $30/year for families.  The Native Plant Society of New Mexico is holding their annual conference this summer, and you can hear more in our previous episode from May 24.  Learn more about the El Paso Chapter at and find them on Facebook at  Or, call Cheryl Garing 915-549-3674.

Aired May 31, 2014.


  Denise & Norma talk with Jim Hastings, who is inviting all interested members of the public to join with members of the Native Plant Society of New Mexico and attend their annual conference taking place August 1 & 2 at Canutillo High School here in El Paso.  Science talks, cactus talks, field trips, photo workshops, cooking workshops, and much more will take place...and EVERYONE is invited to attend!  Register by June 1 for a special discount.  Learn more at and visit the El Paso chapter's page at

Aired May 24, 2014.

  Denise & Norma talk with Master Gardener Enrique Perez about the Home Gardening in El Paso course being offered at El Paso Community College Valle Verde campus.  Classes are Saturdays 10:30am-12:30pm, June 7-July 19, and each week's class will cover a different topic - soil, Earth-Kind landscaping, vegetable gardening, native & adapted trees & plants, irrigation, container gardening, and much more.  The classes are casual and conversational, and the cost for the entire course is only $53.  Register online at or find the entire Continuing Education Summer catalog at  

Aired May 17, 2014.


  Denise & Norma talk with Wanda Sparks and Jan Harrison, two of the artists participating in the upcoming Art in the Garden Tour at Picacho Hills in Las Cruces.  6 homes in the Picacho Hills neighborhood will open their unique landscapes to the public, and area artists will be selling their work at the event.  It takes place Sunday, May 18, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., in Las Cruces.  Learn more by calling Jan Harrison at 575-541-9284 or Wanda Sparks at 575-523-1740.  You can also visit the Artists of Picacho Hills Facebook page for details at  The attached images include some of the works of art available at the tour, as well as one of the participating homes.

Aired May 3, 2014.

University Communications

  It's back!  The 2014 FloraFEST Native Plant Sale, happening this weekend, April 26 & 27, 9a-4p on the UTEP campus, and to tell us about it is Garden Curator for the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, John White.  John joins Denise & Norma to talk about the thousands of plants available for sale, and the helpful volunteers that will help you pick the right plant for the right place.  View a complete list of plants available for the sale at[1].pdf.  

Aired April 26, 2014.

Photo by Art Harris

  John White, Garden Curator for the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, joins Denise & Norma to talk about the history of the Gardens, which are located on the UTEP campus.  Learn about the different plant varieties in the Gardens, and the different types of pollinators that visit the plants.  The Chihuahuan Desert Gardens are open every day of the year, sunrise to sunset, and you can view a plant database and get a walking tour map by visiting  And don't forget about the annual FloraFest Native Plant Sale, taking place April 26 & 27 outside the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens!  John White will return next week to tell us more.

Aired April 19, 2014.

Facebook (El Paso Master Gardeners)




  Denise & Norma talk with Master Gardener Mark Benitez about the upcoming public tour of the Municipal Rose Garden.  Over 1300 rose bushes are at their peak, and the public is invited to tour the gardens, visit some of the booths for rose information, and talk to Master Gardeners about their rose concerns.  The tour is Saturday, April 19, noon-3 p.m., at the Municipal Rose Garden (corner of Copia & Aurora).  Mark also talks about rose pests and offers some fertilizer tips.  The pictures attached here are of Denise's and Mark's favorite roses, and a new addition to the rose garden, the Fortuniana.

Aired April 12, 2014.

  In a re-broadcast from June 2, 2012, Denise & Norma talk with Salvador Vitanza, Extension Agent with IPM (Integrated Pest Management) at Texas AgriLife Extension.  We'll hear about some galls that may affect oak trees, and why some leaf damage may be the result of the harmless leaf cutter bee.  Salvador also gives us some advice on what to do to avoid being stung by bees & wasps.

Aired March 29, 2014.

Websites for Tree Information, recommended by Regional Urban Forester Oscar Mestas.
Tree Care Industry:
International Society of Arboriculture (find a certified arborist):; for the Texas Chapter, visit
Good consumer information is available at

  Bill Hodge returns to the show to talk to us about the different varieties of corn & squash growing at the Master Gardener test garden at the Extension offices.  He also explains why we don't need a lot of space to grow our space-hogging vegetables - we can train them to grow UP instead of OUT.

Aired March 22, 2014.

Facebook (El Paso Master Gardeners)


  Denise & Norma talk with Master Gardener and vegetable specialist, Bill Hodge.  In the first of a 2-part interview, Bill takes us through a few helpful steps in preparing our soil for planting summer vegetables.  He also explains why some vegetables should be started from seed while others can be purchased as seedlings.  Bill will be taking part in the upcoming Summer Vegetable Workshop and seedling sale on March 29 at the Ascarate Park Pavilion, 6900 Delta.  Register in advance at 915-860-2515.

Aired March 15, 2014.

Norma Martinez


  Denise & Norma talk about what gardening activities we should be looking forward to in March.  We'll also hear about a couple of very interesting workshops: a Microgreens Workshop on March 22, and a Spring Vegetable Workshop on March 29.  Registration for both workshops is required (915-860-2515).  

Aired March 8, 2014.

Facebook (El Paso Master Gardeners)

  Denise & Norma talk about the Master Gardener activity heating up around El Paso.  The Master Gardeners and members of the El Paso Rose Society will host a Rose Pruning Demonstration on Feb. 22 & 23, noon-3 p.m., at the Municipal Rose Garden, 1702 N. Copia.  And if your questions aren't answered there, you won't want to miss the MGs at the Spring Home Show, Feb. 28-March 2 at the Convention Center Downtown.  Learn more on the El Paso MG Facebook page:

Aired Feb. 22, 2014.


  Denise & Norma talk about some of the questions that have been submitted to the El Paso Master Gardeners recently.  Should you paint your trees white to protect from sunburn or to "heal" a pruning cut?  What's the difference between mulch & compost?  And why is an arborvitae dripping sap?

Aired Feb. 15, 2014.