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.

  Bill & Norma talk about what we should be doing in our gardens & landscapes in September.  It's a great time to start planning for fall planting!  Get a head start on winter vegetables, find out why we need to divide spring-flowering bulbs, and learn about the benefits of root pruning if you're planning on transplanting a mature shrub or small tree in your landscape.

Need help figuring out what plants/trees/vegetables will do well in your landscape?  Try visiting these resources:

Aired Aug. 31, 2013.

  Denise & Norma talk about what we should be doing in our landscapes now that the worst of the summer temperatures are behind us.  Deadhead your flowering plants to keep them in bloom, water your fruit trees to ensure a good crop next spring, plan for the spring by reviewing your current landscape, and pull those pesky weeds!  Aired Aug. 24, 2013.

  Denise & Norma talk about the upcoming Master Gardener class.  Applications are still being accepted for their next series of classes which are set to begin in September.  Master Gardeners volunteers receive extensive training in plants, trees, fertilizers, and much, much more, and share the information with the community at various events, including the Native Plant Sale at UTEP and the Ardovino's Farmers Market.  No gardening experience is necessary!  Just an enthusiasm to learn.  The application deadline is August 20.  More information and a link to the application is avaiable here:

Aired Aug. 17, 2013.

  In a rebroadcast from Oct. 9, 2010, Bill & Norma talk with Billy Kniffen, now-retired Texas A&M Program Specialist, Water Resource Management.  Kniffen explains the concept of rainwater harvesting, and why even only 1-inch of rain can amount to 600+ gallons of rainwater.  How can we best contain that rainwater and use it to our benefit?  Kniffen himself lives solely on rainwater - he has no well and no municipal water supply.  To learn more, visit, or the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association site at

On Thursday, August 8, you can attend a rainwater harvesting workshop at the Ascarate Community Garden, from 6-8 p.m.  Info: Call Denise Rodriguez 915-860-2515.

Aired August 3, 2013.

The Downtown Artist & Farmers Market is every Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at the downtown Union Plaza on Anthony Street.  Music, arts & crafts, local produce, and more., 915-541-4942.  

  Bill, Denise, and Norma talk about the water-related problems that affect our trees & shrubs.  It's not that we're getting TOO much water...we're not getting enough.  Before the summer monsoon season, we had to rely on our irrigation systems to keep our plants watered.  Take the time now to make sure your irrigation system is working well after the rainy season is over.  Bill, Denise, and Norma also talk about the negative effects of our summer rains, namely prolific weed growth and more frequent mowing!

Aired July 27, 2013.

  Denise & Norma talk about the ongoing decline of the trees of the El Paso region.  Trees in the region are suffering because of poor watering practices, ongoing drought, and damage that was suffered several seasons ago.  We'll also find out what to do if your grass is looking crunchy.  Are grub worms to blame?

Aired July 13, 2013.

Denise, Bill, and Norma talk about the upcoming Master Gardener classes, taking place September 12-November 21.  Hear about the ways the Master Gardeners contribute to the community through workshops and other volunteer activities.  The deadline to apply for the Master Gardener class is is August 20.  Register by phone at 915-860-2515, or online at July 6, 2013.

The  Mayapan Farmers Market will take place each Saturday from 8 a.m. - 3 p.m., 2000 Texas Ave. La Mujer Obrera established the Mayapan Farmers Market in 2011 as part of an overall strategy to increase access to fresh, locally grown food for the Chamizal neighborhood residents and the rest of the community. The Mayapan Farmers Market is SNAP friendly and operates on a seasonal basis.  Info: 915-217-1126.

Denise, Bill, and Norma talk about one of the easiest and best ways to bring interest to your porch or patio - container gardening!  Hear about the fertilization and irrigation challenges you  may face if you have a container garden.  Find out what size pot would work best for the specimen you're looking to plant.  Plus, Denise talks about using a 2-pot system which might work best for your needs.  Aired June 29, 2013.

Denise & Norma talk about what we should be doing in our gardens & landscapes during this hot, hot month of June...including fertilizing, mowing, and checking for pests.  In this online-only extended interview, Denise & Norma also talk about what to do to prevent blossom end rot on tomatoes and whether it's still ok to eat those unsightly tomatoes.  Aired June 15, 2013.

Denise & Norma welcome back Regional Urban Forester Oscar Mestas of the Texas A&M Forest Service.  Oscar gives us some watering tips for trees, which are especially important in these harsh drought conditions.    He also talks about the State of Texas' decision to move Texas Arbor Day from February to the first Friday in November, a time of the year which is ideal for planting trees, especially for us in the Chihuahuan Desert region.  Oscar also talks about the exciting tree climbing competitions that arborists from across the nation and around the world participate in to demonstrate their skills.  Miguel Pastenes is an arborist who is a 6-time Texas Tree Climbing Champion, and is ranked 2nd in the nation.  To view Miguel Pastenes on a work climb, visit

Oscar Mestas can be reached at 915-834-5610.

To learn more about tree care, visit

Aired June 8, 2013.

Denise & Norma talk with Oscar Mestas, Regional Urban Forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service.  Oscar talks about why our trees often don't respond right away to severe environmental events, such as a hard freeze or an ongoing drought.  Trees often display distress months or even years later, and trees in distress often invite pests and disease.  Aired June 1, 2013.

Denise & Norma talk with Oscar Mestas, Regional Urban Forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service.  Oscar talks about i-Tree Eco, a project which measures the cost benefits of trees in an urban community, such as air pollution reduction or energy savings.  El Paso will be part of this study beginning on June 9, and researchers will be descending on 250 randomly-selected plots of land within the city limits to conduct their study.  If your property is chosen to be part of the study, you will receive a postcard from the City of El Paso that you can mail back with permission to allow researchers onto your property.  To learn more about i-Tree Eco, visit, or call Oscar Mestas at 915-834-5610.

Aired May 25, 2013.

Denise, Bill, and Norma continue their talk on May Gardening Tips with a special focus on fertilizers.  Hear how slow-release granular fertilizers differ from the quick-acting water soluble ones.  What do you need to do to reduce the risk of fertilizer burn on your turf or plants?  Is manure an effective fertilizer, and what should you look for if you choose to use it?  Also, find out why turf, vegetables, trees, and flowering plants have their own specific fertilization needs.

Aired May 18, 2013.

Bill, Denise, and Norma talk about what we should be doing in our gardens & landscapes in May.  Weed control is essential, as is pinching off some of your budding fruit from your fruit trees.

Aired May 11, 2013.

In a rebroadcast from October 16, 2010, Bill & Norma talk with Jim McAfee, a turf grass specialist with Texas AgriLife Extension in Dallas.  Find out why Bermuda grass grows best here in El Paso, and why zoysia grass is another great bet. McAfee also talks about St. Augustine grass, Bermuda hybrid, and cool season grass.  McAfee also explains why fall is the best time to fertilize, and when to apply pre-emergents to your lawn to prevent weeds.

Aired April 27, 2013.

John White, garden curator of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens returns to the show to talk more about the Native Plant Sale at UTEP.  Hear about some of the desert-friendly shade trees that will be available, and some of the plant sale's best sellers, including penstemons and chocolate flowers.  Many of these native & adapted plants are excellent food sources for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

The Native Plant Sale is April 27 & 28, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Centennial Museum.  The FloraFEST speaker, George O. Miller, delivers a free lecture on landscaping in the Chihuahuan Desert, April 26, 7 p.m., Room 116 of the UTEP Undergraduate Learning Center.  915-747-5565,

Aired April 20, 2013.

Norma & Denise talk with John White, garden curator of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at UTEP.  John talks about why we should consider native & adapted plants for our landscapes.  He also explains that even though these are low-water use plants, they are not no-water use plants!  John also talks about a few of the desert-friendly trees available at the plant sale that can be found growing native in the Chihuahuan Desert, including Honey Mesquite trees and Desert Willows. 

The plant sale is April 27 & 28, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at UTEP., 915-747-5565.

Aired April 13, 2013.

Bill, Denise, and Norma welcome back Master Gardener Dave Turner, president of the Master Gardener Society and vegetable specialist.  Turner talks about pruning tomato plants, whether your tomato needs a cage or a stake, and how to protect your tomato plant from El Paso's spring winds.  He also talks about what to do if your plant looks wilted, and why mulching with newspaper is a great way to retain moisture and deter weeds.

Aired April 6, 2013.

Denise, Bill, and Norma talk with Dave Turner, vegetable specialist with the Texas Master Gardeners and president of the Master Gardeners Association.  It's part  1 of our Tomato Show, and Turner will talk about how we should prep our soil and why now is the ideal time to plant our tomatoes instead of later in the season.  Turner also explains what differentiates indeterminate tomatoes from determinate tomatoes. 
Aired March 30, 2013.

In a rebroadcast from Sept. 25, 2010, Norma & Bill talk with Mark Muegge, associate professor and extension entomologist with Texas A&M.  Muegge talks about the different plants and colors that attract butterflies to our landscapes, and about the types of butterflies we can commonly find in El Paso.  He also talks about the kinds of plants we can sacrifice to the caterpillars so they can voraciously feed and eventually metamorphose into butterflies!  For more information, visit the North American Butterfly Association,  Aired March 23, 2013.

Denise, Bill, and Norma talk about preparing for spring gardening.  It's time to cut back some of that dead winter's growth on our perennials.  Denise also talks about the right type of soil mixture for our gardening beds and container plants.  Aired March 9, 2013.

Bill, Denise, and Norma talk about why chill hours are important for certain fruit trees to bloom and set fruit, and why chill hours are difficult to calculate in the El Paso region.  They also talk about what the Master Gardeners will be presenting to the public during the upcoming Home & Garden Expo at the downtown Convention Center, March 1-3.   Aired Feb. 23, 2013.

Norma, Bill, and Denise talk about what we should be doing in our gardens & landscapes in February.  It's time to prepare our gardening beds for spring planting and to do our last-minute pruning.  Aired Feb. 16, 2013.

Norma, Bill, and Denise welcome back Master Gardener Donna Beamesderfer to talk about pruning.  What tools are essential when it comes to pruning your roses?  Plus, they about what NOT to do when pruning roses.  And...just because it's time to prune doesn't mean you have to.  Prune with a purpose!  Aired Feb 9, 2013.

Bill, Denise, and Norma talk with Master Gardener Donna Beamesderfer about rose pruning.  Why is this the best season for pruning?  Donna explains the whys and hows, and she also explains why one shouldn't panic when it's time to cut back those rose canes.

Aired Jan. 26, 2013.

Norma, Bill, and Denise talk with Jennifer Hickey, a Master Gardener and consulting rosarian with the American Rose Society.  She talks about the different kinds of roses available for sale at the Master Gardener Rose Sale, including all types of floribunda, grandiflora, hybrid tea, and EarthKind roses.  Hickey offers some advice on how to pick the right rose for your landscape. 

Orders for the Master Gardener Rose Sale will be taken through February 1.  Order forms are available online at or by calling the Texas AgriLife Extension at 915-860-2515, or the Master Gardener Hotline at 915-566-1276.

Aired Jan. 19, 2013.

Bill & Norma talk about preparing for El Paso's unpredictable winter temps by protecting your plants and your pipes.  They also talk about bringing color inside your home with quick-blooming bulbs, ordering seeds for your spring garden from seed catalogs, and why to hold off on fertilizing your plants until the weather begins to warm up.  Aired Jan. 12, 2013.

In a rebroadcast from Dec. 25, 2010, Norma continues her conversation with Oscar Mestas, Regional Urban Forester, Texas Forest Service.  Mestas talks about the proper pruning tools that should be used for larger, more mature trees.  He also talks about what kind of pruning your tree needs if it has suffered wind damage or if it is planted near a utility line.  Mestas also discusses the special pruning that fruit trees might require.  Aired Dec. 29, 2012.