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 yards, landscapes, and indoor spaces in November...including planting cool-season annuals such as snapdragons and pansies.  We'll also find out about the special care indoor plants and potted outdoor plants need when the weather gets cooler.

Aired Nov. 16, 2013.

  Denise, Bill, and Norma talk about the ways we can prep for the cooler temperatures of fall and winter, including cutting back on watering and fertilizing.  Plus, find out why a test of your soil could help your garden reach its full potential.

Information on soil testing is available at the Texas AgriLife Extension, 915-860-2515.

Aired Nov. 2, 2013.


  Denise & Norma talk with John White, curator of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens at UTEP.   John talks trees this week, including why it's so important to know how big a tree is going to get before you plant it!  John also offers some tree recommendations for small spaces.

Resources & information: West Texas Urban Forestry Council, Trees are Good, Centennial Museum Chihuahuan Desert Gardens  

Aired Oct. 26, 2013.


  Denise & Norma welcome back John White, curator of the Chihuahuan Desert Gardens on the UTEP campus.  John talks about the upcoming Sun Country Landscape Conference, taking place on "Tree-o-ween," Oct. 31 at the TecH2O Water Resources Learning Center, 10751 Montana.  Hear about the different topics that will be covered at the conference which is open to landscape professionals and interested members of the public.  John also talks about a Pruning & Climbing Workshop scheduled for Oct. 30 at the El Paso Garden Center on Grant Ave.  Tree professionals & interested members of the public are invited to attend.

Registration is recommended for each event., John White 575-640-7555 Oscar Mestas 915-834-5610.

Aired Oct. 19, 2013.

  Denise, Bill, and Norma talk about what gardening activities we can take part in during October.  It's a great time to plant cool-season annuals like pansies, or planting trees & shrubs.

Plus, hear about where the Master Gardeners will be appearing this month:  Oct 11-13 at the Home & Garden Expo in Downtown El Paso...Oct 26 from 9am-1pm at the Downtown Artist & Farmers Market on Anthony St...and Oct 26 from 1pm-3pm at the Municipal Rose Garden Open House at Memorial Park.

Aired Oct. 12, 2013.

  Denise, Bill, and Norma talk about the effects the recent monsoon season had on the region...good and bad.  Weeds are very prolific right now, and we'll find out how to prevent weeds from coming up in your lawns in the winter.  Now is a good time to think about overseeding your lawn with fescue or rye if you would like a green lawn all winter long.  See how the monsoon season affected our region here:

Aired Oct. 5, 2013.

    Denise & Norma talk about EarthKind principles, which you may already be familiar with, even though you might not be familiar with the name.  EarthKind encourages landscape water conservation, the reduction of fertilizer & pesticide use, landscaping for energy consumption, and the reduction of landscape wastes entering landfills or water supplies.

Take the EarthKind Challenge and see how well you are making use of EarthKind principles!

Aired Sept. 28, 2013.

  Denise, Bill, and Norma talk about herb gardening in the fall.  Fall is a good time to divide your herbs.  Denise talks about keeping a healthy herb garden all year long, and which herbs grow best in our climate.  

And...if you've been seeing a lot of bulbs in your local nurseries or home improvement stores, this is a good time of the year to buy them and put them in your refrigerator for planting in the future.

Aired Sept 22, 2013.

  Denise, Bill, and Norma talk about the interesting variety of fungus and mushrooms that have sprouted in lawns across the region after the summer rains.  We'll also hear about the harmful and not-so-harmful insects you might find crawling around your yard.  Aired Sept. 7, 2013.

NerdWallet, a consumer advocacy website, recognized El Paso Master Gardeners for its commitment to gardening education in a study that found El Paso as one of the best cities for urban gardening.

  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.