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.

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.

Facebook (El Paso Master Gardeners)


   Denise & Norma talk about the ways we can keep those beautiful cut flowers & bouquets looking great for days.  With Valentine's Day around the corner, you're going to want to know the best way to keep roses and other flowers looking their best.  Potted flowering plants and rose bushes also keep your home and landscape looking colorful.

Aired Feb. 1, 2014.


   Denise & Norma talk about the Kids & Kows & More program with the program's director, Sandra Pierce. Sandra talks about why it's important for kids to learn about the cotton, pecans, and cattle that are central to the region's agricultural industry.  The Kids & Kows & More program features speakers, a livestock exhibit, a mobile dairy classroom, and lots more!  The program is for 2nd through 5th graders and will take place March 3-7 at the El Paso County Coliseum.  To learn more and to set up a schedule your students, contact Sandra Pierce, 915-872-8791,  email

Aired Jan. 25, 2014.

  Bill & Norma talk about this month's gardening activities.  In January we should prune our trees & shrubs, visit with Master Gardeners at the Municipal Rose Garden to get some winter rose pruning tips, and extend the lives of our neglected holiday plants.

Aired Jan. 11, 2014.

In a rebroadcast from Nov. 17, 2012, Denise, Bill, and Norma talk about how to protect our trees, shrubs, and potted plants from cold weather, as well as which plants don't need protection.  They also talk about ways to protect our gardening equipment from a possible freeze. 

Aired Dec 28, 2013.

In a rebroadcast from March 16, 2013, Bill, Denise, and Norma talk with Mike Hardiman, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Santa Teresa, and regional coordinator of the Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).  Hardiman talks about how the community can get involved in measuring rainfall (and the lack of it) and reporting it online to be used by National Weather Service meteorologists, the USDA, researchers, and many others. March is CoCoRaHS's annual recruitment drive, and they are trying to increase the number of El Pasoans and others in the region to report their rainfall.

Mike Hardiman can be reached by email at

Aired Dec. 21, 2013.


   Bill, Denise, and Norma talk about about the latest hybrid plant to come on the market - a TomTato, which is the result of grafting the top of a tomato plant to the bottom part of a potato plant.  It's a novel idea, but will it grow in El Paso?  Potatoes, on the other hand, tend to thrive just fine on their own, and Bill & Denise will talk about the different ways to grow them below and above ground.  Denise also talks about the growing popularity of growing microgreens.

Aired Dec. 7, 2013.

In a rebroadcast from Nov 26, 2011, Bill & Norma talk about how to care for holiday plants & trees, such as living & cut Christmas trees, Christmas cactus, and Norfolk pines.  They also talk about how best to plan for winter pruning and how to care for freeze-damaged trees.  Aired Nov. 30, 2013.

  Denise, Bill, and Norma advise on the best ways to protect your potted patio plants from the cold weather.  Denise also gives us an update on the new class of Master Gardeners, and tells us why now is the best time to get your soil tested by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.  Learn more at 915-860-2515.

Aired Nov. 23, 2013.

  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.