'Duchess' pumpkin is a classic. Credit: Garden Bureau

New-plant mavens who live in the desert sometimes despair that the selections in any given year simply will not thrive here. The Garden Bureau brings happy news this fall. I’ve chosen six of their members’ brand new offerings – four edibles, three ornamentals – that will love it here. All of these plants are suitable for alkaline but well-drained soils, spring winds, cold winters, high temperatures and reasonable amounts of water. Fall is for planting, so get to work. And don’t miss the call from Sandoval Extension Master Gardeners below.

You’ll have to wait now for germination in July, but the ‘Duchess’ pumpkin (above) bred by Dr. Lindsay Wyatt at Johnny’s Selected Seeds (with help from University of New Hampshire) is a double-ribbed wonder. Chief among her charms is powdery-mildew resistance (yay) and a large yield. A packet from Johnny’s holds about 30 seeds.

Brad’s Atomic Grape Tomatoes, Seeds by Design.

These beauties have purple and lilac stripes when young, promoting some people to call them “Acid Trip” tomatoes. The taste is complex, sweet and tart at the same time, and some wax poetic with their descriptions of that taste, as if these tomatoes were wine instead. Really pretty in any vegetable garden and on any table.

Quickfire chile peppers

This award-winning chile pepper plant from Tozer Seeds is ready in 50 days and can be harvested for three months if picked regularly. The only quibble I have is that the breeders elected to spell it “chilli” pepper. We don’t know why.

Geranium nodosum, ‘Tony’s Talisman’

Who doesn’t love a hardy geranium? ‘Tony’s Talisman’ is container friendly but I love it under the dappled shade of desert trees. This gorgeous color blooms all summer.

Buddleia ‘Violet Cascade’ from Walters Gardens

This particular Butterfly Bush has that classic cascading habit of Buddleia and lovely color. Good news: it does not set seed so you can keep it from volunteering all over the place.

Sedum ‘Back in Black’ from Walters Gardens

If you like classic rock by AC/DC, add ‘Back in Black’ to your garden. Plants that are black to the eye are hard to find and beautifully set off all other colors. Textured is the word for ‘Back in Black.’

Candy Cane Chocolate Cherry Pepper from PanAmSeed

OK, these mini-bell peppers are too cute. How can you resist? Their foliage is variegated, too, making the entire growing season pleasing to the eye. They can be picked and eaten at any stage of ripeness: picture yourself wandering through the early veggie garden, munching as you go.

Wanna be a Master Gardener? Here’s your chance!

Applications for 2023 Sandoval Extension Master Gardener Training Program are now being accepted. The classes for the training program are provided by New Mexico State University Extension Services and begin in mid-January.

The training program follows a statewide standard curriculum and schedule of core horticulture classes over 15 weeks. Topics are presented in recorded online videos by specialists and supplemented with online references and reading material. The new training program is extremely flexible for interns who can view presentations and take accompanying quizzes any time during the week of a scheduled class. 

A weekly live online Q&A session provides the opportunity for interns to interact with specialists. Mentor teams conduct weekly meetings with interns to assist with class topics and hands on exercises. Interested applicants can apply and pay the $175 fee at sandovalmastergardeners.org.

Last-gasp Chores Now to Prevent Wildfires Later

Please head this message directly from New Mexico Forestry Division about how important fall clean-up can be to mitigate wildfire season.

As cooler fall temperatures set in, wildfire season can seem like a distant concern. However, this is a great time to begin preparations for the next fire season and clean up around your home. The 2022 Wildfire Preparedness is Year-Roundcampaign provides monthly wildfire preparedness tasks that follow the changing seasons.

The October message from the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Forestry Division and its partners, is remove dead plants and debris from your property.

Seasonal upkeep, like raking dry leaves; cleaning gutters and roofs; or regularly trimming trees that could grow too close to your home, is a simple step you can take for wildfire preparedness. Maintain your yard and outdoor space year-round and remove accumulated trimmings, dead plants and debris from your property to reduce wildfire risks.

Here are some helpful tips for seasonal cleanup:

  • Clean your roof and gutters of leaves and needles.
  • Prune all tree branches overhanging your house, especially conifers and cypress.
  • Prune back all tree branches within 10 feet of your chimney.
  • Prune lower branches on trees 6-10 feet off the ground within 30 feet of the home, especially conifers and cypress.
  • Clear away dead wood and dense flammable vegetation within your Home Ignition Zone.
  • Clear away flammable vegetation within 10 feet of woodpiles.
  • Dispose of accumulated trimmings before fire season.
  • Create a fuel-free zone 0-5 feet from all structures with no combustible materials.
  • Talk to your neighbors and create a larger defensible space together.
  • Plan months ahead and circle the first Saturday of May on your calendar as the target date to clean up and remove debris and dead plants around your home.  May 6 is the National Fire Protection Association’s Wildfire Community Preparedness Day for 2023.

Whether it’s yard clean-up to create defensible space, hardening your home, or community wildfire preparedness collaboration, getting little things done now will help minimize much needed work in the future. For additional information, check the National Fire Protection Association’s guidance on protecting your home from wildfire.

The New Mexico Forestry Division is working with the CarsonCibola, and Santa Fe National Forests, Forest Stewards GuildFire Adapted NMNew Mexico Coalition of Conservation DistrictsNational Park ServiceBureau of Indian Affairs, and Bureau of Land Management New Mexico to continue our Wildfire preparedness is Year-Round calendar in 2022 and share the message across multiple platforms. This includes social media, webinars, and community events. Bookmark the wildfire preparedness webpage to follow the campaign throughout the year.

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