Gardening season is quickly approaching! Albuquerque has unique advantages that make growing a wide variety of flowers, vegetables and herbs possible because of our long grow season, but it doesn’t come without some challenges. We asked our friends over at Osuna Nursery some of the most common questions about gardening in Albuquerque. Here are their answers to help keep your garden in tip top shape this year!
When is the best time to sow grass seed and what are the best types of grass for Albuquerque lawns?
For cool season grasses should be planted when temps are at 40 degree lows and 70 degree highs, and for warm season grasses should be planted when daytime temps exceed 85 degrees. Our most popular cool season is our Park blend (equal thirds of tall fescue, perennial rye, and Kentucky blue grass.) For warm season grasses we recommend blue grama or buffalo.
Which vegetables and herbs do you recommend growing in Albuquerque?
Albuquerque has a very long growing season, so most things grow well here. Tomatoes, squash, peppers, zucchini, cucumber, are the top choices. Beans also are great for us as well as Italian herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary) just be sure they remain shaded. Want to learn more? Check out these upcoming events: Grow Your Own Tea Garden and Organic Gardening with Osuna’s Daniel Schwery
Planting in the ground vs. in raised beds & pots: what are the pros and cons of each?
Planting a garden in our soils here can be difficult. Our soils lack organic matter, so we recommend adding 50-100lbs of composted manure per 100 square feet and 1 cubic foot of peat moss for every 25lbs of manure. This gives you a great base that will hold water and start the natural nutrient breakdown of your native soil.
Planting in the ground usually gives you more room to plant. Raised beds and pots can limit your space but the benefits of raised bed planting are that you get to start off with very good soil, so you only have to concentrate on fertilizing and watering. Raised beds can also aid in detering some pests. Pests are opportunistic feeders and don’t like to search for food, so ground level plants are much easier for them to find.
Have more questions? The Albuquerque Master Gardeners host Q&A sessions at Cherry Hills Library every other week. Check out the schedule and learn more about the gardeners here.
Which flowers (annual and perennial) grow best in Albuquerque?
Perennials: Penstemon, Jupiter’s Beard, Mexican Evening Primrose, Yarrow, Iris, Daylilies
Cool-season annuals: Pansies, Violas, Dianthus, Carnations
Warm-season annuals: Petunias, Marigolds, Alyssum, Gazanias, Lantana, annual Vinca, Portulaca
Growing herbs, vegetables and flowers from seed vs. seedlings: what are the pros and cons of each?
You get much more variety with seeds and they are significantly cheaper than seedlings. Beginning with seeds is riskier because the seeds have to overcome hazards like adverse weather, pests, and weeds. When starting with seeds, you have to be sure to thin the seedlings; that is, pulling out a few plants between the rows to ensure adequate spacing. Seeds also generally take a little longer to grow than seedlings, for flowers and vegetables that germinate quickly, like beans, you might find it advantageous to start from seeds.
Seedlings will give you a head start on the season and will result in an earlier harvest, they are also more resistant to pests, because they are more mature and stronger when transplanted. Seedlings are a bit more expensive to buy than raising your own from seed.
Did you know that the ABQ-Bernco libraries have a Seed Library available for card holders? The Seed Library was established in 2014 and encourages a community of water-wise home gardeners. The free open-pollinated, non-gmo vegetable, herb and flower seeds are available at the South Broadway Library, more info here.
What are the most common garden pests and what are the best strategies for managing infestations?
Some of the most common garden pests we deal with here are aphids, grubs, white fly, spider mites, and caterpillars. When it comes to pest management, it’s always better to go organic when you can. Insecticides kill off almost all beneficial insects that feed on the bad guys so if your go to is a chemical insecticide, you will never allow a natural balance to return to your yard.
Chemical insecticides can sometimes be necessary to get rid of an infestation but at the beginning of the year when these guys are coming out of dormancy is a great time to buy predatory insects like lady bugs, green lace wings, nematodes and preying mantis eggs. These insects feed on a variety of pestilential insects in your yard and leave your plants alone.
Have more questions? Check out Insect Control with Bonide at Osuna Nursery.
What are your favorite tips and tricks for gardening?
Mourad, customer service supervisor: 1. Plant things you can benefit from, like veggies, herbs, fruit, even shade trees. 2. Prune your roses between Valentine’s Day and Tax Day, and then immediately fertilize. 3. New Mexico has high-alkaline soil, so amend your soil with compost at a 50/50 ratio.
Louise, landscape architect: Watch for weeds, especially with all the moisture we’re getting!
Derek, trees & shrubs supervisor: GREEN COMPOST! I make a homemade compost of peas, oats, fava beans and crimson clover. It makes all the difference in the world for keeping my annuals (flowers) beautiful.
Sondra, receiving supervisor: Get rid of the dead stuff! Dead plants and foliage hogs nutrients from fresh growth.
Anna, native plant supervisor: – Gardening tips?! I know it all! (Anna suggests heading over to ask her questions, and also, cut back your plants to encourage regrowth!)
Mary, landscape designer: 1. Gardening goes great with a glass or wine or a cold beer! 2. Start planning your spring garden/landscape in winter. 3. Take advantage of the ABQ-BERNCO free seed library.
Osuna Nursery’s Spring Open House is Saturday, March 21st. They’ll have sales to get you planting plus complimentary snacks and drinks.
Happy planting, Albuquerque!
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