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New Mexico State University

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NMSU offers free gardening classes for East Mountain residents

ALBUQUERQUE - Homeowners and landscapers throughout the East Mountain area of the Sandias can attend a free, six-week series of horticulture classes beginning March 1.

he special growing conditions faced by East Mountain residents, New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service decided to offer locally focused gardening lessons there for the first time, said Patrick Torres, agricultural agent with the Santa Fe County Extension office.

"Conditions there are quite different than in lower elevations, such as Albuquerque's South valley or the Estancia Valley," Torres said. "The classes will help local gardeners overcome the unique challenges they face to maintain healthy yards and landscapes."

Given the zone's high elevation, gardeners need to select cold-hardy ornamental plants and vegetables, Torres said. They also must compensate for salty, hard clay soils that make irrigation more difficult.

Given that the East Mountain area straddles Santa Fe, Torrance and Bernalillo counties, residents from throughout the tri-county zone can participate in the classes, Torres said.

The workshops will cover low-water-use plant selection, including perennials, shrubs and grasses; soils and irrigation; care and selection of ornamental trees and shrubs; control of insects and diseases; selection and care of cold-hardy fruit trees and small fruits; and vegetables that grow well in high elevations.

The classes will run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday from March 1-April 12 (except for March 15) at the Edgewood Fire Station. To get there, take the Edgewood exit north off Interstate 40 and go right at the Dairy Queen.

To enroll in the classes or get more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, call Torres in Santa Fe at (505) 471-4711, Gene Winn in Torrance County at (505) 246-4743 or Joran Viers in Bernalillo County at (505) 243-1386.

Kevin Robinson-Avila
Feb. 15, 2006