A blooming summer garden requires working the foundation in the spring.
“We are blessed with many types of soil in El Paso, but to know what you are working with, it’s important to test your soil and amend it if you have to,” says Ignacio Munoz, president of the El Paso County Master Gardener’s Association.
El Paso anticipated its last freeze March 15, and naturally, people are eager to garden. Munoz recommends inspecting soil before placing anything underground.
“Once ground temperatures near 60 degrees, it’s time to amend the soil,” Munoz says. “People in the far East likely have a lot of sand, and they’ll need to amend it. Clay soil should be mixed with sand and compost to make the ground softer. Also, turn the soil and add compost if the plan is to grow vegetables.”
Warm-season vegetables (tomatoes, chile, eggplant, squash) can be planted in spring and harvested throughout the summer. Tomatoes, the most popular garden vegetable, grow until the first freeze.
Lettuce, kale, and swiss chard (leafy greens) are winter crops but grow well through March, April, and May.
Carrots, radishes, and beets are recommended for Zone 8 and grow year-round. As soon as you harvest the ground, you can plant again.
Basil, a spring and summer herb, should be planted in early April. It will grow until the first freeze.
Rosemary, Oregano, and sage can be planted in March, April, and May, and can grow year-round.
Marigolds are great for Zone 8 areas. Water three times a week to help them thrive. If planted between vegetables, Marigolds will keep insects away from crops. The perennial flower grows for two or three years.
Zinnia’s grow well in our area and are easy to maintain. They also attract butterflies.
Chihuahuan Desert plants, such as Cacti, Penstemon, Sage, Yellowbells, Tecoma, and Red Yuccas attract native insect pollinators which balance the ecosystem.