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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU, San Juan College partner in xeriscaping certificate, degree program

FARMINGTON - New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture and Home Economics is teaming with San Juan Community College to provide a new one-year certificate and two-year associate degree in horticulture in a xeric environment.

"Xeriscaping is a specialized field of ornamental landscaping/horticulture that seeks to utilize native and drought adaptive plants. It's more than what people may think. It's not rocks with a few cacti. It is much more than that with a wide variety of drought adaptive grasses, hardscaping with rocks, flowering perennials and annuals, and woody plant materials, said Kevin Lombard, horticulturalist at NMSU's Farmington Agricultural Science Center. "By understanding the native plants and their water needs, an enjoyable environment can be developed."

Lombard will teach a class in plant propagation emphasizing drought-adaptive plants.

"We will take seeds collected from native plants in the region and the xeric demonstration garden at the agricultural science center, which has been developed by NMSU faculty member Dan Smeal, and grow new plants that will be planted in a demonstration garden and outdoor learning environment on the San Juan Community College campus," Lombard said of the class he will teach this fall semester beginning Aug. 25.

A second class that will be part of the eight-course curriculum for the certificate and associate degree will be taught by Don Hyder, SJCC associate professor of biology.

"I will be teaching the introductory horticulture class titled Introduction to Xeriscape Principles," Hyder said. "The course will be an introduction to horticultural principles and practices. The students will learn basic botany including cell physiology, plant structure and identification, and basic growth requirements."

The class will also include basic techniques such as budding and grafting, seeding practices and greenhouse management. Cultural practices for various crop plants will also be included.

"All teaching in this program will focus on the wise use of land, water and natural resources, and will teach low till agriculture and the use of biological means to control insects and pests," Hyder said.

As the program progresses, Lombard and Hyder will be joined by SJCC faculty members Callie Vanderbilt and Linda Reeves, and Smeal in teaching additional classes on plant identification and diagnoses of plant disorders, and landscape design and irrigation systems and installation. Smeal, who has developed a xeric environment demonstration garden at the science center, will also share his experience and knowledge with the students.

Both fall classes will be offered on Mondays and Wednesdays. The Introduction of Xeriscape Principles will be offered from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. with a lab on Fridays from 2 to 3:50 p.m. For more information about this course contact Hyder at (505) 566-3772. The Horticulture Techniques 1: Plant Propagation course will be offered from 4 to 5:15 p.m. with lab on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. For more information about this course contact Lombard at (505) 327-7757.