Writer: D'Lyn Ford
SANTA FE-Growers and home gardeners can learn about culinary and ornamental herbs that grow well in northern New Mexico and view water-efficient drip irrigation and mulch systems during free workshops on Aug. 5 and Aug. 13 in Taos and Santa Fe.
George Dickerson, horticulture specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, planted demonstration herb gardens in both locations last year to show how to conserve water with drip systems and mulch, and to showcase herbs that are well-adapted to northern New Mexico's climate.
"There's a lot of interest in herbs, especially among growers who sell them at farmers markets, so we want to show people how to grow them with little water," Dickerson said. "We're also testing herbs that grow well in this environment so people don't have to do hit-or-miss experiments on their own."
The demonstration gardens have nearly 30 different herbs in full bloom, such as sage, rosemary, mint, basil, cilantro and several lavender varieties, Dickerson said.
"We'll also show some less-known herbs that grow well here such as stevia, which is a sweetener that can be used as a sugar substitute," Dickerson said. "Many of the herbs make excellent ornamentals, such as lavender and purple sage, so the demo gardens serve a dual purpose of teaching people to grow herbs for an edible landscape."
Both the Santa Fe and Taos gardens-each about 20 feet wide and 60 feet long-have side-by-side rows with identical sets of herbs, Dickerson said. Both rows are irrigated by drip systems, but one is mulched with grass hay and the other has no mulch. Extension staff measured water use in both rows to show how mulch helps save water and reduce weeds.
Workshop participants will view an indoor slide show about the herbs planted in the gardens. Dickerson will discuss drip hoses, emitters and timers. Afterward, participants will take a guided tour of the gardens.
Both workshops are from 9 a.m. to noon. The Aug. 5 workshop will be held at the Taos Agricultural Center, a quarter mile north of the Sagebrush Inn on Chamisa Road. The Aug. 13 workshop will take place at the Santa Fe Fairgrounds at 3229 Rodeo Road.
For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the workshop, please contact Rey Torres, Taos County Extension agent, at (505) 758-3982, or Pat Torres, Santa Fe County Extension agent, at (505) 471-4711.
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