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NMSU Workshops Highlight Drip Irrigation, Herbal Gardening

ALBUQUERQUE - Growers and home gardeners can learn how to save water, grow herbs and protect crops from the cold during free workshops on July 27 and 28 in Taos and Santa Fe.



Master gardeners Beverlee Anderson (left), Cindy Templeton and Janice Skelly tend catmint and catnip plants in the demonstration herb garden at the Santa Fe County Extension office. NMSU workshops on low-water-use irrigation, scheduled for July 27 and 28, will include tours of this herb garden and another one in Taos. (07/20/2004) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by George W. Dickerson)

Participants will tour demonstration herb gardens planted in both locations in 2002 that show how to conserve water with drip irrigation and mulch. George Dickerson, horticulture specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, will present data on water savings recorded in the gardens.

"With drip systems and mulch, we've used about half the water on these plots than we would normally apply with flood irrigation," Dickerson said.

The gardens contain side-by-side rows of identical culinary herbs, such as sage, rosemary, mint, oregano and thyme. Both rows are irrigated with drip systems, but one is mulched with grass hay and the other has no mulch.

In the rows without mulch, Dickerson applied the equivalent of about 2.3 acre feet of water during the 2003 growing season in Taos and 2 acre feet in Santa Fe. In the mulched rows, he applied only 1.8 acre feet in Taos and 1.6 acre feet in Santa Fe.

"With flood irrigation, we would normally apply the equivalent of 3 or 4 acre feet on plots this size," Dickerson said. "We're saving a lot of water just by using a drip system, but we save more with mulch because it reduces evaporation and weeds."

This year, Dickerson is reducing irrigation even more by using soil moisture monitors to determine when to water.

The monitors eliminate guesswork and allow growers to irrigate only when necessary," Dickerson said. "During the early part of this season, we watered only every six days thanks to the moisture monitors."

During the workshops, Dickerson will show how to use drip systems, mulch, soil moisture monitors and row covers that guard against weeds, frost and evaporation.

In Taos, agricultural specialist Del Jimenez will discuss solar-heated hoop houses that protect crops against cold and extend the season. Fruit specialist Ron Walser will speak about growing small fruits such as strawberries and raspberries in hoop houses and demonstrate how to use soil moisture monitors in apple orchards.

In Santa Fe, master gardeners will teach about culinary herbs. During a tea break, participants can sample herb teas and collect herbal tea recipes.

Both workshops are from 9 a.m. to noon. The July 27 workshop will be held at the Taos County Extension office at 202 Chamisa Road. The July 28 workshop will take place at the Santa Fe County Extension office at 3229 Rodeo Road.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, contact Rey Torres, Taos County Extension agent, at (505) 758-3982, or Pat Torres, Santa Fe County Extension agent, at (505) 471-4711.