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NMSU launches Desert Blooms website to help answer gardening questions

Have a question on gardening in New Mexico? Finding the answer is now a few keystrokes away at New Mexico State University's new horticultural website, Desert Blooms, at http://desertblooms.nmsu.edu.

Gardeners can now find answers to their questions on the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service's new horticultural website, Desert Blooms. Jeanne Gleason, NMSU director of media production, works with the plant sector site. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service has a wealth of knowledge to share with the public. Topics on this website range from horticulture, agriculture and livestock, to cooking, nutrition and sewing.

Although much of the information is available in the form of printed publications provided through county Extension agents, as well as on the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences website, the recently launched Desert Blooms has linked the various horticultural websites together for easier access by home gardeners.

"This is a one-stop site for all of our horticulture-type publications that deal specifically with gardening and landscaping questions and issues," said Jon Boren, director of NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "Due to clientele demands across the state and the need to really get this information in one place where folks can find the answers they need quickly and rapidly, we have assimilated all of those sites on the new website."

The site is more than a reference library for the publications; it includes a plant selector feature, a library of how-to videos and an archive of "Yard and Garden" columns by Curtis Smith and "Melon Patch" columns by George Dickerson.

Connie Padilla, webmaster for the college, has developed the site, where that wealth of knowledge is a simple click away.

"People can determine what plants are best suited for their yard by searching the plant database," Padilla said of the plant selector feature. "They just have to put in the type of water usage, shade level and plant form and a complete list of potential plants will appear. Once they select a plant, a photo of it and more information about caring for it will appear."

New Mexico gardeners who enjoyed the PBS "Yard and Garden" show now can view the question-and-answer segment of the show through the Desert Blooms website.

"Episodes can also be viewed via iTunes U, which is linked from the Desert Blooms homepage," Padilla said.

Additional links also connect users to sites that discuss low-water-use plants, invasive weeds of the Southwest, how to access NMSU's plant diagnostic clinic and information about the New Mexico Master Gardeners program. There is even a link to the Extension directory that lists and accesses the 33 New Mexico county Extension offices.

If the gardener prefers to obtain the information through the college's hundreds of publications, Desert Blooms is linked to the horticulture and irrigation series, which can be either read online, printed as documents or downloaded through eBooks.

"We encourage anyone with any type of horticultural question to visit the Desert Blooms website," Boren said. "I think it will be a quick access for the type of information they are looking for."