New master gardeners graduate from program

Forty-one people are now graduates of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s master gardener program. They have completed 70 hours of horticulture training and passed the final exam. They are Patty Annis, Sandra Beynon, Bob Cardillo, Thomas Cook, Mary deCesare, Dick Diskin, Cindy Dixon, Barb Eagan, Dian Eisen, Carol Farkas, Sharon Fodness, Betty Formes, Romy Fortin, Mark Gamett, Perl Gettman, Rebecca Gonzalez, Susan Haas, Adriana Hall, Jenn Head, Nanette Hilton, Anna Huh, Meegan Lancaster, Dennis Lardent, Julie Livernash, Barbara McKinnon, Robbie Moore, Randall Morgan, Carol Newton, Yutaka Nomura, Lori Nye, Mary Riding, Carolyn Robins, Lisa Roof, Amy Saccomano, Michael Smith, Dan Stephens, Joan Stevens, Bill Strang, Sue Verchick, Gregory Wilkinson and Ray Zawisza.

Cooperative Extension also honored eight master gardeners who have been with the program for more than 10 years. It saluted Andy Anderson, Cathy Bruno, Don Fabbi, P.A. Mau, Denise McConnell, Joi Moffatt, Rudy Schiller and Kathy Slaughter.

Each year, master gardeners nominate their colleagues who have made notable contributions to the success and growth of the program. Those honored were Melita Holland, Arlene Ralbovsky, Jane Rand, Kathy Slaughter, Cliff Wood, Vicki Yuen and Jim Stone.

The extension also honored those who gave numerous presentations and lectures. They were Helen Brown, Bruno, Fabbi, Pam Goodwill, Lee Heenan, Mel Hengen, Richard Leifreid, John Singer, Wood and Jeneane Young.

The Silver Phone Award went to Wood for his many hours of assisting homeowners over the phone. Finally, the Silver Trowel Award, which is the highest award for volunteering the most hours on the most projects, went to Richard Cutbirth

Master gardeners are people who have a great interest in gardening. These avid gardeners attended 70 hours of classes on all aspects of horticulture, along with diagnosing and solving plant problems.

These new master gardeners will attend monthly meetings on specific subjects to keep posted on new research, gardening products and techniques. They take home a notebook of extension fact sheets and have access to the extension library to assist them with their assignments.

Each graduate will devote at least 50 hours of time helping others become better gardeners and will be available to speak before schools, gardening clubs and service groups.

Here are some questions that I responded to this past week.

Q: What do I do with my hollyhocks now that they stopped blooming?

A: If you want to save seeds, let the flowering stalks mature. Harvest the seed and then remove the seed stalks or cut stalks back now and the plant will come back next year.

Q: My mesquite tree has hardened balls of sap on its branches. Is my tree doomed?

A: We usually trace bleeding back to overwatering. Cut back on water and your tree will do fine. Remember, out in nature, these trees seldom get any water.

When Dennis Swartzell was at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he found his crews were pruning mesquites four times a year. He simply cut back the water and he only pruned them once a year.

Q: Why does my corn only get three feet tall, tassels and doesn’t produce any ears? I planted seeds four inches apart and 18 inches between rows and fertilized at proper times.

A: You were planting seeds too close. You want at least a foot between each plant. This is especially true with the new hybrids now available.

Q: At one time, the Demonstration Gardens sold compost makers, but I can’t find one now.

A: Nether the Springs Preserve or the government agency provides them anymore. Google “compost makers” and you will find dozens available.

Q: Can you grow pineapples in Las Vegas?

A: Yes, but treat it as a houseplant to protect it during the winter. It takes two years to arrive. It is fun to grow, but you’ll appreciate plants at the market during the wait.

Q: Can you tell me anything about diatomaceous earth?

A: In his book, “Environmentally Friendly Pest Control,” Bob Stauffer says it is an all-natural product made from mineral and pulverized fossilized silica shell remnants or unicellular marine algae. It comes in different sizes and shapes that are razor sharp. It works extremely well on crawling insects. You can use it as a dust or in liquid mix.

Q: Why won’t my autumn sage bloom much this year? The flower ends seem dry.

A: For optimum flowers, prune after the spring flush of growth and again in early September to encourage winter color. After the flowers subside, in the late winter, cut plants back by one-half. Prune into old wood and thin out some older interior stems to create new growth. Expect your plants to go into a slight dormancy during the heat.

Q: We’d like to plant a ground cover under our trees, but the soil is so hard. Can we put a layer of planting soil under the tree, or will it smother the tree roots?

A: You are right, putting soil over your tree roots will suffocate them. Let us take the work out of this project. Plant your ground cover directly in the soil under the tree. Next, cover the area under the tree and around plants with organic mulch. This will cool the area, conserve water, control weeds and look nice until your plants cover the area.

Q: What is causing the stains on light-colored roses?

A: People think this damage is from wind, but it’s thrips, tiny insects the thickness of a hair. To find them, open up an old blossom and watch for moving specks. The thrips are scampering for shade. I usually find them on white, yellow and pink roses. Once blossoms show color, they’ve done their damage inside the buds. About your only chance for control is using a systemic spray to get the next generation of thrips.

Q: My 10 year-old desert spoon suddenly sent up a flowering stalk. Will that die as agaves do?

A: No, they won’t die. Remove it any time by reaching down the stalk into the bush and pruning it out.


If you love irises, now is the time to get them at the Las Vegas Iris Society annual rhizome sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at Plant World Nursery 5301 W. Charleston Blvd. You’ll be able to get new introductions of every color and size to beautify your landscape next spring. For more information, call 876-1525 or 228-0827.


The popularity of both growing and eating heirloom (reviving old vegetable favorites) plants speaks to a yearning for simpler times and the joys of organic gardening. Take a trip down memory lane as we explore the history of heirloom plants. For example, why did they call the Mortgage tomato the mortgage lifter? Find out how these ancient wonders can add a new dimension to your garden and which are easiest to grow. What’s old is now new and in high demand. This class will take place at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd.

Linn Mills writes a gardening column each Sunday. You can reach him at or call him at 822-7754.

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