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Growing plants for food and beauty

Why I Garden #35

Golden Currant, blooming

Once again the natives in our garden shine despite the drought. This Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) has grown steadily, if slowly, in a far corner of the yard. It has bloomed for the first time this spring, bringing an unexpected splash of bright yellow. I wish I could take credit for the flowers, but this perennial has grown and thrived with only infrequent watering. I'm hopeful that there will be a few currants to eat come the fall.

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Why I Garden #34

Asparagus - first harvest

Asparagus ~ Spring on your plate.

This may not be the most impressive harvest to come from our garden, but it is satisfying. Fresh asparagus is a sure sign of Spring and I was very happy to cut even a few spears from our garden. Asparagus plants (Asparagus officinalis) are perennial and take two years to establish before the spears can be harvested. This first harvest was a very long time in coming and even sweeter for the wait. We did "cheat" a bit and added store-bought asparagus to our own to make a more generous serving of roasted asparagus spears.

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Let's Plant Some Sh!t

Ron Finley - TED talk

To quote Ron Finley, "Let's Plant Some Sh!t"! Ron is a guerrilla gardner in South Central Los Angeles where he has put shovel to soil and redesigned his neighborhood by planting gardens.

“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus, you get strawberries.”

It's time to get off my cushy chair and grow some change in my own neighborhood.

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The Cutting Edge of Water

Watershed Restoration Model

By necessity, life in the American Southwest depends on the availability of water. Aldo Leopold understood the importance of watersheds and those lessons are being re-learned today. Here is a documentary of a two day watershed restoration workshop held in October 2012 at Ampersand Sustainable Learning Center near Madrid, NM. "The Cutting Edge" was taught by Brad Lancaster, Amanda Bramble, Jan-Willem Jansens, Steve Carson and Craig Sponholtz. The workshop focused on catching, sinking, storing and using water where it falls.

A Fruitful Year, Part II

Apple - Platonic Ideal

I processed so many apples through this kitchen that it felt like an outpost of Motts on some days. People, it was a fruitful year and our pantry now overfloweth.

Our own apple tree did well this year and whatever EcoBaby didn't yank off the tree (mostly things on the lower branches) we thoroughly enjoyed. Ecobaby was the best consumer of our garden products. She is still yanking freeze dried little grapes off the vine and gnawing on them.

Why I Garden #33

Canyon Grape - Raisins on the Vine

Fall. Autumnal Equinox. The first hard freeze.

Frankly, the garden and I need a rest. I love a full season of planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. And I love the end of that season just as much. We had our first hard freeze several days ago and I'm happy to look out on a mostly dormant garden. I did expand the cold frame and will be planting hardy greens (Arugula, Mustard Greens and Spinach) to go with the Kale and Chard that have survived the freeze without complaint. I still need to mulch a few beds and will be turning the compost one last time this season.

Why I Garden #32

Fernbush blooming

Once again this summer I looked into the garden and saw new flowers on plant that hadn't bloomed before. Despite the ongoing drought the Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium) that we planted a few years ago decided to blossom. Scores of small, white, rose-like flowers with yellow centers popped up between the lacy foliage. Here is one more native plant that has thrived in our arid Southwestern climate with little to no attention.

More Info:

New Mexico Plant Materials Center - Fernbush

Why I Garden #31

Butterfly Weed

The longer I garden the more I appreciate tough plants. Between the hot, dry summers and cold winters finding plants that can flourish in Santa Fe is tough. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is another tough native (across much of the U.S.) perennial that has thrived in our garden. This example has grown slowly but steadily since it was planted a few years ago. I have another seed packet that I'll plant later this fall to provide more orange blooms for color in the garden and food for the pollinators.

A Fruitful Year!

Apricot Ratafia

It's been a fruitful year! This amazing feat requires some magical combination of weather, timing, pollination, and possibly prayer. I've seen apricots all over town and also pears, apples, plums, and cherries. I'm hoping to gather some apples for sauce soon. The kitchen is in high gear in years like this.

The apricots were a bonanza and their beautiful goldenness showed up in many of our kitchen productions. Here's what I made:

Why I Garden #30

Shishito Chile Peppers

As much as I love the herbs and native flowers in our garden I love the food we grow even more. This season we planted four Shishito Chile Pepper starts from a local nursery and they have been bearing quite well so far. We've harvested a few dozen peppers and have several more dozen peppers almost ready to pick. Shishito peppers are quite mild and with a little pan searing and salt make a great appetizer.

More Info:

Wikipedia - Shishito pepper

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