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Growing plants for food and beauty

Why I Garden #14

Winter sown greens sprouting

Gardening last year was pretty frustrating. Weeks of hot and dry weather stunted growth in most gardens in the area. A scorching summer was followed by ravenous grasshoppers that ravaged our fall greens. But, Spring is all about renewal and promise. The very same garden bed that was mowed flat by grasshoppers in the fall is now coated with surprise greens.

Reading Dirty Catalogs

Seeds of Change packets

It's hard to tell now with a fresh blanket of snow on the ground, but this is garden planning season. Days are getting longer and the Spring Solstice is less than a month away. Farmers and gardeners, even rank amateurs like myself, are excitedly thumbing through seed catalogs and websites, anticipating that day when seedlings can brave the elements.

Going Nuts, Eventually

Hazelnut seedlings - ready to plant

Whew! I just planted three small hazelnut seedlings after weeks of watching the mailbox. It turns out that I planted these seedlings just days before the weather turned quite cold (the forecast high today is 29°F). Why hazelnuts? Well they're an experiment in permaculture and hybridization. That, and we've been looking for nuts that would grow in the high desert climate of Santa Fe. Now I'm crossing my fingers that they survive the winter and sprout in the spring.

Why I Garden #13

Garlic Scape bouquet

Few things stand out more than Garlic Scapes in the garden. They have a curly, serpentine look that even got the neighbors asking about them. But even better than their look is their taste. We harvested (a little late, but just barely) garlic scapes from our hard-neck garlic this weekend. They became part of a White Bean and Garlic Scapes Dip. We had friends over for dinner and the four of us nearly inhaled the dip.

More Info:

Why I Garden #12

Tray of Seedlings

What holds more promise (for a gardener, anyway) than a tray full of seedlings? Our average last frost-free date is 9 days away and I am getting ready to harden off a tray full of seedlings that we started about 3 weeks ago. We are trying everything from arugula to kale, broccoli to tomatillos, and basil to fennel. This tray full of bright green baby plants reminds me of grade school science classes and egg cartons sprouting bean plants. What are you planting in your garden this season?

Why I Garden #11

Spring Garlic and new Compost

The first signs of spring are popping up across town. Irises are sprouting in the front yard and garlic is appearing in the backyard. We're still two months away from the last average frost date, but many of the hardier plants are showing new growth, swelling buds and sprouting leaves. I expect we'll still see some snow, even well past the Spring Solstice. But, that's life in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Why I Garden #10

Green Tomatoes, Chiles, Tomatillos, Sage & Arugula

Fall is definitely here in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We've already had a couple of light frosts, but the forecast last night was for a hard freeze. My wife and I went through our garden for the last harvest of the season. We harvested plenty of green Tomatoes, Ancho and Serrano chile peppers, Tomatillos, some of the more tender herbs like Mint, Sage and Basil and a bale of Arugula.

Why I Garden #9

Morning Glory in Bloom

The garden can be full of surprises. An interesting vine sprouted a few months back. Although I didn't recognize it, I decided to let it grow. My theory is that with as many wildflower seeds as I've sown I try to give any new plant a fighting chance to prove it's not a weed. My bet paid off with a Morning Glory.

Why I Garden #8

Delicata Squash Blossom

Blossoms on Delicata Squash (Cucurbita pepo) vines in the garden. Delicata (a.k.a. Sweet Potato Squash) is a heirloom variety with great flavor, but it is uncommon in the grocery store given its softer skin which doesn't stand up well to rough handling. So far it's been pretty easy to grow for us and forms the base of our Three Sisters (corn, beans, squash) garden bed.

More Info:

Wikipedia - Winter Squash

Why I Garden #7

Freshly Harvested Bosque Early Garlic

Got Garlic?

Freshly harvested Allium sativum L. (i.e. Bosque Early Garlic). I dug these bulbs up yesterday evening and they are now hanging up to dry. The laundry room is quite aromatic at the moment. My wife informed me that we will be planting 'three times as many' after seeing the ten garlic plants I pulled up. I have no argument with that whatsoever. I may have to try a few different varieties like Spanish Roja or a hard-neck garlic.

More Info:
Wikipedia: Garlic

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