A new cold frame

It fits over my raised bed made with recycled plastic. Terrific! We plan to grow summer and winter squash and cucumbers in it during the warm months and then leafy greens in the fall and winter.

A garden in progress …..

We planted a bare root apple tree. We’re waiting for a cold frame to arrive. We have, beds and containers to plant, seeds, biochar, compost tea mix, and more. More seeds are on the way. We intended to create a permaculture garden three years ago, but multiple life events got in the way: divorce, remarriage, plumbing disasters, major and minor surgeries, sudden health crises, and more, and that was before the pandemic. Almost four years of observation of the yard’s microclimates has been helpful.

I think at this point, the necessity of home food production and greater local resilience and self sufficiency will reenergize the permaculture and Transition Town movements.

An April snow has not stopped our cool season crops from sprouting!

Cool season foods and medicinal plants like leafy greens, mint family herbs (catnip pictured), onions, and cool season legumes like sugar snap peas, have no problem with light to hard late frosts and late spring snow.

My book, “Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains,” shows you how.

Our #2020VictoryGarden

Today I planted sugar snap peas, lettuce, lacinato kale and radishes. We also have seeds for Peñasco winter squash, cherry tomatoes and Chimayo chiles, all from Native Seeds/SEARCH. As you can see, Tiger is providing free labor, while Pablo stands guard. LynnAnnRose and I put up some old chicken wire in the garage to use as a trellis. #StayAtHome #Permaculture #UrbanHomesteading #DIYGardening

The first rose of spring

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My wife loves roses. She is growing two plants for their flowers, especially their scent, in containers on the south side of our house in an especially warm microclimate. Roses are marginal here. She’s been putting the roses in the garage on especially cold nights for the last month. Older rose varieties, like Rugosa roses and wild rose species, handle our cold spring nights at 7,000 feet better; some have large rose hips (rose fruits) that make excellent tea and can be preserved for jelly/jam.

My new neighborhood

My neighborhood is in south Santa Fe. It has a large park-like trail system that crisscrosses the neighborhood and circles through pinyon-juniper forest. The pinyon-juniper woodlands include typical understory vegetation like the yellow-flowered rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa, commonly known as chamisa), prickly pear cacti, and agaves. The small arroyo (dry wash) pictured empties into the Santa Fe River. The Santa Fe River flows west to the Rio Grande River, which joins with other regional river like the Pecos. The river flows through northeast Mexico and eventually flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Within the developed part of the neighborhood, the landscaping is irrigated and includes many fruit trees and shrubs, including apples, apricots, plums, peaches, and barberries. I easily collected a large bowl of apples on the pictured walk. Last year, the HOA built a community garden with raised beds; I need to get on the waiting list for nest year.

At almost the identical elevation to Flagstaff (7,000 feet), Santa Fe is further away from the nearest mountain range, the Sangre de Christos to the east, than Flagstaff is from the San Francisco Peaks, so the climate is a little warmer (five to 10°F) and the monsoon rains tend to happen later in the afternoon and evening than in Flagstaff (monsoon storms begin the mountains and repeatedly re-create themselves as they move away from their origins and down in elevation). Mornings are almost always sunny. The Jemez mountains are to the west. To the south are the Sandia and Cerillos peaks. Catholic Franciscan missionaries got here before other European religious denominations and named everything they could in the Southwest, often after St. Francis De Assisi; Flagstaff’s main north-south street is San Francisco St., while Santa Fe’s is St. Francis Dr.

Across the main east-west road in southern Santa Fe is a section of the city’s wonderful fully paved urban trail system named after rabbitbrush (Arroyo De Los Chamisos Trail). The view from my bike (last photo) is what I get to see on nearly every trip to the north and east of my neighborhood. A lot of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) grows along the arroyo. The Rail Trail runs through the city alongside a commuter train track connecting Santa Fe and Albuquerque; that trail has a much more urban feel to it because it heads directly downtown. I bicycle on the roads as little as possible, mainly towards a shopping district to my west.

A sunny, warm spring day at 7,000 feet

Well, a few days from the start of spring. I solar cooked some long grain brown rice with turmeric to eat with stir-fry leftovers. Afternoon temperatures have been in the mid-60s, so I’m putting the fig tree on the balcony for a few hours every day. I also baked another loaf of whole wheat bread and soaked soy beans for making soy milk in the evening.