A garden in progress

I’m gradually altering my yard to become a permaculture garden. The woman who lived here before me grew purely ornamental plants, especially bulbs. The garden beds had been neglected for years.

I just discovered “waste” rock left over from the beds and main pathway buried around a large pine tree in the northwest corner of my yard. I have used much of it to build up the pictured raised bed and north garden walkway. I now need to fill the garden bed with soil that I will collect from burying the pathway rocks and bed edging rocks.

I plan to plant summer and winter squash and pickling and lemon cucumbers in this bed. It gets early morning sun and stays sunny until mid-afternoon.

I’m very much into repurposing things. Staying at home because of Covid-19 makes repurposing absolutely necessary. I will never be bored!

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.

First swallowtail butterfly of the year!

Beneficial insects are a key ingredient in successful permaculture gardening, providing pollination services, pest control, and showing us beauty. Wild animals are highly useful in permaculture landscapes. They are especially important in vegan permaculture gardens, which are not animal-free.

Never forget the usefulness of beauty, especially during these difficult Anthropocene times. We require beauty to thrive as human beings.

Our dear friend Robin moved in with us just before the Covid-19 pandemic became a problem. They helped us dig a hole for our new dwarf apple tree today; we are very grateful for their help as both LynnAnnRose and I have extensive osteoarthritis due to birth defects and accidents. They are an artist and hairdresser with an eye for beauty. They noticed the swallowtail and took wonderful photographs.

More pics of the apple tree and permaculture garden-in-progress tomorrow.

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.

Signs of spring

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The pea seedlings are coming up in our community garden plot, and fruit trees and shrubs are in the middle of flowering, like these bright yellow barberry flowers. It might be a great barberry year, like 2014 was in Flagstaff, AZ. I’ll have to decide if I’m going to make barberry juice or 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.