Raised Bed Gardening Blog

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Water

Water. Every drop counts. Here in the desert Southwest, we all MUST try to conserve and contain water as much as we possibly can. That was one of the premises of Grow Y'own at the beginning, and continuously. These beds are highly water retentive, and they recycle it through condensation and then drip-release, over and over. They act along the same principles as a terrarium, in that once the water is inside the beds and under the covers, it takes a much longer time to dissipate than in an outdoor garden that's exposed to the sun and wind. I have clients that haven't watered their beds in the Winter for 2-3 months, and finally open them up and they have growing plants. And outside the beds, mulch is the key for healthier plant growth, as well as 'welling'. Due to the caliche (clay) content in our soil, most water that falls from the sky is either evaporated, or runs off. So its very important to contain it as much as we can. The drops you save today, could be the tipping point for the plants that will ultimately sustain you.

Edible Landscaping

Edible Landscaping. Maybe this is the year your rip out that Bermuda grass, and replace it with something you can eat! A field of mint, English thyme crawling amongst flagstones, red orach covering the ground in deep purple, violets and violas intermingled with sorrel bushes and mounds of herbs. Along your walls and fences, a beautiful array of different-colored amaranths, sunflowers, artichokes, peas, beans, and so much more. Surely the squirrels and rabbits can't eat everything! Share the wealth, and have plenty left over to give to friends, neighbors, shelters, and family. And if planting 'out in the open' is just impossible because of critters, then do it in a Grow Y'own raised bed, and have the protection from the heavy-duty UV sun, the intense, abrasive winds, and all animals. See more at growyown.com, but THIS Summer, increase your bounty many fold, and think and grow beyond your normal boundaries.

Canning

Canning. Its dead of Winter in Idaho, 1977. Outside its -40, and the snow is piled 6' high on the level. The snowfall last night measured about 2' of pure powder 'feathers'. The only way to get out, is to go out a window, slide down a bank, shovel out the door, and escape! There's no way the country road is going to be plowed today, tonight, or maybe even tomorrow. No chance to go for food at the local grocery. And THAT'S when you're SO glad you went to the extra effort to can fruits and veggies last Fall. So you go into your pantry, look at the fine array of goods, and pick out what you want for dinner that night. What a feast!

   Canning is too easy not to do it in the Fall. The remuneration is immense, and delicious. A bunch of quart and pint Ball jars, a canning pot, a container of salt, some sugar if you're doing fruits, and water. Meditation time while you're slipping skins off of peaches, tomatoes, or pears, or chopping up chunks of squash, beets, or onions, destemming beans, or making up a future ratatouille or creamed corn batch. All the effort will be rewarded later when you're yearning for the taste of fresh food, and the remembrances of picking, washing, preparing, and canning it, especially if it came from your Grow Y'own raised bed gardens!

   'Keeping the Harvest' is a wonderful compendium of canning how-to's. You CAN do it. Its un-CAN-ny how easy it is. So summon up that CAN-do energy, go get some supplies, choose your favorite fruits and veggies, and look forward to the compensation that surely will be yours when you truly want it.

Shishitos

Shishitos. Those delicious Japanese Summertime peppers, and for those you 'can', year round! I put them up in a salt water and vinegar brine, and pull them out anytime as a mid-Winter treat. They have no heat index like their sister peppers- the Padrons. To cook them, you heat a bit of olive oil in a pan, saute them, slowly, for about 10 minutes till they start to blister, sprinkle with a little salt, and serve. You can 'pop' the whole pepper, and throw away the stem. They're great as an appetizer, and they're pretty infectious, so make plenty of them! Some folks like to make them with some chopped sauteed garlic as they cook, or just squeeze on some lemon. Any way you do it, you'll be coming back for more. Many of the vendors at the Fall Santa Fe Farmer's Market cook them in their booths, and serve them to wide-eyed attendees. So next year, don't wait till they come around again. Can those babies, and be the envy of all those aficionados of this special dish. More on canning- here, and on my Grow Y'own Facebook page!

Ancestral Gardening in the Galisteo Basin

The Native Americans inhabited the Galisteo Basin for over 10,000 years. You find their signs everywhere- on basalt rocks as petroglyphs, on the ground in the forms of pottery chards, flints, and arrowheads, on Pueblo sites where they farmed, captured water, and dug out pits for their houses. Corn, beans, and squash were their staple foods- known as The Three Sisters. In an attempt to emulate their growing methods, I was involved in a building and conservation project in the early '90's in the basin, to bring back the native grasses, and to grow The Three Sisters in dug-out barrow trenches at the base of hills on the property. Without any supplemental water, we grew corn, beans, and squash. Its not rocket science to grow food. It simply requires some ingenuity, and the desire and necessity to sustain oneself with plants for our pleasure, and our survival- just like the ancients.

Homemade Soup Day

Homemade Soup Day, 2014. This morning, around 6 a.m., I let my dogs out the back door, feeling the shimmering after-current of last night's snow storm, the awakening blast of cold air, and the beautiful scene of several inches of freshly-fallen whiteness. Looking across the Galisteo basin to the enshrouded Ortiz Mountains, the early morning light was just starting to 'pink up' the landscape, and I knew for sure that this was going to be one of those homemade soup days. My favorite soup cookbook is 'Vegetable Soups' from Deborah Madison's Kitchen, by my good friend and neighbor. It has the world in there on homemade soups, as well as recipes for stocks- Summer and Winter, wine tips with soups, restorative soups, and instructions to take you from beginning to delicious ends! The very fortunate thing that those of you can take advantage of, is gleaning fresh vegetables from your Grow Y'own hooped and covered raised bed gardens, year round! Chards, kales, spinach, carrots, onions, beets, and much, much more can be picked and put into your homemade soups, even when the weather is too adverse to garden. Baby its cold outside, but soon we'll be filled with a delectable, healthy, organic soup that will warm our insides and nourish our souls! Eat Soup! Grow Y'own! 

 

 

 

 

Many Mothers

   'Nearly all of us receive our first lessons in peaceful living from our Mothers'  The Dalai Lama

   Many Mothers is a Santa Fe-based organization which strengthens communities by providing free-of-charge, vital support and services at the pivotal time when a new baby joins a family. Part of the program- which I have been so fortunate to be a part of for 3 years- is to give a raised bed garden-complete with delivery, setup, planting, drip system and instructions for use- to over 28 Mothers and their babies. This allows the Mothers and their families, the freedom to spend more time with their children, access to organic and local food, and the relief of spending their funds, which can then be used for other early-life necessities. The gift of the free gardens was created by a wonderful benefactress who wanted to share, and to enable young Mothers to spend precious time with their newborns. Since then, others have contributed for more beds, and the program grows and grows with Grow Y'own's! More information about Many Mothers can be found at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by calling (505) 983-5984. 

   'When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed'  Maya Angelou

Hand-forged Gardening Tools

Valentine's Day gardening ideas. How about a beautiful, hand-forged garden tool for your mate? 

G A R D E N S in the Santa Fe Railyard Complex has Shehan Prull's trowels- with ash and cherry wood handles, and HERS shovels- hergonomically designed specifically for women. Either, or both!, would make wonderful surprise gifts, and both are going to give a lifetime of use and pleasure. With 17 days left, doggone the panic is on! Contact rwrlink@gmail.com to order yours today, before its too late! You can also check out www.greenherontools.com for more info on HERS. 

Gardening for Stress Reduction

Stress, who's stressed? A lot of times, we don't even realize how stressed out we are, but our body does! Those sudden pains and aches that you can't explain throughout your body, shortness of breath, lack of concentration. All can potentially be attributable to stress. For supplemental relief, you can try Mega B stress complex, more Omega 3 in your diet, Valerian, Cal/Mag, St John's Wort, or L-Theanine tea. As well, breathing exercises, nature walks, or meditation, can really calm things down. But the wonderful, all-pervasive, long-lasting, stress-buster is gardening in your raised bed(s). Digging your hands into that primal soil growing medium, quietly attending to your plants by trimming, watering, and picking, being out in the sunshine and breathing fresh air, and knowing that your efforts are going to be greatly rewarded when you eat food that you have grown and cared for yourself. Ah, its a simple wonder that's free and there for your taking! So just pull the trigger, and start to Grow Y'own!!

Juicing

A quote from 'The Juicing Bible' by Pat Crocker....

'Juicing plays a major role in ensuring a healthy diet by making it easier to consume the recommended 5-8 daily servings of fruits and vegetables. One large glass of pure, raw, fresh juice per day will help improve the immune system, increase energy, strengthen bones, clear skin, and lower the risk of disease. For maximum benefit, it is wise to consume a wide variety of juices from different types of organic herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Be sure to incorporate juices into a well-balanced, high-fiber, whole food diet. Extracted juices should not completely replace whole fruits and vegetables since their fiber is important for eliminating toxins and preventing some forms of cancer.'

   One client of mine has 4 raised beds, and she grows strictly chards, kales, arugula, and spinach, so that she can juice 3 times a day, and rotate her 'pickings'. We regularly juice carrots, celery, apples, pears, ginger, lime, Chinese salt, and almond milk into an enlivening breakfast smoothie in our Breville juicer. Mostly gone, but definitely not forgotten, are the days of the heavy Champion juicers, which supplied many of us with our 'breakfast-of-Champions-morning-supplement' drink. Any way that you can juice it, it is an essential way for us to stay healthy, using the prolific greens from our raised bed gardens!