June 23, 2011
Though it is nearly time for the monsoons, the rain is not here. Everything is exceptionally dry. The Forest Service has placed the New Mexico forests (and their residents) on some pretty severe restrictions and tens of thousands of acres of forest has already been consumed by fire this season.
Prohibitions include smoking except inside enclosed vehicles or buildings, possessing fireworks, operating chainsaws or other internal combustion enginepowered equipment, welding or operating torches with open flames, taking vehicles off Forest System roads, fires, campfires, charcoal, coal, wood and stove fires.
We have an incredible amount of brush to clean up and burn after harvesting firewood last fall, but this is not an option right now. Hopefully it will be before long because last year the snow was on the ground before we could finish cleanup and we truly hope that there will not be two years worth of branches and brush to deal with next year on top of the many weeks of logging, chucking and splitting.
The good news is that our gardens are mostly planted!
In the ground we have four varieties of locally grown potatoes, four varieties of frost tolerant Siberian tomatoes, chickpeas, black beans, contender bush beans, pole beans, summer and winter squash, black zucchini, slicing and pickling cucumbers, two kinds of beets, two kinds of carrot, two kinds of onions, radishes, broccoli, celery, kale, lettuces, spinach, bell peppers, jalapenos, several varieties of peas, and a few I'm surely forgetting. Everything we planted is either heirloom, or heirlooms bred to withstand low temperatures, frost and short seasons.
We have both flint and sweet corn grown here in the Taos Mountains and are trying to decide which one to plant today.
In the herb garden we have Basil, Sage, Thyme, Greek Oregano, Chives, Cumin, Dill, Sweet Basil, Cilantro, Holy Basil, Motherwort, Boneset, Heartease, Marshmallow, Horehound, Dandelion, Chickweed, Chaste Tree, St. Johns Wort, Catchfly, Calendula, Red Clover, Marigold, Chamomile, Borage, Yarrow, Valerian, Flax, Fennel, Lemon Balm, Clary Sage, Feverfew, Love in the Mist, and California Poppy :) We also have some wild daisies, Columbine and Irises.
Growing wild we have Chokecherries, Gooseberries, Currants, Strawberries and Raspberries. Around town you can collect apples, apricots and cherries. I was hoping to make some dandelion wine and rose petal syrup this spring, but we had a truly pitiful crop of wild roses and dandelions. Next year we are hoping to learn more about harvesting Piñon nuts. At $12/lb at the organic grocer it would be great to learn to get them ourselves since Piñon is abundant here in Norther New Mexico.
The deer fence around the vegetable gardens will be finished by the end of this week, and we're going to attempt a willow branch fence around the herb gardens in the front of the house.
Sometime this summer we will finally build the chicken coop and start researching goat housing/milking stations. And if we can get to it between the firewood collection we'll be building crosscut log paths in and around the gardens.