June 23, 2011

Drought Gardening

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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!

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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, Cale
ndula, 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.
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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.

4 comments:

Clay said...

I like those cross cut log paths! Do they get really slippery when wet and/or grow moss on them? If so, how do you plan to clean them?

happygirl said...

The crosscut log paths are beautiful. Are they buried very deep? Praying for rain.

Cage Free Family said...

The logs will be about 9 inches deep, placed on top of the many small rocks we have and then back filled with dirt. I've never found logs cut this way to be slippery, and because we are in the high desert it would be hard for moss to grow on anything. We have to water our gardens no less than four times per day to keep them from drying out completely and beginning to crack. We don't even have moss on the logs rotting in the forest :)

megg said...

I've just been overwhelmed with a wild, fierce desire to go there.

I will hold rain in my heart for you and yours.