This past fall I took a trip to New Orleans and while there took a tour of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum where a pharmacist, Louis J. Dufilho, Jr. was the first to pass the national licensing examination in 1804, therefore making his pharmacy the first licensed United States apothecary shop. What does this have to do with plants-everything because as I toured the museum what became clear to me was the pharmacies of old were nothing like our current pharmacies where chemical drugs are sold to help heal aliments. The cures of yesteryear were plant-based and although some of them I’m sure didn’t work, I’m just as sure many did. So I saw the original ‘drugs’ that came from medicinal herbs and plants, not chemicals, and I saw things in a whole new way. Now I’ve known of some herbs that help with various aliments but never really connected the dots until I took a tour of that pharmacy. Gives me a whole new perspective on pharmacies and their beginnings. Sometimes going forward means looking backwards to see where we came from.
And speaking of pharmacies, soda fountains became popular in pharmacies where sweet syrups could be mixed with carbonated water and herbal concoctions to hide the bitter taste. Coca-Cola, one of the most famous fountain drinks, was invented by an Atlanta pharmacist, John Pemberton in the late 19th century. It was intended to be used as a medicine. Coca-Cola’s name came from its two ‘medicinal’ plant ingredients—coca leaves and kola nuts, hence the name. Coca-Cola originally had some cocaine in it from the coca leaves although no one knows how much as it’s recipe was and still is a secret. Coca-Cola was completely cocaine free by 1929 being replaced with caffeine. For more of this interesting story go here: http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/cocaine.asp
Many people have contacted me about what’s going on in their vegetable and fruit gardens in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico or in Zone 6a throughout the seasons and have particular questions. Feel free to write me but I want to go over how to use this website to your greatest advantage. Every few days I post something interesting to me or want to share. One way is to just go backwards (scroll down) and read them. But let’s say you have a question about growing tomatoes. You could go backwards which would take you forever as I have over 650 posts on various subjects (so far) but another faster way would be go over to the right hand column of this blog. From there:
Go down to ‘GARDEN TOPICS’ and scroll down to whatever interests you (in this case tomatoes) from starting tomatoes from seed, to garden hints, or all the way down to tomatoes in the vegetable section. That way you can cut out subjects that aren’t interesting for you. (What?)
Another thing I like in the right column is the ‘ARCHIVES’ section where you can read my posts for a particular month and even for a particular year. I use this a lot for myself as I look up when I planted something in previous years, or other info I want to review again for a particular month.
Another section is called, ‘PAGES’ which you can access from the right columnor on the top menus on the blog. I think this is a great resource as you can look up the page for catalogs I like to get, my garden plans for each year, my seed lists of what I’m planting that year (and where I get them), classes I may offer, films I enjoy, Santa Fe Master Gardener’s radio show, ‘The Garden Journal’ where I talk about what to do in the vegetable garden for the following month. and even the about mepage with info about me and this website (if you care to know!)
So next time it’s snowing or cold and windy outside this winter, take some time to catch up on what’s going on. I know I do.
I’ve now cleaned out most of the beds except where the gourds are, the kale bed and the 2 perennials in the garden.
The gourds are drying nicely and I picked some of them this week. These are African Bushel Gourds.
The 2 perennial plants in the garden have gone to sleep-the rhubarb and the strawberries. I will cover the rhubarb crowns shown above with straw (they look dead but they are not).
I will put row cover over these strawberry plants as I don’t like raking out straw from the strawberries in the spring-too much work. It is much easier to just uncover them. Look how the leaves turned red.
Since the kale is still alive, it is covered with row cover for now. I expect it to die too once we get really cold at night again.
My friend Nick and myself put 2 huge trailer loads of horse manure on all the beds after we cleaned them out of the dead plants in November.
Then we lightly turned the manure over in the soil to add more organic matter to the soil as shown above. This will break down over the winter and be ready to plant by spring. Yea! Because of him I actually got all the fall clean up done! Finally the garden can go to sleep and maybe me!
Well here it is in early December and not surprisingly, most of the outside crops in the main garden, ‘bit the dust’ as they say—died. A few are still alive. It is warmer now—here are the results of those cold snaps we had.
The Toscana (aka Lacinato or dinosaur) kale got severely damaged. It is cold sensitive and although it’s not completely dead, it is unharvestable. Here it is with the leaves burned from the cold.
Russian Red kale
The Russian Red and Curly Leaf kale are still going and have some damage as well but the new growth is doing well. I haven’t watered them at all-nature has with a little snow and a nice rain the other day- almost an inch. I do have them covered with 2 layers of winter weight row cover.
The gourds are still drying in the field. Some are starting to get lighter in weight so I will put those in the garden shed to finish drying. The rest will stay outside until they dry more.
The green house is button up fairly tight now with just a little venting at the top panels. I’ve put the bubble wrap on all the windows (bubbles faced to the window) for extra insulation. I’ve also put the 4 barrels with water in them on the north wall for them to absorb heat in the daytime (I took them out during the summer), releasing the heat at night (the theory is that the sun which is lower and further to the south will hit them on the north wall and warm up in the daytime). I’m not sure I have enough barrels to do much good but even one degree will be helpful once it gets cold again.
I’ve planted 2 winter lettuce varieties in the green house as transplants back in early November. The cold hard varieties are a green variety-Winter Wunder and a red variety-Marshall Red Romaine. They both have made it so far through those cold snaps although they have slowed down in growth because of the shorter daylight hours. They will stop growing until sometime in January when the daylight hours start to get longer. Winter Wunder is my favorite lettuce but only grows well during the cold months. When it starts to get even a little warm, it will bolt. The lettuces have 2 layers of row cover over them at night and have some protection from the unheated greenhouse (at least from the winds). I’ve also noticed that the lettuces don’t need a lot of water now (about once every 2 weeks). It will be interesting to see if they make it Dec-February. Don’t they look wonderful in the winter!
There has been about a 4-7°F difference between the greenhouse temperature and the outside temperature at 7 am in the morning when I check everything. When I add the row cover at night I get about 4-6 degrees more protection. I’m not sure what to expect this winter since this is my first December-January in the greenhouse. Last year when we finished up the greenhouse I start planting on February 17th so now I will see if these established greens can survive Dec-Jan.
Hey, there’s ‘snow’ floating across my blog which is more than I can say in the garden. Right now just a gentle rain outside which is wonderful. I went and changed the background color on my blog to ‘winter blue’ and wordpress gives us the option of having ‘snow’ on our blogs till Jan 6th. If you move your cursor around the snow changes directions! Cool! I actually think they should have it till February cause it will still be icy cold here through then! Enjoy!
Fall is a wonderful time of the year. The pace slows down for us gardeners. The perennial plants are looking sleepy now as am I, ready for our winter slumber. I want to prune the plants as they are shaggy but don’t dare as pruning now could kill them with these cold nights.
Just about everything is done. The outside beds have been cleaned up and I only have a few more beds to put horse manure in. I cut the smaller sunflower heads (with all their seeds) and laid them on the ground for the birds – they’re crazy for them. I just planted garlic before the cold snap and watered it and covered with straw for the winter so it will get a head start before next spring. The herbs will get compost and straw over them to help see them through the winter. I’ve built 2 big compost piles that are hot (140-150°F) that should be ready by next month but will be saved till next spring for the beds. I still have some gourds left in the field, hoping they dry ok. Gourds are always iffy about drying properly especially with our winters, at least for me. I’m waiting for them to get lighter (in weight) before I take them out. And most important, the plants and trees have been watered since I turned off the drip systems. All this sounds like a lot and it is, but I have the luxury of taking my time now.
The only tomato plants left were in the greenhouse and froze this last week with the 13°F nights. I had finished buttoning up the greenhouse before the arctic cold blast hit but it still killed the rest of the tomatoes as the greenhouse is not heated. I’ve already planted cold hardy lettuces in there which I can harvest in December and they made it through the cold blast with some winter weight row cover over them. I put a coffee pot in the greenhouse for me when I tinker in there. Perfect! The greenhouse will be very warm in the daytime and pretty cold in the nights which is always a challenge with unheated greenhouses in winters.
The goats, horse and chicken water heaters have been turned on and fixed after discovering one of the heaters was not working. The old chickens get a heat lamp to keep them warm at night. The bees have been readied for winter. The barn cats which never came in the house last year are now coming in the house at night which is such a relief. We are ready for winter here at the little farm. Can’t wait to read a good book by the fireplace when it’s cold outside.
And lookee! I still have tomatoes in the house and here it is-Nov 15th! I will relish each one now as I won’t be getting any homegrown for a long time!
I planted some Glass Gem corn seeds this year from Native Seed Search in AZ and grew them out. For the last 3 years I’ve tried to buy this seed but it was always sold out so I was excited to try them this year. The range of colors is incredible. Opening each ear of corn was like Christmas because you wouldn’t know what colors would be inside. Many of the colors look like little glass pearls hence the name and some look less pearlized but all are stunningly beautiful. An interesting note is I noticed in the packet that some seeds had color and other seeds less color and it didn’t seem to matter when they grew out but maybe that’s because no one has tried to isolate particular colors yet.
I know the seeds are pure because I didn’t grow any other corn this year and all my neighbors don’t have any veggie gardens for wind cross-pollination. I am saving the seeds and will sell them by the color next spring. Of course there is no guarantee that each kernel of corn will even produce its particular color because of its unique genetics (just because you have blue eyes doesn’t mean you will produce a child with blue eyes-it depends on your genetics and the one you mated with). I’ll let you know next spring how you can buy some of them.
I’m going to take my favorite colors next year and replant the seeds and label them to see if they grow back out to that color. Great project for a Master Gardener, don’t you think? Of course I’ll have to isolate them or cross-pollination will happen for sure. I might call upon a few of my gardener friends to grow one particular color in their garden with no other corn-growing there to see what happens. This will be an interesting endeavor.
There were 15 different color combinations with some producing very limited colors due to just a few ears having those colors and some have a lot of ears with a particular color combo. Some I won’t even sell because there aren’t a lot of seeds with a particular color. So here are the colors. Check out these beauties!