How to tell when to pick apricots off your trees

Bumper crop of apricots this year!

Apricot season is here and even though I didn’t get any on my apricot trees this year, many of my friends have offered me lots of them for which I am grateful. So far I’ve made 16 jars of apricot jam, dried a couple of gallons of them and I plan on making a apricot clafouti and an apricot/berry cobbler.

People ask me when they should pick apricots?

Should they wait till they are completely ripe or pick a little earlier. If you wait till they are completely colored up still on the trees, then you will be competing with the birds for them. Apricots are not like cherries where once you pick them, they stop ripening. The good news is you can pick earlier and most of them will continue to ripen if left out on trays in your kitchen. Then as they turn their beautiful apricot color and give to finger pressure, they are ripe and you can store them in a zip lock baggie in the refrigerator and keep adding more to the bag as the rest ripen. Of course they will only last a few days in the refrigerator but this will give you time to get enough of them and think about what to do with them.

Left-all green, 2nd light green-yellow, 3rd one starting to color, 4th one ripe but still needs a day to give to finger pressure

Above is a photo I took of apricots in various stages. The one on the far left is still ALL green and will NEVER ripen so throw those out or compost them. The 2nd one (from left) has a faint light green-yellow color and it will ripen up completely if left out on a counter. The 3rd one (from left) is definitely ripening and turning more yellow and the 4th one is ripe but still a bit hard so I wait till they give to finger pressure-just a touch of give before I use them in a recipe. Now you don’t have to compete with the birds!

The heat is on

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling the heat lately and try to get out early in the morning and sometimes a little in the evening in the veggie garden if it cools down. So my gardening time is limited to when it is cooler. Of course it’s not as hot as where I grew up in Phoenix, AZ (I escaped)! Above is the forecast thru July 28 for Santa Fe. Looks like it’s going to cool down a little.

With this heat wave it is time to water your garden a little extra. Water your garden either first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening in addition to your normal watering. Today is the last day of temps in the 90s-tomorrow is suppose to be 89-still hot for here and then the temps drop to mid 80s. To see if my plants need extra water, I stick my finger in the soil up to my second digit and if it is dry when I pull it out and the soil doesn’t stick, it’s time to water. If it comes out wet, and the soil sticks to it, it still has good moisture. Also a real sign your plants need water is if they start to wilt. I try not to let them wilt. Plants in pots can dry out very quickly so water them 2x/day when it is hot.

One good thing is the tomatoes are just starting to come on. I now have a bowl of them on the kitchen table. I know they won’t set fruit when temps reach 92 degrees but they will keep producing blossoms and will set fruit once the temps cool down. And once they set some fruit, they don’t mind some heat. Some of my early varieties set their fruit in June. That’s why I try to plant so early-this year June 2nd, to give them a chance to set some fruit before the heat really sets in and they get blossom drop. But of course, that means putting them in wall of waters so they can deal with freezing nights that early in the season, but I don’t mind if I can get some tomatoes a little earlier. After all, it’s been since last November since I’ve had some home grown tomatoes. The wait was worth it!

COVID strikes

I’m not looking for sympathy but in case you were wondering why I haven’t’ posted lately or approve comments, it’s because I had been sick with COVID. It lasted 20 days for me and I was sicker than a dog. I took Paxlovid pills and was starting to feel better when I started to feel bad again. Turns out I had a relapse. Hence the 20 days. I had my vaccinations and one booster and was going to get the second booster the week I got sick. I had escaped it for 2.5 years but went to a party in June and wasn’t as good as I should of been, pulling my mask down and pushing it up frequently. Turned out that 17 out of 30 people got COVID from that party. So be careful folks-wear your masks. I know we all are experiencing burnout but the new variations are extremely contagious and you don’t want to get Omicron, whatever version-it’s no picnic (at least for me).

So now that I’m over it, I’m finally returning to the garden (Yay!) and will post what’s up in the garden in July. I got lots to catch up on! Stay tuned.

Are the monsoons here early?

MONSOONS
Are the monsoons here early? Historically, in my 28 years here in Santa Fe, the monsoons have traditionally started after July 4th weekend thru the second week of July. But last year and this year the weather people are saying it comes in around June 15th. Did things change? If so, I’m a happy camper cause we really need the moisture.

 

ROW COVER ON TOMATO CAGES/LEAFHOPPERS
Plus I can take off the row covers off my tomato cages as the dreaded beet leafhopper should be leaving soon. But I don’t do that with the first rain which we got here yesterday. I wait a few days-like maybe after this weekend if the weather pattern holds up. We got .4″ of rain which is great. 

So if the monsoon pattern doesn’t peter out, and we get a little rain for next week and the monsoon pattern holds, I will be taking the row covers off my tomato plants. I haven’t seen my tomatoes since late May. Row cover is put completely around and over the cages to keep the beet leafhopper from physically getting to the tomato plants and biting the plant-no insecticides work. They transmit a fatal virus-Curly Top Virus (CTV) to tomatoes. One extra step we have to go through to get tomatoes out here in the southwest. The bug either gets suppressed or leaves town when the rains come as it prefers dry, hot windy conditions which we’ve had. Who knows? Maybe they will move to Texas.

 

TOMATO BLOSSOM DROP
Also with the rain, the temperatures should come down and blossom drop will stop too. Tomato blossom drop occurs at 92°F + when it  gets too hot for the plant to set fruit. So if you’ve seen blossoms dropping don’t worry-your tomatoes will continue to make blossoms the whole season. But after it sets fruit, higher temperatures are ok. It’s just during higher heat when they are self-pollinating that they drop their blossoms. They need below 92°F to set the fruit. Another bonus. Ah rain!

 

What’s up in the veggie garden

Yesterday:

Elodie Holmes and I took off all of the wall of waters off 24 tomato plants and put the cages on them and the row cover over them to protect the plants from the beet leafhopper which can transmit Curly Top Virus to the tomato plants and kill them out here in the Southwest. All this in the FRIGGING HORRIBLE WIND. What a challenge! The winds have been horrible all spring-worse than usual and there seems no end in sight. A great big thank you to Elodie to help me on her day off!

Other things I’ve been busy with in the garden this week:

-Planted 7 planted peppers in wall of waters (WOWs). Peppers need protection from the cold nites and the WOWs provide protection. They are a great spring extension but must be taken off when it gets hot, sometime later in June.

-Planted a new dry bean (Sondrio Select-vining type) that Chris Salem gave me to help her grow out. It is hard to find in the US.

-Planted 2 varieties of cowpeas to grow out for William Woys Weaver to help keep his supply of seeds fresh. He is one of the biggest seed savers of rare varieties of seeds in the US. The seeds are Big Red Ripper, a vining variety and Risina del Trasiorfino, a rare bush variety of cowpeas from Italy.

-I built and installed successfully a new drip timer system and it is working well with no leaks. The old drip timer system really needed to be replaced. Plus I finally put on a sediment filter for our hard water out here that will hopefully make all the drip lines last longer (they can get clogged with our hard water). Also put in almost all new drip lines in the garden.

-I’m growing from seed inside the greenhouse all the butternut squash and summer squash seeds as Roly Polys tend to eat the seedlings right when they break ground as they germinate but won’t touch them when they are about 3 inches tall, so this is a way to thwart them.

Today:

-I will direct seed cucumber seeds and will put Sluggo Plus on the ground where the seeds will come up to keep the Roly Polys from eating them. The reason I’m starting the squash seedlings inside the greenhouse and not the cukes is because I have way too many cuke seeds to start. Sluggo Plus (not Sluggo) is great for keeping the Roly Polys away.

-I’m going to direct seed some Royal Corona bean seeds outside AFTER I weed the area I want them in.

 

Black Krim Tomato-an interesting history

Black Krim Tomato_Courtesy of Wiki_By Johnh – https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32303234

One of the best things about growing heirloom tomatoes is sometimes their history. I found the history of some tomatoes is fascinating and when I was at the Farmers Market, I was the first to include the description and history of the tomatoes I sold. People really enjoyed reading about what they were eating and where it was from.

One such tomato is the Black Krim, a favorite for many people. It has a very interesting history as it originated in Ukraine. Black Krim is the Ukrainian word for Crimea. I didn’t know any of this. I knew it was from Russia but not specifically from Ukraine and to be exact, Crimea, which Russia took back in 2014 after invading it before this year’s invasion of Ukraine. I found out this information from Terrior Seeds. To read more on the Black Krim from Terrior Seeds, go here. How relevant to today’s world.

What a surprise! Snow!!

I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I woke up to 4-5 inches of snow. What a relief for the perennial and fruit trees since we haven’t gotten a lot of snow this past winter.

I call this time of year the shoulder season when one day is cold and the next day warm-it’s not quite winter but not quite spring either, hence the name. It seems after today it will warm up a lot outside so it will be a good time to get back in the garden. Snow one day and temps in the 60’s for the next week.

I planted shallot bulbs and peas this past week outside. The shallots were planted in the upstairs garden behind the cold frame and the peas in pots on the deck.

The garlic is coming up nicely from last October but the asparagus hasn’t popped up yet-maybe with this extra moisture I will be seeing asparagus soon. Last year was the first year I got about 12 meals from the asparagus.

Update: Regarding my mouse problem in my cold frame from the previous post

I screwed in the foam window gasket around the lid which was loose as it lost it’s stickiness so the little varmints couldn’t get in thru the cracks and put wire around the corners on the inside in case that was where they were getting in. They didn’t try to eat the foam last year so it seems it’s working.

I put two sacrificial plants in for 3 days to make sure it was mouse proof and it worked. So I went and replanted the rest of the arugula and bok choy back in the cold frame as they did recover inside under lights.

Trouble in the cold frame

I started lettuces from seeds inside under lights with NO heat which I then transplanted in the greenhouse on Feb 3rd. I also planted spinach, arugula and bok choy in the cold frame.

Everything in the greenhouse is doing great. Every nite I flip the winter weight row cover over them to protect them from the freezing nites and flip it off in the day so they get more sunlight. They are all under cages I built to keep mice out-works beautifully.

Unfortunately, in my cold frame, when I uncovered them, I don’t have any cages and mice munched 29 spinach plants (only 1 survived), 8 Bok Choys, and chomped 2 of the Arugula (I guess they didn’t like those much).

I hadn’t gone out in a few days after I planted the spinach/bok choy on Feb 3rd because the days/nites got really cold but that didn’t stop the mice! Only 1 spinach made it-the rest were eaten down to nothing. I still have 8 severely eaten bok choys and all the arugula that I re-dug up and they are back in pony packs inside again under lights to see how many will actually survive. To help with all the shock, I water with seaweed fertilizer and Vit B-1 (for plants). Meanwhile I need to tighten up the lid on the cold frame to hopefully keep them out (this coming week when weather is nicer). I will put out a few sacrificial survivors in about a week to see if the mice still get in and eat them.

Spinach is one of my favorite spring crops but must be eaten before it gets hot or it will bolt. So today I am planting more spinach seeds. Takes about 2 weeks from planting seeds to transplanting the seedlings into pony packs where they grow for another 2 weeks-so 4 weeks from planting seeds to planting outside (with protection). Let’s hope it won’t be a bad year for mice again like two years ago!

Home Grown New Mexico class/events

Some of you may know I’m the chairperson for Home Grown New Mexico, a non-profit organization that is all about becoming more sustainable in our lives. We offer classes and events every year for members and non-members. I want to post this for my gardening friends as they may be interested in these classes. If you are not a member, you may consider joining Home Grown NM as there are significant discounts for the events for members. These are not zoom classes but outdoor classes held around the Santa Fe area. Click on the links below for registering. To find out what else Home Grown NM has been up to, go to their website and scroll around to see what we’ve done in the past. It is a great resource.

2022 CLASS/EVENT SCHEDULE-Below are the classes/events schedule for 2022 with detailed info on each class and REGISTRATION through EVENTBRITE.  SCROLL DOWN FOR LATEST EVENTS!

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MARCH

Tuesday, March 22nd
2 pm to 4 pm
Home Grown New Mexico Seed Exchange-one day only-FREE

WE ARE BACK! This year we have rented the Railyard Conservancy room behind SITE Santa Fe for one day only, across the street from the Farmers Market. It will be inside the room and also outside the room. !0 people at a time will be allowed to enter the room but you can look at the outside tables with seeds also while you wait to get in. The garage doors will be open for air circulation. Masks required. If you are looking for free seeds for your vegetable or flower garden or have seeds to share, start this new gardening season with us at the Santa Fe Seed Exchange. Please bring any seeds you may have to share. It is not necessary but helps keep our seed supply going. Please identify any seeds you are sharing.

Location: Railyard Park classroom 701 Callejon (behind SITE Santa Fe) off Paseo de Peralta • Santa Fe
Fee: FREE for everyone! No sign up-Just show up!

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soil class photo

JUNE

Sunday, June 5th
10 am to 12 pm

Healthy Soils Class

Learn how soil stewardship can increase soil nutrients and increase carbon capture in your backyard-Outside class

Isabelle Jenniches is co-founder of the New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group, a grassroots alliance that formed in 2018 to pass the state’s Healthy Soil Act. The group’s mission is to support land managers in soil health stewardship while creating favorable government policy and raising active awareness in civil society.

In conversation with long-time gardener Alessandra Haines, Isabelle will demonstrate implementation of the 6 soil health principles in the home garden. We will discuss the many benefits of soil health, including increased water infiltration and retention, greater nutrient density of produce, and improved resilience to the effects of climate change and drought. Masks required.

Instructor: Isabelle Jenniches
Location: 52 Mansion (Alessandra & Steve Haine’s house) • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering

REGISTER HERE 

Space is limited to 25 people

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mozzarella

Sunday, June 12th
10 am to 12 pm

Cheesemaking Class-Mozzarella

Learn how to make mozzarella with cow’s milk. Hands-on class.

Mozzarella originally came from southern Italy and was traditionally made from Italian buffalo milk but here in the US we usually use cow’s milk to make mozzarella. Making mozzarella at home seems intimidating, but you won’t believe how easy it is. Once you give it a try, you’ll want to make mozzarella for everything from Caprese salads to pizzas. Come learn how to make mozzarella with Diane! Outside class. Masks required.

Instructor: Diane Pratt
Location: Alessandra and Steve Haines house-52 Mansion Drive • Santa Fe
Fee: $10 for members and $20 non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering

REGISTER HERE
Space is limited to 10 people

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JULY

Sunday, July 31st
10 am-12 pm

PIZZA  in the yard with maestro Michael Warren

Michael will fire up his home built wood burning pizza oven as well as commercial portable propane pizza ovens and discuss the ins and outs of baking a stellar pie.

This will be a hands on experience featuring various dough formulas including heritage grains. Freshly made sauces and toppings will be discussed.  Practice shaping, topping, baking and eating pizza!

Instructor: Michael Warren
Location: 747 Old Las Vegas Hwy
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering

REGISTER HERE
Space is limited to 10 people

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MEDICINAL HERBS

AUGUST

Sunday, August 14th
10 am to 12 pm

Easy to Grow Medicinal Plants for Local Gardens

Join herbalist Dara Saville for this discussion on easily cultivated medicinal plants suited for our climate. We’ll discuss growing conditions, harvesting, and uses for a selection of common healing plants that may already be growing in your garden.

Instructor: Dara Saville (Author of The Ecology of Herbal Medicine)
Location: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5, for members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering

REGISTER HERE

Space is limited to 20 people

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geodome7-1

Sunday, August 28th

First tour 10 am to 11 am-10 people only
Second tour 11 am to 12 pm-10 people only

Luz do Sol Aquaponic Greenhouse Geodome Tour

“Luz do Sol” is a 42-foot geodesic dome in which an Agua Fria neighborhood community is experimenting with growing its own food in a closed-loop aquaponic system.

The dome encloses a 4,000-gallon fish tank and reservoirs for growing plants. The only input is fish food. The water is continuously recycled. The water, enriched with fish waste, is used to feed the plants hydroponically. Up to 18 member households receive weekly harvests of vegetables year-round. Luz do Sol is an experiment in water conservation and self-sufficiency that is fascinating to see.

Tour: Due to COVID, there will be 2 tours in the geodome- one starts at 10 am/second tour starts 11 am with 10 people for each tour. Sign up for only one tour.
Location: 5005 Aqua Fria Park Rd • Santa Fe
Fee: $5, for members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering

REGISTER HERE

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SEPTEMBER

Sunday, September 11th
10 am to 12 pm

Heritage Grain Flour Tortillas

Gather up with the Rio Grande Grain team to explore heritage and ancient wholegrain flour tortillas.

We will work with several varieties of heritage and ancient grains including locally grown Sonoran White Wheat, Khorasan (Kamut) and Einkorn. We will also look at various shortening options ranging from olive oil to high quality animal fats. This class will be hands on and everyone will have the opportunity to make and cook tortillas.

Instructors: Rio Grande Grain team
Location: Alessandra and Steve Haines house-52 Mansion Drive • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering

REGISTER HERE

Space is limited to 15 people

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SEED SAVING 2

Sunday, September 25th
12 noon to 2 pm

How to Save Your Seeds

Join Master Gardener & Certified Seed School Teacher Diane Pratt in learning about seed saving.

In this workshop, you’ll learn the advantages of locally adapted seeds and how they offer resilience to climate change, how to get started saving seeds, which vegetable seeds are easiest to save, how to know when seeds are ready to collect, and how to store them. Plus, techniques for determining the viability of seeds & why we can’t save seeds from hybrid varieties.

Instructor: Diane Pratt
Location: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 to members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering

REGISTER HERE

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OCTOBER

Sunday, Oct 2nd
10am to 12 pm

Edible Plant Walking Tour Showing Permaculture Methods

Join Reese Baker on an edible plant walking tour at his property

Come see what is new on Reese’s property! The Bakers live on a small residential lot in central Santa Fe, and every square inch of which is packed to its potential, producing an abundance of fresh fruit, flowers, veggies, berries, and nuts incorporating many Permaculture designs. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Reese owns and manages The Rain Catcher Inc, a full service design/build landscaping company.

Rainwater is collected in above and below ground storage tanks and used for irrigation. Gray water from the house is channeled through Zuni bowls to fruit trees and a constructed wetland that filters the water from their washing machine filling a small pond where beautiful fish swim among vigorous water plants.

They have developed a ‘food forest’ landscape where most of their annual vegetable garden is intermixed with perennials-many of which are native to Northern New Mexico.  All this, plus five happy hens in a homemade coop of recycled materials. A great example of what one can accomplish in a small, city lot!  You will be inspired.

Tour: Reese Baker
Location: 2053 Cam Lado • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 to members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering

REGISTER HERE

Starting lettuce seedlings

9 lettuce after 4 weeks

Lettuce ready for planting outside after 4 weeks.

I started greens like lettuce, arugula, bok choy and spinach seeds on Jan 18, 2022. That is really early but I want to get them in the greenhouse and cold frame early. These steps would be the same for doing many other crops like chard, cabbage, kale, tomatoes only the seed starting dates will change . Many smaller seeds can be started this way.

seed germination tray

To start seeds I use a germination tray called a ‘20 row seed tray’ (google it to see where you can purchase these online). I use this style of germination trays for smaller seeds that I want to start inside and under lights for a head start in my garden. I cut the trays up into smaller sections but it’s not necessary. Seeds will germinate much faster in these germination trays. If you germinate seeds directly into a bigger pot or a pony pack, it will take much longer. If you want to read about how I plant the seeds in these germination trays go here.

This post is about the steps I do after I’ve germinated the seeds and how I transplant seedlings into pony packs.

2 wash pots

Wash your pony packs (4 pack or 6 pack) if you are reusing them in bleach and water (I don’t measure just a short pour in a sink full of water to disinfect them. I don’t scrub them-just dunk them in the bleach water and then rinse them in clean water (like bartenders) and let them dry. If they are new pots, you can skip this step.

1 dampen seed soil mix

1a Batch 64-Moonshine

Dampen the seed starting mix. If you don’t, the soil will not be damp enough and the seedling could die if it drys out. You want your soil damp but not dripping. I like “Moonshine” soil mix which has many organic nutrients and mycorrhizal in it which gets the seedlings off to a good start. You can buy it at Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe or on Amazon. I use Moonshine for both starting seeds and when transplanting up to bigger pots.

3 clean pots and seedlings

Here the cleaned pots are next to the germination tray ready to transplant. I always keep my packs from previous flower packs until they fall apart. Put seed soil mix in the pony pots. Don’t forget to put some tape on the pony packs to write down which crops are in each pot. It’s also good to keep a written record as well.

5 holes is soil

Put holes in pony packs. I used a pen to make holes. I will put one seedling in each hole.

5 widen holes for bigger roots

Use your finger to widen hole if roots need more room-do not force them in a hole instead make the hole bigger.

handle seedlings by top not the stem

Handling seedling gently by the top leaves not the stem which could get damaged if you squeeze too hard. Put the seedling deep in the hole.The stem should be buried and only the leaves are just above the soil. Tamp down the soil and add a little more soil if needed but do not cover the leaves where new leaves emerge, only the stem. Water them with seaweed and SuperThrive or Vitamin B-12 (for plants not humans)

7 handle seedlings by top not the stem

These seedlings were transplanted 2 weeks later on Feb 3, 2022. One seedling plant per pot section. Don’t over crowd. If you grow this way, you will get bigger plants because they don’t have to compete with other baby plants which are many times really crowded in the packs and root bound. Grow cool hardy greens.

9 lettuce after 4 weeks

Above are the seedlings on Feb 17th. They are ready to plant in the greenhouse and cold frame. It’s still a little too cold at nite (low 20’s) so I will wait a couple of days till the night temperatures are in the high 20’s degrees or higher before planting. I’m a bit of a gambler when trying to plant early as a severe cold night can kill them even in an unheated green house like I have. But I’ve done this before this early and cold-hardy greens can usually tolerate cold temperatures with some help. My goal is to get lettuce big enough to eat by mid-March instead of just starting them. But you can wait till March to start them as well but you want to harvest them before it get hot and they bolt (form seed heads) and get bitter. Most people wait too late to plant while I tend to plant really early which may or may not survive depending on how cold it gets.

Since I am sneaking them so early, they will definitely need winter weight row cover over them every night even in the green house or cold frame. In fact to start, I may put 2 winter weight row covers on them at night. Do not use a bed sheet-it doesn’t offer any protection while row cover will offer 6-8 degrees protection. One winter weight row cover (.90+) will protect down to 24°F and if you see it will be colder, go ahead and throw another row cover on them.  Flip the cover(s) off in the day time and flip back on the plants at night.  As it get warmer above 24°F at night you won’t need 2 row covers. The whole process from planting seeds to transplanting takes about 4 weeks using this method and supplies. Then they grow another 4 weeks in the greenhouse and cold frame and I will start to harvest them. I should start picking lettuce in about another month or sooner. Woo! Hoo!

I also have a video here recording ALL the steps of transplanting.  I made a few mistakes in the video. I said I was planting bok choy but actually I was planting arugula. The seeds were planted Jan 18 and they were transplanted on Feb 2 out of the germination trays into the pony packs in this video. This was my first indoor video which was harder to film than outdoors but you will see the actual steps in progress.

Fall veggie garden tour-2021-Nice to see it when it was in it’s prime!

2021 was a year of abundance in the garden as we had much needed rain from monsoons and almost everything thrived. Here is the fall garden tour that I filmed in September 2021. I held off posting this till now as I like to revisit the garden to remind me of what the garden looked like in it’s glory. Now in January the garden is dead, dead, dead so it’s nice to see it when it was thriving. Something to dream about again!

TIME TO REFLECT-Pro & Cons of new varieties tried last year

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Entrance into the garden last summer

Winter is the time to reflect on what worked and didn’t work from last year’s veggie garden and what we might do differently. I always walk around at the end of the season in the fall and write notes on my phone about each variety and then transfer them to my computer to help my pea brain (which seems to be shrinking) remember things for the next season. By writing notes I can refer back the following year. I use to keep notes in a little notebook but now do it electronically (I’ve made it to the 21st century!) Either way works-the point is to observe and write down what happened. My notes are specific for this past season and my garden, not necessarily true for all seasons or gardens.

HERE ARE THE PRO AND CON OF NEW VARIETIES I tried!

CONS-Let’s start here. Why not? That way we can end this post on a good note.

Cape Gooseberries-I seem to be a sucker for anything that has the name ‘berry’ in it although it is not related to berries but rather it is in the tomatillo family but supposedly sweet. What a waste of time and water for me this past season. I had high hopes for them but they were a dud. Won’t grow them again.

Potatoes-Yukon Jack variety-harvested mostly teeny weenie spuds-the size of my thumbnail! Next year, I’ll buy farmers market varieties and not grow any potatoes.

Watermelon-Anguria variety- sweet but only got two from two plants. Now I’ve grown watermelon before and did better but not this year. Not worth the water.

7082 cucumber-Not terribly productive-won’t grow again.

TOMATOES-Quite a few tomatoes did marvelously but a few were duds and these were all the new duds for me last season. I will review all the tomatoes in another post but read on for the duds (at least for me):

Giant Green-Didn’t matter when I harvested them but they were always mushy although sweet. Also not many. Won’t grow again.

Lilian’s Yellow-they were nice-all two of them. With the cost of water, I need more than two per season.

Blush Plum-not great taste. Just ok and I need superior taste to grow in my garden. There are several Blush tomato varieties but this one is called Blush Plum from Restoration Seeds. I’ll pass next season.

Honking Black Cherry-Nothing honking about it. Just normal size Black Cherry and not as productive as the original variety. No go.

PROS-I actually had a great season last year but you might now get it from my notes above. So let me praise the NEW winners from last season.

VEGGIES

Purple Kohlrabi-what a great vegetable! Besides being tasty it is very beautiful and looks like a space ship-way cool. I used it in a vegetable gratin and it was very tasty. My friend Lava told me they were good and she was right. I will grow more next year.

Cauliflower-Never grew this before and what a nice surprise! Both Cheddar (orange) and white varieties were very productive, no bugs and because I had two different varieties, I had two different harvest times which meant I didn’t get all of them at one time-a bonus! The cheddar ripens sooner. I never looked at the seed packets to see harvest times till later. Nice surprise. Will grow again.

Salmonberry-Only in its second season, I thought I lost it over last winter but it came back. Hopefully it will survive again this coming season and produce berries!

Badger Flame Beet-What a great beet! A definite winner– orangish outside and yellow inside-Almost too beautiful to eat. It has great flavor. Will plant again!

Espelette pepper-Super prolific! A med size thin wall red pepper with medium heat first followed by a touch of sweetness. I once got a jar of Espelette powder (from France) and it was not nearly as hot so I suppose it depends on the growing season. I grew it to make powder. A definite keeper but have enough powder for an army.

Habanada pepper-A small sweet orange pepper like the Habanero but with NO heat. Two plants gave me more than I needed. Will grow again.

Petite Marseilles-A small sweet yellow thin walled pepper that I grew in a pot that did not produce a lot but might be worth a retry this year.

TOMATOES-I grew 27 plants last year of which many are repeats so these are the only new varieties that were outstanding

Ruthje cherry tomato-hails from Germany and my friend Lava told me about how good they were and she is right! I will DEFINITELY GROW these again. They were a super sweet cherry tomato that is as sweet as Sungold. Not many tomatoes can say that.

Black Sea Man tomato-Wonderful black tomato-full of favor with earthy overtones. Reminds me of Black Krim, only way more productive. A winner!

NEITHER GOOD OR BAD

HONEYBERRIES-Ok, I always want to grow blueberries but they need acidic soil which we do not have here in the southwest. Our soil is very alkaline. So I read that honeyberries (which look like a elongated blueberry and taste similar), don’t need acidic soil and can handle the cold winters. So I got two PLANTS and they were not happy. Didn’t die but didn’t do well either so the verdict is out on them. Hopefully they will survive our winter and do well next season. The verdict is out on these but I hope they will make a comeback!

Ahh! What a nice day to be in the garden!

summer storm over gaaren

summer storm over the garden

Glory bee!  (yes they were out too). I’ve been waiting for a nice warm day to get back out in the veggie garden without the cold or the wind (ugh). Today was a nice, no, make it a great day in the garden-nice and warm and not even a breeze. So I spent 3 hours gathering all the tomato stems that I had hurriedly pulled out really last late fall when a worker was a no show and I decided to do it alone because if I don’t show up it’s my own dam fault. I pulled them so they wouldn’t freeze solid in winter (very hard to dig thru frozen ground). Up till now I just left them in the paths with the full intention of cleaning everything up before the new season is here. Still have more to do but it felt so good being outside. Today was a bonus day!

And tomorrow is suppose to be another great day (until about 4 pm) when the winds return. So get out there early!

Planting garlic in fall

garlic drying

It’s not too late to plant garlic bulbs but better get them in soon. I usually plant my garlic towards the end of Oct but this year I got them in last weekend (Nov 7).  I get my garlic from Filaree Garlic online but they don’t have much of a selection left now but there are other garlic sites that still have garlic or you may find some locally at the nurseries or at the farmers market. The main thing you need to do is get the bulbs in before the ground freezes hard here in Santa Fe which is usually in early December.  If you plant in the fall, the bulbs will be bigger when you harvest next summer rather than if you wait till next spring to plant but you can plant either way.

garlic_planting

Ready to plant garlic

The last two years I have been disappointed with my garlic harvest. I know they say to rotate the beds each year. I haven’t done that, using the same bed but don’t feel the problem lies with the soil. Having said that, I refreshed the soil this year with about 2 inches of homemade compost and 1 inch of mushroom compost and I did loosen the soil and lightly turn the whole bed.

azomite and kelp meal for garlic

azomite and kelp meal in mixed in bucket for garlic

Trying to find out what else I could do, I read online to put 1 tablespoon of bone meal, and 1-2 tablespoons of an equal mix of azomite and kelp meal in each hole about 3 inches deep mixing all three ingredients up in the hole before adding the garlic cloves pointy side up. I’ve never added anything but compost before so hope this helps get bigger bulbs.

garlic just picked

Garlic was too wet when picked in June-soil and skins should be dryer

But I really feel my problem was watering too much especially later in their season which, if you planted in the fall, harvest would be sometime in late June next year. I have the garlic bed on the same drip system as some other plants that get daily watering and definitely over watered them-many started to rot or separate when harvesting. But I did get some garlic. What I want is nice dry garlic during harvest time. So I will turn off the drip system (it already is off for winter) and will hand water them 1x/month through winter and  continue hand watering next spring, cutting off the water about 2 weeks before harvest. Hopefully all this will make a beautiful big harvest next year. Gardeners are generally optimistic and I try to learn from my mistakes. Garlic is usually a very easy crop to grow and doesn’t attract bugs or 4-legged varmints.

This year I’m growing Russian Red and Purple Glazer–both are hardneck garlic which do well in our colder winter climate. I didn’t really choose them but it’s what Filaree had left so, advice to myself next year is to order my garlic earlier then in October. I’ll order next year in early September to try other varieties. I usually like to put both hardneck (more flavorful) and softneck (longer shelf life) varieties. Hardneck is good for colder climate and softneck in warmer climate but both do well here.

Lookee what I found!

cottonwood tree-SJR

Went on our last flyfishing trip of the year to Colorado and New Mexico last week after our freeze here in Santa Fe that killed off the veggie garden the week before. I brought the last few tomatoes (all cherry tomatoes) on the trip and was lamenting that I would get no more home grown tomatoes until next season as I don’t eat store bought tomatoes.

In a bowl I cut them in half, added avocado and chunky feta cheese and drizzled a little olive oil over them. OMG! these tomatoes were so good and I was sorry to see them go. I really enjoyed every last bite! I wasn’t ready for the tomato season to be done as I won’t get any till next July or August.

last tomatoes Oct 25When I got home, I went back out to the now dead garden and found more tomatoes that had escaped the freeze that were deep inside the plants and I guess the foliage saved them! I will have more tomatoes even into November. So now as they say, I’m a happy camper!

On the flyfishing trip the colors of the cottonwood trees up at the San Juan River below Navajo Dam, New Mexico were spectacular! Went up there at the peak of the fall color. The colors were unbelievable and I want to share them with you all.