Monday, May 28, 2012

Growing food.

As many people know, life gets in the way. But, Jordan and I have documented our gardening efforts on camera so even though we've neglected to post them, we do have some proof! We moved into a house with several priorities: wooden floors so the dog wouldn't shed into carpet, a large yard for gardening and letting the pooch run, and a decent neighborhood near the CBD of town. Amazingly, we found the perfect location within 24 hours of visiting Albuquerque. No thanks, Craigslist, though, as we used a copy of the Alibi we found at Tractor Brewing Co. our first night here. What follows are the episodes of gardening we've gotten involved in since we moved in.  So, I relieve my monologue to these photographs:
We brought home an SUV-full of composted donkey manure from a rescue out here.

Hauling manure is tiring work!

Greens and Radish bed.

Chinese Mustard Greens and the temporary compost heap.

An overview of the backyard with our nightshades and cucumber beds.

The original garden layout, now modified from seeds acquired.

Tree planting hole with a mound of steer manure for some nutrients.
We planted lentils to fix nitrogen into our cucumber bed. Later, we'd till them in.
The fruit trees are all planted. Santa Rosa plum, Moorpark apricot, and Redhaven peach are varieties sold here that we found could survive the frosts of ABQ.
The indoor seedlings we raised including heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, and toy peppers.
Yucca in bloom.

The front yard bed with rescued herbs and squash/melon mounds.

Our happily thriving flower bed out front. It's a bunch of dollar store flower mixes.

A transplanted Italian Heather.

The cyan Morning Glory stretching out its grasping arm.

Pots left over from the rescued herbs.

Mustard greens emerging.

Succulents we're trying to root.

Our greens bed thriving! Buttercrunch, slow-bolting Spinach and French Dwarf Marigolds galore.

This Salvia gregii was a disgusting motley of dead branches when we moved in. I pruned it and noticed some of the branches were still green inside. We left for a camping trip and came back to see these gorgeous blooms from what was assumed to be a dead plant! Identification took a few weeks of visiting Home Depots.

French Marigolds doing quite well. They repel certain insects from our beets and radishes.

Sweet Peas climbing quite gloriously on an existing chicken wire trellis.

A very satisfied Cherry Bell radish.

Our potato barrel experiment.

Cheap source of cloches.

Compost, from an earlier container (left) to one Jordan built (right).

Simply planting the bottoms of green onion bunches gives you healthy plants later.

Sprouting Tomatillos.

The sole surviving transplant from our starter seedlings. We lost nearly two dozen.

The sole leafing fruit tree we planted. Apricot, I think.

The cucumbers emerging their true leaves.

The peas are yielding!

A transplanted celery bottom.

The celery bottom is doing quite well! Easier than waiting for seeds, certainly.
I wanted to mention that we've done quite a bit of work to make some decent soil over the caliche present out here. Caliche retains salt and makes drainage very difficult. Luckily, we found plenty of opportunity to amend the soil. For one, we threw in shit tons (pardon the pun) of composted manure. We also put down cardboard boxes from when we moved in as a weed barrier and moisture retainer and they've broken down since from regular watering. We found an alley with rotting logs that we threw in for hugelkultur. We also found tons of chipped mulch sitting in an empty lot that we filled the car with, much like the manure; it had glass shards and cigarette butts that we picked out. I'm fine with that as it cost us nothing but time and a bit of gas. Lastly, we picked up ripped bags of various soils from Home Depot for a huge discount. It makes up the majority of our front bed.

Overall, we've spent little on our gardening, and growing from seeds is simply the more economical choice. We plan on letting successful plants go to seed so we can collect and store them. This is yet another reason why buying hybrid seedlings is unsustainable for the gardener. Plenty of decent seed catalogs exist (even eBay is a good choice), just googling some reviews is sufficient. We found that craigslist is a great source for free materials like wood and cinder for edging, manure, and even the occasional chicken wire or bamboo stakes for trellising. Driving through your alleys reveals much more than trash; it gives you an opportunity to make your garden flourish!

Do you have questions, suggestions, whine or wine to offer? We'd love to hear from you!

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