Why is it that recycling so often feels like an obligation and not like fun? I've discovered that recycling is a lot more fun when it pays cash. I made a trip to a local scrap metal yard today and exchanged aluminum window trim and a leaky stainless steel tank for cold, hard cash. The line of pickups carrying scrap metal into the yard made it clear that quite a few folks already know about the profitable side of recycling.
Frankly, the garden and I need a rest. I love a full season of planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. And I love the end of that season just as much. We had our first hard freeze several days ago and I'm happy to look out on a mostly dormant garden. I did expand the cold frame and will be planting hardy greens (Arugula, Mustard Greens and Spinach) to go with the Kale and Chard that have survived the freeze without complaint. I still need to mulch a few beds and will be turning the compost one last time this season.
I've finished many efficiency-oriented, DIY projects around our house. Some projects, like insulation, are nearly invisible and some are quite simple, like weather stripping. But few are as subtle, yet a regular part of our daily lives as this one. I've just installed a dual-flush conversion kit into the most frequently used toilet in our home. It's not something we're likely to show off to the neighbors, but it will help reduce our household water use.
Once again this summer I looked into the garden and saw new flowers on plant that hadn't bloomed before. Despite the ongoing drought the Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium) that we planted a few years ago decided to blossom. Scores of small, white, rose-like flowers with yellow centers popped up between the lacy foliage. Here is one more native plant that has thrived in our arid Southwestern climate with little to no attention.
There is something about the Southwestern landscape that inspires people. Whether it's the mountains and deserts, the distant horizon, or the technicolor sunsets I don't know. But, something about this place sparks people's imagination. Case in point - Aldo Leopold. Something happened while Leopold was in Arizona and New Mexico that drove him to write A Sand County Almanac and to think about conservation in a new way.
Adobe bricks are a traditional building material in the Southwest. Made with water, sand, clay and straw, adobe is simple to produce, has good thermal mass and is appropriate for arid climates. Unfortunately, building with adobe is very labor-intensive which has made this dirt-simple material quite expensive to use. Now there is a modern alternative to adobe that retains its earthen qualities at a much lower price - Compressed Earth Block.
The longer I garden the more I appreciate tough plants. Between the hot, dry summers and cold winters finding plants that can flourish in Santa Fe is tough. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is another tough native (across much of the U.S.) perennial that has thrived in our garden. This example has grown slowly but steadily since it was planted a few years ago. I have another seed packet that I'll plant later this fall to provide more orange blooms for color in the garden and food for the pollinators.
It's been a fruitful year! This amazing feat requires some magical combination of weather, timing, pollination, and possibly prayer. I've seen apricots all over town and also pears, apples, plums, and cherries. I'm hoping to gather some apples for sauce soon. The kitchen is in high gear in years like this.
The apricots were a bonanza and their beautiful goldenness showed up in many of our kitchen productions. Here's what I made:
As much as I love the herbs and native flowers in our garden I love the food we grow even more. This season we planted four Shishito Chile Pepper starts from a local nursery and they have been bearing quite well so far. We've harvested a few dozen peppers and have several more dozen peppers almost ready to pick. Shishito peppers are quite mild and with a little pan searing and salt make a great appetizer.