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Why I Garden #37

Purple Asters - Machaeranthera bigelovii

Folks around Santa Fe call these flowers Purple Aster when they pop up in late summer / early fall. Apparently Aster bigelovii has quite a few pseudonyms including Bigelow's Tansyaster, Sticky Aster and more scientifically Machaeranthera bigelovii or Dieteria bigelovii var. bigelovii. Regardless of what they're called we have a few of these self-seeded native wildflowers growing in one of the beds around our home.

A Riddle Hovering in the Garden

Hyles lineata - White-lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth

Our garden attracts a good variety of insect pollinators, including our honeybees. For the past week we've had a new variety of showy, large moths in the garden. They flit about like hummingbirds and are bold, relatively unbothered by human attention. A quick 'Net search revealed that our garden guests are Hyles lineata, the White-lined Sphinx Hummingbird Moth. Of course, now I need to check the tomatoes for hornworms.

Don't Kill Your TV

Recycle (Don't Kill) Your TV

Recycle it instead. Yes, we FINALLY got rid of the big old CRT TV. We had added a digital converter box and kept on using the old, but functional, tube TV for years. A good friend pushed us into the digital TV era with a hand-me-down, but quite decent LED digital TV (I'm not a luddite, really!). This left us with an electronic white elephant to kill recycle.

Standing on a Carbon Sink

Installing a Douglas Fir plank floor

This might just look like a new wood floor to you, but it's also a carbon sink. In our search to replace our heavily worn carpet and vinyl flooring we looked at many options, finally deciding on locally harvested and milled Douglas Fir. I've always liked the feel and look of tongue & groove wood floors and this was a reasonably priced, local option for us.

A Long Road to Recycling Carpet

Carpet Pad bales

Out with the old, in with the new. We've replaced much of the flooring in our house (more on that here) and removed some very worn carpet. Before ripping out the carpet, carpet pad, cactus-like tack strips and hundreds of staples and nails I looked into recycling the old carpet. It turns out that you can recycle carpet (at least some kinds) but as usual for us, it required an extra effort.

Why I Garden #36

Tomato plants after hail storm

Hail! Ugh.

One week ago a fierce thunderstorm hit our neighborhood and it started with a vicious hailstorm. I was in the middle of a project and could do nothing to save the tender annuals in our garden. While the corn survived, most of the chiles, tomatoes, beans and squash were shredded. Many of the perennials are already looking better, but I still need to decide what plants will be replaced this season.

I'm thrilled to have the precipitation, I just wish it had all come as rain. Ugh.

Old-tech Irrigation with Ollas

Olla factory at Growing Awareness Urban Farm

The Southwest isn't wet in the best of times and during a drought, like Right Now, it is downright parched. How do you keep a garden growing when the rain doesn't fall? We have to irrigate, but how can we irrigate effectively with scarce water? Drip irrigation is one modern answer, but ancient people had a simpler version of the same idea.

Why I Garden #35

Golden Currant, blooming

Once again the natives in our garden shine despite the drought. This Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) has grown steadily, if slowly, in a far corner of the yard. It has bloomed for the first time this spring, bringing an unexpected splash of bright yellow. I wish I could take credit for the flowers, but this perennial has grown and thrived with only infrequent watering. I'm hopeful that there will be a few currants to eat come the fall.

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This is Why Santa Feans Don't Recycle!

Santa Fe Recycling Flowchart

Santa Feans recycle less than 10% of all possible materials that instead go to a landfill. When the national average for recycling is 34% why is the rate in eco-conscious Santa Fe county so low? Because recycling in Santa Fe is a pain in the ass. To illustrate, a friend created this flow chart for visiting relatives to explain what items could be recycled and what couldn't. At first I laughed, because recycling really is this ridiculously complicated in Santa Fe. Then I had a realization.

Why I Garden #34

Asparagus - first harvest

Asparagus ~ Spring on your plate.

This may not be the most impressive harvest to come from our garden, but it is satisfying. Fresh asparagus is a sure sign of Spring and I was very happy to cut even a few spears from our garden. Asparagus plants (Asparagus officinalis) are perennial and take two years to establish before the spears can be harvested. This first harvest was a very long time in coming and even sweeter for the wait. We did "cheat" a bit and added store-bought asparagus to our own to make a more generous serving of roasted asparagus spears.

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