Sustainable SW Blogs

tiny house tour...

The Field Lab - Mon, 2020/07/13 - 11:10am
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Grow Some Grapes!

Home Grown New Mexico - Sun, 2020/07/12 - 12:36pm


Grow Some Grapes!
by Bob Zimmerman

I grew up in Western New York on Lake Erie not too far from the vinyards that grew grapes for Welch’s grape juice, jelly and preserves. Fall meant bushels of concord grapes and the taste of them brings back vivid memories of life there. At each place I’ve lived in since then I have had grapes growing by my house. The first was a large rambling Victorian mansion at a university town in Ohio where we rented the first floor. I cleared out the overgrown back yard to reveal an old grape vine. The “trunk” of the vine was about 4” in diameter and I was told by my landlord that it never bore any grapes. I pruned it back severely and the next year it produced a huge crop of…. yes… Concord grapes!   After that I planted grapes at every house I’ve lived in.

On retirement I moved to Santa Fe and figured that would be the end of my grape growing. Imagine my surprise when I found a large rambling grape vine growing on the coyote fence of the house we just bought. Again, I trimmed it up and sure enough… the next year I picked quarts and quarts of Concord grapes! I had no idea that grapes would grow so well here.

You too can grow grapes. They are very easy to grow and you will be rewarded with wonderful foliage during the summer and fall and delicious fruit as well. You can train them over an arbor to make a cool shady spot to sit under or grow them along fence lines. Deer will like them too, so it’s best to plant them inside your yard if the deer roam about in your area. Other than that, they aren’t bothered by many pests and our dry climate prevents mildew from attacking the leaves and fruits. There are many varieties to choose from but you should do some research to select the ones that you will like and are hardiest in our area. I have seen nurseries here sell California grapes that are not winter hardy for our area, so be careful. There are a number of tried and true varieties such as Himrod ( a green seedless), Concord ( there is a seedless variety that is great), Swenson, and Reliance ( red seedless). They are hybrids of American grape stock developed on the East Coast and have been shown to be good producers of table grapes. Wine grapes are a whole different proposition and probably best left to the professional growers.

You can buy them as potted plants at local nurseries or order them bare root online.

Look for well rooted 2 year old plants, and plant them as you would any other shrub or vine as early in the year as you can. Let them grow naturally the first year, making sure to water them regularly to develp good stem and root growth.

You will need to learn how to prune your grape vines to get the best fruit production. If you don’t prune the vines, the canes will grow everywhere, and the grape clusters will get smaller and smaller over the years until there will hardly be any grapes at all. But all is not lost. A good pruning will bring the vine back into peak production. Grapes will grow on vines that grow out on the previous year’s cane. Pruning is done in late winter. Be sure to do it before the sap starts rising and buds start swelling. A nice sunny February day is just right for this. Cut out any old vines (two years old or more) that you don’t want. Remove most of last years fruiting canes, leaving just the ones you want. This is the point where you can decide how you want your grapes to grow. Cut back canes to 6 – 8 buds. Each bud will grow a cane that will produce grapes for the current year. After a number of years the main trunk will get thicker and stronger. It is a bit confusing at first but don’t let this scare you off. The grapes are very forgiving and you will learn as years go on. You can read about all aspects of selecting and growing grapes, including pruning at this NMSU page:

Within 3 to four years you will have a healthy vine and will be rewarded with the very best grapes for eating fresh, juicing or preserves.

Three year old grape vines on the ramada at the SFEMG Vegetable Demonstration and Teaching Garden at the Fairgrounds. Seedless Blue Concord ( left) and seedless Swenson Red (right)

Immature bunches of Swenson Red grapes on the ramada.

Concord grape vine trained to grow over the gate to my back yard.




Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

What the Bible says about conspiracy theories...

The Field Lab - Sun, 2020/07/12 - 12:11pm
12 Isaiah 8“Do not call conspiracy    everything this people calls a conspiracy;do not fear what they fear,    and do not dread it.13 The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy,    he is the one you are to fear,    he is the one you are to dread.
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Pandemic Saturday

The Field Lab - Sat, 2020/07/11 - 12:47pm
In case you hadn't noticed, things are still getting worse - not better.  Seems the Covid deniers are getting worse as well.  Here is a Facebook quote today from one of the employees of The Little Burro Country Store where masks are still optional in direct contradiction of the state and county mandates..."It is as simple as this: IF YOU ARE THAT F*CKING SCARED STAY HOME. Leave the rest of us the F*ck Alone.  Thank you - K".
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Whitey at TFL...

The Field Lab - Fri, 2020/07/10 - 12:06pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

decided to buy the truck and camper...

The Field Lab - Thu, 2020/07/09 - 2:44pm
Our local tax office finally opened up again so I am heading there tomorrow with the seller to do the title transfer for the Ford F250 I almost passed on.  I chose Liberty Mutual for insurance because of this commercial that ran on a number of my YouTube videos.  Normally I ignore sales pitches, but this one got me.  Not because they are offering anything different from other insurance companies - but because I appreciate the creative way they presented it.

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

watch work...

The Field Lab - Wed, 2020/07/08 - 3:02pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

test result

The Field Lab - Tue, 2020/07/07 - 3:30pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

From Top to Root (and Everything in Between): Eating the Whole Plant

Home Grown New Mexico - Mon, 2020/07/06 - 3:31pm

From Top to Root (and Everything in Between):

Eating the Whole Plant

by Mike McGeary

When I was a child in Portland, Oregon, in the 1950s, my parents decided to grow as much of our food as possible. They bought what had been a dairy farm, which came with fruit trees and berries, and planted all sorts of vegetables, which we ate fresh, cooked, frozen, and canned. But despite this effort to get closer to nature, we still peeled our carrots and potatoes and discarded the turnip and radish tops. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that vegetable peels, skins, stems, and leaves were not only nutritious, but tasty. And there is less food waste.

It’s easy to document the added nutrition. According to the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association, beet greens contain more iron than spinach; are high in vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, and antioxidants; and have more nutritional value than the beet root. The same is true for turnips. One cup of turnip greens provides 115% Daily Value (DV) of Vitamin K, 37% DV of Vitamin C, 35% DV of Vitamin A, 27% DV of folate (Vitamin B9), and more.

Some of you may already cook the tops of root vegetable and eat carrots and potatoes with the skin on. But if not, read on.

To Peel or Not to Peel
Let’s start with the easiest way to add nutritional value, save time, and eliminate waste. You generally don’t have to peel carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, or other root vegetables or tubers even if you mash them. Just scrub them well with a vegetable brush to remove any dirt. You can also eat beets with the skin on, although the skins of large beets that have been in the ground for a long time may be too tough to eat.

Then there’s winter squash. Some winter squashes have skins thin enough to leave on when you cook and eat them. They include delicata, Rred kuri, small dumpling, and even butternut and kabocha when they are still petite.

Stem the Tide of Waste
Many recipes that include greens, such as chard, kale, and collards, direct you to remove the stems and discard them, but you do not need to, particularly if the greens are young and fresh. I generally eat chard and kale stems but find that collard stems are a bit too tough. I cut or strip the chard and kale stems out and either eat them raw or, if they are thick, cut them into 1-inch lengths and cook them with the leafy parts. Deborah Madison, in In My Kitchen, has a recipe for chard stems with lemon, which uses the chard and cilantro stems left over from her recipe for silky braised chard and cilantro.

Great Taste and No Waste!
Herbs like cilantro and parsley are used mainly for their leaves, but if the herbs are fresh and tender, you can chop up their stems with the leaves and add them to your dish. Less work for you, and the stems are as flavorful as the leaves.

When cooking with mushrooms, some people remove and discard the stems, but they can be trimmed and cooked with the caps. The stems can also be saved and added to other vegetable scraps to make stock (we keep all our scraps in a resealable bag in the freezer).

Start at the Top
In addition to the traditional greens, you can also eat the leafy tops of root vegetables, such as carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes. A tip: You will find the freshest tops at a farmers’ market; by the time they get to a supermarket, they are often over the hill or may have been removed. Another tip: Andrea Bemis, of Tumbleweed Farm in Oregon, recommends in her cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt that you separate the tops from the roots when you get home and store them separately or the greens will leach the moisture from the roots and make them go soft too soon.

There are numerous ways to cook the tops of root vegetables. On our farm in Oregon, my mother steamed the beet tops and served them as a side dish with a dash of red wine vinegar on top. Deborah Madison has a recipe for braised turnip greens in The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute (SFFMI) has a recipe for creamed turnips and greens on its website: The tops of the small white Asian turnips sold at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market are especially easy to cook and good to eat.

Radish greens, if they are fresh, are delicious raw in a salad, but some people might not like the fuzzy surface. When you cook them, however, the fuzziness disappears but the peppery taste remains. A recipe for braising radishes with their leaves is on the SFFMI website.

Carrot tops—yes, carrot tops—are also edible. The SFFMI website has a recipe for sautéed carrots served with carrot top pesto. At our house, we like carrot top salsa verde with pickle juice, from Mads Refslund’s cookbook, Scraps, Wilt + Weeds: Turning Waste Food into Plenty. We put it on chicken, pork, fish, and vegetables.

Though not root vegetables, celery and fennel also have several useful parts. Generally, we freeze the celery leaves with other scraps saved for making vegetable stock, but they can also be added to a green salad. The fennel bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant, but the fronds can be chopped and sprinkled on the cooked fennel bulbs or sprinkled on a salad. Scraps, Wilt + Weeds has a recipe for fennel pesto using fennel stalks—the part between the bulb and the fronds.

Additional Reading and Related Topics
For further reading, I would recommend Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy, which includes a section for most vegetables on “Using the Whole Plant.” Mads Refslund’s book, Scraps, Wilt + Weeds: Turning Wasted Food into Plenty focuses on waste prevention—using not only all the edible parts of plants, but also wilted, dried out, and otherwise over-the-hill vegetables and fruits. His recipe for vegetable scrap and peel stock lists additional plant parts that can be used, such as onion peels, cauliflower and cabbage cores, and stems of herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, and thyme. He also has chapters on making the most of meat, seafood, and dairy products.

Finally, as a last resort, you can compost vegetable and fruit scraps that you don’t want to eat or save for stock. Our worm bed produces wonderful compost that we use to help grow the next generation of vegetables in our garden.

And finally, finally, if you enjoy using all parts of your vegetables, you might look into related activities, such as foraging for wild plants, edible flowers (such as nasturtium flowers and chive blossoms), and herb vinegars, which are topics to explore another time.

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

slowing down time...

The Field Lab - Mon, 2020/07/06 - 1:27pm
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Seeking God...

The Field Lab - Sun, 2020/07/05 - 3:37pm
Many never seek God because of misconceptions and ongoing sin that they are slaves to because they selfishly choose to be "of the world" rather than just "in the world". Being tempted isn’t sin—surrendering to it is. Temptation is also an opportunity to do what is right by turning from it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 states, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” This “way of escape” is ultimately what tilts the scale toward seeking God. When we flee temptation, turn from sin, and seek God, the by-product is the gift of The Holy Spirit. The door of temptation swings both ways—you can enter or exit. But once you choose to enter, once inside, you will no longer see the exit sign as clearly.
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Pandemic Saturday

The Field Lab - Sat, 2020/07/04 - 2:03pm
The pandemic is still getting worse in case you have your head up your ass.  Another record setting week of new infections worldwide (and no, the illuminati is not fudging the numbers to gain control over you).  My test last Monday returned a negative result which thankfully means I am not one of the 1,272,461 new cases reported in the past 7 days.  Unfortunately, Terlingua Ranch seems to have a lot of idiotic Covid deniers that believe just about every stupid conspiracy theory out there.  This one seems to be a favorite of the locals - including the manager of The Little Burro Store.  79 101, 90,0,B
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Russian watch for the blind...

The Field Lab - Thu, 2020/07/02 - 5:17pm
Working on one of my Russian mechanical wrist watches.  Got it serviced, cleaned up, and ordered a new crystal - but having a beast of a time regulating it even after demagnetizing the watch and band.  Its running about 4 minutes fast per hour which is unacceptable.  86,99,78, .05",W
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Eight Years Old

The Field Lab - Wed, 2020/07/01 - 4:48pm
Tried 3 times to measure Ben's tip to tip today.  He wasn't interested in cooperating.Will try again tomorrow.88,102,78,0,B

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Sourdough Starter Crackers

Home Grown New Mexico - Wed, 2020/07/01 - 1:18pm


I’ve been making sourdough for over 10 years and I wish I’d had tried these crackers sooner! They are very easy to make and are a veritable umami bomb of flavor. The tangy quality of the lactic acids in the starter produces a tastes reminiscent of Parmesan cheese. This is an excellent use for excess sourdough starter that we are generating during the Covid baking epidemic.

My starter is 25% wholegrain organic rye, 25% organic wholewheat and 50% organic all purpose white flour. It is 100% hydration meaning that it is half flour and half water by weight. It is a thick pancake batter consistency. Any sourdough starter will work and flavors will vary depending on your starter. If your starter is thicker just add water.

The crackers are 100% highly fermented flours which improves digestibility and nutrient availability.

Butter will result in a more tender, flakier texture while olive oil tends to produce a slightly sturdier cracker.

Any type of toppings can be added for flavor and texture. Some favorites are flake salt (black), sesame or caraway seeds, herbs de Provence and edible flower petals which are more decorative than flavorful.

To get started you will need:

¾ C inactive (unfed and straight out of the refrigerator) starter

2 T unsalted butter or olive oil

½ t salt

Flake salt for the top plus any additional toppings



Preheat oven to 325F

Whisk together: starter, oil or melted butter, salt.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat




Spread the batter evenly on the pan. Don’t worry about getting it all the way to the corners. It also does not need to be crazy thin. This amount will mostly fill up a standard household baking sheet. A rubber bowl scraper or an off set spatula works well for spreading the batter.



Bake for 10 minutes and then score with pizza cutter or a knife

Bake another 40-50 minutes until they are golden and firm.

Cool on wire rack and enjoy!



Feel to share your results with us on Instagram by tagging @homegrownnewmexico





Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Enter at your own risk...

The Field Lab - Tue, 2020/06/30 - 1:33pm
Because of the recent spike in Covid-19 infections throughout Texas and the warnings from health officials at all levels, this mandate took effect today in Brewster County.

This was the response from the manager of one of our local stores. (It should be noted that it is a very small store and proper social distancing is nearly impossible inside.)

"The Little Burro Country Store per Judge Canos' order will ask our customers to bring your mask along.  We will not "mandate" our employees to wear a mask due to both physical and mental health issues.  Only if they choose or in the case of an emergency and only for a short period.  If you feel compromised, our help is glad to step back while running your card and you may lay your money on the counter and back away to the 6' distance.  We thank you for your patronage as our intent here at Jackass Flats is to raise the quality of life here in the Big Bend area.  Not to compromise our freedom and basic rights to make choices for our own health and welfare.  My staff are not children, they are adults and can make their own choices within the perimeter of the law and have their own health issues which you know nothing about.  As I stated, I am asking customers to bring their own mask with their own choices.  We still opt to distance for them and have masks available for short term wear if needed."

Guess where in this statement that she totally lost me.  And FYI - this is an emergency and the mandatory mask rule was issued because of emergency conditions.  I am curious - exactly what physical and mental health issues mean they don't have to wear masks?  Are they worse than the increased chance of catching and spreading the virus to the local community?  Are they somehow immune to Covid-19?  I suggest that if your intention is to improve the quality of life here, the store find new employees rather than jeopardize the general public as well as these current employees that have issues with masks.
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Took a test today...

The Field Lab - Mon, 2020/06/29 - 2:48pm

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

beware of falsehoods...

The Field Lab - Sun, 2020/06/28 - 2:15pm
2 Peter 2: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Pandemic Saturday

The Field Lab - Sat, 2020/06/27 - 12:41pm
Meanwhile in Trumpworld

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