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Community Homesteading: Grow, Raise, Make & Preserve
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Winter/Early Spring Sowing 101

Tue, 2021/02/23 - 10:09am

Winter/Early Spring Sowing 101
By Lynne Roberts

An Important message about SEEDS: BUY THEM SOON!!  Last year, 2020, there was a major shortage of seeds across the country and in all the seed markets around the world…None of the Santa Fe garden centers nor plant stores nor the big box stores had any seeds left after the first cycle of early seed buyers…(Many of us who save seeds may have had some seeds for our own gardens and for sharing with friends and neighbors…). And the reason for that major seed shortage: NOT ENOUGH WORKERS TO SOW, HARVEST, PACKAGE, and SHIP those seeds from the farmers and the major seed producing companies, and NO WORKERS to PROCESS ORDERS to stores, in addition to a difficult Covid-19 growing season 2020.  SO, BUY YOUR SEEDS SOON, and locally if possible!!

So don’t despair-those of you who don’t have a greenhouse or cold frames in which to start your COOL SEASON CROP seeds in your garden!  Seeds like lettuce, spinach, Asian greens, cabbage, arugula, and many other cool season crops can be started outside with protection. It is totally possible to start your seeds outdoors, in the freezing cold, with a well-known method of seed germination, requiring just two things:  mini GREENHOUSES (made from recycled plastic/transparent milk-water-juice gallon jugs or large plastic soda or water bottles) and TIME with Olde Mother Nature. It is both easy and economical to start your own garden seeds in your own greenhouses, in your yard.

My source is Kevin Lee Jacobs, at his website, “A Garden for the House.com,” who credits TRUDI DAVIDOFF with inventing, in 1999, this outdoor method of seed germination, in even the coldest of temperatures, starting in December, January, or even on February 14, on St Valentines Day and even later. You can google Ms. Davidoff, and see that she still has a foundation for teaching this easy method to students of all ages, around the world…

In 2007, when I first moved to Eldorado—land of gophers, rodents, “mouses,” impossible alkaline soil, and strong Mistral-like winds—I was NOT a happy gardener!!!!!

And then, I read Trudi’s and Kevin’s method for germinating seeds outside in the cold, using recycled mini plastic greenhouses! Ms. Davidoff urges everyone to use whatever free container that they can recycle, including plastic deli, fruit and veggie containers from the supermarket, aluminum foil circular and square containers from the Chinese restaurants and fast food restaurants, etc… Look around and see how much of this free, easy to recycle “stuff” is available to use as planters before it finally goes into the recycle pile at the transfer station.

So, we all know how seed starting indoors –without lights, with very limited space inside your bedroom, in your dining room or living room on wooden tables that will get water damaged from leaking plant pots, with not enough sunny window ledges nor enough Sun coming in anywhere inside your house or apartment –ENDS!!— IN DESPAIR, with irate and annoyed spouses, partners, roommates, and spindly starts, subjected to the dry air loving creatures (spider mites, scale, bugs, things) and mold and mildew or half dead plants…! (YES! YOU! In your HOME!!)

GARDENERS, let’s start out right and be successful!
Instead of leaving that 1/4” of milk, juice, or water in the bottom of the plastic gallon jug and putting it back in your fridge, hoping that someone else living in the house or a passing friend will empty it, rinse it, and take it out to your recycle bin (YES! YOU!), take that same FREE AVAILABLE container or milk/juice/water jug and empty its contents, fill it with some water, and rinse out the water (over your potting soil is good)

1) DISCARD the bottle top/cap of your jug. Take a medium drill bit and your drill (or heat a Phillips screw driver over your gas burner flame), and make enough holes for ventilation in the bottom of the jug (perhaps 10-15 holes) for appropriate drainage and ventilation, about 3-5 holes on each side, and 5-10 holes on the top of your transparent plastic container for ventilation…as your greenhouse will be watered with rain, snow, and sleet…

2) Just below the handle of your jug CUT around the middle of the jug, using an exacto knife, or a VERY sharp knife, or scissors cut about an inch be (add extra duct tape on hinge for support), the handle remains on the jug itself.

3) Add a good quality sterile seed starting or potting soil mix ( DO NOT USE SOIL FROM YOUR GARDEN) and fill the bottom part of your jug with about 2″-3″ of this good potting soil…Soak well, allow to drain thoroughly at the sink or over your pail of seed starting mix or good potting soil.  Add perlite to loosen the soil if your soil is slow draining.

4) Sow your seeds on the surface of the soil.  If your seeds are very small, there is no need for additional soil to cover… Leave them on the surface of your potting soil.  Larger seeds require only 1/8″ planting depth.

5) Labeling and taping-Use a permanent marker to indicate on the jug itself the following information: name of seed, quantity sown, date sown, days to maturity, height, possible planting location in your garden, and any other important info…Then, close the container’s hinged cover, secure it into place with 2-3 pieces of DUCT tape (it’s not necessary that the two halves fit tight; you will be able to open your jug greenhouse to check the water inside–rain, snow, sleet have been watering your greenhouse, supplemented by any additional water that you may need to add–to monitor the progress of your seedlings, and to check ventilation as the greenhouse will heat up and on sunny days become very humid…That is why NO cover or cap is needed on your greenhouse, as the vented top will permit excess heat and humidity to escape!)

6) Move your planted greenhouse jugs outside soon after planting them!  (YES,IN THE FREEZING COLD AND SNOW!!) . I place all the jugs in a shallow plastic box or on a tray with an edge or lip, and place that tray/box containing all the greenhouses (6-8) on a wire mesh patio table or in a large plastic recycle container away from the wind, on the south side of my house or in a very protected area…

When your seedlings are ready to be transplanted in your garden, you can take great pleasure in knowing that you have an easy and economical way to sow more seeds for your garden…And you sowed, nurtured, transplanted, and grew your plants all by yourself!!!  BRAVO, FEARLESS GARDENER!!

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs


Wed, 2021/02/17 - 2:48pm

Below are the classes/events schedule for 2021 with detailed info on each class and REGISTRATION through EVENTBRITE. You can also find this schedule on the top menu on this website in CLASSES/EVENTS. All events will be outside. We will see how many people we can have by June when the first class starts. If we can have more then ten people, then we will have whatever the NM Health allows. If only ten people will be allowed, then first come first served and we may have to bump people to whatever the state allows so sign up early!

You can print off an abridged version (to put on your refrigerator!) here:




Saturdays and Sundays

STARTS: March 6 thru April 25, 2021
10 am—5 pm

Mini-Seed Shelters

Due to CV-19 we are offering two Mini-Seed Shelters this year. If you are looking for free seeds for your vegetable or flower garden, come to one of these the Mini-Seed Shelters. Please bring any seeds you may have to share. It is not necessary but helps keep our seed supply going.

Two Locations:
The Seed Shelter: 1539 Burro Lane • Santa Fe
Railyard Park Seed Shelter: 701 Callejon (behind SITE Santa Fe outside Railyard park classroom) • Santa Fe
Fee: FREE for everyone!



Sunday, June 6, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm

Veggie Gardening In Our Santa Fe Area

Jannine Cabossel, The Tomato Lady, will show you in her garden, how to be a successful vegetable gardener. Come learn how to garden in our harsh environment. Give yourself the ability to grow great vegetables with these gardening tips!

Instructor: Jannine Cabossel/The Tomato Lady
Location: Jannine’s mini-farm • 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members



Sunday, June 20, 2021
11 noon to 2 pm

Grain Trials Field Day

Tour the 5th season of the Rio Grande Grain trials at La Villita Farms (formerly Mergirl Gardens). This fall we planted one acre of a variety of ancient & heritage wheat, barley and spelt in an effort to discover which varieties do well here in New Mexico and to increase local seed stock. Regenerative agriculture concepts and our experiences with growing small plots of grain will be discussed. There is plenty of space to spread out and you are welcome to bring a picnic lunch. Please bring your own water!

Location: La Villita, NM (directions will be given on paypal)
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members




Sunday, July 18, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm

Hypertufa Planter Workshop & Demo

Get ready for planting with these easy to make and durable plant pots that will look great in your garden and last for years. These rock-like pots are wonderful for displaying rock-garden plants. They look like stone, but weigh less and can take whatever shape you want.

Instructor: Bob Zimmerman and Chris Salem
Location: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members



AUGUST Sunday, August 1, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm Leaf & Hive Brew Tour & Demo/Jun & Kombucha Making

Leaf & Hive Brew is now offering its unique Honey Brew probiotic alchoholic beverages to Santa Fe. Unlike regular kombucha, Andrew and Fred Lucas ferment their Jun beverages from green tea and/or oolong, with honey and flavors such as ginger, hibiscus, and botanicals. The result is like a delicious sparkling mead! This is a rare opportunity to learn about this ancient brew and tour the facility. Afterward, we’ll participate in a tasting of what they have on hand in their taproom. Come thirsty!

Tour guide: Leaf and Hive
Location: 1208 Mercantile Rd. • Santa Fe
Fee: $10, for members/$20 for non-members



Sunday, August 15, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm

Dehydrating the Harvest

Have you thought about getting a food dehydrator to preserve seasonal produce? Do you already have a dehydrator and want to learn more ways to use your dehydrator than just drying apples? In this class, Bob will demonstrate how to preserve all kinds of food, complete with recipes and tips for getting the most out of your dehydrator. Here are just some of the unique and tasty treats that we will explore-fruit chips, beef,& turkey jerky, Parmesan, tomato & zucchini chips, sun-dried tomato crackers and fruit rollups.

Instructor: Bob Zimmerman and Mike McGeary
Location: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members



Sunday, August 29, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm

Getting Seedy: Why & 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




Saturday, Sept 11, 2021
12 noon to 2 pm

Reunity Resources Farm Tour

Visit Santa Fe’s community farm practicing organic and regenerative agriculture. Reunity Resources is working with closed loop nutrient systems using food waste from local businesses to create a variety of compost and mulch products using Aerated Static Piles and vermicomposting (worms).

The compost operation has diverted over 5 million pounds of food waste from the landfill and sequestered much of that car- bon in the soil increasing fertility and water absorption. The results are evident in the amazing variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers produced on the farm. The farm is commit- ted to serving the community through education and outreach and donates much of the produce to local hunger projects. The farm stand will be open as well.

Location: 1829 San Ysidro Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members



Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sun, 2021/02/14 - 7:42pm

Credit: 1909 Valentine’s card by Chordboard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Valentine’s Day!
by Lynne Roberts

Happy Valentine’s Day to all you lovers of people, pets, plants, pizza, and world peace!!

Ever wonder about the origins of Valentine’s Day, once you’ve had a chance to buy your beloveds, friends, family and work mates those beautiful bouquets of flowers, pots of plants, plant and gardening books, and one single perfect flower bud??

Well, me neither, but in the interest of knowledge for you dear readers, I looked up the real history of Saint Valentine, and the origin of the celebration…

The “origin” stories are all shrouded in mystery.  There were three different Christian saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all martyred by the Emperor Claudius… Thanks to the actions of a prisoner named “Valentine,” possibly a Roman soldier, who sent a “love” letter to a young girl who he was in love with (possibly the daughter of his jailer), we now have the custom of sending love letters to those whom we love…Valentine signed his love note “From your Valentine,” and a great tradition was born…

By the Middle Ages, St Valentine had become the most popular saint in both France and England.

St Valentine’s feast was placed in the middle of February, in order to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of LUPERCALIA, a fun fertility festival dedicated to Fannus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus…

During the Middle Ages, people believed that February 14 was the beginning of the mating season for birds, and thus, Valentine’s Day became a day for romance—for everyone!

Geoffrey Chaucer, renowned English poet (Canterbury Tales), recorded St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his poem “Parliament of Foules:”(1375)

“…when every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”

Written valentine cards and greetings appeared after 1400, the first written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, after his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.

Cupid, chubby little naked cherub, shooting arrows of love at unsuspecting lovers, first appeared in the Hellenistic period.  By mid-18th century, English and French friends and lovers, all exchanged small tokens of affection or handwritten notes to each other, and by 1900, with improvements in printing and technology, printed cards replaced written letters.

America began exchanging handmade valentines in the early 1700’s.

In the 1840’s, the American, Esther Howland, began selling the first mass-produced valentines in the United States. She is known as the “Mother of the Valentine;” she used real lace, ribbons, and pictures to create her valentines.

So, all you amorous souls, send your friends, sweeties, spouses your own special valentine greetings: cards, plants, flowers, gardening supplies, today and throughout this week.

Source: (A&E Television networks, published, 12/22/2009)

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Mini-Seed Shelters

Thu, 2021/02/11 - 2:29pm

Starting in March—Due to CV-19, Home Grown NM is offering two Mini-Seed Shelters this year. If you are looking for free seeds for your vegetable or flower garden, come to one of these the Mini-Seed Shelters in lieu of our annual Seed Exchange. Please bring any seeds you may have to share. It is not necessary but helps keep our seed supply going.

MARCH-APRIL March 6th thru April-25th–WEEKENDS ONLY   Time: 10 am—5 pm

Mini-Seed Shelters (as supplies last)

Two Locations:
The Seed Shelter • 1539 Burro Lane • Santa Fe (access off Quail View Lane)

Railyard Park Seed Shelter: 701 Callejon (behind SITE Santa Fe outside Railyard park classroom) • Santa Fe
Fee: FREE for everyone!


Also the Seed Library is responding to pandemic-related library closures by again locating “Mini Seed Libraries” at 9 locations throughout the county starting in March and continuing through May or as long as seed supplies last.

March 6–May 31 WEEKENDS ONLY, 10 am–5 pm (as supplies last)

2021 Mini-Seed Library locations:

Main Library—145 Washington Avenue • Santa Fe (Located under the portal)

LaFarge Library—1730 Llano Street • Santa Fe (Located under the portal)

Southside Public Library—6599 Jaguar Drive • Santa Fe
(Located under the portal)

Reunity Resources Farm—1829 San Ysidro Crossing • Santa Fe
(Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 to noon.
Call to confirm (505)-490-1047)

Santa Fe County Fairgrounds—3229 Rodeo Road • Santa Fe
(Located outside the white gate)

La Tienda at Eldorado—7 Caliente Road • Santa Fe (Monday-Saturday 10-5)

Galisteo, NM—Galisteo Park—The park is adjacent to church at the junction of NM Routes 41 and 42.

Pojoaque,NM—Pojoaque Valley Irrigation District Office, 9 Cities of Gold Road, Pojoaque.

EdgewoodEdgewood Senior Center, 114 Quail Tr., Edgewood, NM,
(at Community Garden inside hoop house)



Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs

Culinary Herbs in the New Mexican Garden

Sun, 2021/01/31 - 9:30am

Culinary Herbs in the New Mexican Garden
by guest writer, Deborah Madison

One of the rewards of life itself is tending a small garden plot of herbs.  I think of herbs as adjectives for they modify what you put them with. And I also think of them as the lively boarder collies of the plant world, the nippy little buggers that can transform your basic vegetables into wonders.  A carrot changes depending on whether you’ve paired it with earthy thyme, clean bracing parsley, lively lovage, early sage or mint, aromatic basils, or a lemony herb, like lemon verbena.  Mix dill, parsley, basil and cilantro together and you have a pretty striking super-herb that’s both familiar and exotic.

Many herbs are perennials, like lovage, thyme, sage, rosemary and sorrel, which is very convenient because once you’ve got them going they come back each year.  Some that are perennials in warmer places are treated like  annuals here. Marjoram in one such herb that I’m thinking of.  Many herbs tolerate poor soil and even abuse and neglect.

Annuals are generally pretty easy to grow. You can buy starts or you can also grow them from seed.  Anise, cumin, and caraway —all from the cupboard—do well enough here. Regardless, compare fresh with what you get in the supermarket, which are those nasty little plastic packages which hold a few herbs and costs at least $3.  If the herb is sorrel, there are, at most, a worthless 8 leaves, and they are often spoiled since they give off a great deal of moisture which causes them to wilt. Buying herbs in a plastic container is one of the most disheartening and costly things, you can do.  If you’re on a food budget, you’re not going to be buying herbs.  And yet, herbs are one of the most useful, delightful and functional plants you can grow. Here are some of my favorite herbs.

Annual Herbs

Cilantro/Coriander— I’m grew mine from seeds I collected from a plant that volunteered in the garden path last year. Despite the heat it is doing very well and has made plenty of green coriander “balls” that are so good with beets.

Cumin — The umbel flowers and seeds are so good with so many summer vegetables —eggplant, carrots, potatoes, beets, and so forth. And you can grow cumin!

Anise —you can plant these with seeds from the market if you like.  I did when writing Vegetable Literacy. They make a small delicate umbel-like flower.

Dill—I was impressed that this does very well in the Master Gardeners vegetable garden as a volunteer where it doesn’t’ even get water!  There is nothing better than fresh summery dill and its pretty golden umbels.

Chervil —“Chervil or parsley” are often called for in French recipes but chervil has a different, anise-like flavor.  It’s a lovely delicate spring herb and often paired with parsley tarragon and chives to make fines herbes. Basils— All kinds are easy to grow and each kind has its own flavor and characteristic. I was amazed the first time—years ago— I went to the botanical garden on the big Island of Hawaii and saw all these different kinds of basil that we are now familiar with.

Marjoram—Think of using marjoram wherever basil is called for. It’s summery in the same way.  And very different from Its relative oregano. Sweeter.

Lemon verbena—(Treat as an annual here)  Especially good with stone fruits!

Perennial Herbs

Lovage—my favorite herb, I think, but it’s challenging to grow here because it likes water. Tastes like a wild cross between celery can parley, but better.

Parsley—it’s such a basic herb – why not walk outside and pick it? Also it is a good host for the catepillars that fee our songbirds.

Angelica –I adore angelica (Bob Pennington has a huge on at Agua Fria) but
I’ve never been good at growing it.  The stems are traditionally candied and used in French desserts. To me it tastes like pine.

Oregano —a good summer and winter herb that does well here.

Salad Burnet—lovely with cucumbers and as a garnish for little sandwicihes.

Sage—I plant the culinary variety rather than the variegated. It’s the perfect herb to pair with winter squash and potatoes and its  purple flowers in spring have a mint-like flavor.

Sorrel—Plant in a big pot or in the ground.  It’s a tart herb.

Rosemary—Plant near a southern facing wall. Arp works well but you can plant a lot of varieties.

Mints of all kinds— (Useful —but I confess – these are a challenge for me!)

Chives, garlic chives, and their blossoms—Pretty and somehow essential

Tarragon—one of the first herbs to come up; always good with vegetables and in salads.  Has a strong licorice flavor.

Rue—not for eating, but the black Swallowtail caterpillars love it. Good to plant near roses.

Anise Hyssop—Makes a lovely tea! Has purple flowers.

Thymes of all kinds—Thyme even lemon thyme is grounding and especially good with sweet vegetables.

And don’t forget Deborah Madison has a new book out–An Onion in My Pocket, a memoir about her life which is great read!

Categories: Sustainable SW Blogs