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.
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.
I processed so many apples through this kitchen that it felt like an outpost of Motts on some days. People, it was a fruitful year and our pantry now overfloweth.
Our own apple tree did well this year and whatever EcoBaby didn't yank off the tree (mostly things on the lower branches) we thoroughly enjoyed. Ecobaby was the best consumer of our garden products. She is still yanking freeze dried little grapes off the vine and gnawing on them.
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.
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.
This Sunday I took the Home Grown New Mexico Kitchen Garden & Coop Tour. Since I took the tour by bike I decided to call it the Tour des Jardins et les Coops. The tour was an easy loop of less than 20 miles and great way to spend a morning in Santa Fe. I was very impressed by the garden landscapes created by these generous and welcoming Santa Feans. I learned quite a bit from the gardens and I've been inspired to continue expanding our little garden.
Firewheel, a.k.a. Blanket Flower, is a short-lived perennial or flowering plant native to most of the United States including the Southwest. This example has spread from the original one we planted a few years ago. This Gaillardia has only needed occasional watering to provide summer blooms.
Here's another small but hardy perennial native growing in our front yard. You won't find Sulphur-flower Buckwheat in your morning pancakes (the food crop Buckwheat is another genus) but it is native to the western U.S. While it's not indigenous to New Mexico several varieties grow in Arizona, Utah and Colorado. The little plant in our front yard decided this was a good year to display it's namesake blooms.