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Secret Agent Man

Santa Fe County Extension Agent touring Bob's garden

Somewhere in your county, a secret agent stands at the ready. He (or she) is the local County Extension Agent, ready to answer your home garden and landscape questions. County Extension Agents aren't supposed to be a secret but they are lower profile than the 'Double-O' kind of agent. I just met the local Extension Agent and learned quite a lot about the art of growing plants and animals in my county.

Why I Garden #20

Narrow-Winged Damselfly

Not all the color in our garden is from flowers and leaves. We have an ever-changing circus of insects crawling and flying through our yard. One colorful visitor that I have been watching for several weeks is a Narrow-winged Damselfly with a flashy blue thorax and tail. I'm not sure exactly which species it is, though it looks like an Arroyo Bluet to me.

Tiny House vs. McMansion

I clearly remember wanting a room of my own as a teenager. I settled for a room in the finished basement of our family home. Austin Hay of Santa Rosa, CA has gone well beyond my teenage aspirations and is building his own Tiny House. As Austin tours his 130 sq. foot home built on a double axle trailer he notes that it is less space to clean and will have a small carbon footprint. Austin's Tiny House brings up a question, 'How big a home does a person need?'

LED Vs. Halogen at Sundown

LED (left) & Halogen (right) floodlights

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, 'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death, taxes and rising electricity rates.' Mr. Franklin didn't have an electricity bill to pay, but he was definitely a frugal man. In my quest for lower electrical bills and fewer burnt-out bulbs I found a replacement for outdoor halogen flood lights.

Summertime

Gaillardia Aristata - Firewheel - Blanket Flower

George Gershwin wrote, 'It's summertime and the living is easy'. It is officially summertime, but I'm not sure about the easy part. Despite a complete lack of April showers and very few May flowers we have plenty of June bugs (larvae, actually) and they have been ransacking our chile pepper transplants. I raked over one garden bed and dug up more grubs than I care to count.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Wallow Fire Smoke at Sunset

Living in the Southwest many of us are accustomed to brilliant blue skies, 100 mile views and great air quality. But clean air isn't guaranteed, especially in the spring and summer fire season. Currently, firefighters in Eastern AZ (and soon Western NM) are fighting the Wallow Fire, which has grown to hundreds of thousands of acres. Wildfire is dangerous for those in it's path and living downwind in the smoke plume.

Timing is Everything

DIY Cold Frame made from a reused storm door and redwood

I'm a DIY sort of guy. If I think I can build something, I'll probably try. The DIY route often works out just fine. But, sometimes a project will take a longer than anticipated. For example, I just finished building a cold frame. A cold frame is an unheated mini-greenhouse used for gardening through the cold winter months. Of course, I finished the cold frame just in time for summer. Or, maybe I'm early?

In Just Ten Minutes a Day...

Nate Downey signing 'Harvest the Rain'

'Can I have a minute of your time?' Have you ever heard those words from a stranger, probably holding a clipboard, on the street? Did you stop for a minute or walk by more quickly? I consider my time precious and often walk past. In 'Harvest the Rain' author Nate Downey boldly asks for 10 minutes of your time every day to spend on catching, directing and using rainwater. After reading his book I'm not sure he asked for enough.

I'm a Homewrecker

Thermometer Shield with and without bird nest

It's a hard realization, but if you can't be honest with yourself...
I recently built a simple thermometer shield to protect an outdoor thermometer from direct sunlight and reflected heat. I reused a section of white PVC pipe to provide additional cover for the outdoor sensor. A pair of nesting birds found the pipe and decided to move in.

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