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Taking Challenges and Turning them into Opportunities.


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Growing your own ...

butterflyThink you can't do it because you don't have a lot of land???

An interesting article caught our attention about a family in California on a standard city lot (.25A) with a house in the middle that was able to produce 6,000 lbs. (3 Tons) of organic food after a learning curve of a few years. They stacked growing beds to make up for the lack of space and even had a few animals.

Help to get you started ...

We have found that shopping at the growers markets around town willcaterpillar not only provide healthful fresh food for your table and allow you to get to know who is growing your food, but our local farmers are incredibly generous with tips and ideas to help you get started.

Start with good soil....

Soilutions Organics Recycling Facility in the South Valley will take your leaves, yard clippings, tree branches, and other green wastes and turn them into compost and mulch for a tipping fee of $4-6 tipping fee/cubic yard for greenwaste material. You can pick up some rich organic soil for your garden or learn some permaculture techniques while you are there.

Photo supplied by Soil Secrets Idea: Turn your green wastes or table scraps into a healthy garden by learning to compost on your own: watch a video (Lowes),

Okay, this a something you need to check into. Michael Martin Melendrez of Soil Secrets in Los Lunas has non-petroleum based products that will not only enhance your soil with beneficial microbes (think gigantic veggies) but will help you save water with drought friendly composition and humus that grabs carbon from the air. What, you only need to water every week instead of every day and you are helping with global warming and sustainability at the same time? Hmmm...might be the next killer app. The photo is an actual cabbage grown in Arizona with Soil Secrets.

Have a Plan....

Eric Garrettson (877-4795) of Edible Landscapes fame will also give you a leg up in replacing that lawn or xeriscape with a wonderful garden. Eric runs the Eric GarretsonDowntown Growers Market and designed the spectacular garden area at the Hubble House (6029 Isleta SW). Go and be inspired. Note: If you would like to volunteer to help Eric with his work and learn from a master, give him a call today!!! We need about 20 Erics for a town this size.


Soilutions, Inc. also provides water harvesting advice and permaculture/garden design. They will provide a plan that YOU can implement or they can also do all of the hard work like building elevated paths, installing water catching swales and enriching your soil if you do not have the time. Try a Square Foot Garden...I like this idea.

PLANTS OF THE SOUTHWEST, a local nursery, offers advice on a wide range of topics including how to start and maintain a vegetable garden and how to handle "trouble spots" in the garden. You can also find healthy organic starter plants at La Montanita Coop or seeds at Santa Fe's Seeds of Change.

Harvest that Water.....

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume II - by Brad Lancaster is an excellent resource. This book discusses a wide variety of very useful water-harvesting techniques and how to implement them. Brad's first book, Volume 1:  Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain into Your Life and Landscape, has won critical acclaim and many awards.

Extend your Season.....

To lengthen our growing season, David recycled a glass storm door to make a cold cold frameframe for tender lettuce and basil. He used straw bales for the walls. Water was "free" from our rain water harvester.

In addition to cold frames, you might consider a Hoop House. Del Jimenez, agriculture specialist at NMSU in Alcalde recently gave a demonstration class in the South Valley on how to build this type of inexpensive greenhouse (less than $1000). Call Del (505) 852-2668, djimenez@nmsu.edu for future classes. A great blog with details for building a hoop house for less than $400 is Alberta Home Gardening. While you are there, browse around as there are some terrific tips (growing potatoes, starting a new garden, etc.).

Add a little protein.....

Portable Chicken CoopIf you want more than veggies in your Urban garden, you MUST check out the portable chicken coops we saw at the Hubble House event. Gary Ortiz has designed and builds (locally) these wonderful deluxe homes for your very own happy chickens. Can you imagine how good your oh so fresh eggs will taste??? And as you move it around, you have excellent fertilizer for your garden. Contact Gary at 977-7581 or by email at gryortiz@yahoo.com.

Save some for the winter....

Interested in Canning? New Mexico State University provides some excellent guidelines.