How low can they go?

IMG_6363May is lovely- but can be wild too.  As we have seen this weekend in Santa Fe- a foot of snow!!IMG_6364

It is such a transitional time, the last burst of winter before it finally passes.  I looked back on my calendars and it does usually snow every year in the first week of May, so though odd, it is actually to be expected.

IMG_6360But the good news is no harm done over here.  All the little cool season greens and seeds were tucked under row cover and only seemed to perk up from crisp air all the moisture gifted to them.  If you are wondering how cold CAN your cold season crops get…wellIMG_6383

How low can they go?

IMG_6377The hardiest of the winter vegetables are Kale, Collards, Peas and Spinach which can take Temps as low as low 20’s and in the high teens.


Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Mustard Greens, Parsley, Radish, Parsnip, Turnip can all take temps 28-25 degrees.

All of these can survive under thick row cover all winter, though they may not show many signs of growth, they will start to spring new leaves in February.

Other semi-hardy vegetables are Beets, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese Cabbage, Endive, Lettuce, Radicchio, Rutabega, Salsify, Bok Choy, Tatsoi and Swiss Chard, tolerant of Temps from 32-29degrees.  These can usually be harvested till Christmas under heavy row cover, but will need to be replanted in the spring under row cover as well. (with the exception of Swiss Chard, this patch was almost invisible all winter under no row cover… but is coming back just fine!)


So not to worry, the storm has passed, we have gathered the moisture and now we prepare for hardening off and the planting out process… More on that to come.


Feeding People?Got plants?Come Get Em!

Well I do!  And it is time to find these babies good new homes.  I always overdo it, those little seeds are so tiny and the conditions in the greenhouse, oh so right.  What can I say we have germination down over here, but 450 tomatoes, what was I thinking!!!!


The good news is I have gotten a lot of help this year with seed sowing, transplanting and bed digging.  We were blessed by traveling interns from Community Rebuilds in Moab Utah,


lovely, hard working hands from my SFCC Gardening days,IMG_6094

and my very own garden school for wee onesKunz Girls

So thanks to all this help, we have been getting the job done and it is time to give back.IMG_6115

What to do with all this abundance?  We only have 1/5 of an acre and it is pretty much full already!!  For the past 17 years I have worked in Santa Fe with School gardens or Garden Education of some kind so my greenhouse and hard work went to good use growing for the masses… Until this year! (not counting my own little garden school of course).

IMG_9108My world has grown so small and yet I have never worked so hard in my life.  It’s an odd feeling I must say, and simply feeding my own family and friends simply does not feel like enough when one in every five people in New Mexico experience hunger of some sort. It is just not right and right now it feels really hard to do anything about it.

So my simple, humble attempt to nourish a few more people than my tiny family this season is to give away my healthy baby tomatoes to people who are working with school gardens/ non profits this season and can offer them a good life and help bring food and farming to the future gardeners of our community and healthy food to anyone (and everyone) who needs it.  (Sadly this offer is only for my local readers, as I am not mailing baby plants anywhere)….IMG_9693

but if you are a local and working to feed, teach and grow this season I would be honored to give you some plants. First come first serve so…

Leave a comment letting me know who you work with a which ones you would like and you can help me feed more people!!!I will arrange a drop off time in Santa Fe with you in the coming weeks.


Tomato list- (most of the seeds I used I have saved myself over the years, but I am pretty sure the link below were the original sources and will give you a description of the varieties)

Black Krim

Cherokee Purple

Pink Brandywine

Amish Paste

Chadwick Cherry

Virginia Sweet





Lady Spring and the Easter Rabbit

It is the first day of spring and today began with an odd twist.  For those of your with littles ones around, or those who just appreciate a good story… Here is a little tale for your first day of spring…


You see our pet bunny, Peter Rabbit, was missing.  It seemed he had dug a tunnel through the garden and escaped sometime early in the morning!  I was wrought with guilt because my son had warned me he would do just that and I neglected to move the cage so that would not happen!  I was reminded of this story I found last year for our Home school group from Suzanne Downs Website ( exact link couldn’t find today).  This tale kind of saved the day… and it all ended perfectly…

Here is Suzanne Tale of Lady Spring and the Easter Rabbit-

Lady Spring and the Easter Rabbit

Once upon a time, Lady Spring awoke from her long Winter’s nap. Just like last year, and all the years that came before, Father Sun gently tapped her on the shoulder and shone his warm light down on her to wake her.

Lady Spring dressed in her finest gown of sky blue, with a silken ribbon in her hair, and she set out into the meadow to greet all of the animals and flowers. As she walked, she listened and looked for the for the sounds and sights of Spring—children playing in the sunshine, families sowing seeds in their gardens, people celebrating the return of the season … but she saw no one. The doors were all closed, windows shuttered, and the yards and fields lay empty. Where were all the people?

A robin lit on a nearby branch to share his song with Lady Spring. She listened kindly and then asked, “Where are all the dear people of the village? Do they not know that Spring has arrived?” The robin tweeted a reply, for he had flown here and there and had picked up this news in the village: “The Winter was so very long … and so very cold, and everyone has been tucked in tightly into their houses for so long—I don’t think they know that Spring has arrived!”

IMG_1637Lady Spring had an idea. She called out to all the animals of the forest, and they gathered in the meadow. She told them all that the good people of the village needed their help. Someone must share the news that Spring was here. Who would do it?

All of the animals began to shout “Send me, send me!” and Lady Spring announced: “We shall have a race. The animal that can run all the way around the world and return here first will be our messenger.” The animals agreed.

The wild stag went first. “I am the fleetest afoot. Surely I will win the race.” And off he went. But when he got to the rocky hills, he started leaping from rock to rock and ended up playing there for many hours and forgot all about the race.

Next was the salmon. “I can dart through the water and swim with the tides. Surely I shall win the race.” The salmon began swimming as fast as she could, but soon the sunbeams dancing on the stream caught her eye, and she thought the sparkles of light were little flies. For the rest of the day she leaped here and there trying to catch them.

Then the hawk called, “I am the swiftest of all the creatures who circle the earth. Surely I will win the race.” He shot like an arrow into the sky and soared above the meadow, until down in a field, he spotted a mouse. He swooped straight down to get it and forgot all about the race.

The little rabbit went quietly on his way. He never looked left or right, but gazed straight ahead and held steadfastly to his course. Just as the sun was setting, he returned to Lady Spring in the meadow, completing his circle of the earth.

Lady Spring gave thanks to the humble rabbit and asked him to visit the village that night, sharing news of the arrival of Spring. The little bunny asked, “How will they know it’s true?” Lady Spring thought for a moment and then took a small egg from her pouch. She gently gave it to the rabbit and said, “Show them this egg. Just as the golden yolk shines inside the hard shell of the egg, so the light of the sun shines again and warms the earth in Springtime, so that new life can begin.”

The little bunny set out on his way with joy, and every year he journeys from house to house, village to village, bringing beautiful eggs to all the families and sharing the news that Spring has returned.

Snip, snap, snout, this tale is all told out.

IMG_8367Our tale ended almost as sweetly… Our Bunny , after his long trip around the world telling of Springs coming got a bit lost on his way home, but luckily just before dark he hopped past a man on the road.  “Are you lost little Bunny” the man asked.  ” Indeed” said the little bunny.  “Well I know where you live, your family must be worried about you, I will take you home” The kind man scooped up the Bunny, cradled him in his arms and walked the bunny to the little house down the road where the three children lived.  He knocked at the door and the children came running out in their pajamas, for it was just before bed, and the kind man said, “I think I have found something of yours!”  The children cheered and hugged the Bunny and the man!  “He must have been out spreading the word that Spring is here”, smiled their mother and everyone went to bed happy that night and grateful Spring was here!



St. Patty’s Day Peas and Potatoes

They say that Peas and Potatoes should be planted by St. Patty’s Day, which is today!  If you haven’t planted them already- go for it!  (Especially cause March is the new May around these parts!…you could have been planting peas since Valentine’s day really!)  If you have never planted either, there are a few tricks.


Last years Pea crop planted on Valentines Day



Some people pre-sprout and then transplant peas… I grow pea shoots and then mow them down and eat them as tender young things! Try them in your window sill, they are fast and delicious!


Chittting potatoes is basically cutting seed potatoes into pieces with a few eyes each… making your potato seed go further



Peas soaked in water overnight before you plant them swell them and give them a head start on sprouting in the ground.


This weekend would also be great from planting cool season greens outside directly in the garden like Spinach, Lettuce, Mache, Cilantro, Kale, Chard, Arugula.  If you lay row cover it will keep moisture in and birds out so I highly recommend it!

Signs of Life

PaintingIt has been a long winter in more ways than one… we seem to have finally found our rhythm in it and I feel hesitant to venture out (juniper breezes scare me!!)  But we finally did and with this crazy warm weather we have spent a few consecutive days outside and are much better for it.  JumpThe world is waking up and life is buzzing everywhere!

Winter Jasmine

Winter Jasmine (Jasminium nudiflorum), always our first bloomer, followed by the over eager Apricot…Apricot Bud

Turns out my Kale and Celery are not completely dead after allCelery

and my trusty Chard weathered the winter just fine and is ready for a pick.Chard

There we a few of our favorite fellows who are not buzzing as we are, so we went in to investigate.Honey CombOur beautiful bees seem to have been attacked by mice!!!  But the left heaps of gold behind!Honey #4 joel

A bit of honey should help with our allergies right?!

Honey #2

So onward we go, counting our loses and our gains and we begin again!


Leaf Day!

IMG_3346Sunday Afternoon- What a great time to start seeds indoors!  Today would be a great day to start cool season greens inside – kale, cabbage, chard, lettuce… if you have a cold frame or even row cover and are ready to begin your outdoor watering routine.. you could also start all those things outside today (especially down south Amber!!)I am also starting my sunflower and pea shoot sprouts so we can have fresh greens asap!!



I have to admit I am missing my own Planting calendar this season, so I dug up a few posts from my archives from the days before I ever made the glossy pretty calendar… So for this year I thought I would just share with you some of my informative blogs posts, already written and ready to go!!  My gift to you to jump start your growing season!



Here is the Recap from my seeding class from years past

How to make Homemade Potting Soil

How to make Wooden Planting Flats

Garden Planning

Bed Prep

Also, if you are a more hands on learner- My dear friend Amanda will be teaching an indoor seeding class next weekend at the wonderful Ampersand Learning Center.  I am sure it will be super informative and get you growing!

There are also some cool classes Home Grown New Mexico is putting on this season too that I want to check out, including a cool looking one called Evolution Gardening/Revisiting the Victory Garden in the 21st century Awesome!!

So no shortage of things to learn and do these days!  Let’s get Growing!IMG_5210

First Seeds!

As some of you may have noticed I have been a bit distant lately… I think my last post was ……What can I say, “The Trump Effect”, Three children, and some however all my techno gadgets got completly full to the point of not functioning at all…. A good metaphor for my brain I suppose.  I am in need of some serious spring cleaning and when you put something down for a while it can be hard to pick up again.


It has caused great reflection; who am I now, what do I do, what do I share, what is the most important thing right now?  I am sure I am not alone in these musings, it is in the collective consciousness to reassess right now, and I pray that that only brings more clarity, action and commitment to good work in the world… But while I have been eddying in my overwhelm the gardening questions are starting to pop up in my inbox and messages,  the seeds are starting to sprout and I just realized I better snap out of it and stop trying to answer life existential questions… there is work to be done!!

IMG_1071 (1)My work has always been grow food, feed people, teach them so…. and so though it may be simple work I am getting the message that it is still important, relevent and imperative in these crazy times.  People will always need to eat and resistance creates hunger!!  So I am here to feed and nourish the notion to do so…

So with no further ado I am back to my good old simple straight forward work of gardening.  This morning I sunk the very first seeds of spring into my garden flats and it not only brought me a familiar calm but it just made sense.  I think in these crazy times we all need to find those grounding acts that makes sense to us, the good work of our heart and hands that must be done to care for life itself.

I didn’t get a chance to make my gardening Calender yet this year, though I still may, but I will post here what I am doing, how and when, so that you too may following along virtually and we can sow seeds of hope together.

Today is a leaf day according to the biodynamic calender, meaning the moon is in a water sign, good juice for growing seeds… I planted Kale, Cabbage and Chard in my greenhouse and though it feels actually very late for those things, better late than never right!

Sending greetings of hope and new life your way today, Happy Planting!IMG_3962

The end of the season

This morning I glimpsed through this blog of a gardener gathering up her garden bounty before the last frost (you may have seen it too) and thought, I should really do that today… or tomorrow, or sometime soon.  Thoughts like that usually take me about a week to actually accomplish these days, but when I went out side I found little Jacky frost had already made his way to my door!!


Sneaky bugger!! So there you have it, first frost ten days earlier than predicted here in New Mexico and even earlier than Maine… though FYI New Mexico and Maine have very similar growing seasons according to Elliot Coleman, (a genius of a farmer from Maine).



img_3434It was disappointing for a minute, but then honestly a huge relief!  My garden has been tremendous this summer, but I have been a less than impressive gardener.  In fact my garden has just started to make me sad, as one more thing I haven’t gotten to tend to these days, as babies occupy me day and night!


So it all worked out, and surprisingly I worked for 2 hours straight thanks to my new babysitter (as the baby chair is so charmingingly named!) and a very beautiful day and good timing on my part, (post lunch pre-nap, well feed, energetic kids).  We all were actually in heaven and I had some fierce gusto for ruthlessly pulling any and every fruit I could see and then tearing down the wilted vines.


The season is not completely over, as I hope to have greens till Christmas, but it felt darn good to clear the deck a little…. well  kind of, now the work is in the kitchen with 40lbs of ripe tomatoes, 50 pounds of Green ones (seriously someone please just take them off my hands). This has actually been one of the oddest and unproductive tomato years yet, but again, I am grateful cause I couldn’t have handled any more!

img_3653I have decided I am doing only freezing this year as canning with one adult and three tiny children is a down right bad idea in this house.  The good news is, there is always next year! So off to the kitchen I go, adios garden, thank you for all that you gave us it will  nourish us all year and now, with a sign of relief we say good night!

Santa Fe Harvest Swap 2016

Honestly I am amazed I have pulled off raspberry picking, apple picking, salsa making & cider pressing this season with my three tiny people at my side.  It is only because I have had community to share and support the process, shepherd the children, carry the baskets, and wash up when the day is done.  I just can’t help myself but harvest like the mad woman I used to be even though I am often carrying one or two people while doing it.  There is nothing worse to me than to see food wasted, dropping on the ground when we live in a world where so many go hungry.  It just isn’t right and my deep instinct to gather and feed lives on even in my weariness these days…..so_3033

The time has come again to share what the good garden gave ya.

Come join us Oct 23rd for the 4th annual Santa Fe Harvest Swap to share and swap the bounty of the season!!

Sign up here and I will see you soon!!

And if you can’t make it but have more than you can eat this season, please remember to share with those who need it, there are so many who would be deeply nourished by your care.

The Extended Garden Tour

What an honor to have our little 1/5acre of paradise featured on Soule Mama’s Blog this weekend.  I was shocked at how many visitors this little blog of mine got and since a few of you asked to see more, I am so happy to share.  You may have noticed I love taking pictures of my garden just about as much as I love taking pictures of my kids, so I have a lot of images to share.  I put together an extended garden tour from photos I have taken over the past 5 years when I started this blog of mine, so it was also a good reflection for me to see how far we have come in seven years… so with no further ado, Welcome to our humble abode…


My husband is kind of a twisty wood collector, before we got married I think he thought he would retire early and set up a twisty wood furniture company… well, no early retirement for this papa of three, and now our gardens are all hemmed in with twisty wood creations…lucky me! He also built that ladder out of a single black locust log up to a tree nook in the box elder where he wove the branches together so it feels super cozy for the little birds who hang out up there.


When you enter you will inevitably be greeted by a curious small person.  This very small person helped my weave these low garden fences out of willow we gathered together and hauled up the lane from the river.  They keep the babies out of the garden and the constant layers of leaf mulch in. ( mulch is a must in a desert garden)


As you can see, I never remove weeds from the yard, I simply pull and lay them down in place.  In the desert they dry up in a day or two and act as mulch, skips the step of buying mulch. My husband has been working for years, slowly surrounding the growing spaces with bricks he finds on craigslist.  They are great water catchment, thermal mass and of course great for playing with trucks, riding bikes and learning to walk on.


Another masterpiece built brick by brick by my husband. Every nook ans cranny is utilized, horno under the shed roof, cradle on the freezer, etc… we use every inch we can!


Shade is key in the desert, now we have grapes vines that are almost covering it, but those grass mat fencing things work great for shade in the summer.   In the winter we remove them and have a super sunny spot to warm ourselves on cold days.


Our first dinner party in the outdoor kitchen….followed by many many more!!


The boys built our Horno a couple of summers back which we now spark up every May for our annual boy birthday pizza party and every November for the Thanksgiving Turkey.



The garden studio craft shack was actually built for food storage, but I quickly took it over with all my crafting supplies, a girl needs a place to put all her yarn right?!



It was built out of old shipping pallets and mud and straw…there is a whole blog post about the shed here, check it out, it is awesome!


Another genius of my husband!! He said he had that antique O’Keeffe Merritt stove under a tarp for almost ten years before I came along.  Now I got that baby canning and baking all summer long, I barely even turn on the oven inside for months!


Our washing station where of course the water runs right out to the peach tree behind the sink. And yes that is a very large salad spinner that was worth every penny!  I haven’t had a turn yet, the kids always want to do the spinning!!


Step through another twisty garden gate and follow the red brick path….to your right vertical growing on the south side of the greenhouse is usually covered with tomatoes.  To your left is a vegetative hedge of Currants, Nanking Cherries, Wild Plums, Wild Roses,  and Hops all that started as twigs from the national forest service that help buffer between us and our neighbors and feed the wildlife.


The grandma tree beckons you back to discover more around the bend, my husband always says it was this tree that sold him on the house.  When he moved in 15 years ago the lot was completely barren and the house in a state of disarray.


A sharp turn to the north and you will find hundreds of gallons of rainwater being collected for dry days ahead.  And yes that is a Chicago fig gifted to me from my friends mom, but it dies back every year and only produces a few figs, but it’s cool so we keep it around, who knows, maybe someday the climate will change so much it will thrive year round ( the bright side right?)


Peek over the garden gate and the prize vegetable await!


Yep, another twisty wood gate!


And here it is from the other side- twisty wood arches everywhere, I told you!! We decided to fence in the garden last year so that I could let the chickens free in the rest of the yard.  They are too messy to come into my tidy happy place!


My desert maiden Amanda enjoying the Japanese knot weed ‘lawn’ while the kids enjoy her gift, “The Imaginarium“! What a great Aunty!!


Kid, chicken, bunny zone


Someday I would like to see a nice blue grama grass lawn here, someday!


The little garden that could all hemmed in.


Along the north side of the house is the drive way and a 4ft wide strip of dirt that once was the vegetable zone but now home to 20 espalier apple trees.  They act as a living fence and this is the first year they gave fruit and they are pretty as a picture!



The north strip garden is now home to a ton of plants gone wild.. tomatoes parnips, amaranth, arugula zinnias and whatever else has naturalize and perrenialized itself there.


Our hops monster eating the porch


And back to the beginning, the front garden is mostly flowers, herbs and medicinals that are cycling through at different times of the year, mostly a spring garden but it gets lots of action all through the year with the sand box right in it.


AHHH the  Greenhouse in the high season, But I will save that for another day… next time I will invite you inside for tea and a look around!


Five years ago


Us today, my how we have grow!!

Thanks again Soule Mama for encouraging me to share and thanks to all of you who know small is beautiful and there is no place like home!