Nothing quite like a frigid morning to inspire some garden action!! Don’t get me wrong, I lingered long over a hot cup of tea this morning, but I have to admit the freezing breeze just nagged at me all the things I had left undone out in my autumn garden. For one, I haven’t planted garlic yet! Yikes I MUST do it before the ground freezes, I will today, I must!! I peeked under my row cover at all my little fall greens, and wow, I am happy to report all was well! Spinach, Chard, Lettuce, Cilantro, even a little dill perky as can be! I harvested like crazy and tucked them back in. If the snow does bless my yard this weekend I plan on laying a thin sheet of 4mil plastic over the whole 4 rows, it is not greenhouse plastic, but a painters drop cloth type plastic sheet I got last year, and it seemed to do the trick to just keep th snow off and it helps melt it fast when the sun does shine again, which we all know can be quite quick around here. I also scrambled around the yard gathering the last medicines I could find. Mint, yarrow, Comfrey, Mallow were all doing just fine in the crispy air so I gathered those up eagerly and set them to dry in the extremely dry (heating with wood really sucks the humidity out of the air) cozy house. All of these delicious leaves will be used in an upcoming workshop my Radical Homemaking conmadres are putting on called the Winter Apothecary- Stocking up for Seasonal Wellbeing. We will be making teas, cough syrup, medicinal stock and all kinds of magical potions for the cold season ahead. This is always the best part, when all my seasons efforts get mixed and brewed and put the finishing touches on and magically they transform from weeds to medicine ready to dose out to the sick and the weary. Ahh, so a brisk morning it was, but now I can at least enjoy another cup of tea, sort the garlic And hope for another day before the ground deeply freezes (though usually it takes until about Christmas for that so I am not that worried!!) And while I am sorting, the mail comes and delivers my first article in print! Actually it was a nice season of press for this little gardener….I had a story about ‘Psyche and Her Seeds’ published in the Seed Broadcast, a very cool little free paper all ode to Seeds. An article in this Seasons Edible Santa Fe (p.64) about the work we do to grow local food at Santa Fe Community College. And lastly an article I wrote all about the planning and planting seasons of High Desert Homesteading in this seasons edition of the Permaculture Activist. Oh and do you recognizes those cute little tomato holding hands! Yep my photo made the cover, cool to have the love I put into my garden spread out and inspire beyond my yard, those are the seeds I wish to sow in the world. So with the literature spread before me, and the leaves and the seeds, my table is full, my harvests are in and I am feeling like this year was indeed an abundant yield indeed. Ok winter, now you may come on in and I will rest the best I can!!
Wow it has been a serious spring. This beautiful weather, flowers everywhere and lots going on!! For those of you who missed it, there was a great article a couple weeks back about me and the garden I run at SFCC in the New Mexican.
It has generated lots of interest and I have been pretty busy since! In the spring flurry there is LOTS going on in the next couple of weeks in and around our garden. First of all, this FRIDAY APRIL 25th From 1-4pm. We will be hosting Deborah Madison, celebrity chef and cookbook author in our garden. She will have a few of her new Vegetable Literacy books for sale and signing and will be touring the gardening with a chefs eye. We will also have a plant sale where we will be selling Chard, Cabbage, Collards, & Tomatoes. This would be a great day to come out and see what we are up to in the SFCC Culinary Arts Garden.
The Following day, APRIL 26th, while the Solar Fiesta is happening on the SFCC Campus, I will be down at the Railyard for EARTH DAY SANTA FE meeting people, sharing about our growing garden and sharing tips on how you can grow your own food. My conmadres from Radical Homemakers of New Mexico will also be there with an amazing spread of homemade fashion, playthings and kitchen concoctions.
And as if that is not enough…I will also be attending the Spring Garden Fair May 3rd from 10-4pm at the Santa Fe County Fair grounds. We will have a table set up and lots to share!
Lots of great opportunities to connect with community and grow together, though how will I ever find time for garden work?!!
Have you heard of Ampersand? Well you would love them, I guarantee. They are truly loving a little piece of land here in the high desert the best they know how. These folks built their home out of mud from their backyard, drink rain water off the roof on top of it and cook their food from the sun. Not to mention they love their community because they invite everyone in on the fun through workshops, classes, internship and some seriously. fun dance parties. Amanda and Andy are lovers and I love them……
So on this day of love I want to introduce them to you and their latest land loving projecting and fund-raising efforts. Spread the love and support their water shed project through indigogo today, they are half way through and could use a midpoint push to help them go above and beyond their goal.
And much love to you!
On this quiet, calm winter’s day I am feeling so full from the holiday cheer and so grateful to be able to just rest and soak it all in.
It is the perfect day for a little story telling around the fire, don’t you think?
To inspire, I would like to introduce you to my friend Brenna and her new Blog Storymama. She has been a beckon of light to me on this journey of motherhood with her intentional ways and beautiful stories. We have been collaborating on filming her beautiful puppet shows and here is the first of hopefully many. She really has a gift for softly sharing magical tales that touch both young and old. I am sure you will enjoy her gifts as much as I do.
I lit a fire the night before Halloween. The cold air blew into these high desert foothills, just in time to chill all those tricky treating children out there…(we were cozy inside, as Jaengus at 2.5 years old is not quite hip to Halloween yet and as far as I am concerned that is just fine:)
That very fire, it is still going, rising and falling, as the sun warms us through our big southerns windows it wanes and right before bedtime it rages. Now that the clocks have been set back, tonights winds and rains blowing the last leaves off the trees, it feels official, winter is here and it is time to keep that fire going all winter long.
Now we have been heating with wood for years, growing food for even more, buying as little and caring as much as we can, for, well ever I guess…but creating a family and staying at home to tend them has deepened my understanding what stoking these home fires really means to me.
Tending these very symbolic embers has been my main focus and main teacher for the past two years. My friend Kyce often calls this stage of life, the Mommystery, and rightly so. In the mist of millions of things to do, I have lots of time and space in my mind to Chop wood, Carry water, churn the problems of the the world inside and out and ruminate over what I am going to do ablaut them as I hang my laundry out to dry. Slowing, steadying myself and my wild mind is the only way to be a solid parent, partner and friend and let me tell you, it is taking a lot of conscious inner work and I still have a lot more laundry to dry.
One of the first big blows of this journey was how isolating life could be. Luckily, I had learned to grow my food, gather my herbs, chop my wood, and carry water earlier on, deeply dedicated to self sufficieny as a life path….but all the sudden I was all alone, well me and my boys, chopping all the wood and carrying all the water. Which I love, truly, yet as a community oriented gal, I had no idea this romantic idea of tending my own hearth would leave me feeling so isolated. I wasn’t working, which normally takes place in schools and community gathering spaces, so without that contact, I had a hard time imagining how the fires I was tending at home would warm the whole world and how I, though warm from within, won’t die of isolation much less self judgement, oh that wild mind!
Well, luckily that storm has passed. My son and I go out on the town; to work, to volunteer and to connect lots these days, but one of the sweetest gifts I received in those early days in the Mommystery was the gift of Motherkin. Like minded mamas who were willing to drive out of town and wander the lane with our babies on our backs. Mamas who were willing guinea pigs for my tea cake recipes while we deconstructed homemaking in a post feminist time. Mamas who were educated, conciencious, active citizens who were choosing to make change by opting out of consumer culture and attempting to create new culture from their own homes.
Sarah, Kyce & Arina, I am feeling the love and want to say your names for the world to hear, you are my Radical beacons and without our almost weekly conspiring, I would not be as solid, centered and committed to where I am and the work I am doing inside and outside and always feeling at home. So graciously, I thank you for being such Radicals, reclaiming homemaking as a conscious prayer for a new world.
So the story goes on to say, I am not alone in these choices or in my daily practice anymore. In fact I am feeling VERY connected these days. We are building up the fires with a few folks so that our community can grow and hopefully spread out like seeds into a world that desperately needs us right now. So this weekend, come stoke the home fires with us at our first humble Home Fire Retreat. I am so looking forward to us meeting each other where we are at, building our community, sharing ourselves and supporting each other whereever we are on this journey of renouncing, reclaiming and rebuilding a new world together.
PS Today is the last day for Early Bird Registration Fee!!
Sometimes desert living can get, dry, so dry that are beautiful mountains catch on fire. So dry the yearning for wet, green and lushness get deep under our skin. So while the mountains as burning, we decided we needed a little family fun day. For our family that usually involves anything green: the woods, the rivers, the mountains, or of course parks will do and being the garden tourist I am this time it was the Botanical Garden in Albuquerque.
If you are a parent in New Mexico chances are you have been there, maybe more times than you would like to admit, but we were newbies and totally thrilled. I am sure after years of birthday parties and kid gatherings there, the love may wear off…but it was a perfect fix for a family craving a little lushness in our lives.
There were ponds and flowers in full bloom
but my favorite part of course was the Heritage farm.
Complete with heirloom grapes,
an apple orchard and of course a neat & tidy little veggie patch with a prefect adobe barn.
And the high light of mama’s mini farmer
the tractor of course. That’s my boy!!
So if you too are seeking a lush, smoke free day, check it out, it is green salve for the desert soul.
Back to blogging after some technical difficulties and just in time to tell you about two awesome workshops I would love to share (and attend) this weekend. The first is with Wendy Johnson , one of my mentors through the Edible School Yard in Berkley, where she consults on gardening. We don’t know each other well, but I know kindred garden fairy spirit when I see one and Wendy is just the kind of Fairy I aspire to be someday. Her book is one of my favorite of all times, and I am still savoring it piece by piece and somehow i feel i can in tha tis took her ten years to write, though hopefully it won’t take me that long to read it….called Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate. She is a Zen Buddhist and plant whisper among other amazing human vocations such as wife and mother and has nurtured many famed gardens such as those at Esalen and Green Gulch. She will be in Santa Fe teaching at Upiya Zen Center with Roshi Joan this weekend teaching a Workshop based on her book and her experience ‘at work in the wild and cultivated world’
The next is at my very own SFCC orchard. Dave JAckie, east coast permaculturist and author of Edible Forest Gardens, will be giving a public lecture tomorrow night from 7-9pm in the Jemez room at SFCC and then a 2 day workshop there on Saturday and Sunday called Gardening Like a Forest Workshop . Hopefully he will help us transform this
Someday that is!! Have a great weekend what ever you do!!
The first is a Garage/ Moving/ Plant Sale were I will be selling some of my home-grown Heirloom Tomato & Cucumber babies. They were loving nutured in my greenhouse all these months and will be perfect for planting out in just a couple of weeks when this cold spell passes and the sunny days are here to stay. Come check it out just 2 blocks south the Farmers Market across from the old Alvord Elementary school.
Garage/ Moving/ Plant Sale —Saturday April 20th-9am at 546 Alarid Street.
See below for a full list of all the varieties available
The next event is over on Acequia Madre St. at Garcia Street books where there will be a book signing of George Ancona’s new Book- “It’s Our Garden”. The book features the Acequia Madre Elementary School Garden which has bloomed and grown by the loving hands of a wonderful mother, volunteer, friend and fabulous garden teacher, Sue McDonald.
Saturday April 20th there will be a Book Signing from 2-3pm at Garcia Street books and at 3pm a walk up to Acequia Madre School garden for a tour.
After and good night’s rest, dreaming garden dreams, join us
Sunday at the Santa Fe Children’s Museum between 1 and 4 pm,
for a homestead inspired Earth Day Celebration for all. It will be an opportunity to bring your questions to local homesteaders & engage in hands-on activities that are meant to inspire, motivate and support the implementation of sustainable practices of all kind at your own home!!
Can’t wait to see everybody here, there and everywhere!!
2013 Plant Sale Varieties
Sugar Sweetie- Botanical Interests- Cherry
65 days from transplanting. Indeterminate.
This delicious organic tomato is well-known for its strong tomato flavor. Large numbers of 3/4″ – 1″ cherry tomatoes are produced in grape-like clusters. Provide support for vigorous vines that easily reach 6 feet long.
Black Krim- Botanical Interests-Tomato Pole
70 days from transplanting. Indeterminate.
This Russian heirloom originated in Krim, a Crimean town on the Black Sea. Baseball-sized fruits weigh 10 – 12 oz. and have reddish-brown flesh filled with an earthy, almost smoky flavor. Fruit sets well in heat and is the most reliable of the black tomatoes, producing even under adverse conditions from summer to fall. Provide support for vines that reach 6 feet or more.
Cherokee Purple- Plants of the Southwest
80 days from transplanting. Indeterminate.
Cherokee’s rose/purple skin with green shoulders encases red brick colored flesh with just the right level of sweetness. You’ll be harvesting large numbers of 10 to 12 oz. tomatoes from this well-regarded heirloom variety from summer to fall. The flavor has been described as yummy, tasty, wonderful, delicious, heavenly, and unbelievable! Provide support for vigorous vines that reach 6 feet or more.
John Baer- Seed Savers Exchange
aka Boony Best- From the Bonny group of tomatoes that includes Chalk’s Early Jewel. Introduced in 1914 by J. Bolgiano and Son of Baltimore. Bright red, meaty, smooth fruits with very good flavor. Once a leading canning variety, also great for fresh eating. Heavy Producer. Indeterminate, 60-80 days from transplant.
Japanese Trifele- Seed Savers Exchange
One of the best Russian black tomatoes. High yields of blemish- free fruits that rarely crack. Rich full flavor, great for canning. The size of a Bartlett pear, weighing 4-5 ounces. Potato leaf foliage. Indeterminate, 70-80 days from transplant.
Pink Brandywine- Bounty Beyond Belief
This is a heirloom beefsteak variety with large pinkish- red tomatoes with a wonderful rich taste and a bit Sweeter and larger than the Red Brandywine. Indeterminate. Potato- leafed plants produce huge tomatoes often weighing between 1-2 pounds. These remain one of the best tasting tomatoes available.
Giant Syrian-Seed Savers Exchange
Received form a SSE Member Charlotte Mullens of West Virginia. Nice Yields of deep pinkish- red fruits exceeding one pound. Very Meaty, few seeds, excellent flavor. Indeterminate. 80 days from transplant.
Risentraube-Seed Savers Exchange
Originally from germany. name Translates as “gaint bunches of grapes.” Tntroduced commercially in the U.S. in 1994 by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. High- Yielding plants. Tasty 1′ fruits are born on large sprays and shaped like beaked plums. Indeterminate, 80 days from transplant.
Chadwick Cherry- Seeds of Change
Introduced by the late horticultural genius Alan Chadwick, this large, mouthwatering cherry tomato has a tangy, sweet flavor. It produces huge yields and is disease resistant making it a popular choice among gardeners. Days to Harvest: 85
Aremenian- Botanical Interest
65 days. Want to try something new in your garden? This is it! Armenian cucumber with handsome, light green, thin skin is nearly seedless, and more tolerant of heat than most cucumbers. Sometimes called serpent cucumber or yard long, it is actually a variety of melon! A long production period means harvesting right into fall.
Straight Eight- Botanical Interests
63 days. There is nothing more refreshing than a cool cucumber. This older, open pollinated variety is still around because it is simply one of the best! Vigorous vines produce cylindrical, very straight crisp cucumbers about 8″ long. Who can resist a salad of home-grown sliced cucumber, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella dressed with olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper? Yum!
Homemade Pickles- Botanical Interests
55 days. Making pickles at home is easy with Homemade Pickles. This plant has excellent disease resistance, very high yields, and is ready to harvest early. The 4 foot compact vines produce cucumbers for quite a long period; harvest anywhere from 1½” to 5″ long. Perfect interior texture for pickles, but can also be eaten fresh. Excellent container variety.
Space Master- Botanical Interests
62 days. Has your garden ever been overrun by cucumber plants that spread everywhere? Spacemaster is the solution! Its 2′ to 3′ vines make it the ideal choice for small growing areas. It produces large numbers of flavorful, full-sized slicing cucumbers, perfect for snacking, salads, and sandwiches, and even for pickling when harvested small.
“Work is love made visible” these words of Kahlil Gibran were carved by hand onto a wooden sign that hung on the main lodge of my beloved Vermont summer camp, Farm & Wilderness. This was a place where teens from all walks of East coast life would come together for 2 months to work the land, swim in the waters and learn to create community together. As my dad reminded me yesterday, not only have those words been carved into my soul & life purpose, but also the community spirit. In the years since summer camp I have found myself surrounded with similar earth loving angels actively loving the world & each other through their hands
There were parents, neighbors, old friends and new, this incredible little hard-working crew just breezed in with great blessings and warmed our little home until it sang right along. In return dad cooked the burgers & freshly picked ‘Lovely Day Farm’ (on our street!!) Asparagus on the grill and we feed them well. When I sent out the invite I mentioned that I would feed them all but ‘if any one wanted to ‘WOW’ us with desert or beverages they were welcome’ and WOW us they did! Handmade Mojitos and Fresh Pear Pie and Raspberry Tart and homemade yogurt on top!! OH MY!!!
And now the greenhouse is at maximum capacity with 250 tomatoes, all in brand new little pots, the only question now is, where will I put everything else? Plant sale anyone?
I almost felt guilty having them do all that work for me on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, but then I remembered all the seeds I have sown, beds I have dug, weeds I have pulled out of other people’s gardens and like them, I sang too… so happy to have dirt to put my hands in and a hard task to put my strong body to real use. As we were working Jaengy jumped in helping with sorting the pots after shying from the crowd for the first hour.
I commented how he is happiest when he has a job to do. Casey responded, “I think we all are!” and I thought, ‘Well you are my kind of people!’ So Thank You garden angels with your kind and helpful hands, you have shown me that there should be no guilt in asking for help and that for many of us there is no greater gift than working together to complete the task at hand, to share the load and to enjoy being of use together.
To Be of Use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
Today we celebrate one year since I gave birth to my little baby boy. I was over 40 weeks pregnant, eager to leave behind the outer world, ready to plant the garden, clean the house and have me a baby. And have me a baby I did, right here in our little house on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Mother’s Day in fact. All the transformation that experience would bring me, I did not know, but a year later I can truly say I am humbled, deeply grateful and totally in love with our little guy and the life he brought us.
It also celebrates the day I was born as a stay at home mother, withdrawing from the American work force, giving up the pay check, and started working on the foundation of family and home. It was a natural step, and at the time seemed not only easy but a huge blessing so many mothers do not get. I am a home body and take easily to householding, children and homesteading. I was happy to finally have the chance to devote my energies here, where the heart is, without distraction and was ready to give up the income in exchange for having less and being more of what I knew I was always meant to be.
Yes, one year since I stopped working for money, but truth be told, that is actually when I really started working. I started being on duty full-time, round the clock, non-stop tending to the needs of my family and home while still remaining a part of a greater community and whole. Not only did I really start working, but it is also when I really started getting WORKED ON, the soul transformation motherhood had in store for me was beyond anything I could have imagined, and still can’t. Not only was I being transformed from the inside out, but my identity, my understanding of my place in the world, my interpretation of my work as my relationship to society…all started to shift, causing way more confusion and strife than I had ever anticipated.
Many times over the course of this year I have thought of going back to work, though heart wrenching as it would be, sometimes I wonder if having my work validated from society, paychecks clear-cut and schedules set would give me a clearer understanding of where I stand now. Sometimes I wonder if it would actually be easier, I mean I did spend 30 some years getting to know myself, honing my skills, figuring out my contributions and career. This year has been so totally full of growth for me it is almost a second adolescence and some days lately I wonder if going back would be easier, but then I remember, there is no going back. Going back to work, maybe, but going back to who I once was and how things once were, never, and if there was a way, you couldn’t drag me.
Giving birth was probably the biggest gift the universe has given me, being a mother as well. The joy, the growth, the love, so completely life changing, such pure, total gifts. I choose every day to be here, to be pushed and pulled by the transformative process of parenthood, identity crisis, budget living, gender roles, or whatever a day may bring. And when I am keep up at night wondering what my contributions, my role, my purpose is here on this earth is, well let’s just say bearing life was a pretty awesome miracle to put things in perspective.
I am sure I will go back to work someday, or build up my business to thrive without even leaving home… But for now I am here, moving forward, being born every day, as are all parents, whether they are at work outside the home or not. This becoming is an inevitable part of the human soul, though I think somehow the rawness of the first year of parenthood just pushes you into seeing it all just a little more clearly. Though change is hard, it is the growth, the challenges, the becoming, I am always seeking to bring me closer to my true self and what I truly am here to be.
So in celebration of my son’s birth, my own birth and the birth of my family I give great thanks for all that this year has brought us and hope that we continue to keep being born every day, every spring, every year into our new true selves, together.