Saturday, March 15, 2014

About "Farewell to Spring"

Welcome to our gardening blog! We have been growing fruit and vegetables in our high-altitude New Mexico garden for years now, and our focus is growing as much food as possible, as sustainably as possible, during all four seasons. To that end, we've collected years' worth of data, which we plan to share here so that others may learn from our gardening experimentation. Our goal is to present the data in ways that are graphically appealing and easy to understand. Eventually, we hope to share tools to help readers collect and manage their own gardening data, and learn from their experiences from year to year.

A harvest of ripe orange 'Persimmon' tomatoes and other goodness, Summer 2013.

At 6,900 ft in northern New Mexico, we have a frost-free season from around Mother's Day (about May 15) to mid-October. Wintertime lows drop below 0F; in some years we have persistent snow on the ground, but in others, not so much. In the summer, we typically have monsoonal thunderstorms during July and August to bring relief during the hottest part of the day. However, with three years of drought (2011-2013), the weather has been unpredictable and generally drier and more mild through the spring.

We garden in the ground and in raised beds, under makeshift cold frames, and in a new greenhouse/sunroom (the "greenroom") attached to the south side of our house. Gardening through the heart of winter in the greenroom has been one big experiment, with many successes and failures. Before the greenroom, we dedicated some space in the sunny south side windows of our house to grow lettuce and kale in small planters, so we have always tried to do at least a little bit of winter gardening.

Lettuce, beets, and radishes starting in the greenroom, Winter 2014.

In addition to growing vegetables and fruits indoors and out, we also raise a few chickens and love to cook and preserve food. We are interested in energy- and water-efficient living and are constantly working on our compressed-earth-block home and outbuildings.

Spicy pickled green beans, Summer 2014.
Five hens and a rooster, Summer 2013. 

While your location, climate, and garden microclimate may differ from ours, if you have a similar frost-free window you might find the timing of our planting and growing applicable to you. Otherwise, we hope you'll benefit from seeing the methods we've tried, lessons from what worked and did not, and especially our techniques of collecting, measuring, and analyzing our own garden data to help apply it to yours. Happy gardening!

About our blog's name: farewell to spring is my favorite wildflower. It is native to Northern California, so we can't grow it here (I've tried), but I've had this domain name since 1999 or so. Although we focus on four-season gardening, I still get giddy when it's time to bid farewell to spring and plant the summer garden.