Jo East

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since Jun 07, 2016
United States
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Recent posts by Jo East

Thanks. Theoretically I love wildlife, so I should be happy they're getting a nourishing diet--practically-- I'm thinking if I eat them, it's one way of recouping all my backbreaking labor!
2 years ago
Interesting. There was virtually no plant in the veg garden that didn't have harlequin bugs. Full sun of course. And none of the ornamentals had any, sun or shade. Am planting shade as fast as I can, but things grow slowly up here. At this altitude, I find that almost every plant appreciates some shade, and have even put some small trees in the veg garden. We don't get the temps that most of NM has suffered the last few weeks, but it's been awfully dry. First good rain today--expect to see some really perky plants tomorrow!
2 years ago
Hey Jen,

Sounds like you've been through the mill! It's so hard to see the blood, sweat and tears destroyed by the wild world. It's been iffy here. After spending hundreds of hours on my veg garden rebuild, we almost took a hit from the dog head fire. Came sneaking back despite the mandatory evac so I could keep everything wetted down (but ready to run if the wind shifted again). And got several good rains a few days later. Just now starting to harvest the first of the crop. Started all from seed. A greenhouse/hoophouse is almost a must have if you're growing yr own plants. Cnm had a quicky course on putting one up with pvc very inexpensively--works very well. But difficult to get seedlings to survive in ground the first week or two without protection. I use wall o waters on anything that likes it hot-- tomatoes, pepper, eggplant, cukes, etc. I start spreading straw/hay thinly right away to hold moisture. Too thick and the wind will batter it over the plants. I just keep adding it as the seedlings grow till its deep enough to impede weeds. I try to arrange the planting so the taller ones afford some wind protection.

Grasshoppers haven't been too bad--but the harlequin bugs! Probably drowned thousands. Sheared back all the kale & chard, and am hoping I got the worst of the eggs. The adults have thinned significantly--and the chickens loved the greens. Thinking about running a Chunnel around the perimeter for the birds. Can't turn them loose as they do more damage than the bugs. Lady bugs took out the aphids. Never seen so many! The crows have pulled up virtually every tag in the garden--another season spent guessing which squash or melon variety is where. Next year I really am going to map the beds. Squirrels have zeroed in on the beans. Probably won't get more than one or two meals this year.

Didn't lose as many fruit trees to the rabbits as I feared. Replaced five or six, and still have some regrafting to do, but actually have some apples on one tree! Really impressed with the trench we devised to plant them. Dug down two or three feet and filled with a manure/chip mix. Oriented to catch rain/snow melt. Have only just had to water last two weeks after a year--the rains must come! Re mulching too, really slows evap loss.

Getting a few bramble berries, got some serviceberry fruit--going to plant more since they do so well up here. Sweet but not very flavorful. Be nice blended with elderberry which LOVES the trench. Huge flowers, but a fav with the birds. My hardy almond is fruiting! Only planted it for the blossoms-- so surprised. Found some more yellow horn trees, since last year's survived the winter--another nut some day. Don't know why it's not more used. Very pretty little tree. The New Mexico walnuts keep freezing down-- better at a lower altitude, 6000' ft instead of 7500. Jujubes too, going to move them this year into another trench. Maybe they will won't keep freezing back if they're better hydrated. Same with chaste, but can still get enough seeds for tinctoring despised freezing. Most years.

2 years ago
Semasphore works well esp in early spring to get the babies hatching. The bigger they get, the less effective it is. Daughter in abq put it out early, but held some back. Should have spread it all. Next door too. Good years, bad years-- but it's always something. Aphids were horrendous this spring, greenhouse nightmare! But hit my fruit trees too, tho don't usually get on anything but roses outside.

Forgot what I was going to say-- grey water. If you have the space, just run it out the door, a hay bale basin in a bed will soak up a lot. Move the drain from time to time. We Put in a massive branched drain ( with pro help), but it failed within three years. A really big chip basin would work well, surround it w fruit trees. We're redoing the system, putting in a worm composting toilet, and re routing the grey water to a bed planted for the bees. Problem is freezing weather...
3 years ago
Been implementing perm ideas on our acreage in the Manzanos for twelve years. Made every mistake in the book. My advice--start with the soil. Mine was/is pretty alkaline, devoid of organic matter, overgrazed for hundreds of years. The central 15 acres was meadow, a vast plain of bare soil, scoured by the wind, rock hard clay, sporting a few tussocked blades of grama. I thought it would take a lifetime to bring it back. We started laying wood on the ground and covering it with chips. We put in swales, chip basins, straw, tons of manure. If it rotted, it got spread. I planted natives, and put in seed, but where the soil had not been improved, the planting failed. Plants that survived are half the size of plants put in much later in improved soil. Mulch is crucial. At our altitude, the soil takes longer to warm, another reason it can take years to establish roots. Wind is a killer. Take advantage of microclimates. Watch out for critters--pocket gophers, rabbits, and ground squirrels can be devastating. Had my fruit trees girdled the last two years in a row--inside the fenced garden. Regrafting again...

Worst weeds to stay on top of--bindweed, horse nettle, thistle, kochia, goat head, dock, Siberian elm. The devil to get rid of when they're established.

With all that being said--we're making progress. Wrested enough from the critters last year to do some canning. The herb garden is coming along. Have a nice ornamental garden, mostly natives. Even some roses. I start a lot from seed, hoping that plants grown at altitude will do better that ones brought up from abq. Every 1000 ft up is a another zone.

Plants of the Southwest is a wonderful resource, but keep in mind that abq is a concrete heat island. I see zone 7 & 8 plants growing there, so not everything at the nursery will be suitable. Despite what the revised heat maps say, I buy for zone 4 unless I know the plant transcends the recommended zones. Irrigation gets better as roots go deep, but this can take years. Even drought tolerant natives must be irrigated in the first years.

I'd put in the biggest water catchment you can afford if you're serious about planting. We have about nine thousand gallons. We have a good well, but when the wind don't blow... The Soil &Water conservation District here matched our investment. State forrestry has some great programs too. Good place to get lots of seedlings. The extension service is a wonderful resource. Both abq & Santa Fe have nice botanical gardens that will give you good ideas for local plant material.
Could go on, but don't get overwhelmed. One foot in front of the other.

Today our meadow is full of wild flowers, self-seeded, and the grasses are filling in too. Persistence and a little luck.
3 years ago
Have a five yr old hugulkultur with big air pockets functioning as bunny highway. Dug a shallow trench about thirty feet long , crescent shaped to capture downhill flow (get between 4-18 inches rain/year). Put in big logs & slash, mix of ponderosa, piƱon & juniper, dumptruck load horse manure layering with soil to about 4 ft high. Planted w mix of NM natives and some hybrid willows (near bottom on wet side). Mulched w wood chips. Had to irrigate plants some the first couple of years, and some occasional spot watering (blue spruce--it's New Mexico). Problem is mound is not collapsing as material decays leading to large cavities in center of mound. Pocket gophers tunneled in. Trapped them, but rabbits further excavated and are now using the hugulkultur to bypass wire fence and dine at will. For every one we catch, three more take their place! Wish we'd incorporated more manure in clay soil covering mound. Even damp, it's really difficult to knock down. Using a bar to try and collapse the top, but have lost about a third of the plants.

Made an older bed about same size of slash and manure, and planted for the bees. Had some gopher issues, but bed has subsided fairly well. Still lost some plants, but it's New Mexico. Swales and chip basins function really well in this arid climate.
3 years ago