Author Archives: Stuff I Made This Year

Grafting Workshop at Tooley’s Trees

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Tooley’s Trees held a workshop this March on grafting.  Grafting is the technique of cloning trees by combining a branch of new growth (scion) from a tree you want to reproduce with compatible rootstock.  Growing trees from seed can produce a whole variety of  different characteristics than the  parents had.  Grafting allows you to reliably reproduce trees with the qualities that you want to preserve. They do hundreds of grafted trees at Tooley’s each year combining trees that are proven to be hardy in our climate with the appropriate rootstock.  This workshop allowed us to learn how to do the the process from the masters.  Each student got to bring home five newly grafted trees to boot!

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Collecting scion wood from the orchard.

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Rootstock being stored in straw.

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Putting the scions and rootstock together to make new trees!

Upcoming Workshops and Classes

This year has been one of the best for our classes.   We have had really great offerings and high attendance at all of the classes.  That feels really good because it means we are living up to our mission.  There’s no rest yet though because we still have a couple really good sessions coming up.

This Sunday, Aug 16th, is the mozzarella making class.  We had such a tremendous response for it that we started a wait list.  If we get enough people we will run the class again to meet the demand.  So go ahead and sign up if you are interested.  You can click on the Eventbright banner below to register.

Eventbrite - Cheesemaking-Mozzarella

On September 6th we will be presenting a class on how to use a solar food dryer to preserve your harvest.  We’ve got the sunshine, might as well use it! Learn how easy it is to put up food by drying it.  Drying reduces the weight and volume of what you need to store.  It also concentrates flavors to make healthy delicious snacks for later from the abundance of produce we are getting out of our gardens right now. Last year I was able to turn a case of apples into a couple of gallon sized Ziplock bags full of dried apple slices. It took very little effort from me and they lasted all winter.  Click  the banner below to register.

Eventbrite - Drying your Harvest-Solar Food Drying

In addition to the classes that Home Grown New Mexico puts on we also like to draw your attention to some of the other high quality offerings being put on by others.  We have a few upcoming workshops and classes that we are excited to share with you.

First, are a couple of workshops being offered by Christian Meuli.  Christian has a property in Edgewood where he has been experimenting with managing surface water from rainfall using a variety of techniques.

For those of you that attended the Heugelkulture class earlier this summer, Christian is the originator of sponges,  a simple system used to capture and store water for your trees long term with minimal effort.  He has also developed an innovative berm system using woodchips to slow down water and allow it to soak  into the ground rather than running off your property taking topsoil along with it.

Christian has a lot of great ideas and has been implementing them for long enough that you can see what a mature system looks like years after it’s been installed. Click on the link for a flyer with more specific details.

Woodchip Berm and Windbreak Workshops Flyer

Finally, we’ve saved the best for last.  The lecturer for the Heuglkulture class, Michael Reed, a veteran gardener with over 40 years of experience, offers a six month course called the Mother of all Backyard Gardening Courses at his farm in the South Valley.  This very comprehensive but affordable class meets twice a month for six months.  It runs twice a year from equinox to the equinox.  The new session is starting in September.

In the Mother Course Michael brings his unique holistic view to gardening that you will find nowhere else.  He covers all the systems at play in nature and our relationship with them from a multi-faceted deep understanding that only comes from many years of study and practice..  I took the class and came away with a profoundly changed view of gardening and my role in it.

If you have the time I would highly recommend taking Michael’s course.  Click on the links below for more detailed information on the class.

Mother Course 2015 Dark Side flyer

Mother Course 15-16 Dark Side class descriptions

Hugelkultur Class Wrap Up

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The Hugelkultur class on Sunday was another really well attended event with over 30 participants.  We want to send out a big thank you to Michael Reed who did a great job introducing us to the principles of hugelkultur, how it fits in the larger framework of Permaculture and some adaptations we can make to use this technique in our climate.  We also got to walk around Mike & Molly’s yard and see the techniques being put into action.

There was also a lot of interest in the Mother of all Gardening Courses that Michael teaches.  The Mother classes are taught year round and run for six months meeting roughly twice a month.  They start and end on the equinoxes. Click on the links for the Mother Course Flyer and class descriptions.

Please contact Michael  (skreed@earthlink.net) for an up to date schedule and any questions you may have.

New Approach to Harvesting Honey

Via Colossal

We found this post on the Colossal blog about a new beehive design that lets you harvest the honey without pulling combs and disturbing the bees.  While this may not be the solution for commercial operations it could be just the thing for backyard beekeepers with just a couple hives.

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The Flow Hive is a new beehive invention that promises to eliminate the more laborious aspects of collecting honey from a beehive with a novel spigot system that taps into specially designed honeycomb frames. Invented over the last decade by father and son beekeepers Stuart and Cedar Anderson, the system eliminates the traditional process of honey extraction where frames are removed from beehives, opened with hot knives, and loaded into a machine that uses centrifugal force to get the honey out. Here is how the Andersons explain their design:

The Flow frame consists of already partly formed honeycomb cells. The bees complete the comb with their wax, fill the cells with honey and cap the cells as usual. When you turn the tool, a bit like a tap, the cells split vertically inside the comb forming channels allowing the honey to flow down to a sealed trough at the base of the frame and out of the hive while the bees are practically undisturbed on the comb surface.

When the honey has finished draining you turn the tap again in the upper slot resets the comb into the original position and allows the bees to chew the wax capping away, and fill it with honey again.

It’s difficult to say how this might scale up for commercial operations, but for urban or backyard beekeeping it seems like a whole lot of fun. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine these on the roof of a restaurant where honey could be extracted daily, or for use by kids or others who might be more squeamish around live bees. You can see more on their website and over on Facebook.

UPDATE: The Flow Hive is currently seeking funding on IndieGogo. So far they’ve raised $1.8 million in 16 hours.

The Persephone Period

Winter Greens

As we approach the shortest day of the year most people’s attentions have turned from gardening to other indoor activities.  The plants too have turned inward during this time of cold and limited light.  If you had the foresight to plant winter greens in a cold frame or greenhouse you’ve probably noticed that not too much is going on right now.  The reason for this is because we are in the Persephone Period.

Coined by Elliot Coleman, the Persephone Period is the time of year when there are fewer than 10 hours of sunlight during the day.  The following is an excerpt from his book The Winter Harvest Handbook that describes the origins of the Persephone Period:

Humans have long had their own way of understanding the changes in day length and its affect on agriculture. Early Greek farmers, whose practical experience added mythical stories to astronomical fact, knew intimately that the power of the sun and the length of the day are the principal influences on agriculture. They created the myth of Persephone to explain the effect of winter conditions. As the story goes, the earth goddess Demeter had a daughter, Persephone, who was abducted by Hades to live with him as his wife in the netherworld. Demeter would have nothing to do with this and threatened to shut down all plant growth. Zeus intervened and brokered a deal whereby Persephone would spend only the winter months with her husband, Hades. Demeter, saddened by her daughter’s absence, made the earth barren during that time. On our farm we refer to the period when the days are less than ten hours long as the Persephone months.

Depending on your latitude the Persephone Period can be longer or shorter compared to other places.  Here in Santa Fe it lasts from Thanksgiving to January 14th whereas in Maine it lasts from November 5 to February 5 .  While the plants may not be doing much right now there are still plenty of activities for the gardener to attend to.

Clean out and fertilize the garden– If you are like me you may or may not have gotten around to pulling the dead plants and spreading manure after the harvesting is over.  It’s never too late to take advantage of a warm day to reset things and allow nature ample chance to replenish the ground.

Water the Perennials-  While we have been blessed with a series of light snow storms this year it is important to get out 1-2 times a month and check the soil around your perennials to make sure it is still moist.  Bulbs, trees and bushes use these months to grow roots and can be set back if they are allowed to dry out.  In addition moist soil will protect your plants from deep freezes.  Wet soil will freeze into a protective block around roots and keep them safe when the thermometer plunges into single digits and lower.

Get set for next year-  Now is the time to peruse those seed catalogs that have been showing up in the mailbox.  Look at last season’s notebook and think about what new varieties you would like to try next year.  Go over your tools and equipment and repair or replace the broken stuff. Collect supplies for starting seeds.  In just a few months it will be time to start the new planting year and there is nothing that helps with the winter blahs as much as having a flat of fresh starts in the window or under lights.

While we are in a time of well earned rest and recuperation right now, before we know it the plants under glass will be kicking back into high gear for early spring salads.  Then the snow will be melting and the first sprouts of spring will be tentatively poking up outside ready to start all over again.