Category Archives: EDUCATION

Saving Green Tomatoes

 

Saving Green Tomatoes by Jannine Cabossel, the Tomato Lady

Now is the time to finish picking your ripe and green tomatoes as next week it will be in the 20s at night. If you wait till after a hard freeze, it will be too late.

How to save green tomatoes
If you have an abundance of green tomatoes on the vine, you still can bring them inside your house to finishing ripening them (not in a cold garage). Here’s how I do it although there are many ways to save them, I find using paper bags from the grocery store (yes that’s why you’ve been saving all those bags!) works really well.

How to pick tomatoes that will ripen

First you can tell which green tomatoes will probably ripen fully by looking at them. If you see the green is getting lighter on the sides, it will probably ripen as it has started the ripening process. Some have very dark tops and that is ok as long as the sides are a lighter shade of green. Also I just pick the bigger tomatoes as they are usually further along in the growing process versus the small totally dark immature tomatoes.

Use paper bags to ripen them

Place 2-3 layers of rock hard green tomatoes in bags as shown above-no more  that a couple of layers because as they ripen, you don’t want the ones ripening underneath to get crushed. Also discard any that have blemishes.

 

Place tomatoes that are just starting to get color in another bag and move the ones that are starting to color up from the ‘green’ bag. Look into your ‘green’ tomato bag every few days and move them to the ‘just starting to color’ bags.

Important tip: Put a slice or two of apple (any color) in each bag. The apple slice will release ethylene gas which is a natural ripening hormone that is in many fruits. It will speed up the ripening process of your tomatoes in your paper bags. Replace apple slices as needed. It really works!

 

Close up all the bags so the apple does it’s work and none of the gas is released. I fold the paper bags over several times and then I put either something on top of the bags to keep them closed or I shove them under a rack to help keep them closed as shown above.

The trick is you must inspect the bags every few days and move them to another bag as necessary. If you just put them in the bag and forget about them, you might wind up with a bunch of the ripen ones squished with the heavier unripened ones on top.

Once they have changed color but still hard, you should take them out of the bag and put them on the counter to finish ripening. Never put a ripe tomato in the refrigerator. A cold refrigerator dampens the taste.

This method is really good on extending the tomato season once the weather is too cold. They will never be quite as good as the sun-ripened ones but are still about 200% better than store bought ones. I use a lot of them that get a little too soft for pasta sauces and eat the rest.

D0-It-Yourself Solar Fountain

DO-IT-YOURSELF SOLAR FOUNTAIN
by Teri Buhl

One of the best things you can do to encourage wildlife in your yard is to create water sources.  For migrating birds, especially in the Southwest, fresh water is a lifesaver.  According to the Audubon Society, “fall” migration is a protracted experience, starting as early as mid-June and lasting until the early days of January. Such a long migration season provides birders plenty of opportunities to witness the spectacle and joy of birds on the move.  Peak fall migration occurs from mid-August to mid-October.  Cornell Lab of Ornithology researchers used cloud and radar data to estimate that 4.7 billion birds leave the U.S. over the southern border, heading to the tropics.  As stewards of wildlife, we can help a big percentage of our flying friends make a successful journey by supplying water when they need a rest stop.

This project is easy, it has a spray head that hummingbirds like, a center bowl for drinking, and a ring/bowl that larger birds can use for bathing.  In addition, a solar panel means that you don’t need to be near an electrical outlet.  Last, but not least, it’s a closed system that’s easy to clean and maintain.  What’s not to like?  Here’s what you need:

A 5-gallon bucket $5 – 10
A 13-inch diameter plastic chip and dip tray $1 – 3
A solar fountain kit, minimum of 2 watts of power $20 – 35
1 to 2 feet of 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch plastic tubing $1 – 5

You’re going to put holes in the chip and dip tray to allow water to drain back into the bucket, and can use either a drill or a soldering iron.   Any self-respecting do-it-yourselfer probably already has these tools on hand.  If not, visit your nearest Habitat for Humanity Restore and ask about their tool lending counter – they’ll be happy to help you.

Good luck and happy birding!

STEP 1
Find a place near a sunny spot for your bucket, and fill it to about 4 inches from the top.

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 2
Check to make sure your chip/dip tray fits your bucket properly.

 

 

STEP 3

Mark the drainage hole locations on the back of the chip/dip tray using the ejection pin and molding marks as a guide.  Start with 12 holes – you can always make more later.  (This need not be perfect.)

 

 

 

STEP 4

Drill the holes using a 1/16 to 1/8” drill bit.  Make one “pilot” hole in the center of the dip bowl of the tray.  You can use a soldering iron for the holes if you prefer.

 

 

 

 

STEP 5

Choose a drill bit the size of your fountain stem, probably 3/8 to 1/2″, and make a hole in the center using the pilot hole as a guide.

 

 

STEP 6

Fit the fountain stem into the center of the tray.  It needs to be just above the water level line to spray properly.

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 7

Most pump kits have small segmented pipes that you can size to the height of a container or pot.  Assemble these to the pump and place the pump in the bottom of the bucket.

 

STEP 8

Cut a relief slot in the bucket rim for the pump cord.  A round file works well for this.

 

 

 

 

STEP 9

You may need to buy an extra piece of tubing depending on your pump kit.  Use it to connect the pump piping to the fountain stem – see next photo.

 

STEP 10

The tubing needs to be long enough to lift the tray to add more water.

 

 

 

 

 

STEP 11

Solar panels come with hardware for ground or wall mounting.  If you use a ground stake, find a sunny place and face the panel to solar south.  The tilt should be about 30 degrees or less for maximum sun exposure throughout the day.

 

 

 

STEP 12

Keep your pump wet, grab a drink, sit back, and enjoy watching all the birds use your new fountain!

 

Making Herb Vinegars

Left to right: Dill weed and seeds, Empress of India nasturtium flowers and leaves, basil-oregano-garlic, tarragon, purple basil-oregano-garlic, Alaska nasturtium flowers and leaves, and Black Velvet nasturtium flowers and leaves. All were made using white wine vinegar except for basil-oregano-garlic, which is in cider vinegar.

Making Herb Vinegars

by Mike McGeary

In the late 1950s my family moved from a farm in Portland, Oregon, to the semi-arid, high-desert town of Bend, where my mother started to grow flower and herb plants for sale. She also made and sold vinegars infused with a variety of herbs, flowers, and seeds. One of my fondest memories of returning home was seeing the picture window in the kitchen filled with different colored herb vinegars on glass shelves. I inherited her herb vinegar recipes and notes, and her go-to book, The Art of Cooking with Herbs and Spices, by Milo Miloradovich (Doubleday, 1950), with additional recipes she wrote down inside the book’s front and back covers.

My wife and I have been making our own herb vinegars since the mid-1970s. It’s fun and easy, and the flavored vinegars make wonderful salad dressings and marinades. Adding just a dash will perk up many dishes, such as coleslaw, sautéed beet greens, or steamed vegetables.

The Basic Process
The process for infusing vinegar is straightforward. The following is a brief overview of that process. The rest of this article provides additional information and more detailed instructions.

Use a clean wide-mouth glass jar, or other nonreactive container, into which you put your fresh herbs or flowers or seeds of choice. Then fill the jar with the vinegar you have selected. Let the infusion sit, tightly capped, in a warm place. Shake it daily. After 10 days to 2 weeks, sample for flavor. If you want a stronger flavor, let it infuse a little longer, or replace the herbs with fresh herbs. When you are happy with the taste, strain the vinegar into a narrow-neck bottle and cap or cork it tightly. The herb vinegar is ready to use, but it will last at least 3–6 months.

Choosing Your Ingredients
We use store-bought vinegars, primarily cider and white wine vinegar, but you can also use red wine, champagne, sherry, and rice wine vinegar. Most recipes specify a type of vinegar, but you can be creative and substitute another vinegar for a different taste. Distilled white vinegar is basically the same quality regardless of the brand, but the other vinegars are generally better the higher the quality of wine or cider used to make it, which is reflected in the price.

Ingredients that are commonly used in making flavored vinegar include basil, purple basil, borage, salad burnet, chive blossoms, nasturtium flowers, dill, lemon balm, marjoram, spearmint, orange mint, rosemary, tarragon, scented geranium leaves, thyme, and lemon thyme. They can be used singly or in combination. Our favorite is basil-oregano-garlic.

Purple basil, chive blossoms, and nasturtium flowers each add a beautiful color to their distinctive flavor. The color shows best in white wine or other clear vinegars.

You can also add seeds or other flavorings. The most commonly used are garlic, dill seed, pepper corns, celery seed, coriander seed, caraway seed, lemon zest, onion or shallots, and horseradish. In fact, any one of these ingredients can be used to make an infused vinegar (see, for example, the recipe for celery seed vinegar, below).

Preparing the Herbs
Fresh herbs provide the most flavor. You can grow them in your garden or buy them at the farmers’ market or grocery store. Herbs from your garden should be picked before the plants start to flower, when their flavor is at its peak. It is best to pick them early in the morning.

You don’t have to wash the herbs unless they are dirty. In that case, rinse them in water, and spin dry them or blot them with a towel before putting them in the jar.

Preparing the Infusion
It is important to use only nonreactive (i.e., glass, ceramic, and stainless steel) containers, lids and stoppers, and utensils when working with vinegar. Glass, ceramic, and stainless steel will not react with the vinegar, but clear glass jars are best—all the better to see what is happening inside the jar. It is also a good idea to attach a note to the jar or lid listing the ingredients, type of vinegar, and date of infusion.

We use one-quart canning jars and plastic lids, washed in hot soapy water or in the dishwasher. Loosely pack the jars with the leafy herbs, bruising them a bit, by twisting them to help release the oil. For nasturtium vinegars, we put in a handful of leaves and a half-dozen or so flowers. You can add more flowers to deepen the color. Add any additional ingredients such as seeds or garlic, then fill the jar with vinegar.

Some recipes call for heating the vinegar before adding it, but that is not necessary when using fresh ingredients. Using dried herbs or crushed seeds, however, would be a reason to heat the vinegar (see recipe for celery seed vinegar, below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shake the jar each day to keep the herbs covered and distribute the flavor. (To prevent leakage, you can place a piece of plastic wrap over the jar before putting the lid on, as shown in the photo below. Check for flavor after two weeks. If you want a stronger flavor, you can add fresh herbs or simply let it sit for another week or two. If you think the flavor is too strong, you can dilute it by adding a small amount of water.

Decanting the Infused Vinegar
When the vinegar suits your taste, you are ready to decant it into clean, dry glass bottles. First, line a funnel with a double layer of cheese cloth, or other filter (we find that coffee filters result in a clearer vinegar). Pour the infused vinegar through the funnel until the bottle is full, and then cap it with a cork. Discard the solids.

Dressing It Up
We are always looking for interesting bottles—at yard sales and thrift stores—that are embossed with pretty designs, or have a distinctive shape, although any clear glass bottle works just fine.

When selling her vinegars, my mother put the appropriate fresh herb sprig, or blossom or flower, in each bottle. That adds a lovely touch and helps identify the contents, but unless you use the vinegar fairly quickly, they will fade. Usually, we don’t bother, but this time, because I am now trying to “sell” you on making your own herb vinegars, we placed some sprigs in a few of the bottles.

Finally, you can be creative with labels. We hang the label from a string around the neck of the bottle, so we don’t have to soak it off to refill the bottle the next year.

Some Recipes
Basil-Oregano-Garlic Vinegar

  • Fill 1-quart jar with roughly equal amounts of oregano and basil leaves and tender stems
  • Add 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • Fill jar with apple cider vinegar
  • After 2 weeks (or longer if a stronger flavor is desired), strain the infused vinegar into a bottle and seal tightly with a cork

Tarragon Vinegar

  • Fill 1-quart jar with tarragon leaves and tender stems
  • Fill jar with white wine (or champagne) vinegar
  • After 2 weeks (or longer if a stronger flavor is desired), strain the infused vinegar into a bottle and seal tightly with a cork

Basil or Purple Basil Vinegar

  • Fill 1-quart jar with basil leaves and tender stems

[Even a small amount of opal basil will produce a beautiful pinkish-red color]

  • Fill jar with white wine (or champagne or rice wine) vinegar
  • After 2 weeks (or longer if a stronger flavor is desired), strain the infused vinegar into a bottle and seal tightly with a cork

Nasturtium and Garlic Vinegar

  • In 1-quart jar, put at least 6 or 7 nasturtium flowers and handful of nasturtium leaves

[The more flowers used, the deeper the color; the more leaves used, the stronger the flavor]

  • Add 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • Fill jar with white wine (or champagne or rice wine) vinegar
  • After 2 weeks (or longer if a stronger flavor is desired), strain the infused vinegar into a bottle and seal tightly with a cork

Celery Seed Vinegar

  • In 1-quart jar, put 2 ounces celery seed (or other aromatic seed, e.g., dill or caraway), crushed in a mortar with pestle, to release essential oil
  • Heat white wine or (distilled white)vinegar to almost boiling and fill the jar with the vinegar
  • After 2 weeks (or longer if a stronger flavor is desired), strain the infused vinegar into a bottle and seal tightly with a cork

ENJOY!

Oxalic Acid

OXALIC ACID
by Teri Buhl

Did you grow up being told to “eat your spinach – it’ll make you strong”? Do you get excited (or weary) about a big bowl of dark, leafy “power greens”? How about rhubarb – love it or hate it? Besides being relatively easy to grow, these plants have another thing in common – oxalic acid – a good or bad thing, depending on your genetics and your gut’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Oxalic Acid, or Oxalate, is an organic compound found in many plants, e.g., leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, cocoa, nuts, and seeds. Your body can produce oxalate or convert Vitamin C into it when metabolized. Once consumed, oxalate binds to minerals to form compounds like calcium oxalate and iron oxalate, which are normally eliminated via the bladder or intestines. In some people, however, high oxalate diets have been linked to kidney stones and other health problems, like reduced calcium absorption.

Sometimes, high amounts of oxalate and calcium can form crystals and lead to kidney stones if urine volume is low. If you are prone to kidney stones, inflammatory bowel disease, or have had gastric bypass surgery, you may want to be tested for oxalate levels and limit your intake to 50 mg per day. You can reduce oxalate consumption by boiling the food item, drinking plenty of water, and making sure you get enough calcium, i.e., 800-1200 mg per day.

SORREL
One of my personal favorites is sorrel. It’s easy to grow and once established, it starts producing in early spring and continues throughout summer. According to a New Zealand study in 2013, “… [sorrel] should only be consumed in small amounts especially by people who are prone to kidney-stone formation. It is also advisable to prepare sorrel with other calcium-rich foods to reduce the soluble oxalate content, thus reducing the amount of oxalate absorbed into the body. Pesto is an ideal way of preparing sorrel as the serving size is small, so low levels of oxalates will be ingested.”

The study also found that “… incorporating Parmesan cheese in pesto and sour cream in soup also provided calcium, which can effectively reduce the soluble oxalates by conversion to insoluble oxalates…. Soup preparation involved cooking and this may have facilitated the leaching of soluble oxalates from the sorrel leaves, thus allowing the soluble oxalates to combine with calcium, from the sour cream, and form insoluble oxalates, which will not be absorbed from the digestive tract after ingestion.”

In addition, the scientists found that variegated sorrel with a lot of red in the leaves and stems contained more oxalate than green sorrel. This may have implications for rhubarb, chard, and other plants with variegated cultivars. What I really like about this study is that the researchers actually used the following (delicious) recipes to test their theories!

Spicy Sorrel Pesto
80 g large green sorrel leaves
40 g garlic cloves
40 g ground walnuts
8 g chili sauce
1/2 cup (60 g) grated parmesan cheese
10 g olive oil
6 g salt and 2 g pepper

 Romanian Sorrel Soup
46 g large green sorrel leaves
50 g chopped onions
6 g olive oil
28 g sour cream
12 g ground rice
1 egg yolk (≈18 g)
6 g salt

For more on oxalic levels in food, please download a copy of the attached chart from St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. Chart-oxalate-in-food. You may be surprised to discover that even navy beans, baked potatoes, and soy contain a relatively high amount of oxalate.

 

 

Sweet Grass

Sweet grass
By Steve Haines

Hierochloe odorata  (commonly known as sweet grassmanna grassMary’s grass or vanilla grass, and as holy grass in the UK, Bison grass e.g. by Polish vodka producers) is an aromatic herb native to northern Eurasia and North America.

It is a sacred grass of the indigenous peoples of Canada and the United States. It is used as a smudge, in herbal medicine and in the production of distilled beverages (e.g., ŻubrówkaWisent). The name Hierochloe odorata is from the Greek and Latin. Hierochloe means “holy grass” and odorata means “fragrant”.

Propagation is easiest by cutting out plugs from established plants. Grown in sun or partial shade, they do not like drought. It will spread and can take over.

The plant is harvested by cutting grass in early to late summer at the desired length. Hierochloe odorata harvested after the first frost has little or no scent and is less desirable for basketry. Basket weavers sun-dry cut sweet grass until it is dry and brittle. The brittle form of sweet grass must be soaked in warm water until it becomes pliable. The pliable grass is typically braided into thick threads and then re-dried for use.

Everywhere it grows it is prized. The thing that makes sweet grass sweet is coumarin, a naturally occurring aromachemical that in its pure form has a scent somewhere between vanilla and warm hay. As the grass dries, the scent of coumarin becomes more pronounced.

European traditions
Holy grass was strewn before church doors on saints’ days in northern Europe, presumably because of the sweet smell that arose when it was trodden on. It was used in France to flavor candy, tobacco, soft drinks, and perfumes. In Europe, the species Hierochloe alpina is frequently substituted or used interchangeably. In Russia, it was used to flavor tea. It is still used in flavored vodka, the most notable example being Polish Żubrówka.

Native American traditions
Sweet grass is widely used by North American indigenous peoples from many different Nations. Among many of the Plains Indians it is considered one of the “four sacred medicines“. Though being used for many purposes, its main purpose for many tribes is to attract good spirits. It is also known as the “Hair of Mother Earth”. Sweet grass is often burned at the beginning of a prayer or ceremony to attract positive energies. It is also to be used after burning white sage. White sage is burned to clean the energy, and sweet grass again invites in positive energies and spirits.

Sweet grass can be dried and used as a tea throughout the winter. Added by itself or with other garden herbs and flowers to alcohol, a delightful schnapps or liquor can be made. Sweet grass is a natural mosquito repellent. Some research claims it more effective than Deet.

There is an excellent book on the history of sweet grass covering both indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge titled Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

squash bug recipe

Here’s a recipe to try in your garden to discourage squash bugs from NM Farmer’s Market Association. Let us know in the comment sesction if it works for you.

Mix together and spray on leaves:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup neem oil
  • 1 teaspoon dish soap

From Top to Root (and Everything in Between): Eating the Whole Plant


From Top to Root (and Everything in Between):

Eating the Whole Plant

by Mike McGeary

When I was a child in Portland, Oregon, in the 1950s, my parents decided to grow as much of our food as possible. They bought what had been a dairy farm, which came with fruit trees and berries, and planted all sorts of vegetables, which we ate fresh, cooked, frozen, and canned. But despite this effort to get closer to nature, we still peeled our carrots and potatoes and discarded the turnip and radish tops. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that vegetable peels, skins, stems, and leaves were not only nutritious, but tasty. And there is less food waste.

It’s easy to document the added nutrition. According to the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association, beet greens contain more iron than spinach; are high in vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, and antioxidants; and have more nutritional value than the beet root. The same is true for turnips. One cup of turnip greens provides 115% Daily Value (DV) of Vitamin K, 37% DV of Vitamin C, 35% DV of Vitamin A, 27% DV of folate (Vitamin B9), and more.

Some of you may already cook the tops of root vegetable and eat carrots and potatoes with the skin on. But if not, read on.

To Peel or Not to Peel
Let’s start with the easiest way to add nutritional value, save time, and eliminate waste. You generally don’t have to peel carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, or other root vegetables or tubers even if you mash them. Just scrub them well with a vegetable brush to remove any dirt. You can also eat beets with the skin on, although the skins of large beets that have been in the ground for a long time may be too tough to eat.

Then there’s winter squash. Some winter squashes have skins thin enough to leave on when you cook and eat them. They include delicata, Rred kuri, small dumpling, and even butternut and kabocha when they are still petite.

Stem the Tide of Waste
Many recipes that include greens, such as chard, kale, and collards, direct you to remove the stems and discard them, but you do not need to, particularly if the greens are young and fresh. I generally eat chard and kale stems but find that collard stems are a bit too tough. I cut or strip the chard and kale stems out and either eat them raw or, if they are thick, cut them into 1-inch lengths and cook them with the leafy parts. Deborah Madison, in In My Kitchen, has a recipe for chard stems with lemon, which uses the chard and cilantro stems left over from her recipe for silky braised chard and cilantro.

Great Taste and No Waste!
Herbs like cilantro and parsley are used mainly for their leaves, but if the herbs are fresh and tender, you can chop up their stems with the leaves and add them to your dish. Less work for you, and the stems are as flavorful as the leaves.

When cooking with mushrooms, some people remove and discard the stems, but they can be trimmed and cooked with the caps. The stems can also be saved and added to other vegetable scraps to make stock (we keep all our scraps in a resealable bag in the freezer).

Start at the Top
In addition to the traditional greens, you can also eat the leafy tops of root vegetables, such as carrots, beets, turnips, and radishes. A tip: You will find the freshest tops at a farmers’ market; by the time they get to a supermarket, they are often over the hill or may have been removed. Another tip: Andrea Bemis, of Tumbleweed Farm in Oregon, recommends in her cookbook Dishing Up the Dirt that you separate the tops from the roots when you get home and store them separately or the greens will leach the moisture from the roots and make them go soft too soon.

There are numerous ways to cook the tops of root vegetables. On our farm in Oregon, my mother steamed the beet tops and served them as a side dish with a dash of red wine vinegar on top. Deborah Madison has a recipe for braised turnip greens in The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. The Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute (SFFMI) has a recipe for creamed turnips and greens on its website: https://farmersmarketinstitute.org/tag/market-fresh-cooking/. The tops of the small white Asian turnips sold at the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market are especially easy to cook and good to eat.

Radish greens, if they are fresh, are delicious raw in a salad, but some people might not like the fuzzy surface. When you cook them, however, the fuzziness disappears but the peppery taste remains. A recipe for braising radishes with their leaves is on the SFFMI website.

Carrot tops—yes, carrot tops—are also edible. The SFFMI website has a recipe for sautéed carrots served with carrot top pesto. At our house, we like carrot top salsa verde with pickle juice, from Mads Refslund’s cookbook, Scraps, Wilt + Weeds: Turning Waste Food into Plenty. We put it on chicken, pork, fish, and vegetables.

Though not root vegetables, celery and fennel also have several useful parts. Generally, we freeze the celery leaves with other scraps saved for making vegetable stock, but they can also be added to a green salad. The fennel bulb is the most commonly used part of the plant, but the fronds can be chopped and sprinkled on the cooked fennel bulbs or sprinkled on a salad. Scraps, Wilt + Weeds has a recipe for fennel pesto using fennel stalks—the part between the bulb and the fronds.

Additional Reading and Related Topics
For further reading, I would recommend Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy, which includes a section for most vegetables on “Using the Whole Plant.” Mads Refslund’s book, Scraps, Wilt + Weeds: Turning Wasted Food into Plenty focuses on waste prevention—using not only all the edible parts of plants, but also wilted, dried out, and otherwise over-the-hill vegetables and fruits. His recipe for vegetable scrap and peel stock lists additional plant parts that can be used, such as onion peels, cauliflower and cabbage cores, and stems of herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, and thyme. He also has chapters on making the most of meat, seafood, and dairy products.

Finally, as a last resort, you can compost vegetable and fruit scraps that you don’t want to eat or save for stock. Our worm bed produces wonderful compost that we use to help grow the next generation of vegetables in our garden.

And finally, finally, if you enjoy using all parts of your vegetables, you might look into related activities, such as foraging for wild plants, edible flowers (such as nasturtium flowers and chive blossoms), and herb vinegars, which are topics to explore another time.

Bugs in your yard….. a closer look

Take a walk around your yard and garden and you will quickly see that there are a lot of bugs and insects there; a lot of them! Some are beneficial and some can be real pests. A general bug killer will get rid of them all, but that is just ignorant and wrong. How good are you at telling them apart and what you can do to control the pesky ones? You know, the ones that can ruin your plants and make you want to quit gardening altogether!

Most of us know some of the good ones; bees, ladybugs and praying mantises for example, and some of the pests like aphids, squash bugs and flea beetles. But we may not recognize them in their immature stages when they can often be more voracious feeders. So… let’s take a look at some more insects in your yard and see how many you can recognize as either a “good bug” J or “bad bug” L

ladybug larva

 

#1 This is the larva of ladybug and it actually eat more aphids than the adult. J

 

 

 

 

praying mantis egg case

#2 This is an egg case of the praying mantis. The female creates a foamy mass full of eggs that dries and protects the eggs over winter. Just leave it alone.In the spring, the young emerge fully formed and begin eating aphids, leafhoppers, mosquitoes and caterpillars. J

 

 

pill bug

 

#3 Pill bug. You might think these “roly-polys are harmless detritivores but they can take out a whole row of seedlings overnight! Use Sluggo Plus to keep them under control.  L

 

 

 

spined soldier bug

spined soldier larva

#4 The spined soldier bug is a common stink bug and a great predator of the gypsy moth caterpillar, and the larval forms of the Colorado potato beetle and the Mexican bean beetle. The immature form looks somewhat like a ladybug. J

 

lacewing larva

lacewing adult

#5 The lacewing larva is the main predatory stage where they feed mainly on aphids. The adults are fragile looking, weak fliers and squash vine borergesubsist on nectar and pollen. J

 

leafhopper

#6 Leafhoppers are very tiny insects that can carry the curly top virus which will     kill your tomato plants and can damage peppers, beans, potatoes, spinach, beets as well. There is no cure. Cover your plants with row cloth to prevent the leafhopper from infecting them. Remove the cover in July when the monsoons arrive. J

 

squash vine borer

squash vine borer larva damage

#7 Squash vine borer. If you see this brightly colored insect watch out!   She’s about to lay eggs on the stem of your squash plant at ground level. The larvae will burrow into the stem and feed off the plant tissue causing the leaves to wilt. You might at first think that the plant needs watering, but take a closer look at the stem and you will see yellow-orange frass, or droppings around a hole. Once the larva has entered the stem, it’s very difficult to save the plant. Prevention is key. You can try covering the plants with row cover until the blossoms open. They overwinter in cocoons in the soil so don’t plant your squash in the same place as last year. Make sure you dispose of all squash vines at the end of the growing season. L

 

sphinx moth

tomato hornworm

#8 Sphinx moth. Often called the ‘humming bird moth”, it appears in the garden in late afternoons and evening. Enjoy the adults but be on the lookout for their caterpillars, called tomato hornworm. The female moth will lay her eggs on plants in the nightshade family including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, pepper. The caterpillars grow quickly and can defoliate your tomato plants.   Inspect your plants regularly and pick them off as you find them. L

 

ground beetle

#9 As their name suggests, ground beetles live in the ground and both they and their larvae are considered beneficial predators of soil invertebrates. There are over 2.000 species in North America. Just leave them alone. J

 

 

squash bug adult

squash bug eggs

#10 Squash bugs are the bane of all gardeners. These bugs inject a toxin into the plant and suck the sap right out of it with their sharp, sucking mouth parts. This causes yellow spots that eventually turn brown. The leaves will wilt because the damage prevents the flow of nutrients to the leaves, and then they will dry up and turn black, crisp, and brittle. To control these you must be vigilant. Look for egg masses and scrape them off the undersides of the leaves or cut them out. Once they hatch you will have a difficult time finding them all. If you constantly have trouble with squash bugs, try growing squash varieties that are more resistant to them, such as butternut squash. Good luck! L

These are just some of the insects that you will come across as you spend time in your yard. Learning how to control the harmful ones without using pesticides will result in more beneficials and a healthier garden overall.

For more information about these and other beneficial garden insects check out this pocket guide to beneficial insects of New Mexico.

https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/insects/welcome.html

2020 class/events schedule

Below are the classes/events schedule for 2020 with detailed info on each class and REGISTER through EVENTBRITE. You can also find this page through the CLASSES/EVENTS on the top menu on this website. You can print off an abridged version (to put on your refrigerator!) here: 2020 HGNM Class:Event Schedule Please note to get the MEMBER rate, you must be a member FIRST. Other wise you pay the NON-MEMBER rate. To become a member to get the discounted rate,  go to the MEMBERSHIP page in the top menu above and then come back here to sign up and register.

NOTICE:

DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS, ALL MARCH, APRIL AND MAY EVENTS ARE CANCELLED. 

THERE ARE STILL MANY CLASSES AVAILABLE LATER ON THAT YOU STILL CAN SIGN UP FOR)

WE WILL RE-EVALUATE JUNE CLASSES AND WILL NOTIFY YOU WHAT IS GOING ON. PLEASE DON’T DESPAIR.

WE WILL RESUME THE REMAINING CLASSES WHEN WE CAN AND NOTIFY YOU.

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2020 schedule

MARCH 2020
Wednesday, March 18th 4 pm to 6 pm-CANCELLED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS Home Grown New Mexico Seed Exchange-FREE Get ready for the new gardening season! If you are looking for free seeds for your vegetable, herb or flower garden or have some seeds to share, start off this new gardening season with us at the Santa Fe Seed Exchange. This year, Home Grown New Mexico’s Seed Exchange is back at Frenchy’s Barn. Location: Frenchy’s Barn at Frenchy’s Park • 2001 Agua Fria • Santa Fe, NM Fee: FREE for everyone! No need to sign up-just show up! The Santa Fe Master Gardeners will be at the event with a table for gardening questions and will have handouts. ______________________________________
Sunday, March 22nd 4 to 6 pm-CANCELLED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS Spring Fling Potluck and Class Events Intro- FREE! Come to our Spring Fling Potluck and find out what Home Grown New Mexico classes and events are being held in 2020. Please bring a dish. Jannine Cabossel will go over the class schedule. Location: Chrysalis Nutraceuticals: 130 Siringo Road, Suite 103 • Santa Fe, NM Fee: FREE for everyone! No need to sign up-just show up!
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Sunday, March 29th
12 noon to 2 pm
Tsukemono Pickling Workshop-CANCELLED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS
Tsukemono are preserved vegetables that are pickled in salt, miso, shoyu, vinegar etc. They come in great varieties and forms and provide accent to meals. You don’t see a Japanese meal without tsukemono. In this workshop, varieties of tsukemono will be introduced, and there will be a demonstration of three types of tsukemono—lacto-fermented nappa pickles, amazake (sweet koji paste) pickles and miso pickles. This is different than a regular pickling class-way more exciting!
Sadewic was born and grew up in rural setting in southern Japan. After exploring different diets, she is incorporating all the lessons she learned and teaching Nourishing Traditional Japanese Cooking Classes at her little kitchen, focusing on fermentation. In 2017, she became a Certified Koji Professional and has been sharing the wisdom of her tradition with the community.
Instructor: Nao Sadewic
Location: Chrysalis Nutraceuticals: 130 Siringo Road, Suite 103 • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-member
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APRIL 2020
Sunday, April 5th 12 noon to 2 pm-CANCELLED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS
Recycled Water and Wicking Beds
Richard Jennings of Water Management Associates is the state of New Mexico’s leading water management expert. He specializes in water conservation techniques, active and passive water harvesting systems, effluent recycling, septic systems, and landscape ecology.  
In addition to his day job, Richard has an extensive garden and greenhouse that utilizes wicking beds. He is also working on a solar thermal water heating project. This is a great opportunity to see several innovative water management techniques and meet a real expert in the field. Bring your questions and project ideas!
Instructor: Richard Jennings of Water Management Associates
Location: Richard’s property: 30 Camino Sudeste • Santa Fe, NM
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-member
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Sunday, April 26th
12 noon to 2 pm-CANCELLED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS
Wake up! Get Your Garden Ready For Spring
Jannine Cabossel, The Tomato Lady, will show you how to prepare for the upcoming veggie gardening season. Come learn how to garden in our harsh enviroment. Give youself the ability to grow vegetables year round with these gardening tips!
Instructor: Jannine Cabossel/Tomato Lady
Location: Jannine’s mini-farm • 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe, NM
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members
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MAY 2020
Sunday, May 3rd
12 noon to 2 pm-CANCELLED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS
Leaf & Hive Brew Tour & Demo/Jun & Kombucha Making
Leaf & Hive Brew is now offering its unique Honey Brew probiotic alchoholic beverages to Santa Fe. Unlike regular kombucha, Andrew and Fred Lucas ferment their Jun beverages from green tea and/or oolong, with honey and add flavors such as ginger, hibiscus, and botanicals. The result is like a delicious sparkling mead! This is a rare opportunity to learn about this ancient brew and tour the facility. Afterward, we’ll participate in a tasting of what they have on hand in their taproom. Come thirsty! Only 21 years of age and older.
Location: 1208 Mercantile Rd. • Santa Fe, NM
Fee: $10, for members/$20 for non-members
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Sunday, May 17th
12 noon to 3 pm-CANCELLED DUE TO CORONA VIRUS
Cheesemaking-Buratta-NEW!
Hands on-learn how to make a soft, creamy Buratta cheese. Traditionally, Buratta has been made in Italy from cow or sheep’s milk. Each participant will make the cheese and take some home.
Instructor: Diane Pratt
Location: Steve and Alessandra Haines house: 52 Mansion Drive • Santa Fe, NM
Fee: $20 for members and $25 for non-members Hands-on: limited to 12 people-Waiting list will be available.
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JUNE 2020
Sunday, June 14th 12 noon to 2 pm
Hypertufa Planter Workshop & Demo
Get ready for spring planting with these easy to make and durable plant pots that will look great in your garden and last for years. These rock like pots are wonderful for displaying rock-garden plants. They look like stone, but weigh less and can take whatever shape you want.
Instructor: Bob Zimmerman and Chris Salem
Location: Jannine Cabossel’s mini-farm: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members
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Sunday, June 28th
12 noon to 3 pm
Lunch in the Field
Join the Rio Grande Grain team to tour and LEARN about the 2020 ancient and heirloom grain trials at Mergirl Gardens in La Villita, NM. This season we have 20 varieties of wheats, ryes, spelt and barleys being trialed. After the field tour enjoy a four course GRAIN BASED LUNCH featuring many of the grains we have been working with in the kitchen and in the field. The vegetarian lunch will be prepared by our grain team: Ron Boyd, Christine Salem, Deborah Madison, Diane Pratt, Jody Pugh, Hal Bogart and Alessandra Haines.
Location: La Villita, NM (North of Espanola-DIRECTIONS BELOW)
Fee: $25 for members/$35 for non-members • limited to 20 people
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JULY 2020
Sunday, July 19th
12 noon to 2 pm
Dehydrating the Harvest
Have you thought about getting a food dehydrator to preserve seasonal produce for later enjoyment? Do you already have a dehydrator and want to learn more ways to use your dehydrator than just drying apples? In this class, Bob will demonstrate how to preserve all kinds of food products, complete with recipes and tips for getting the most out of your dehydrator. Here are just some of the unique and tasty treats that we will explore-fruit chips, beef, turkey and tofu jerky, parmesan, tomato & zucchini chips, sun-dried tomato crackers, fruit rollups and leathers.
Instructor: Bob Zimmerman
Location: Jannine Cabossel’s mini-farm: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe, NM
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members • limit to 20 people
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AUGUST 2020
Sunday, August 2nd
12 noon to 2 pm
Getting Seedy: Why & How to Save Your Seeds
Join Master Gardeners & Certified Seed School Teachers Susie Sonflieth and Jody Pugh. In this workshop, you’ll learn the advan- tages of locally adapted seeds and how they offer resilience to climate change, how to get started saving seeds, which vegetable seeds are easiest to save, how to know when seeds are ready to collect, and how to store them. Plus, techniques for determining the viability of seeds & why we can’t save seeds from hybrid varieties.
Instructor: Susie Sonflieth and Jody Pugh
Location: Chrysalis Nutraceuticals: 130 Siringo Road, Suite 103 • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 to members/$20 for non-members
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Saturday, August 29th
12 noon to 2 pm
Reunity Resources Farm Tour
Visit Santa Fe’s community farm practicing organic and regenerative agriculture. Reunity Resources is working with closed loop nutrient systems using food waste from local businesses to create a variety of compost and mulch products using Aerated Static Piles and vermicomposting (worms). The compost operation has diverted over 5 million pounds of food waste from the landfill and sequestered much of that carbon in the soil increasing fertility and water absorption. The results are evident in the amazing variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers produced on the farm. The farm is committed to serving the community through education and outreach and donates much of the produce to local hunger projects. The farm stand will be open as well.
Location: 1829 San Ysidro Crossing • Santa Fe, NM
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members
______________________________________ SEPTEMBER 2020 Sunday, September 13th 12 noon to 2 pm Wood Fired Pizza Ever wonder why the pizza that you make at home is not the same as what you get at your favorite pizzeria? One of the main factors is that a home oven never gets hot enough to cook pizza at the temperatures it needs. Come try baking pizza in a home built wood fired oven at 700 degrees and see the difference for yourself. We’ll discuss wood fired ovens, cover making dough with both sourdough and commercial yeast leavening and a variety of flours including heritage and ancient wheats. Sauces and toppings will be discussed, slathered and baked on a bunch of pies to sample! Instructor: Mike Warren Location: Mike Warren’s house: 747 Old Las Vegas Highway • Santa Fe, NM Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members ____________________________________ Sunday, September 27th 12 noon to 2 pm Tamales-More Masa in the Casa! Learn to make fresh, fragrant tamales with colorful local and heritage corns and a variety of creative and traditional fillings. We will explore nixtamalization and grinding the corn as well as using masa harina with various types of shortenings including vegan options. Try your hand at filling, wrapping and cooking tamales. Tasting and comparing both savory and sweet tamales will wrap up the afternoon. Dianne Pratt and Alessandra Haines are big fans of all things masa and work with the Rio Grande Grain project. Instructor: Diane Pratt/Alessandra Haines Location: Steve and Alessandra Haines house: 52 Mansion Drive • Santa Fe Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members ______________________________________ FALL POTLUCK2 copy Sunday, Oct 11 4 pm to 6 pm Fall Harvest Potluck–FREE bring a dish! Guest speaker: Deborah Madison Come listen to Deborah Madison-author of 14 cooking books and her latest book, a food memoir called ‘An Onion in My Pocket’ Location: Mike and Sherry McGeary’s house • 835 E. Zia Road Fee: FREE! But please register

Graze Days in the Railyard Park

Hey everybody-Goats and sheep will be grazing in the Railyard Park on Oct 28 through Oct 30 from 11-4 pm each day! The project aims to restore the health of the soil and the Blue Grama grasses on the corner of Cerrillos Rd and Guadalupe. Come out and bring yourself, friend or child and take pics of them cleaning up the area. Should be fun!

For more information, go to the Railyard Park Conservancy