Category Archives: EDUCATION

Slow Food Santa Fe 2022 Annual Farm Tour


Slow Food Santa Fe is putting on a 2022 farm tour and we at Home Grown NM want to support them and our local farmers. So if you would like to join them read below-sounds like a great outing!


Join Slow Food Santa Fe for a unique opportunity – get to know your farmers and see where and how your food is grown at our tour this year near Española.


DATE: Wed, September 14, 2022

TIME: 1:00 PM – 4:30 PM MDT

Tours at each of the farms will take place on the hour – 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm with participants self-selecting where they want to start.

Directions and maps (including other local attractions) will be provided upon sign-up. We encourage carpooling, as parking is limited at some of the venues.


DESCRIPTION: This year’s Slow Food Santa Fe Farm Tour promises to be a treat! From farmers recently starting out to farmers on land that has been farmed for over 400 years, we promise a variety of delightful experiences!

Join us on this self-guided tour as we visit Khalsa Family Farms in Sembrillo, The Vagabond Farmers in La Puebla, and Santa Cruz Farm and Greenhouses in Española, all within a few minutes of each other and only about 20 minutes from Santa Fe on beautiful country roads.

Directions and maps (including other local attractions) will be provided upon sign-up. We encourage carpooling, as parking is limited at some of the venues.

Each of the farms will have produce for sale, so bring your shopping bags! We can’t wait to see you there!


Have you ever attended a cooking class outside on a local farm?

Slow Food SF_cooking class at a local farm

Outside cooking class on a local farm
This is not one of our events this year but from time to time we want to promote other organizations’ programs, so we are putting it up here for you to look at and sign up if you want. Slow Food Santa Fe is a great organization with many events this year that gardeners and foodies alike will find interesting. So check it out!

Slow Food Santa Fe is delighted to be partnering with the Sprouting Kitchen and Reunity Resources Farm for this very special hands-on class. We’ll start with a tour of Reunity, a beautiful farm in Santa Fe practicing organic and regenerative agriculture. Next, Sprouting Kitchen’s founder and owner Fallon Bader will lead us in cooking a meal entirely focused on just-harvested farm produce. You’ll learn new ways of using seasonal produce and new culinary techniques! Then we’ll sit down to share the food we’ve all created together. We can’t wait!

Santa Fe Seed Stewards To Offer “Seeding Resiliency” Gardening Classes

Seed Library FB post (Instagram Post)

We support Santa Fe Seed Stewards offering a great series of gardening classes this summer in addition to ours. If you are an experienced or newbie to gardening here in Santa Fe, check these out. No need to sign up, just show up!

Santa Fe, NM: The Santa Fe Seed Stewards, a project of the Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners, will present a 5-week series of free gardening classes beginning July 7, 2022, and running through August 4 from 6-7:30 pm. The classes are part of the community education component of the Seed Library at the Southside Branch Library. The series includes two feature film screenings, and workshops on seed saving, fall vegetable gardening, and drip irrigation. The Santa Fe Seed Library is operated by the Santa Fe Seed Stewards in partnership with the Santa Fe Public Libraries. The following classes will take place at the Southside Branch Library, 6599 Jaguar Drive on five consecutive Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 pm.

The series kicks off with a screening of “Seed: The Untold Story.” This
award-winning film follows passionate seed keepers protecting our 12,000-year-old food legacy. With Vandana Shiva, Winona LaDuke, Jane Goodall.
Thursday, July 7, 6-7:30 pm.

Then on Thursday, July 14, 6-7:30 pm, Seed Stewards and Master Gardeners Susie Sonflieth and Diane Pratt will present “Seed Saving for Resilient Gardens” They will cover the basics of harvesting, processing, and storage of vegetable, herb, and flower seeds through hands-on demonstrations.

Next up on Thursday, July 21, 6-7:30 pm, it’s Kelly Nace with The Firebird for “Drip Irrigation Basics” and best practices for setting up a DIY water-wise drip irrigation system.

The film “Kiss the Ground” will be screened on Thursday, July 28, 6-7:30 pm. Narrated by Woody Harrelson, the film explores the astonishing capacity of our soil, if coupled with regenerative practices, to reverse our carbon footprint and feed the world.

Finally, on Thursday, August 4, 6-7:30 pm, “Planning Your Fall Vegetable Garden” rounds out the series. Local vegetable guru Jannine Cabossel, aka The Tomato Lady, offers proven techniques for extending your gardening bounty well into the cooler fall months.

In addition, on Saturday, September 24 from 1-3 pm Seed Stewards and Master Gardeners Susie Sonflieth and Diane Pratt will offer “How to Save Seeds for Resilient Gardens” in conjunction with the Master Gardeners Let’s Grow! Education series. The class includes the basics of harvesting, processing, and storage of vegetable, herb, and flower seeds through hands-on demonstrations and will be held at the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds, 3229 Rodeo Road, outdoors under the portal of the Exhibit Hall.

Resources for seed saving, growing vegetables from seed, growing tomatoes, soil preparation, seed viability, seed isolation charts, and much more are posted at and

2022 classes/event schedule

2022 CLASS/EVENT SCHEDULE-Below are the classes/events schedule for 2022 with detailed info on each class and REGISTRATION through EVENTBRITE. You can also find this schedule on the top menu on this website in CLASSES/EVENTS. All events will be outside. SCROLL DOWN FOR LATEST EVENTS!


HG SEED EXCHANGETuesday, March 22nd
2 pm to 4 pm

Home Grown New Mexico Seed Exchange-one day only-FREE

WE ARE BACK! This year we have rented the Railyard Conservancy room behind SITE Santa Fe for one day only, across the street from the Farmers Market. It will be inside the room and also outside the room. !0 people at a time will be allowed to enter the room but you can look at the outside tables with seeds also while you wait to get in. The garage doors will be open for air circulation. Masks required. If you are looking for free seeds for your vegetable or flower garden or have seeds to share, start this new gardening season with us at the Santa Fe Seed Exchange. Please bring any seeds you may have to share. It is not necessary but helps keep our seed supply going. Please identify any seeds you are sharing.

Location: Railyard Park classroom 701 Callejon (behind SITE Santa Fe) off Paseo de Peralta • Santa Fe
Fee: FREE for everyone! No sign up-Just show up!


soil class photo


Sunday, June 5th
10 am to 12 pm

Healthy Soils Class

Learn how soil stewardship can increase soil nutrients and increase carbon capture in your backyard-Outside class

Isabelle Jenniches is co-founder of the New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group, a grassroots alliance that formed in 2018 to pass the state’s Healthy Soil Act. The group’s mission is to support land managers in soil health stewardship while creating favorable government policy and raising active awareness in civil society.

In conversation with long-time gardener Alessandra Haines, Isabelle will demonstrate implementation of the 6 soil health principles in the home garden. We will discuss the many benefits of soil health, including increased water infiltration and retention, greater nutrient density of produce, and improved resilience to the effects of climate change and drought. Masks required.

Instructor: Isabelle Jenniches
Location: 52 Mansion (Alessandra & Steve Haine’s house) • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering


Space is limited to 25 people



Sunday, June 12th
10 am to 12 pm

Cheesemaking Class-Mozzarella

Learn how to make mozzarella with cow’s milk. Hands-on class.

Mozzarella originally came from southern Italy and was traditionally made from Italian buffalo milk but here in the US we usually use cow’s milk to make mozzarella. Making mozzarella at home seems intimidating, but you won’t believe how easy it is. Once you give it a try, you’ll want to make mozzarella for everything from Caprese salads to pizzas. Come learn how to make mozzarella with Diane! Outside class. Masks required.

Instructor: Diane Pratt
Location: Alessandra and Steve Haines house-52 Mansion Drive • Santa Fe
Fee: $10 for members and $20 non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering

Space is limited to 10 people



Sunday, July 31st
10 am-12 pm

PIZZA  in the yard with maestro Michael Warren

Michael will fire up his home built wood burning pizza oven as well as commercial portable propane pizza ovens and discuss the ins and outs of baking a stellar pie.

This will be a hands on experience featuring various dough formulas including heritage grains. Freshly made sauces and toppings will be discussed.  Practice shaping, topping, baking and eating pizza!

Instructor: Michael Warren
Location: 747 Old Las Vegas Hwy
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering

Space is limited to 10 people




Sunday, August 14th
10 am to 12 pm

Easy to Grow Medicinal Plants for Local Gardens

Join herbalist Dara Saville for this discussion on easily cultivated medicinal plants suited for our climate. We’ll discuss growing conditions, harvesting, and uses for a selection of common healing plants that may already be growing in your garden.

Instructor: Dara Saville (Author of The Ecology of Herbal Medicine)
Location: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5, for members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering


Space is limited to 20 people



Sunday, August 28th

First tour 10 am to 11 am-10 people only
Second tour 11 am to 12 pm-10 people only

Luz do Sol Aquaponic Greenhouse Geodome Tour

“Luz do Sol” is a 42-foot geodesic dome in which an Agua Fria neighborhood community is experimenting with growing its own food in a closed-loop aquaponic system.

The dome encloses a 4,000-gallon fish tank and reservoirs for growing plants. The only input is fish food. The water is continuously recycled. The water, enriched with fish waste, is used to feed the plants hydroponically. Up to 18 member households receive weekly harvests of vegetables year-round. Luz do Sol is an experiment in water conservation and self-sufficiency that is fascinating to see.

Tour: Due to COVID, there will be 2 tours in the geodome- one starts at 10 am/second tour starts 11 am with 10 people for each tour. Sign up for only one tour.
Location: 5005 Aqua Fria Park Rd • Santa Fe
Fee: $5, for members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering




Sunday, September 11th
10 am to 12 pm

Heritage Grain Flour Tortillas

Gather up with the Rio Grande Grain team to explore heritage and ancient wholegrain flour tortillas.

We will work with several varieties of heritage and ancient grains including locally grown Sonoran White Wheat, Khorasan (Kamut) and Einkorn. We will also look at various shortening options ranging from olive oil to high quality animal fats. This class will be hands on and everyone will have the opportunity to make and cook tortillas.

Instructors: Rio Grande Grain team
Location: Alessandra and Steve Haines house-52 Mansion Drive • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 for members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering


Space is limited to 15 people



Sunday, September 25th
12 noon to 2 pm

How to Save Your Seeds

Join Master Gardener & Certified Seed School Teacher Diane Pratt in learning about seed saving.

In this workshop, you’ll learn the advantages 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: Diane Pratt
Location: 56 Coyote Crossing • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 to members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering




Sunday, Oct 2nd
10am to 12 pm

Edible Plant Walking Tour Showing Permaculture Methods

Join Reese Baker on an edible plant walking tour at his property

Come see what is new on Reese’s property! The Bakers live on a small residential lot in central Santa Fe, and every square inch of which is packed to its potential, producing an abundance of fresh fruit, flowers, veggies, berries, and nuts incorporating many Permaculture designs. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Reese owns and manages The Rain Catcher Inc, a full service design/build landscaping company.

Rainwater is collected in above and below ground storage tanks and used for irrigation. Gray water from the house is channeled through Zuni bowls to fruit trees and a constructed wetland that filters the water from their washing machine filling a small pond where beautiful fish swim among vigorous water plants.

They have developed a ‘food forest’ landscape where most of their annual vegetable garden is intermixed with perennials-many of which are native to Northern New Mexico.  All this, plus five happy hens in a homemade coop of recycled materials. A great example of what one can accomplish in a small, city lot!  You will be inspired.

Tour: Reese Baker
Location: 2053 Cam Lado • Santa Fe
Fee: $5 to members/$20 for non-members-to become a member and save money for all our events go to our membership page and pay first before registering


Classes/events going live on Feb 28, 2022


Home Grown NM classes/events will be posted starting on February 28th

We have some great events this year! To get a deep discount for members, you must be a member before you sign up for an event-otherwise you will have to pay the non-member fee. Go to the MEMBERSHIP PAGE to become a member. Check back on the Feb 28 to see the events!



Sonoran White wheat was introduced to the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico in the 16th century by the Spanish colonizers to make communion wafers and provide sustenance and it became a staple in the local cuisine as exemplified by the flour tortilla.  It is adapted to this region’s growing conditions and is very hardy and drought tolerant, thrives in alkaline soil and it is disease resistant. Wheat was a useful food crop as it could be planted in the fall and grown in winter and early spring before the native crops of corn, beans and squash which are all warm season crops. As recently as 100 years ago southern CA, Sonora, Mexico, New Mexico and Arizona were major wheat producers and Sonoran White was a widely grown variety.

Sonoran White is now being rediscovered by eaters and bakers and farmers interested in heritage wheat as an alternative to industrialized dwarf modern wheat.  Older wheat varieties are incredibly hardy and need less inputs and lend themselves to regenerative organic farming.  As a fall planted crop, grains can provide living root systems in the soil all winter long which reduces erosion and builds soil fertility and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere.  Ancient and heritage grains also contain more nutrients which have been bred out of modern wheat in favor of a high starch content.  Heritage wheat also offer an incredible array of flavors and textures not found in supermarket wheat.

It is a soft white wheat meaning that its outer bran layer is light in color and it has a low gluten/protein content which makes it excellent for pastries and tortillas where gluten strength is not required.  It makes a very stretchy dough which rolls out very well. When you mill whole berry Sonoran White wheat you get a 100% wholegrain flour with a lovely pale golden color much lighter than standard whole wheat.  It’s flavor is rich, smooth and nutty and it  is a great choice if you want to work in more wholegrain flour into your baking.


It is a soft white wheat meaning that its outer bran layer is light in color and it has a low gluten/protein content which makes it excellent for pastries and tortillas where gluten strength is not required.  It makes a very stretchy dough which rolls out very well. When you mill whole berry Sonoran White wheat you get a 100% wholegrain flour with a lovely pale golden color much lighter than standard whole wheat.  It’s flavor is rich, smooth and nutty and it  is a great choice if you want to work in more wholegrain flour into your baking.

If you are interested in exploring the wide variety of heritage grains available for baking a counter top grain mill is essential.  While there are many small mills producing heritage and ancient grain flours the home mill gives you access to a wider choice of grains and freshly ground flour is more nutritious and flavorful.   Whole grain flour tends to deteriorate rapidly after milling due to the volatile oils in the germ and bran.  Refined white flour has these super healthful components removed and so has a much longer shelf life.


The Rio Grande Grain project is one of many groups promoting small scale heritage and ancient grains.  We feel this is a needed component in our local food supply chain.  Here in New Mexico we can find amazing locally grown beans and corn at our farmer’s markets but the wheat and other cereal grains are under represented.  Farmers will be more willing to grow these grains if we are willing to pay a fair price and learn how to use them!

Let’s get started with the classic flour tortilla!


I’m no tortilla expert and I’m more familiar with making corn tortillas than flour ones but I just had to see how the Sonoran White flour worked in the homemade tortilla!  This recipe is 100% whole grain Sonoran White milled to a fine flour in the Komo Mio mill.  Whole grain flours tend to be thirstier and require more water than refined white flours so this has been adjusted for in the recipe. Whole grains also benefit from a longer resting time after adding the water to the flour to absorb the water.

Lard would be the traditional shortening but I used butter as it was handy.  Duck fat also was tasty.

Using a stand mixer combine the dry ingredients:

279 grams (2 cups) Sonoran White whole grain flour

15 grams (aprx 1.5 teaspoons salt depending on the type of salt)

5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking powder

With a paddle attachment drizzle in:

30 grams (2 tablespoons) melted shortening

180 grams (3/4 cup) hot water.

Watch the consistency here.  The dough should be somewhat wetter and stickier than the final consistency for rolling it out as it will get less wet as the whole grain Sonoran White absorbs the water during the resting period.

Knead for about 2 minutes then let the dough rest in a plastic bag 1-2 hours to fully hydrate the flour.

Make golf ball sized balls and rest covered on lightly floured surface for 20-30 minutes.

Heat cast iron pan or comal over medium-high heat.  When it is ready a few drops of water will sizzle and pop on the surface.

Since my tortilla rolling skills are abysmal I used a combo method to shape the tortillas.  First I hand flattened the balls into thick discs and then pressed these between plastic sheets in the tortilla press as if making corn tortillas.  This produced a nice round shape that was then hand rolled out as thin as possible.  You can also just handroll out the tortillas with a rolling pin.  Either way they should be thin enough to be translucent when held up to the light.

Cook tortillas on the hot pan until a few golden spots appear on the bottom.  Then flip over. Total time is about 20-30 seconds on each side.  Wrap in a clean towel and keep warm until serving.

Until we have some local sources here in New Mexico you can find Sonoran White wheat at:
Hayden Mills, AZ
Native Seed Search AZ
Barton Springs Mill, TX

Let Us Spray

Time to spray Dormant oil on your fruit trees

Let Us Spray
by Bob Zimmerman

Do you have fruit trees in your yard? Now is the time to give them a good spraying.  Dormant oil spray can be used safely and is a good deterrent on a number of bugs that can attack your trees. It is just mineral oil with a few drops of detergent as an emulsifier. You can purchase mineral oil at the hardware store and is much cheaper than the oil sold at nurseries. It basically works by coating and suffocating the eggs and emerging larvae.  Using a special spray bottle attached to your garden hose, thoroughly drench the fruit trees before the blossoms open.  It is not 100% effective but does help to reduce the incidence of coddling moth larvae in apples, aphids on cherries and peach tree borer. It’s important to soak the bark of these trees for maximum control.

Coddling moth trap

This is a good time to hang out coddling moth traps near your apple trees as well. They contain a pheromone which attracts the males which then get stuck on the sticky trap, preventing them from mating with females and reducing the number of eggs laid. They are a bit pricey, but worth it ( unless you like having wormy apples!) Water all your fruit trees regularly now that they begin to flower. Stressed out fruit trees will attract pests, especially aphids. I do not recommend chemical sprays for aphid control as that will also kill beneficial ladybugs and lacewings. Just keep your trees well watered throughout fruit production.

Scale on Pinyon tree

This is also a good time to spray your piñon trees with dormant oil too.  If you see little black dots on yellowing needles, that’s piñon scale. It’s endemic here and will not kill the tree, but will cause significant needle drop making the tree look rather anemic.  The oil will suffocate the eggs and larvae of the insect and significantly reduce the infestation. Also, scrape up and dispose of the dried needles underneath the tree.

White fuzzy masses are the nest of the scale insect


You may find white fuzzy masses there, which are the nests of the scale insect. Thoroughly soak the area with the dormant oil spray as well. During the spring and summer look for these fuzzy masses on the undersides of the pine branches and hose them off forcefully with hose nozzle.

Using dormant oil spray is an environmentally responsible way to help control a number of pests in your yard.  No harmful chemicals, and the bees and beneficial insects in your yard will love you for it!



Meyer lemons are smaller, rounder, and softer than regular supermarket lemons. They range in color from bright yellow to light orange. Originally from China, they are grown in Florida and California. They are most similar to the lemons grown in the Mediterranean for preserving.

Preserving Lemons
by Mike McGeary

What Are Preserved Lemons?

They are lemons packed in salt and lemon juice, a process that preserves them for many months without refrigeration.

The standard lemons in grocery stores have skins that are hard and have a strong flavor. The best lemons for preserving that are widely available in the United States are Meyer lemons, because their skin is soft and has very little of the bitter white pith found in standard lemons. Also, they are nicely mellow rather than tart in flavor.

I have found Meyer lemons at the Montañita Co-op and Whole Foods, and they probably are available at other grocery stores. The problem is that they are not always available, so you have to keep a lookout for them and get them when you see them. It is also necessary to use them within days of purchase, because the thin pithless skin does not protect them as well as the thick skins and pith of regular lemons. The short shelf life also makes them more expensive, but you won’t need that many to last your needs for months.

You can buy preserved lemons in jars from specialty stores and perhaps supermarkets, but I found that they do not compare in flavor with ones I make myself.

You can learn more about the origin of Meyer lemons, how they are used, and how they have become more popular from a National Public Radio story here:  The Meyer Lemon: More Than A Pretty Face















Why Preserve Lemons?

I began to preserve lemons because I like to make Moroccan tagines and couscous, and preserved lemons are a basic ingredient. As Paula Wolfert put it in her 1973 cookbook, Couscous and Other Good Food from Moroco (which is still in print): “There is, and I cannot emphasize this enough, no substitute for preserved lemons in Moroccan food.”

In other words, preserved lemons have a unique flavor.

Preserved lemons are also used across the middle east, not just in Morocco. For example, Yotam Ottolenghi of Jerusalem has recipes using preserved lemons in his cookbooks, including Jerusalem and Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.

I also chop the skin into vinaigrettes and marinades. Recently, I chopped up half a lemon skin and some of the pulp with chopped garlic, olive oil, and salt and stuffed the mixture under the skin of two large bone-in organic chicken breasts, before roasting them in the oven. Yum!

Many people, apparently inspired by Martha Stewart (see NPR story above), are using fresh Meyer lemons in baking, such as Stewart’s lemon and pine nut tart, but that’s an article for another day.


How to Preserve Lemons

Mise en place:

  • One-quart canning jar, preferably wide mouth for easier retrieval of the lemons.
  • Cup of non-iodized salt in a bowl, with a tablespoon to stuff the lemons (I use kosher but sea salt is fine).
  • About 12 Meyer lemons (about 8 for the jar, 4 to provide juice to top off the jar after it is filled with lemons).
  • Sharp knife.


  • Sterilize the canning jar by filling with boiling water or running through the dishwasher.
  • Put a tablespoon of salt on the bottom of the jar.
  • Scrub the lemons, and cut the tips off the ends of each lemon.
  • Cut the lemons into quarters without separating the wedges. That is, (1) put the lemon on end, and cut down most but not all the way through the lemon. (2) Rotate one quarter. (3) Repeat Step 1. See the lemon on the left in the photo, above.

I learned a slightly different method: (1) Putting the lemon on end, cut down most but not all the way through the lemon. (2) Rotate one-quarter. (3) Invert the lemon. (4) Repeat step 1. See the lemon on the right in the photo, above.

TIP: I hold the knife at about a 20 degree angle so that I can’t accidentally cut all the way through the lemon.

  • Put a tablespoon of salt inside each lemon, reshape, and place in the jar.
  • Pack the lemons as tightly as you can. If necessary to fill holes, separate a lemon into halves. Put another tablespoon of salt between each layer (there will be about 2) and on top.
  • Fill the jar with lemon juice from the remaining lemons.
  • Place the rind from a lemon squeezed for juice on top.
  • Seal the jar and leave for a month or more before using any lemons, shaking daily for a week to thoroughly dissolve the salt.

After the lemons are ready, they do not have to be refrigerated, but refrigeration reduces the chance that a white mold will form on surfaces exposed to air. The mold is harmless and washes off when you use the lemon. (The purpose of laying the skin of a squeezed lemon on top is to provide a surface for any mold that might form, and which can be easily removed and discarded.) The best way to prevent mold is to keep the lemons always completely covered by juice.

To use, rinse thoroughly to remove the salt. Most Moroccan recipes will have you slice the skin into narrow strips and discard the pulp. It is possible to use some or all of the pulp—I usually do—but it will remain very salty, so be sure to reduce the amount of salt you would normally add. You can find many Moroccan and other recipes that use preserved lemons online.



Winter/Early Spring Sowing 101

Winter/Early Spring Sowing 101
By Lynne Roberts

An Important message about SEEDS: BUY THEM SOON!!  Last year, 2020, there was a major shortage of seeds across the country and in all the seed markets around the world…None of the Santa Fe garden centers nor plant stores nor the big box stores had any seeds left after the first cycle of early seed buyers…(Many of us who save seeds may have had some seeds for our own gardens and for sharing with friends and neighbors…). And the reason for that major seed shortage: NOT ENOUGH WORKERS TO SOW, HARVEST, PACKAGE, and SHIP those seeds from the farmers and the major seed producing companies, and NO WORKERS to PROCESS ORDERS to stores, in addition to a difficult Covid-19 growing season 2020.  SO, BUY YOUR SEEDS SOON, and locally if possible!!

So don’t despair-those of you who don’t have a greenhouse or cold frames in which to start your COOL SEASON CROP seeds in your garden!  Seeds like lettuce, spinach, Asian greens, cabbage, arugula, and many other cool season crops can be started outside with protection. It is totally possible to start your seeds outdoors, in the freezing cold, with a well-known method of seed germination, requiring just two things:  mini GREENHOUSES (made from recycled plastic/transparent milk-water-juice gallon jugs or large plastic soda or water bottles) and TIME with Olde Mother Nature. It is both easy and economical to start your own garden seeds in your own greenhouses, in your yard.

My source is Kevin Lee Jacobs, at his website, “A Garden for the,” who credits TRUDI DAVIDOFF with inventing, in 1999, this outdoor method of seed germination, in even the coldest of temperatures, starting in December, January, or even on February 14, on St Valentines Day and even later. You can google Ms. Davidoff, and see that she still has a foundation for teaching this easy method to students of all ages, around the world…

In 2007, when I first moved to Eldorado—land of gophers, rodents, “mouses,” impossible alkaline soil, and strong Mistral-like winds—I was NOT a happy gardener!!!!!

And then, I read Trudi’s and Kevin’s method for germinating seeds outside in the cold, using recycled mini plastic greenhouses! Ms. Davidoff urges everyone to use whatever free container that they can recycle, including plastic deli, fruit and veggie containers from the supermarket, aluminum foil circular and square containers from the Chinese restaurants and fast food restaurants, etc… Look around and see how much of this free, easy to recycle “stuff” is available to use as planters before it finally goes into the recycle pile at the transfer station.

So, we all know how seed starting indoors –without lights, with very limited space inside your bedroom, in your dining room or living room on wooden tables that will get water damaged from leaking plant pots, with not enough sunny window ledges nor enough Sun coming in anywhere inside your house or apartment –ENDS!!— IN DESPAIR, with irate and annoyed spouses, partners, roommates, and spindly starts, subjected to the dry air loving creatures (spider mites, scale, bugs, things) and mold and mildew or half dead plants…! (YES! YOU! In your HOME!!)

GARDENERS, let’s start out right and be successful!
Instead of leaving that 1/4” of milk, juice, or water in the bottom of the plastic gallon jug and putting it back in your fridge, hoping that someone else living in the house or a passing friend will empty it, rinse it, and take it out to your recycle bin (YES! YOU!), take that same FREE AVAILABLE container or milk/juice/water jug and empty its contents, fill it with some water, and rinse out the water (over your potting soil is good)

1) DISCARD the bottle top/cap of your jug. Take a medium drill bit and your drill (or heat a Phillips screw driver over your gas burner flame), and make enough holes for ventilation in the bottom of the jug (perhaps 10-15 holes) for appropriate drainage and ventilation, about 3-5 holes on each side, and 5-10 holes on the top of your transparent plastic container for ventilation…as your greenhouse will be watered with rain, snow, and sleet…

2) Just below the handle of your jug CUT around the middle of the jug, using an exacto knife, or a VERY sharp knife, or scissors cut about an inch be (add extra duct tape on hinge for support), the handle remains on the jug itself.

3) Add a good quality sterile seed starting or potting soil mix ( DO NOT USE SOIL FROM YOUR GARDEN) and fill the bottom part of your jug with about 2″-3″ of this good potting soil…Soak well, allow to drain thoroughly at the sink or over your pail of seed starting mix or good potting soil.  Add perlite to loosen the soil if your soil is slow draining.

4) Sow your seeds on the surface of the soil.  If your seeds are very small, there is no need for additional soil to cover… Leave them on the surface of your potting soil.  Larger seeds require only 1/8″ planting depth.

5) Labeling and taping-Use a permanent marker to indicate on the jug itself the following information: name of seed, quantity sown, date sown, days to maturity, height, possible planting location in your garden, and any other important info…Then, close the container’s hinged cover, secure it into place with 2-3 pieces of DUCT tape (it’s not necessary that the two halves fit tight; you will be able to open your jug greenhouse to check the water inside–rain, snow, sleet have been watering your greenhouse, supplemented by any additional water that you may need to add–to monitor the progress of your seedlings, and to check ventilation as the greenhouse will heat up and on sunny days become very humid…That is why NO cover or cap is needed on your greenhouse, as the vented top will permit excess heat and humidity to escape!)

6) Move your planted greenhouse jugs outside soon after planting them!  (YES,IN THE FREEZING COLD AND SNOW!!) . I place all the jugs in a shallow plastic box or on a tray with an edge or lip, and place that tray/box containing all the greenhouses (6-8) on a wire mesh patio table or in a large plastic recycle container away from the wind, on the south side of my house or in a very protected area…

When your seedlings are ready to be transplanted in your garden, you can take great pleasure in knowing that you have an easy and economical way to sow more seeds for your garden…And you sowed, nurtured, transplanted, and grew your plants all by yourself!!!  BRAVO, FEARLESS GARDENER!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Credit: 1909 Valentine’s card by Chordboard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Valentine’s Day!
by Lynne Roberts

Happy Valentine’s Day to all you lovers of people, pets, plants, pizza, and world peace!!

Ever wonder about the origins of Valentine’s Day, once you’ve had a chance to buy your beloveds, friends, family and work mates those beautiful bouquets of flowers, pots of plants, plant and gardening books, and one single perfect flower bud??

Well, me neither, but in the interest of knowledge for you dear readers, I looked up the real history of Saint Valentine, and the origin of the celebration…

The “origin” stories are all shrouded in mystery.  There were three different Christian saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all martyred by the Emperor Claudius… Thanks to the actions of a prisoner named “Valentine,” possibly a Roman soldier, who sent a “love” letter to a young girl who he was in love with (possibly the daughter of his jailer), we now have the custom of sending love letters to those whom we love…Valentine signed his love note “From your Valentine,” and a great tradition was born…

By the Middle Ages, St Valentine had become the most popular saint in both France and England.

St Valentine’s feast was placed in the middle of February, in order to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of LUPERCALIA, a fun fertility festival dedicated to Fannus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus…

During the Middle Ages, people believed that February 14 was the beginning of the mating season for birds, and thus, Valentine’s Day became a day for romance—for everyone!

Geoffrey Chaucer, renowned English poet (Canterbury Tales), recorded St. Valentine’s Day as a day of romantic celebration in his poem “Parliament of Foules:”(1375)

“…when every foul cometh ther to choose his mate.”

Written valentine cards and greetings appeared after 1400, the first written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, after his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.

Cupid, chubby little naked cherub, shooting arrows of love at unsuspecting lovers, first appeared in the Hellenistic period.  By mid-18th century, English and French friends and lovers, all exchanged small tokens of affection or handwritten notes to each other, and by 1900, with improvements in printing and technology, printed cards replaced written letters.

America began exchanging handmade valentines in the early 1700’s.

In the 1840’s, the American, Esther Howland, began selling the first mass-produced valentines in the United States. She is known as the “Mother of the Valentine;” she used real lace, ribbons, and pictures to create her valentines.

So, all you amorous souls, send your friends, sweeties, spouses your own special valentine greetings: cards, plants, flowers, gardening supplies, today and throughout this week.

Source: (A&E Television networks, published, 12/22/2009)