Category Archives: summer gardening

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.

 

 

Grow Some Grapes!

 

Grow Some Grapes!
by Bob Zimmerman

I grew up in Western New York on Lake Erie not too far from the vinyards that grew grapes for Welch’s grape juice, jelly and preserves. Fall meant bushels of concord grapes and the taste of them brings back vivid memories of life there. At each place I’ve lived in since then I have had grapes growing by my house. The first was a large rambling Victorian mansion at a university town in Ohio where we rented the first floor. I cleared out the overgrown back yard to reveal an old grape vine. The “trunk” of the vine was about 4” in diameter and I was told by my landlord that it never bore any grapes. I pruned it back severely and the next year it produced a huge crop of…. yes… Concord grapes!   After that I planted grapes at every house I’ve lived in.

On retirement I moved to Santa Fe and figured that would be the end of my grape growing. Imagine my surprise when I found a large rambling grape vine growing on the coyote fence of the house we just bought. Again, I trimmed it up and sure enough… the next year I picked quarts and quarts of Concord grapes! I had no idea that grapes would grow so well here.

You too can grow grapes. They are very easy to grow and you will be rewarded with wonderful foliage during the summer and fall and delicious fruit as well. You can train them over an arbor to make a cool shady spot to sit under or grow them along fence lines. Deer will like them too, so it’s best to plant them inside your yard if the deer roam about in your area. Other than that, they aren’t bothered by many pests and our dry climate prevents mildew from attacking the leaves and fruits. There are many varieties to choose from but you should do some research to select the ones that you will like and are hardiest in our area. I have seen nurseries here sell California grapes that are not winter hardy for our area, so be careful. There are a number of tried and true varieties such as Himrod ( a green seedless), Concord ( there is a seedless variety that is great), Swenson, and Reliance ( red seedless). They are hybrids of American grape stock developed on the East Coast and have been shown to be good producers of table grapes. Wine grapes are a whole different proposition and probably best left to the professional growers.

You can buy them as potted plants at local nurseries or order them bare root online.

Look for well rooted 2 year old plants, and plant them as you would any other shrub or vine as early in the year as you can. Let them grow naturally the first year, making sure to water them regularly to develp good stem and root growth.

You will need to learn how to prune your grape vines to get the best fruit production. If you don’t prune the vines, the canes will grow everywhere, and the grape clusters will get smaller and smaller over the years until there will hardly be any grapes at all. But all is not lost. A good pruning will bring the vine back into peak production. Grapes will grow on vines that grow out on the previous year’s cane. Pruning is done in late winter. Be sure to do it before the sap starts rising and buds start swelling. A nice sunny February day is just right for this. Cut out any old vines (two years old or more) that you don’t want. Remove most of last years fruiting canes, leaving just the ones you want. This is the point where you can decide how you want your grapes to grow. Cut back canes to 6 – 8 buds. Each bud will grow a cane that will produce grapes for the current year. After a number of years the main trunk will get thicker and stronger. It is a bit confusing at first but don’t let this scare you off. The grapes are very forgiving and you will learn as years go on. You can read about all aspects of selecting and growing grapes, including pruning at this NMSU page: https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_circulars/CR483/

Within 3 to four years you will have a healthy vine and will be rewarded with the very best grapes for eating fresh, juicing or preserves.

Three year old grape vines on the ramada at the SFEMG Vegetable Demonstration and Teaching Garden at the Fairgrounds. Seedless Blue Concord ( left) and seedless Swenson Red (right)

Immature bunches of Swenson Red grapes on the ramada.

Concord grape vine trained to grow over the gate to my back yard.

 

 

 

Vegetable Gardening in Containers

Vegetable Gardening in Containers
by Jannine Cabossel/The Tomato Lady

Whether you’re new to vegetable gardening or an experienced grower, it’s worth considering growing produce in containers this year. We were all caught off guard with the coronavirus pandemic.

With some know-how, you can still find and grow seeds, seedlings, or larger plants in containers. Tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants are best planted as seedlings around May 15 or later. Most veggies like six to eight hours of sun, so find your sunniest location for them. Some cool season vegetables, like lettuce and peas, do better in partial shade. In all cases, when you’re growing in containers rather than in the ground, don’t forget to water more because the soil will dry out faster. Use a mulch like straw to slow evaporation from pot. Consider watering twice a day.

Potatoes growing in a basket. Photo Linda Archibald

Be creative about your containers. You can use any pot-like vessel with holes on the bottom for drainage. If the containers have been used before, sterilize the inside with a solution of two teaspoons bleach in a quart spray bottle of water and rinse well. If pots are new, you don’t have to do this. Use bagged potting soil, not garden soil, which may have pathogens. Completely wet the soil until moist like a damp sponge; it is hard to get many potting soils sufficiently moist. I moisten the potting soil in a bucket first and then I put the moistened soil into containers or pots before planting seeds or plants.

If planting seedlings or plants, place them so the crown, where the leaves come out, is level with the soil; do not cover the crown. When planting tomatoes, however, you can plant about half the length of the plant underground. The hairy stem will grow roots, which makes the plant sturdier. If planting by seeds, follow the depth and spacing on the seed packet.

Where to get seeds, seedlings or plants
Besides nurseries and big box stores, one of the best places to get vegetable seedlings or plants is at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. Many of the farmers there should be offering tomato varieties as well as other vegetable varieties.

Vegetables that do well in containers-most can be grown by seed.
Beans: Grow ‘bush’ varieties instead of vining ones. Put 1 plant in a 10–12-inch
pot. Can been grown by seed.
Cucumbers: Grow ‘bush’ varieties by seed. 1 to 2 plants can fill a 20-inch pot.
Eggplant: Transplant 1 eggplant seedling into a 10–12-inch container. Grow by plant only, not seeds, which take too long to start.
Kale and chard: 1 plant per 10–12-inch container; in longer containers you can put in several. Can be grown by seed or plants.
Leafy greens: Lettuces are among many greens that you can cut the outer leaves off of to eat and later cut again for another meal. Keep cool-season crops in partial shade. Can plant by seed or seedling. They do not need deep containers. There are warm season lettuces called Batavian or Crisphead lettuces that do well here in the summer.
Peas: Put tall supports in the pot when planting the seeds. I like to use sticks for them to grow up on. Grow many peas 2 inches apart in 10–12-inch pot or a long container. Place container in partial shade. It’s too warm now in June to plant peas but you can plant them in the fall again. Plant by seed into pots.
Peppers: Grow bell peppers and hot peppers from plants only, not seeds, which take too long to start. 1 plant per 10–12-inch pot.
Potatoes: Grow in large grow bags or containers. Put 4 inches of soil in bottom of container. Then put potato “seeds” on top of soil, eyes up, and cover with 3 or 4 more inches of soil. As plant grows, cover plant leaves with soil. Do not trim the leaves but bury them; they will grow through the soil. Continue to cover the leaves as they grow until you reach the top of the container. Then just let the leafy parts grow. The potatoes grow in the soil above the original potato seeds while the roots grow down. Harvest when plant starts to die. The Farmers Market is good source of potato seeds.
Radishes: Short or long containers work will for these crops. Plant seeds 2 to 3 inches apart. Plant by seed into pots.
Tomatoes: Grow by plant only, not seeds. Tomato plants need support. Use a tall stake or tomato cage to keep your plants upright. Plant determinate varieties, which typically grow shorter. For each plant use a 5-gallon bucket or equivalent with drainage holes. Plant the stem deep. Determinate tomatoes are perfect for containers.
Zucchini or summer squash: Plant a ‘bush’ variety. A single plant can fill a 24-inch pot. Plant by seed into pots.
Winter squash: Plant a ‘bush’ variety. A single plant can fill a 24-inch pot. Plant by seed into pots.

Mer-Girls Garden Tour this Sunday, Aug 11

The Mer-Girl Garden Tour will be this Sunday from noon to 3 pm in La Villita north of Espanola by Alcade.

We are really looking forward to this field trip tour. If anyone wants to carpool, we will meet in the La Montanita Co-Op parking lot on the far east side (by the Womens Health Center) to join together and follow Alessandra and Steve up to the property. I will be there in the parking lot 10:45 and we will leave at 11:15 sharp. So don’t be late!

BRING WATER AND A HAT!

If you want to go on your own, be up there at the Mer-Girl Gardens in La Villita by noon.

Here are the DIRECTIONS to get there. 
directions to Mer-Girl Gardens

 

It is not too late to sign up below:

Sunday, Aug 11th
12 noon to 4 pm

Mer-Girl Gardens Tour
This is going to be a special field trip this year just north of Espanola in La Villita. This tour will be well worth the drive.  They practice sustainable and bio-dynamic farming with a focus on open-pollinated varieties. Ron Boyd and his wife Debora started Mer-Girl Gardens on about 6 acres and have expanded it. They have developed it into a beautiful farm with Certified Organic orchards, vineyard, culinary herbs, seasonal vegetables, fruits and flowers.

 

Debora has an image of a water bearer who brings water to their oasis in the drylands. Everything they’ve done started in 2001 from pretty much bare, lifeless, overused conventionally farmed fields. The old orchard was about 1 acre with 15 old apple trees.

In the last 20 years they’ve added 350 or so fruit trees, about 100 different varieties of apples 20 varieties of peaches 15 varieties of pears 15 varieties of cherries and plums and a few other curious additions. Around the same time they had restored the old fields, they added another acre, plus a bunch of berries and vegetables.  Debora and Ron did the Taos farmers market for about 10 years with piles of berries, 70 or so varieties of tomatoes, greens, garlic, and fruit when they were lucky. About five years ago the interest and focus has been about producing seed contracted by retail sellers, Baker Creek heirloom Seeds in particular.  Inspired by grain school in 2018 and the grain team, they are beginning to educate themselves and learn about old time varieties of small grain, wheat, rye, barley. They currently run and irrigate in the neighborhood about 12 acres.  They have a large focus on how to feed themselves with minimal fossil fuel and off-farm amendments. They’ve explored small farm tools and techniques. They welcome visitors and include school classes regularly in the spring and fall.

Instructor: Ron Boyd and Debora
Location: La Villita, NM (between Alcalde and Los Luceros) (directions given to participants)
Fee: Free to members/$10 for non-members

Please sign up through Eventbrite below:

Eventbrite - Mer-Girls Farm Tour

 

 

Monsoons are here! Take row covers off tomatoes!

Monsoons are here! Last nite we got just under 2 inches of rain at the farm here in Santa Fe! And more to come today and the weekend. I was waiting for the rain to hit us and boy did it! I’m taking off the tomato row covers this weekend!

Yay! Finally we can enjoy looking at them!

Apricots

It’s apricot season and they are out everywhere! It’s unusual to get apricots here in Santa Fe (about every 7 years) as usually a late freeze comes in spring and freezes all the blossoms, but not this year!

If you don’t have any apricots, don’t worry. There are apricots between La Choza restaurant and Whole Foods on Cerrillos in the Railyard Park for the picking. Last year I picked enough to make apricot jam.

I have a wonderful apricot jam recipe that has St. Germain’s liquer in it. St Germain’s is a liquor made out of elderberries and is delicious by itself but when added to apricot jam while cooking, it gives a wonderful floral nuance to the jam that is delicious. So I am excited to make more this year as I’m down to my last jar of apricot jam. The recipe can be found here.

Organic Pesticide and Disease Control class review

class pests pic

Today I taught the Organic Pesticide class and added Disease Control too as we are or will  be dealing with pests and disease soon in the middle of the gardening season. The class was great and we had good comments from some of the attendees. I talked about what’s going on the our gardens now and what insect and disease controls we can implement. Attached is the pdf from the class for anyone who wants to know what I do.

ORGANIC PEST and DISEASE CONTROLS

Also attached is the pdf with photos of certain insects that may be attacking our plants now as well. This is in color so it would be a great reference for you to keep when you need to identify a bug you may think is a pest.

CLass pests pics

I recommended the book, Good Bug, Bad Bug for everyone to get which is a great ID book that will show which ones are good beneficial bugs and which ones we consider pests and what crops they attack.  I got mine at Amazon.

Good Bug Bad Bug book

Then we walked around the community garden and looked for plants that are being attacked or are sick and I showed everyone the plants so hopefully it will help them go back to their gardens and look at their plants and see what is going on.

Other than the heat, I thought the class was great. Thanks to all 20 of you that attended!

Organic Pest Controls class-Sunday, July 10, 2016

Jannine Cabossel is teaching a class on Organic Pest Controls this Sunday, July 10. She will ID some of the plants in the garden with damage and go over many organic methods and organic sprays we can use to control many bugs now attacking our vegetable plants. Below is the info provided by Milagro Community Garden which is hosting the event.

flea beetle damage

Can you guess which pest is attacking this plant? (see answer below)

 

 

 

WHEN: SUNDAY JULY 10

WHERE: MILAGRO COMMUNITY GARDEN (Off Rodeo Road east of Sam’s Club-Turn north onto Legacy Court. Garden is behind the church, ‘Church of the Servant’, on corner)

TIME: 12-2:00 PM

Taught by Jannine Cabossel, Master Gardener and the Tomato Lady at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market.

This Educational class was requested by members of the Milagro Community Garden. This class is also open to the Santa Fe Master Gardeners (they will earn 2 CE credits), Home Grown New Mexico members and the PUBLIC. FREE CLASS.

Please come and bring a hat, sunscreen, water, a folding chair and of course your questions. No need to sign up but should you have questions, email CAROLE at cowens505@comcast.net

ANSWER: The damage in the above photo was from the flea beetle!

Time to start planting summer vegetables!!

growfood,not lawns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 15th is around the corner and many of us are chomping at the bit to get growing!

IMG_8979

My trusty KRQE weather app on my phone says we are over the freezing nights and I believe we are out of the woods.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

wall of waters

However, having said that, I would not plant my tomatoes in the ground without protection. I use wall of waters to protect them from the still chilly nights.

wow done

Temperatures in the 40’s at night are still cold (just not freezing). The wall of waters will absorb the heat from the sun in the day and give it back to the plants at night keeping them warm.

Other warm season crops can be started from seed outside especially when we get up into the 50’s at night. If it gets cold again at night, cover the new baby plants with row cover to protect them-think of it as a nice warm blanket on them.

I will still WAIT TO PLANT my PEPPER PLANTS until the FIRST WEEK OF JUNE as they really hate being cold and will usually stall out if you plant those now. Just keep them in your house until then.