July 4th Weekend

With some imagination this sunflower could stand in for fireworks. I took this photo at the farm market a week ago. It seemed at the time almost miraculous. It certainly was the first of the local sunflowers to appear at the market. It was grown by Ezequiel Martinez at Alcantar Farm in Espanola, a couple thousand feet lower than Taos.

Due to the high fire danger the annual fireworks display in Taos has been cancelled this year. Late this afternoon I was out in the back garden picking peas and I could actually feel humidity in the air. There was a very light sensation of wet sprinkles on my skin. This could be life-saving good news for slowing down New Mexico’s forest fires. Let’s hope the condition continues…

This truck and all the baskets belong to Bob Allalunis, a locally famous red willow basket-maker who’s been practicing this art locally for the past 20 years. He says he learned it from people at the Taos Pueblo originally. Since willows love wet land it’s natural from them to grow along the acequia ditches, but in spring those ditches have to be cleared for access and and good water flow. This situation creates a natural harvest of the basket-making materials.

This is Bob on the left. He told me that he and his wife, Pattie, have been instrumental in encouraging the continuation of traditional red willow basketry in the Taos community. The artistry of their work has been honored over the years by such museums as the Millicent Rogers.

Fresh harvests of garlic is starting to appear around Saturday’s farm market. These braids were offered at the Mergirl Gardens booth. The couple, Ron and Debora, hail from La Vallita, near Espanola. I got my corn seeds from Ron, who enjoys growing valuable historic varieties of it and seed saving.

Here’s the status of my corn now. If you look closely you can see small bean plants sprouting up around the circle of corn and on either side a winter squash plant–a small dark orange variety. I mentioned in a previous blog that this traditional combination is called the “three sisters.” I had a lot more corn come up but a day before taking this photo I thinned it. Bob suggested 5 or 6 ” apart. For my climbing beans I chose Kentucky Wonder, a type I’ve grown before.

I took this looking down into the protective tunnel created by the “walls of water” around three of my tomato plants. As you can see this plant is about to pop out of the top. I’ll have to start figuring out how to support the vertical growth to come. Last summer I was kept busy adding to a support I built out of sticks tied together with twine. I did manage to keep up and was more than pleased with my harvest of the fruits over a three-month period. This year I’ve added two more plants near these, up next to the house.

I hate to toot my own horn but I’ll admit I’ve been getting lots of compliments lately on my flower photography. Just to keep up the reputation I submit this shot of a wild variety of sweet pea blooming today in a flower bed at the Hanuman Temple. Speaking of the temple I noticed they had a booth at the farm market on Saturday. On Friday evening I’d attended a Dark Moon women’s circle and met one of the woman gardeners working there this season, so was able to recognize her the next day at the market.

I really liked the monthly women’s circle, my first time to attend, and plan on going back each New Moon. It was held at the newly opened 2Wolves Center and led by Nicole, one of the 2 partners. They have a website and are ready now to launch their offerings of classes and healing consultations.

Happy Independence Day!

Orange Poppy pod

June Grass is Greener

This is my pick for photo of the week. These are wild sweet peas growing along with the grass in the alfalfa field back behind my house. The idea was pestering my mind last week to walk over to the orchard to discover if I could find any baby fruits, hopefully to photograph, so took off in good light late one day. First I became enchanted by these flowers along the path and took several shots, even picked a few on the way back.

I found little indication there will be any fruit to speak of in the orchard this year. Not a surprise really, but surely a disappointment. As I walked around inspecting the trees I flashed back on memories of the abundance of last year, the colors and the tastes of things. These babies above will become apples if they don’t run into any more big obstacles. The month of June should usher them into the safe zone, at least safe from cold temps, but after what we’ve seen here this spring nobody would bet on it. I found some young pears as well but those shots were out of focus.

Here’s that “greener grass” I was talking about. There’s something universal in the old memory bank about walking through tall grass about to seed itself. I was feeling it when I took this while appreciating the form of the apple tree in the background. Speaking of seeds, there is an annual art show by that name, SEED2, that I blogged about last October. I found it so beautiful a focus for art. Dear to my heart. It even has an educational component. School kids are brought around to visit the show and try their hand at some seed artwork. Anyway, I was accepted into this year’s show, SEED3, which opens October 8th so expect more photos and chat about seeds being the most important thing on the planet.

I planted my corn yesterday using seeds saved by corn seed expert Ron Boyd. He and his wife (Mergirl Gardens in Alcalde) have a booth at the Saturday farm market. So Saturday we had a long discussion about growing corn and my various choices from what he could offer. I’ll keep you updated on that project. I’m going to see if I can also get some seeds from him next week for a climbing bean and a couple of squash so I’ll be planting the Three Sisters together.

Not exactly news but these extravagant orange poppies are staring to bloom all over town. These are also a local favorite in the mountains of Idaho thus nostalgic for me. I took this in front of a charming adobe house along my road, Maestas, that is often vacant for periods of time. The owners should hurry to get here before the blooms are finished. Think I can picture a poppy seed in my future.

To back up my story about paying attention to all things “seedly” I’ll toss in a couple of seed photos here at the end of my blog. When I noticed these seeds I really got it how flowers and fruits are delivery systems for seeds. Really! Somehow this small demonstration was suspended in time from last fall, or whenever those seed matured but then stayed with the flower shapes all winter. As you can see from the size of my thumb this is the kind of thing that could easily be overlooked, except by fairies of course.


Week in May

Perennials are the ticket when it comes to feeding the hunger for early flowers in spring. It’s worth anyone’s time to figure out which flowers will overwinter well and can handle the hot-then-cold vagaries of the Taos springtime climate. This is blue flax, basically a wild flower, but it can be showy, like in this photo, and has captured my heart by coming back strong from seed last spring. Each year it will just expand its growing territory.

Last week I had a welcome visitor, my former husband, Mr. Cartwright, whom I met and fell in love with 34 years ago. This is a common thing for us. In time potential projects that call for a patient, helpful man pile up and I eventually reach out and invite him for a week’s visit. This time he took the train from southern California and slept outside in the back yard in my 3-man tent (on an air mattress). I was noticing how nice the tent looked one afternoon just after we had hung the hummingbird feeder (repaired). I got my camera and took this photo. Some people will be able to see the hummingbird that flew up almost immediately, the first one I’d seen this season. A magic moment.

Went to the farm market yesterday and it was not a perfect day for it like last week. It was cold and breezy. What I really zeroed in on were seeds and dried food from last falls harvest juxtaposed with early edibles. In this photo courtesy of Ladybug Farms we see coriander, beans and safflower. I am really starting to perk up at the idea of saving seeds and finding ways to carry the bounty of summer into winter. I talked to one woman who said they freeze some of their peppers and tomatoes to add to soups in winter. She said when her young son started school he complained about the taste of canned vegetables he was served there at lunch. A new taste for him.

Here’s a nice selection of salad type plants that will show up early and deal with the cooler spring weather. These were likely grown in a greenhouse for some protection: cilantro leaves, parsley and chives. This display was on the Ladybug Farms table so I would guess they let their cilantro mature and then collect the seeds. Looks like turnip greens on the left. That’s an early crop. Beets would be too. I planted some a week ago but they haven’t come up yet.

But the people with the goods in the SEEDS category were Ron and Debora of Mergirl Gardens (& Bee Sanctuary) from Alcade. They will sell you seeds they’ve saved by the spoonful. I really like this concept and plan to give their offerings a careful look next week. I had just met up with some friends from out of town before taking this photo and was a bit distracted. They also sell feathers from their own fowl. I was especially excited about their turkey feathers.

Couldn’t resist this lovely display of dried tomatoes. Debora had a bag for sale that was $10, which seemed expensive until she said it took 10 pounds of tomatoes to make it.

I was able to get to the Talpa Gardens booth before all the chard and spinach was gone (like last week). Since it was not great weather there was less competition for sure at 9:30 in the morning. Let’s hope the customers were just waiting for things to warm up outside before venturing out.

One of my companions (fellow artist and a blog fan from Cincinnati) pointed out that I never included any photos of myself, so she took this one of me at my favorite spot, right next to the sunflower sprouts. I was eagerly waiting in line to make my purchase. The ones I bought the previous week kept well and I will keep buying them to supplement the salad plants I can grow at home. Today I harvested my first dozen or so leaves, mostly arugula and Russian kale.