Adventures in Green Living-Gardening in the High Mountain Desert

In these parts, gardening can be a pain in the *$#   challenge. We live in an arid mountain desert in which our “soil” is more of a hellish sand/clay mixture. It’s lovely for growing! In spite of all of these factors, I decided that 2011 was going to be The Year of the Garden. Since deciding to eat animal-free, I subsist mainly on plants. (such a coincidence!) Even with weekly CSA deliveries, I wanted to ensure that I was getting quality, nutrient dense produce (in large quantities) all summer long. I was also interested in the cost savings of gardening. As I’ve shared, I love to cook; which means I buy a lot of ingredients. Mostly organic ingredients, to boot. This gets expensive. No shock there. I really wanted to see how much I could save between a garden and a CSA share. I spent about $50 on supplies for the garden and my CSA share breaks down to $12.50 per week. Depending on how well my garden fares, I think I will spend next to nothing on produce for many months to come. I also plan to can and freeze anything/everything I can. My mother is an AVID gardener, to say the least, so I immediately went to her for guidance. (My mother and sisters operate a CSA farm in my hometown. She is legit.) Although she has been growing in a drastically different climate, she was able to offer me some very sound advice on how to get started. My local nursery has also been an invaluable source for advice on what I can grow here. They have been more than helpful throughout this process! If you are just dipping your toe in the gardening waters, go to your local nursery. They know stuff! They can help! They are awesome at growing things! With the weather that mother nature through our way this “spring”, I needed all the help I could get. Case in point; here is my garden as of 10 days ago:

What is that you say? That doesn’t look like a garden to you? You think I’m making this whole garden thing up? I understand, this looks like nothing more than a pile of dirt covered in snow. (Which, let’s be real, that’s basically all it is.) Before I put anything in the ground, and when it wasn’t snowing, I turned the soil until my fingers bled. Literally. I added local compost and grass clippings and essentially treated the soil like the delicate organism that it is. I also started composting myself! Yay! I’ll obviously have to wait a while for my compost to….well, compost. Once it’s ready, I will add to soil regularly. I also throw my grass clippings on the soil each time we mow. (Another tip from Mom.) I hope this will keep my garden very happy and keep me veggie-rich! Eternal optimist, I am.
I did some research on what would be my safest bets in the veggie department. I went with two different varieties of carrots, both butter and green leaf lettuces, spinach, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, potatoes, beets, bush beans a few hearty herbs. Everything but the potatoes has come up, which pleases me to no end. We shall see how well things go from here. I will keep you posted. PLEASE share tips and success stories in the comments section. Only your success stories, though. Please be kind and spare me any stories of your epic fails in the garden, I’m only allowing positive garden thoughts to travel through my conscious mind.
Oh and ps. The snow is *finally* gone. For now, at least. The kind gentleman at the garden center shared with me that our last snow day in 2010 was June 23rd. So we are not out of the woods just yet. I’ll keep that thermal blanket at the ready. If it does snow, I will find comfort in the wise words of my mother: “Snow is poor man’s fertilizer”.

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About Nicole DiMauro

i am the *intern* for this green earth, a lively talk radio show on KPCW 91.9 FM about environmental issues & green living. download or listen live tuesday mornings at 9 am at www.kpcw.org
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