|Jim, Dwight, Sue, Aly & Wilbur (l-r) display their goodies|
After weeks of unprecedented rain, club members found a jungle when they visited the East’s (that’s us) for the August meeting. We were lucky to get a beautiful sunny day. Only a few days before the arroyo was impassible with a torrent of water 40 feet wide and at least three feet deep. Unusual for New Mexico!
As good fruit explorers, we started the meeting with food—cheesy squash casserole, gluten free bread with spiced plum jam, spice cake, fresh melon and lemonade tea. Since members all lost almost all blossom last spring, we’re making do—and missing Pat’s culinary contributions!
Water is a critical issue here in NM, and most members are interested in water harvesting. We were glad to have finished a couple of new water banking experiments to show attendees. The hugelkultur (www.permies.com) is a raised berm built over logs and planted with windbreak plants. Water rolling down the hill gets ‘banked’ in the curve of the berm. Other water catchment includes 2 cisterns (and multiple small tanks) filled with rainfall from the roof.
About 30 fruit trees are planted in the next project, a trench filled with a chip, compost, soil mix that catches and stores more water. The trees will all be espaliered creating a living fence around the flower and vegetable gardens. Apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums and elderberry’s are ready for the wire, and include heirloom varieties like Cox’s Orange Pippin, and Belle de Boskoop. To be planted next year, the apples from our grafting workshops—Strawberry, Macoun and Darcy Spice to name a few.
The bee bed is another raised bed filled with organic material, and planted with a mix of plants that have long bloom periods and are especially attractive to bees. The hope is that moisture caught in the berm will ensure the blossoms are full of nectar even in dry years like the last few.
The main flower garden was almost obscured by the sea of weeds that weren’t here two week ago, but the perennials are blooming their heads off. A rose yarrow that was only a few inches tall before the rain is two feet tall and a mass of color. Other outstanding bloomers--caryopteris, salvias, iceplant, winecups, hollyhocks & more.
Trying a facebook page--you can like New Mexico Fruit Explorers to get posts. Hopefully, members will share what they're doing, we can post quickie schedule changes, etc.