Palabras Pintorescas: Rains have turned the brown fields green again

-A A +A
By Editha Bartley

What a treat it is to have our climate change back to what is was like in the old days. Rains in just the nick of time have turned the brown fields green again, and wildflowers have begun to bloom once again. The hummingbirds finally have something other than our sugar water to enjoy.

I’m probably the last one around here to plant a garden, but I do have a box full of seed packets just waiting to meet dirt and water once again. I’ve been a vegetable gardener since I was in high school, and I actually had vegetables that I entered in our county fair here way back then. I always showed my champion giant chinchilla rabbits at the fair and they won many blue ribbons.

My Valmora rabbit hutches were basically set on the old cinder piles from the big boilers there, cinders that had melted down and mixed in with the dirt. The rabbits contributed much to the garden plot I claimed back from the invading oak bush there. Their rich manure was all it took to grow all sorts of good to eat veggies. They appreciated the lettuce leaves and carrots, including the leafy tops as much as we all did.

I have collected some gardening books along the way, and I also have number of our New Mexico State University pamphlets with all sorts of gardening hints, plus the how to books of canning and preserving the fruits of this gardening effort. I have done a lot of experimenting along the way.

Is it better to plant squash/calabasitas in hills or rows? I know carrots love tomatoes and I suspect they actually fed off each other, but I can’t grow tomatoes at this altitude so that is not on my list of things to try.

And I couldn’t pass up some basil plants and some about-bloom marigold plants at the nursery a couple of weeks ago.

They got a head start in a head planter here, and yes I should have known better. They were frosted back, considerably when the temperature hit 27 degrees here at the end of  May, no less. Oh well, such is the life of gardening in the mountains.

Now I have a small raised bed that will produce well, if it gets planted. I always plant turnips to catch the bugs and hopefully keep some of them off the calabasitas.

One year I gave up on formal rows and just raked the lettuce seed into the dirt. That worked just as well as row planting, much to my surprise. And last but absolutely not least is our gardening and meadow enemy, the pocket gopher, who manages to crawl under all sorts of barriers, I’ve discovered.

I run a spring trap line, and catch a few here and there. My faithful old dog, Tinta, lets me know when I’ve caught one here, and she usually steals the bum off the trap. Thankfully he is already dead, and I know there will be many more to replace him in just a few short weeks.

May our summer rains continue, and hopefully our watersheds will fill up all of our lakes and ponds I hope our monsoons are already beginning to build. It really is fun to play in the first and mud once again.

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.