Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fall Activities

There's a consistent chill in the air now, and summer is definitely coming to a close. The tomatoes are ripe (and I've discovered that I LIKE the things, not having eaten them since I was about 8). Our black beans have all been harvested, for a yield of several cups dry for the 6 plants we grew. And our Aztec Runner Beans, which we thought were sterile, are suddenly brimming with an abundance of 6" long pods! We've also begun to harvest calendula petals, and have two giant sunflower heads drying in the living room.

This past weekend was the grand opening of the Santa Fe Railyard, a newly developed walking area which includes a park, shops, housing, and a permanent home for the Farmer's Market. Naturally I have mixed feelings about the project, but the Farmer's Market is now only about 1/2 a mile from my house, and Tristan and I got up early to go to the market on opening day. It was huge, vibrant, and exciting. I was overwhelmed by the whole thing, and I still can't afford to buy produce for $8/lb, but it was fun to explore. One of the booths was offering chains of marigolds with little bells and beads on the end for $10 each. I was struck by them--they were beautiful and also ridiculously priced, and they looked so nice in their display, forming a sort of flower curtain. Well, I just happen to have the world's largest marigold plants in my garden, so I went home, harvested the flowers, and got to work. I made 6 or seven strands of flowers (14 flowers per strand) and tied the bottom with cardamom pods. They look beautiful, but we'll see how they look dried. I'm hoping they will take on another kind of beauty, rather than shrivelling and turning brown or moldy.

But the best find at the Farmer's Market was the garlic. Garlic is best planted in the fall, and we have been planning to plant a large crop. A friend gifted us a book entitled "A Garlic Testament: Seasons on a Small New Mexico Farm", which is both delightful to read and a good source of information about growing garlic in adobe soil at high altitude. The author of this book grows top-setting garlic--which produces small bulbils on the stalk in addition to the large subterranean bulb. This garlic is more able to reproduce itself than most garlics, which are completely dependent on humans to separate the cloves and plant them apart from each other. Top-setting garlic can be propagated by separating the large bulb or by planting the bulbils, which takes a season longer but will ultimately yield a good crop. I went searching the booths at the market for this garlic, and thought I recognized some by the book's description: smallish bulbs with a purple tinge. I asked the farmer, and sure enough, I had found it. I bought about 10 bulbs, which should each have somewhere in the neigborhood of 10 cloves--more than enough for planting, with plenty left for eating. We'll plant the garlic next month at our new place. Yes, we're moving again! But that's another post...

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