no garden at new NM home.

nantinki(zone 5/6 NM)November 13, 2007

I have been here since Sept 4th. It's still a mess. The horse is doing a great job of tearing it up and clearing. Lots of fertilizer happening too. We haven't planted a thing or tried even a house plant. We are at 7514 feet which is shocking! Any and all advise is so very much appreciated.



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Looks like you are in a position to make a great garden nantinki, You need all the leaves, kitchen leftovers, fruit, peel, grass cuttings (if the horse leaves you any) and all other sorts of eco friendly materials ( see my pages on lasagna gardening ) that will degrade, including cardboard, shredded newspaper and horse manure and make a "pile" by laying of different layers one on top of the other, (being in a different country to yourself I assume the weather is cold) try to protect the edges of your "pile" from frost as the centre will start to warm up (obviously not very hot in winter) you may if you wish place plants in the pile at this very early stage dependant on your preferences for the time of year, alternatively you could let the pile ferment and use the products in the early spring to enhance your garden by laying it on borders or similar. By layering you are carrying out the method of lasagna gardening!! Intrigued? check my web site and you will find out much, much more, including the humour I have thrown in. I hope this will help you out. Always remember you are never alone in the garden (Try and get others to help).

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardening for you.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 2:43PM
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Where are you in NM? Even though you are at a high altitude, if we knew that it will make a lot of difference to the suggestions you get in return. 7000+ ft. in Chama is vastly different than someone at that elevation in the Guadulupe Mountains, the Gila, or the Bootheal. Plants that grow down south at 7000 ft might be sotol, pinon, or yucca, whereas, in the north we are talking Ponderosa pine, aspen, and the like.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 11:58PM
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I'm in central New Mexico. This area is about 5000 feet above sea level. I have areas of red soil, but most of my property is quite sandy. I add lots of peat moss to enable the sand to retain water. I add compost. I also bought a batch of earth worms. I kept them in a bin until I had enough soil suitably ammended. Then I set them free in an environment in which they could thrive.

Fresh livestock manure needs time to break down. During my first year here, I used horse manure in raised beds, allowing three months for the manure to break down before I planted (prepared the beds during winter). Those beds did not do well until the following year. Apparently the manure needed more time to break down than I had allowed. Now I have green chilies, artichokes and asparagus in the raised beds, all of which are doing quite well.

Because I am working with a large area. I often amend by only dealing with the exact location I intend to put a specific plant, bush or tree. Meaning that I dig a large hole and mix peat and compost with the native soil before I put in the plant. Late fall and early winter are the best times for planting evergreen bushes and trees.

I ran an organic community garden when I lived near San Francisco. I considered myself an ace gardener. I found myself seriously challenged in this new location. The High Country Gardens newsletters and informative catalogs were a great help. They also offer some classes. I attended a drip system class and discovered that such a system is not a good option in my neck of the woods.

I do produce and flower gardening. Wild flowers are an excellent choice. Wild flower seeds do best if put in during fall. They should be lightly stepped into the ground.

I do well with penstemons, agastache, hummingbird mint, chrysanthemums, snapdragons, petunias, lavender, columbine, flowering sages, roses, marigolds, plumbago, scabiosa, speedwell (a type of Veronica), various types of sunflowers (Maximilians are perennial), yarrow, asters, globe mallow, allysum, dianthus, cosmos, hollyhock, tulips, poppies, hyacinth, crocus, and hibiscus. My tuberoses did not do well. Flowering bushes with which I have had success are forsythia, santolina (excellent insect repellant in the garden), artemesia, lilac, photinia and broom.

I have some blueberry bushes, grapes and a strawberry bed. I haven't had success with raspberries, but a friend says he has done very well with golden raspberries. My garlic, shallots and onions do very well (also planted in fall).

Good luck with your new garden! To save money on flowering plants, you might want to consider choosing plants which you can propagate via cuttings. By the way, some of my wild flowers are so prolific, that I pull the plants up and burn them, when they go to seed, because they self-seed too well! Yuccas also self-seed very easily.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 8:01AM
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nantinki(zone 5/6 NM)

Hi All and thanks for the wonderful replies.
I live in Tijeras on the top of South 14. The very top. It's a mountain outside Albuquerque. Everything else is 'over the hill'.
What a mess it is here. Never has had any work that I can tell. The soil is just sand. I do have a well but am a greenie so that will play into the gardens.
I read the layered pages and thought them wonderful as well as all other great information.
The horse was the best thing I could do, hooves aerate the soil, etc.. She is doing a fine job with some of the growth. The place couldn't be seen when we arrived. Now I can see a bit of the yard. We have 2 plus acres. I want to start with small areas'.
My first wishes are for organic foods for us and the horse. Thereafter I will do all the landscaping.
I have no idea what to do with that. There are no trees to speak of, a slight roll downhill away from the house, and it is all scrub stuff I don't even recognize.
My wishes are to start something now, I will do the composting right away, cover it will pine leaves that are dead and try to get some oak leaf.
Hopefully it will break down fast enough, I want to use ammonium nitrate, won't purchase any diesel fuel ever, and get something started.
My home is passive solar. Windows, huge, 4 >x Because of the huge expense of moving and now not having much at all that need is on the back burner.
The floors are a terrazzo ceramic brick, will take lots of spilt water, not much will hurt them, and so I will place tomato plants, etc. inside for the winter. I think that will be all the real gardening I will be able to do for now.
My purse would afford flat rate postage if anyone has anything they would trade. There isnÂt much here, maybe some pinion~ and ponderosa, but thatÂs it!
I love the use of worms, coffee grounds, and composting. I will have to find neighbors that are willing to share their leaves with me. (Hopefully anyway)
For now I will just say a
Great big thanks for the help!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 9:46AM
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Neat spot; I love South 14. Beautiful area around Cedro peak. If you like them and have a real moist shady spot you could even grow aspen. I am having success with them in Albq. (in full sun no less!) so they should be OK. Yucca baccata ought to grow easily in fairly sunny and slightly shaded areas. White Fir also is native to the Sandias and would work well in moister sites at that elevation. What's so great about the Sandias is that I have seen places where all three of these plants are growing alongside one another.

You should get enough heat to even grow some high desert plants as well; such as native cacti. These mountains are the dead end for many species (both plant and animal) that range much further south in Mexico, and don't see nearly as much cold as the mountains further north in the Pecos. Check out Plants of the SW on 4th, They will help you find appropriate plants for the winters you will see there. Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 12:07AM
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Water softeners kill plants and trees, because of the salt content. So you don't want to put a water softening system on your well, unless it is fixed such that it only affects the water in the house. (Hard water (mineral water) is considered heart healthy, by the way.)

Yea, it certainly does take a lot of money to fill in all of that empty space. I have a couple of acres, which had very little landscaping when I arrived. Luckly, however, somebody had planted lots of trees.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 3:01AM
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Nice area up there...I mountain bike there in summer and know some folks there. Not nearly as hot or arid as Abq.

For success, start with native plants to the 6500-8000' belt of the central NM mtns (Santa Fe to Ruidoso are of course, very similar to you). New Mexico Olive, tree-form Gambel Oak, Threeleaf Sumac, Parry / New Mexico Agave, Blackfoot Daisy, etc are a mere few...many, many more.

Then choose adapted plants, and this includes some Lavender, Iris, etc.

And avoid being tempted to stick to just wildflowers; use a variety of plant forms simply...perennials do not hold their own visually except in warmer times of year in your area, and some are short-lived; you need all the plant forms to really work; flowers only are fleeting.

Then think in terms of plants and where they grow best...natives along arroyos good for wet spots; natives along uplands good for dry areas; natives to floodplains (ash, cottonwood, and aspen higher up) best in huge areas where surface roots not a problem, and as their increasing lust for water with age, they will not find your piping or irrigation system...most likely not for most properties. Sandy soil plants often best in sand, not clay. Rock means smaller plants, but many from the SW mountains grow well in rock.

BTW...aspens in Abq really suffer and are very short-lived and visually SO out of place, unless they are rooted into water and sewer lines, then you suffer...$$! They are quite the bad fad and have only been since the late 90's. In your area, there are MANY better choices. So, skip fir, aspen and all that super high elevation stuff that are water hogs...note you have pinon, juniper (2-3 species), oak (2 species)...all low, spreading trees that like drier conditions. Keep in the visual character of where you are lucky to be.

And, I doubt your winters are USDA Z 5 long-term (30+ years is how climate is measured, not just a few years), ; only the cold air basins like the Estancia Basin is USDA Z 5...most of your elevation belt in our region is USDA 6 solidly. You are also Sunset Zone 3a...a better system for the west, since cold is NOT the only factor in horticulture.

While you do not have the plant choices of coastal Cal (I lived in San Diego), you have many great choices if you make thoughtful ones and ignore habitual mistakes, often those are very popular in horticulturally-challenged places like NM. (I can say that...I have lived here 16 yrs)

Some relevant nurseries:
High Country Gardens in "Fanta Se" has a nice catalog:
Plants of the Southwest:
Bernardo Beach Native Plants:

Also, try:

Always know and celebrate where you are. Hope that all helps...good luck!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2008 at 12:58AM
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