Upcoming Home, Garden and Health Expo

WHEN:  Saturday, March 7, 2020 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

WHERE:  Peralta Methodist Church Community Education Building 25 Wesley Rd, Peralta, NM 87042

OPENING SESSION:  All about Bats

HOME:  Edible Native Plants, Cooking from Your Cupboard, Home Wine and Cider Making

GARDEN:  Native Plant Selection, Growing Herbs, Attracting and Housing Pollinators

HEALTH:  Not in My Family (Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse), Home Safety and Security, Heart Healthy Habits

2020 H,G&H flyer

Call Valencia County Cooperative Extension: (505) 565-3002 to RSVP by March 3rd.  Registration includes lunch and only costs $5.

Master Naturalist Program at Whitfield

There will be an information session all about this great program at Whitfield on Saturday, Feb. 29th from 10am-11am. Email Allison Martin at eemanagervswcd@gmail.com for more information.  Application is available at https://www.valenciaswcd.org/whitfield-wildlife-conservation-area/master-naturalist-program/?fbclid=IwAR3vU448-uUXfFRmEeuIRSKdlUizTn7Q0jSkwP7sDsqZcQRfPFY8VXpoFCY

2020 Master Naturalist Flyer


Membership in Valencia Community Gardens (VCG)

While the Garden is put to sleep for the winter, we are having a planning meeting January 22, Wed. at Whitfield at 10am.   All interested folks are welcome.

Regular workdays begin late Feb. early March.  To be a member one works 2-4 hours per week at regular Wed. and Sat. morning workdays.  Annual membership dues are $25 per individual or family.  Valencia Community Gardens is at Silva Rd.–the road connecting Tome Gallery with Tome Plaza and running slightly west of Hwy 47 on land generously provided to us by Jan Pacifico and George Ridgeway.pic for May 1 meeting.croppedDeb and Ingrid20161009_121149-bethelcdc6612.23.19.resizedJoyce smiling


In existence for more than ten years, Valencia Community Gardens was inspired by Rosemary Kaul, one of our founding members.  She suggested plural “Gardens” in the hope that from one location VCG would reach out to other gardeners who might form their own community gardens in Valencia County.  In addition to this blog, we also have a Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/Valencia-Community-Gardens-529928913724097/ and we are starting to post on NextDoor.

More photos here:  https://www.facebook.com/pg/Valencia-Community-Gardens-529928913724097/photos/


Garden update 1/8/2020

Debbie says,
“The Greenhouse is flourishing even with this chilly weather. Bethal and I are watering regularly. About every 6 days seems to be enough to keep the soil moist and the greens happy. Bethal watered Monday Dec. 30th and On Sunday Jan. 5th I gave it a good drink. By next weekend it should need more. If you go in, write down what you did on the yellow tablet. And do take some fresh healthy organic greens.

And mark your calendar for Wednesday Jan. 22nd for a general planning meeting – ordering seeds etc. – at Whitfield at 10am. On Feb. 15th Ron will organize the filling of the bioreactor composter. We’ll need all hands on deck for that event.”  Debbie

Joyce says:
Bring seed catalogs and ideas to the Jan 22nd meeting at Whitfield at 10:00 a.m.

I’ll bring coffee. Stay for awhile after the meeting and go for a walk in the Bosque.

Our work day on Saturday the Feb.15th. Is an “all hands on deck” day. We will need to churn up some leaves, get all the bagged material wet and then fill the waiting bioreactor. We are making this a community event to teach our neighbors about the bioreactor and its benefits. Building it is fairly simple using commonly found materials. We have a complete instruction manual that we can hand out to visitors. Ron has been working very hard replacing our hoses with sturdier material.

greens closeup.

And please, come pick greens from the greenhouse. There are plenty of containers. Thank you, Bethal, you did a wonderful job planning, planting, and labeling the crop. Are y’all enjoying these sunny but cold winter days? Come join us at our next two events, jjh

Debbie Christensen is President of VCG, and Joyce Johns is past President and current outreach coordinator.  For details on the Bioreactor Composter, click here:  Johnson-Su Bioreactor Composter

Regenerative, Organic Agriculture Is Essential to Fighting Climate Change

Regenerative agriculture” refers to farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity. This results in both carbon drawdown and improved water infiltration and storage in soils.

Regenerative practices include:

• Reduction or elimination of tillage and the use of synthetic chemicals

• Use of cover crops, crop rotations, compost and animal manures

• Integrating animals with perennial and annual plants to create a biologically diverse ecosystem on the farm

• Grazing and pasturing animals on grass, and more specifically using a planned multi-paddock rotation system

• Raising animals in conditions that mimic their natural habitat

See the full article by Ronnie Cummins here:


Fried Okra recipe

Okra cooked in the oven like this are a revelation. The first time I did it, I planned on having them as a side with dinner, but I ate every single piece before we sat down and concluded they were more appropriate as a snack. In the spirit of kale chips, but way tastier and more substantial, these fries will cook unevenly, so expect some crispy spots mingled with more chewy bites. If you’re using large, fat okra, slice them into quarters. If you’ve got immature pods, split them in half.Ingredients

Serves 4

1 pound okra (453 g; 20–25 pods), split or quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt 10 turns of the pepper mill or ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the okra with the olive oil, coriander, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Spread the okra onto a large baking pan, or two pans if necessary. What’s important is that the okra have plenty of room to spread out. If they are all piled on top of one another, they will steam, not roast.
  4. Slide the pan onto the middle rack of the preheated oven.
  5. After 10 minutes, toss the okra gently with a spatula and rotate the pans if you are using two.
  6. Cook an additional 10 to 15 minutes. When the okra is done, it will be brown and crispy in a lot of places but shouldn’t smell burnt.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature as a snack.


Cover Crops for Soil Health

Some good ideas here but may take awhile to load the 64 pages.

“Learn the principles, of which there are few, and you can develop the practices for yourself, and when conditions change, you know how to change the practices.”

These principles are:

  1. Minimize soil disturbance
  2. Keep the soil covered
  3. Keep a living root in the soil as much as possible
  4. Provide diversity
  5. Integrate livestock


Click to view table of contents:  Soil Health Cover Crops contents


Want to know how climate change will affect crops in some specific states?

Although New Mexico isn’t listed, many states are, and their experience could be relevant to ours.  Check out this article:

From Apples to Popcorn, Climate Change Is Altering the Foods America Grows


Note that raspberries, tart cherries, watermelons, chickpeas, wild blueberries, heirloom popcorn, peaches, apples, kiwi fruit, artichokes, and rice are at risk.

Our May Day membership meeting and brunch


Deb and Ingrid President Deb with Ingridgroup in sun with Deb 1Ag Sci ladySallyarms wideJoyce smilingJoyce smiling with othersKathy Rlast to talkgroup in sun 2

You would have had to be there to hear each member’s reason for being there.  I didn’t hear anybody say we don’t use pesticides or herbicides, and our only fertilizers are manure and compost.  Maybe by now it goes without saying.  Joyce told about the bio-reactor workshop she and Ron attended and our plans to make one.  You can learn what it is and how to build one at the following link.  Go to page 8 to see what it looks like.  What amazes me the most are the air tunnels and the one-minute-a-day watering- on-a-timer routine.


Last week we gave away a worm farm at the Whitfield Science Fair, and today some of us remembered Dave whose story and video about eliminating trash for a year are here:

Meet Dave, the Man Who Never Takes Out the Trash

and here:

Grain School in July

Go to GRAIN SCHOOL at the Albuquerque Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico!
July 26 – 27, 2019
Albuquerque, NM

Presented by the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance in partnership with Seed Broadcast and Garden’s Edge.

With a focus on ancient and heritage grains, you will learn expert techniques and hands-on skills to grow, harvest, mill, market, and bake with locally adapted grains. Nutritional values of ancient grains will be presented, along with the ecological benefits of adding grains to your garden or farm portfolio.

The course will include field studies at Albuquerque’s Garden’s Edge Grain Garden.

Regular price: $200 – Includes a locally sourced lunch with heritage grains featured

RMSA Supporting Members price: $160