Monday, March 31, 2008

Native Seeds

I finished making a new bed outside the chicken pen this week, it's a small sunken bed approximately 2 feet by 5 feet (sunken beds are like they sound, the opposite of raised beds, supposed to be more practical for the desert climate but waaaay less practical for my back). I'll be using it to grow beans as I ran out of room in all the other beds. I had decided that this was the last project that I would work on this planting season and was ready to devote 100% of myself to painting again... and then the Native Seed catalog came.

For people reading this that know that it's hot and dry here but don't exactly have a reference point, I pulled this info off a climate statistics page:
The driest month in Phoenix is June with an average 0.09 inches of precipitation, and with 1.07 inches March is the wettest month. Our percentage of sunshine hours ranges from 77% in December at the low to 94% in June. Our temperatures, hot. It's sunny, dry and hot. This means a couple of things,
1. When you get plants from the nursery that say "full sun", that's a boldfaced lie. You have to estimate how much sun that would get in an average climate and do some math to figure out what a more appropriate placement would be that will enable your plant to survive longer than 72 hours.
2. While people in the Northeast are still breaking ice out of the animals water dishes, we are ending our spring planting season, which seems to also be about the time most of the seed catalogs get here.
3. If you don't have city irrigation you have to not only chip your planting beds out of the dry, hard ground, but you had better install some sort of sprinkler/drip system to get your plants water.

It's this third point that I have a little bit of an issue with. One of the main reasons for doing all of these fun Rachel's tiny farm activities is to lead a more self-sufficient and sustainable life. Even with rainwater harvesting, there's really no way to grow the standard garden plants without substantial watering, so in the long run, really how sustainable is that? This brings me back to the Native Seed catalog! The fine folks at Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson have a nice catalog, and I'm pretty sure I could grow many of these items without too much additional watering. I don't have the time to build a bed for the native garden in time for the few days left of spring planting, but I'm going to shoot for getting it in by the monsoons, for fall crops.

EDIT: I remembered I had some "New Mexico Melon" seed that I had bought from the Native Seed store a couple of years ago, I planted a few in the corner of the new sunken bed, we'll see how this goes.

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