Author: thedotgarden

Planning a Summer Garden – WaterSmart Workshop 2019

We’ve teamed up with the Water Authority to offer a series of new WaterSmart Gardening classes! Check back regularly as we post class content throughout the season.

Class: Planting a Spring Garden (March 30 & April 6, 2019)

A PDF of the slides can he found here:Planning a Summer Garden WUA

Companion Planting Handout

Vegetable Spacing Handout

Planting Planning Guide

Planting a Spring Garden – WaterSmart Workshop 2019

We’ve teamed up with the Water Authority to offer a series of new WaterSmart Gardening classes! Check back regularly as we post class content throughout the season.

Class: Planting a Spring Garden (March 9, 2019)

A PDF of the slides can he found here:Planting a Spring Garden WUA 2019

Seed Starting Planning Handout: Seed Starting Plan

Growing & Harvesting in NM Handout: When to Plant in NM

Seed Starting – WaterSmart Workshop 2019

We’ve teamed up with the Water Authority to offer a series of new WaterSmart Gardening classes! Check back regularly as we post class content throughout the season.

Class: Seed Starting (March 2, 2019)

A PDF of the slides can he found here: Seed Starting WUA 2019

Potting Soil Handout: Potting Soil Recipe

Seed Starting Planning Handout: Seed Starting Plan

Plant Sale & Local Garden Fest: CALL FOR VENDORS

2019 Local Garden Fest & Plant Sale: CALL FOR VENDORS

The Desert Oasis Teaching Garden is hosting our Local Garden Fest and Plant Sale on April 27, 2019 from 10am to 2pm. As our primary fundraiser for the year, DOTG will be selling hundreds of different desert adapted veggies, herbs, and native plants along with handcrafted body care products. We are looking to include a wide variety of vendors and educators who will complement and diversify the offerings for the event. We anticipate 900+ people to attend this year’s event.

Vending/booth space is limited, and preference will be given to those vendors who most closely relate to the DOTG principles of sustainability, local food and agriculture, healthy communities, and environmental education.

DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION HERE:

Encouraging Mycorrhizal Growth in Soil to Conserve Water

In order to conserve water in our garden, it is recommended to encourage mycorrhizal growth.

But, first off, what is mycorrhiza?

Mycorrhiza is a type of fungus that has developed a symbiotic relationship with plants, in which it increases the absorption of phosphorus and other nutrients. The plant allows the fungus to attach itself to its root system. Because the amount of water and nutrients a plant can absorb is directly dependent on the surface area of the root system, this relationship increases the ability of plants to absorb what they need. Mycorrhizal networks are able to absorb all 15 essential nutrients for plants, and absorb the nutrients through intricate webs. It also makes certain enzymes that can aid in breaking down hard to claim nutrients such as phosphorus in order to make them easier for a plant to uptake and digest.

This is what it looks like close up:

Ericoid mycorrhizal fungus.jpg“Ericoid mycorrhizal fungus” by MidgleyDJ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ericoid_mycorrhizal_fungus.jpg#/media/File:Ericoid_mycorrhizal_fungus.jpg

And this is what its symbiotic relationship looks like:

File:Vicia sepium9 ies.jpg

Mycorrhizal growth on roots- http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vicia_sepium9_ies.jpg

These organisms can help plants thrive naturally and without fertilizer. They are also great at increasing the ability of soil to hold water because the water holding capacity increases as the amount of organic matter does. This means that less water will be lost by evaporation or runoff so that more water is available to the plants and you do not have to irrigate as much. Loss of water to the environment is a major source of water waste. Mycorrhizae produce humus and other organic glues that can hold the soil together and therefore increase water holding capacity.

Conventional gardening, unfortunately, can make it difficult for plants to interact with mycorrhizae. Compaction, top soil loss, and less organic matter discourages mycorrhizae from growing. Often, the effects of conventional gardening on this relationship are dually terrible because it both isolates plants and discourages fungal growth as well as increasing the nutrient needs. This increases the needs for fertilizers and other water-consuming products in the garden.

So how is it possible to encourage mycorrhizal growth?

  1. Add compost, rather than fertilizer, to soil. While fertilizer gives plants nutrients, it is chemical-heavy and strips plants of the need to develop this relationship with mycorrhizae. The chemicals are detrimental to existing fungi and, although providing plants with nutrients, discourage the development of natural nutrition uptake strategies. Adding compost will increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, and develop a more fertile topsoil, thus making an ideal environment for mycorrhizal growth.
  2. Use minimal tillage. When you till the soil, it can disrupt and harm the fungal growth on the roots of plants. It takes a while for mychorrhizae to grow, so tilling every season can be detrimental to colonies.
  3. Plant cover crops. While establishing different kinds of environments for the mycorrhizae, cover crops increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, thus increasing microbial activity and encouraging mycorrhizae to grow.

Mycorrhizae can be a natural defense against what could devastate a garden: drought and nutrient deficiency. It is in many ways essential to healthy, natural garden that does not deplete nutrients in the soil. Who knew such a little organism could make such a big difference?

Resources:

http://www.fungi.com/blog/items/mycorrhizal-management.html

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/gardennotes/212.html

Abundance in the Desert: The Beauty of Winter Storms

While winter storms provided a unique set of challenges, they often bring with them a blessing: water.

The past few weeks have been exceptionally moist here in New Mexico. Rainfall and snow have decorated our landscape with saturated vistas and winter blankets.  While the heat of summer and scarcity of water may be far from our minds, this winter moisture is key to ensuring the health of plants and animals throughout the year.

However, it’s not just how much moisture we get that’s important. It’s how long we get to keep it.

snow and oats

Snowfall provides an excellent opportunity of this concept in action. Following snow fall, take a look outside. Observe each day where the snow has melted and where it remains. Notice micro-climates.

While we’re weeks out from our last big snow storm, snow remains on the ground in some places.  These cooler, protected patches of ground are able to hold onto the snow for longer periods of time and release snow melt at a slower rate. Why does this matter? Slowing down the pace of water moving through a system means the plants and animals in the system can use the water over longer periods of time.

snow 1

While snow provides an excellent visual for this process, we can treat any form of precipitation the same way. How? Mulch. Build organic matter in the soil. Keep plants in the ground year round. Create shade. Dig soil sponges. Utilize swales. Above all, be creative! Observe patterns of success in nature and explore possibilities in your own space.