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.


Eco-Friendly Gardening Checklist

For many people, gardening is a quiet, relaxing hobby that helps them feel closer to nature. However, many gardening practices don’t positively affect nature to the extent we may believe. For example, Americans use nearly 7 billion gallons of water per day on landscape irrigation, which is about one-third of all the water Americans use each day. Using that much water puts a strain on water supplies and impacts natural resources in other areas. Gardeners also impact the environment in unintended ways by planting non-native plant species, which can affect populations of local plants and even wildlife.

Eco-friendly gardening is becoming more popular as people across the country look to enjoy the benefits of gardening while reducing the harmful effects it may have on the local ecosystem. Through careful planning and good habits, backyard gardens can be a boon to the environment as well as their owners’ mood and well-being. A rain barrel can be kept close by to collect rainwater for watering a garden without depending on outside water supplies, for example. Planting certain types of wildflowers also can help attract birds and helpful insects that can eat harmful pests, which reduces the need for chemical pesticides.

Environment-friendly gardening is easy and just as much fun, while having the added benefits of helping preserve the ecosystem. The tips in the accompanying checklist can help you practice eco-friendly gardening in your backyard. Take a look and see what you can do to make your garden more of a help to the environment.

Infographic created by Power Planter Check out their homepage for more info:


Eat the Desert: Elderberry

Written by: Emma Jones

Last modified on April 29, 2020 by DOT Garden team

Elderberry is a plant closely rooted to human development. With several varieties found across the globe, many communities have used its flowers and berries for medicinal and culinary purposes for hundreds of years. Though there are many types of Elderberry, the one that grows especially well in the Southwest is the Mexican Elderberry (Sambucus mexicana). Reaching 15 feet tall in maturity, it can be used in residential or commercial design as a shrub or tree. With its beautiful cream colored flowers in spring and summer and it’s dark purple fruit in fall, Mexican Elderberry can become a valuable addition to any space.


In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the fruit and flowers of the Elderberry provide numerous health benefits. The berries are high in nutrients and antioxidants which help reduce inflammation, reduce damage from oxidative stress, and protect the body against free radicals from pollution. Multiple studies have also shown that Elderberry flower infusions and berry extracts aid in helping the body fight against influenza virus and soothe symptoms. Elderberry extract lozenges were found to reduce symptoms like headaches, fever, body aches, and congestion in 24 hours of consuming. Repeated doses of Elderberry syrup boosted symptom recovery in 2-4 days. These remedies can be used as a natural alternative to other commercial medicines available to treat influenza and the common cold.

In food, Elderberry can be used in jellies, pies, and homemade wine. It is important to note that before consuming, berries must be cooked in order to denature the dangerous cyanogenic glycosides. Here at the gardens we look forward to turning our Elderberries into syrup and the flowers in homemade loose leaf tea! If you don’t have an Elderberry tree in your backyard, look into local foraging laws in your area to determine if harvesting Elderberry in public spaces is a viable option for you. Whether it’s in medicine or food, Elderberry is definitely a multipurpose beauty!


Emma Jones is a student at Utah State University studying Conservation and Restoration Ecology with a double minor in Sustainable Systems and Sociology. Beans and rice speak to her soul and she attempts yoga on a regular basis.


Family Garden Fests!

Written by: Raye Myers

Over the summer of 2018, the DOT Garden is going to host three different events that are all part of a series of Family Garden Fests. With three unique events on June 23rd, July 21st, and September 8th, the DOT Garden strives to bring together community in all forms — from families, friends, volunteers, and garden regulars, to kids, adults, and new timers of the Desert Oasis Teaching Garden. The main idea for these fests is that the activities change from event to event based upon the season and current events in the garden (depending on the time of year, amount of rainfall, plants growing at the time, etc.). The activities are designed to be easy to replicate so that each individual or family can bring knowledge and dreams for their own garden back to their own home.

This series started off well with a successful event in June! For the first event, there were nine different stations and activities set up. I helped at the Seed Mural area, which depicted a bee on flowers and a spider on a spider web. I loved witnessing kids and parents contribute to art that was made out of native seeds, rice, peas, etc. and seeing the progression of pieces similar to color by number. It was especially moving to know that we inspired a little girl to go home and make her own mural!

Next, there was a food station that featured herbal lemonade made with basil and mint along with radish varietal tasting. There was also a worm area and a station to make your own salt scrub from calendula petals grown in the garden. At the worm area (aka the worm petting zoo), attendees learned about the importance of organic matter/ castings in soil for water absorption through touch. Around the whole garden there was a scavenger hunt that acted as an educational, self-guided tour through the DOT Garden. Signs were hung around the area to provide information about cisterns, vertical bins for sweet potatoes, leaf corrals that store leaves for free organic matter, and ollas and irrigation. With this quick scavenger hunt, what could seem like inherent components of our garden, such ollas or vertical bins, can be brought to light as new options and ideas for other’s gardens. Lastly, on the sidewalk, people created their own dream garden with chalk. This allowed people to have fun and show their creative side while simultaneously learning about companion planting.

To conclude the event, there was a local dance group performance by Ballet Afrique, including the DOTG’s own Tiana Baca! This group practices at the Maple Street community dance space and fosters inclusivity and community, perfect for the family garden fest occasion. The energetic dancers accompanied by live drumming were an excellent way to end the morning. Overall, the culmination of hardwork and planning was displayed during the event, which highlighted sensory exploration during each activity with taste, feel, touch, and play while also engaging a wide audience and providing the community with something to take home, whether it be knowledge or a salt scrub. And to put the cherry on top, this fest and future ones are sponsored by the Water Authority so that the events can be free!  

Even if you did not make it to the event in June, there are more to come!! Check out the DOT Garden Facebook or event page for more information.


Raye Myers is a currently working in the DOTG for the summer and is a member of the environmental club during the school year. She loves all things nature, reading, diving, and speech and debate. She will be starting her senior year in the fall.

Cricket Flour Cookies

Written by: Vilheim Piwowarek

Many of us Westerners find the very idea of eating insects distasteful but we’re in the minority. Insects are eaten in 80% of the worlds countries and for good reason. Insects are numerous, can be easily raised humanely with a small carbon footprint, and are high in protein & low in fat. One can even make flour out of ground up crickets and use it to create all sorts of baked goods that have an extra health benefit. Here is a recipe for some tasty cricket cookies, made with flour you can buy (or perhaps make yourself if you have access to truckloads of crickets or grasshoppers).

Cricket Cookies Recipe


3 cups cricket flour/normal flour mix (or 2½ cups normal flour and ½ cup pure cricket flour)

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 sticks softened butter

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1 tsp almond extract

2 eggs

Optional: 1 cup chocolate chips or topping


Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a bowl, mix the flour(s), baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, add the sugar, butter, and almond extract. Start beating this, then slowly add eggs. Add flour mix and beat until fully combined. You can add chocolate chips/other now or when you set the mix on a pan.

Spoon out the mix onto a standard baking pan. You can size cookies how you like, but one spoon should be sufficient. Also note the bigger you make your cookies the longer they will take to cook. Cook cookies in oven for about 9-10 minutes.


Written by Vilheim Piwowarek, resident entomologist of the DOT Garden. As an insect enthusiast and insectivore, he is very passionate about understanding insect roles in the Garden, alternative pest management, undercutting insect-related misconceptions, and staring at insects for hours at a time. He is starting his Senior year high school.

Growing & Processing Garlic

Written by: Diego Moore

Garlic is amazing! Along with being delicious to eat and great to cook with, it also has many benefits other than its tasty insides. For example, eating garlic can reduce your cholesterol. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are also contained in garlic. Potassium, iron, vitamin C, and calcium are just a few of the nutrients that you benefit from when consuming garlic. Additionally, If you cut the cloves of garlic in half and directly apply to your skin, it can help get rid of acne and cold sores.  In fact, garlic has been used as a health aid since ancient times.

In the garden this summer, I helped harvest and clean garlic. The type of garlic that we harvested in mid-June is called Spanish Roja. To harvest, we loosened the ground around the garlic so it could be pulled out of the ground. We were very cautious to not dig into the vegetable with our shovels. We then carefully placed the garlic in a pile. If we tossed the garlic too vigorously on the ground, it could bruise. Once all the garlic was harvested, it was placed on racks to be dried.

In addition to the process of harvesting the garlic, we also had to clean it. After a few weeks of drying on a rack we began cleaning another type of garlic called Tashkent Violet Streak. To clean the garlic we cut off the stems about an inch from the garlic itself. Then we peeled off the outer wrapper of the garlic which was covered in dirt. Finally, we trimmed the roots as far up as we could without hurting the garlic. When all of the cleaning was done the garlic was set on the drying rack once more. These vegetables were now ready to go to be sorted into seed stock and food for the CSA.


I had no idea that harvesting garlic was such an intricate process. I have learned that farmers take time to provide quality food to our families. I definitely have more appreciation for the farmers that deliver the food to our tables.


Diego Moore is a rising sophomore at Albuquerque Academy. Self-proclaimed lover of puppies, kittens, rainbows, and Lucky Charms, Diego also has a passion for music and plays guitar in a band through School of Rock here in Albuquerque.