A Clovis & Portales Survival Guide
Who would have guessed that I’d move to New Mexico and become a homesteader? All I know is that when it comes to gardening… I’ve got this!!
This area is rumored to be a desert. While that might be a fact by scientific standards, I find this area to be quite mild and forgiving in comparison to the rock and dust that I grew up with. (enter plant life) Gardening is not a lost cause! Its freakin’ beautiful out there! It RAINED today! So, next time you start feeling a little home sick for mama’s garden, remember to not discount your own possibilities. It happens here people, I promise.
I don’t know how long that you’ve been following, but, I have officially purchased a house! My FIRST house! (Please no congrats, lets get right to business) I finally could rip up my yard and put down some real, non crap, good for the soul… FOOD. *boom* This was happening. There were some major hurdles with this idea. 1- My new house is 100% xeroscaped and 2- I have no IDEA what I’m about to sign myself up for. Don’t worry though, I learn that later.
I didn’t have a plan per se. I just had a dream. I knew what I wanted but had no idea how I was going to get there. What I wanted was an urban organic food factory, built with love and friends. I needed to create a place that was friendly en masse. Eco friendly, belly friendly, ect. Water was a HUGE puzzle. I thank my lucky stars everyday for Youtube videos and the Golden Library.
We took up a patch of rocks in my barren lifeless yard and found under it not only dark Earth but also a few accompanying earth worms and that… is a miracle! Turns out this house is built on old farm land and we struck some urban farm gold lottery. Shortly after the miraculous discovery, I hosted a Labor for Labor Sunday and sunk beds into the ground. (Side note: Labor for Labor Sunday is when a group of people come by one persons house to donate 3 labor hours. The group takes turns at each laborer’s home to help ease the burden of home improvement and to provide the opportunity to learn new skill sets) The Garden Source sells organic top soil for about $5 a bag, so topping off our beds was cheap. So far this endeavor has cost me a few bucks and a few hours of elbow grease.
The next big deal was water. The aquifer is pretty much empty and I don’t want chlorine in my veggies, not because it will kill me, but because I’m picky. We added gutters to the back end of our house so we could create a way to collect rain water. This is possibly the hardest sounding thing ever but it took no time at all. This crazy thing called technology has advanced so much that snap together gutters cost only $6 each at Lowe’s and are easier to assemble than just about anything from Ikea. We attached our rain barrel very haphazardly at first, partly because we all had a few too many… um… sodas??? (I don’t drink soda) Since then we have cleaned up the Labor for Labor Sunday string theory.
What I found the most shocking is that people thought I was crazy for adding a rain harvester to my house. Yeah, I know its a desert. BUT. IT. RAINS. I have 60 gallons of free water sitting in my yard waiting to be used from just the slightest rain. Its worth it. I think people should take advantage of it too because there are towns and cities that have made water harvesting illegal.
The beds are down, the free water is happening… this lead me to believe I was able to expand… and by expand I mean.. chickens.
The country store sells chickens by the sixes. When my adorable environmentalist girlfriend (Molly, love her.) told me she purchased 6 chickens and wanted to split with someone, I jumped at the chance. Ahhhh!!! Birds!!! Eggs. This was going to up my urban farm game big time. Since the addition of live poultry, I will admit that I feel like a real urban farmer.
I’m still in the process of learning but I’m going full throttle. Gardening is one of those things that you never stop learning more about. I’ve started sharing the knowledge that I’ve acquired with people in the neighborhood. We host little gardening classes right out of my own yard and everyone is hopping on the ‘I can do this’ train.
The truth is that you can do this. Its a desert but don’t let that title get under your skin. We get a lot of sun. We’ve got plenty of info out there and most importantly… water is precious. Get it free from the sky! Don’t be the guy who waters their lawn mid day when there is a sand timer happening on the local water source. Its easy but its important. Start with zucchinis and you cannot fail.
Some more great reads on the subject: