The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

GARDENING

Is the Bernalillo Farmer's Market opening?

In answer to many inquiries, Yes! The local Bernalillo Farmer's Market is scheduled to open on Friday, July 11, in a new location very close to its old El Zócalo home. The market has been provided a very ample operating space on property belonging to Zia Pueblo, which lies just south of Our Lady of Sorrows Church on the west side of Camino del Pueblo (Highway. 313) in Bernalillo.

According to market managers Emily MacLeod, Ann Rustebakke, and Charles Shaheed, a general cleanup day for the new space was held on June 24, and fencing and gates are being installed so that customers and vendors can park either on the street or next to the vendor spaces.

This is a very exciting development for the market because it provides room for expansion and enables the market to build on the award-winning reputation that it established under its original High Desert Conservancy identification.

As always, the market will have spaces for vendors of homegrown fruits and vegetables, plants and flowers, prepared foods, and a limited number of craft items made with New Mexico materials. The market will also accept W.I.C. coupons issued by the Sandoval County W.I.C. Office, the Five Sandoval Pueblos W.I.C. Office, and the San Felipe Pueblo W.I.C.

Market hours remain unchanged: Fridays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. from July 11 into October. Vendor information and applications may be obtained by leaving a message for Emily MacLeod at 550-0234. The market is staffed by volunteers and operates under the auspices and regulations of the New Mexico Farmer's Marketing Association.

 

The Placitas Gardener— Landscape Logic 101

Peter C. Benjamin

I've been doing quite a lot of pondering of late on how to best and most logically manage a proper garden with the least amount of physical and mental input. My search has led me in the direction that I think makes the most sense, and the solution comes from a variety of sources that are both old and new. You may be surprised at just how old.

You may have heard in the news about the county commissioner in neighboring Bernalillo County who proposed unleashing goats on the bosque to help control nonnative invasive plants such as the salt cedar which drain off a surprising amount of water from the aquifer. The commissioner stated that the grazing goats have been used to control undesirable plants for generations and that we should learn from the past.

I couldn't agree more. The use of goats as natural control measures is an extremely effective and environmentally sound practice. A friend and neighbor to my office in Bernalillo has used burros that he borrowed from a friend to come to his property to "de-bark" the Russian olives without sacrificing the cottonwoods. The animals are fed, no poisons are used, and our labor input is minimal.

A similar example is maintaining a healthy population of predators to control pests. Bull snakes to devour rodents; lizards, birds, toads, and even beneficial insects to keep the harmful insect population in check.

When it comes to plants, one can take different views. Most people have been taught that it's easier to spray insecticide or salt-laden fertilizer on the landscape than to remove the causes. They couldn't be further from the truth.

After consulting two of my favorite books on the subject, the following, I believe, will help to prove my case. One of the best-written works I've found is the New Organic Grower, by Eliot Coleman (Chelsea Green Publishing). Coleman writes: “The fact that stress might have a detrimental effect on plants is not surprising in light of the similar effect of stress on humans. When we are under stress we too become more susceptible to the ills that can befall us. And, just as in agriculture, we can either choose chemical aids to mask the symptoms of our stress or we can make changes to correct the cause-changes in our daily lifestyle or our work environment or daily habits. Any reputable stress-reduction program would recommend the latter as the intelligent course of action. I define this thinking in agriculture as Plant-Positive in contrast to the present approach of Pest-Negative. It makes sense. Since there are two factors involved, pests and plants, there are two courses of action: to focus on killing the pest or to focus on strengthening the plant; to treat the symptom or to correct the cause. Since the former appears to be a flawed strategy. We might be wise to try the latter.”

Since you may insist on not taking not the word or theory of Coleman or myself, perhaps the words of some other notables may convince you more thoroughly. Coleman quotes from a 1793 letter from Thomas Jefferson to his daughter: "When earth is rich it bids defiance to droughts, yields in abundance and of the best quality. I suspect that the insects which have harassed you have been encouraged by the feebleness of your plants and that has been produced by the lean state of your soil.”

Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin's grandfather, speculated in 1800 that the leaves of a fruit tree damaged by insects were “previously out of health, which occasioned them to supply a proper situation for those insects which molest them.”

Still not convinced? Okay, I'll let Coleman roll out the really big gun, a gentleman by the name of Louis Pasteur,. whose name is so closely identified with the germ theory. Pasteur wrote with passion about the potential of this alternative approach to forestalling diseases. He was intensely interested in the importance of what he called the "terrain," the environment within which the organism lives. His greatest fascination was not with the causative role of microbes but with the environmental conditions "that increased the vigor and resistance of the host.”

Even the USDA 1957 Yearbook states: "Well-fed plants are usually less susceptible to soil-borne organisms than are poorly nourished plants. Good fertility may so enhance the resistance of the (host) plant that a parasite cannot successfully attack the roots.” The Old Farmer's Almanac Book Of Everyday Advice, Judson Hale-Editor (Random House) states in the Readers’ Ideas section, "The old fashioned way of ridding flowers of pests and insects was to grow castor-oil (bean) plants among roses and flowers.”

Why do we see so much resistance by scientists to the commonsense approach to plant and pest management? I would theorize that it is the nature of man to control rather than coexist. It's just plain easier to mosey down to the hardware store and grab some poison off the shelf than it is to try to work with nature. But what price do we pay by destroying the ecosystem instead of building a healthy planet?

[Questions or comments for Peter C. Benjamin can be sent from the Contact Us page and we will forward them along. —ED]

 

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