Springtime in New Mexico is all about wind.
Race car fast winds, wandering winds, teenage romance winds (on- off, on-off), silky winds.
When I head out in the morning I choose my sweaters by the winds. The potato chip colored one with two buttons missing is just right for the romance winds. The flame orange zip up with the hood protects me from the race car winds. It’s mostly about my comfort.
For my seeds the wind is a factor in their survival. It isn’t about blowing them away. It’s about the wind’s ability to steal precious water from the topsoil– leaving the seeds moored in a desert.
Most seeds need to stay continuously moist in order to sprout. Take carrots seeds. They need to be damp all the time. Problem is that in spring I can water them in the morning but after a windy, sunny day the soil can be dry as cornmeal in a skillet. Most days I can’t get out there to water twice a day so I’ve had to figure out how to protect them.
For carrot seeds I lay boards over them until the sprout. I water under the boards once or twice a week. It’s a perfect moist cave. For all other seeds I lay gossamer thin sweaters of shade cloth (you can get it at the hardware store or garden center) over them, secured by logs around the edges. This allows the sun in, keeps the wind out and maintains an even moisture level.
When the plants emerge and begin to push up on their garments I build structures over them that maintain the same conditions but allow room for growth. My favorite structure is out of the metal skeletons of discarded election signs. Mine are from “Don Duran for school board.” Retirement for campaign paraphernalia- lounging in the garden after a hard race.
I take out the H shaped frame from inside the sign. The lower arms of the H get pressed deep into the soil– on each side of the bed, about 5-6 inches apart. The upper arms reach straight up and I press the shade cloth over them, punching holes in the cloth. I stretch the cloth from one H to the other H across the bed (see picture below). The final effect is like a Bedouin tent with fierce spikes out the top.
All the shrouding and shading works wonders against the wind. Bonus effect – protection from snacking birds and frosty nights.
So rage on winds–in this garden we’ve all got our sweaters on!
Planted in past few weeks: turnips, peas, beets, lettuce, chard, kale, bok choy, carrots, cilantro, parsley
Structure made of election signs