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Anybody growing vegetables in the Rockies?

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I am passionate about growing vegetables in my yard and had a very hard time learning what would grow and what wouldn't. I love cooking with truly fresh herbs and veggies. I now am able to grow eggplant and tomatoes but so far have not succeeded with okra, though farmers in the Rio Grande Valley about 1000 ft. below us do grow it. I buy it at the farmers' market.
But I have found my area really great for lettuce, chard, spinach, kale, carrots and many other cool season crops. I do well with herbs as well.
Here is a picture of my raised bed veggie garden. I also included the pictures of all my squashes somewhere in this forum. . I get great butternut squash, zucchini and vitually any summer squash. I am trying some more exotic squashes this year from Amy Goldmans, The Complete Squash. The bushes are looking great. Here's hoping I get squashes from them.
Mind you, I haven't mowed the weeds around the raised beds so pretend they aren't there.

Thumbnail by pajaritomt
Central, UT(Zone 5b)

I don't know about passionate.. at least not this year. I kind of let things slip a bit. I do enjoy my fresh vegetables and miss them dearly during the non-growing season. I haven't tried Okra, but that's cause I don't know how to cook it. I guess I'll have to check out the cooking/recipes forum(s) here at DG's. I bet there are some great recipes that'll have me enticed into growing new veggies next year. I didn't grow eggplants or any winter squash like I do most years. But I've got lots brocolli, green beans, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. My veggie garden is starting to look more like a flower garden. I keep putting pieces of plants in the bare spots back here and it seems that the flowers are taking over. As you can see I also love sunflowers. I've thinned them out considerably and need to cut down more. I enjoy the cheery blooms and the finchs that they bring into the garden.

Thumbnail by Ally_UT
Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Your garden is beautiful! I love the way you have organized it into squares. I also really like flowers popping up all over. Actually brocolli, green beans, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes, constitute a pretty good veggie garden. I have some Irises in the middle of mine. Why? Seemed like a good idea at the time.

What is your altitude and what are your growing conditions like?

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Beautiful garden Ally and pajar, well..... nice veggies and great future compost in between the beds. LOL
I am so busy with my perenials and building beds in the spring I haven't focused on the veg garden. But we grow Bok Choy, aspargas, squash, pumpkins, cukes, peas, beans, and lots of wonderful tomatoes. I have tried many radishes but all too bitter. Even the Daikons I planted this year.
Cabbage does well but I don't plant much. I use a raised bed type and it is about 2500 sq ft and I am constantly changing it because that is where I compost straw, wood chips, and sawdust to make soil for the next year when the garden is inactive in the fall winter and spring. I plant a cover crop (Peas) to feed the nitrogen in the spring.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

This is my first season veggie gardening in this kind of climate. Here are a few observations of mine...in no particular order.

Now that we are climbing down out of the tripple digits, I'm hoping my toms will set some fruit and that the fruit won't cook on the vine. That 30-40 degree swing in temps between night and day seem to stress out the toms, somewhat, too. With the 50 MPH gusty winds that we get every few weeks (sometimes for days on end), standard tomato cages are useless. You have to cross tie and stake them down like trees. Next year I'm going to have DH build something sunk deep into the ground and sturdy.

I found that the one thing that almost instantly improved the health of the vegies was to mulch them. Insulates the roots from the heat, I'm guessing, and maybe moderates the ground temps when the air temps are swinging between night and day.

Basil is growing like a weed. I've let one large leafed, ruffled kind bloom, and have been pinching the other plants back. Smells soooo good. I think the intense heat makes the aroma come out.

DH built my raised bed (only one this year, but a few more for next) about 2 1/2 ft high. I didn't have enough dirt to put in it, so I only filled it up about 1/2 way. Turns out that was a good thing. My "farm" area is outside of the wind-blocking back yard, so the high walls seemed to really help. The additional height in the sides protected young plants during spring and summer winds and also provided a little bit of shade to young plants. As the plants got bigger and grew together, they helped shade themselves and the ground. At 4200 ft, the sun is pretty intense, and every thing seems to benefit from a bit of shade, especially in the late afternoon. This fall, I'm going to turn them into cold frames by puting thick clear plastic over them. We'll see how that goes. Day temps stay warm for quite a while, so maybe I'll just need to cover them with blankets at night. We'll see.

Bell peppers seem to really like all this heat and sun, even after being abused and started way too early before the last frost. They hung around stunted and half dead for a few months, but when the digits hit the tripple digits, they all got excited and grew some big leaves and started flowering. I've got some adorable 2" babies now.

Watering at night has not seemed to produce the fungii that people always warn about. Maybe because we don't have that much organic matter yet, the sand is very well draining, and the summer humidity barely gets to 10%. Due to my job, the heat, and other circumstances, I find myself watering at night at least a few days out of the week.

Drip irrigation comes to the garden next year. It has already proven to be a joy to the trees that are now under drip care. The veggies and other trees are begging. I'm hoping all that stuff will go on sale pretty soon as the season ends. Drip systems on timers - ah, pure heaven! (Thank goodness we have a wonderful well that has a 14 mile lake and the carson river to charge its aquifer!!!)

Good thing about gardening in sand: weeds come out easy, no "wet feet", when mixed with real dirt it can be beautiful, and no slugs. Bad thing about gardening in sand: it blows all over the place and covers up your mulch, your stepping stones, your porch and will even fill up the insides of your house, if you let it.

Next year I am hoping to grow pumpkin and let the vines run all over some exposed sand. I figure the kangaroo-looking mice will get most of them, and the chickens the rest of it. But if it will help keep the sand from blowing around, then the real benefit will be had. Also, I can compost all those giant leaves later.

Soferdig, what kind of peas do you cover crop with? I am going to cover crop with winter rye on what will some day be a pasture, but I'm not sure what to cover crop the raised beds of the veggie garden with.

The pics are great, folks - very encouraging that with a little experience here, I might have something so bountiful and lush and GREEN looking in this desert tan some day!

I'm so thrilled to have this new forum :-)

Aurora, CO(Zone 5a)

I started planting Memorial Day weekend, and it immediately got too hot for some of the plants. The carrots, herbs, lettuce, and broccoli all flopped over and died. The potatoes and zucchini seem to love this heat, though. Perhaps the other crops will do better when I start them in early spring.

I also water in the evening, sometimes late at night. Everyone has been warning me about all the mold I'm encouraging, but I haven't seen it. When I water in the evening, the water has a chance to soak down into the roots before the sun comes up and boils it. And there's no way I can get it together in the morning to spend half an hour watering my plants. Sometimes I have to grab a toothbrush and rush out the door because I wake up and have four minutes to get to the bus. Morning watering is for larks.

My soil is very poor, mainly sand and dust. Dustbowl stuff. During the year or so that this house lay empty, a lot of the grass died. And the wind blew away the dust/sand except for the few remaining grass clumps. So it's a rather uneven, lumpy dust-choked weed patch.

This garden is going to be a challenge. But I'm determined to get fresh vegetables.

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

Great pictures, and veggies.

I think because of very low humidity factor that we in this area have don't have to worry so much about watering at night. When i feel I have enough water I often let sprinklers run at night and soaker hoses also.

I have always had a vegetable garden. I love my tomatoes, cukes , corn and all the others. Hopefully our triple digit temps are pretty much over for this summer. Actually it is pretty cool outside right now at just after 4:30 am, 50 degrees is all and will drop another degree or so. the moon is full and no smoke right now so very nice.

Donna

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

We are in the rocky mountain forum and watering at night has never cause any mold, fungus or other moisture problems. Except one, my quaking aspen cannot have water on them or they will drop leaves early and I loose that beautiful color. Please note I do not grow roses but a few and never water them on the leaves. IE soaker hoses.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Soferdig,
Were your radishes to bitter or too spicy. I can't recall having bitter radishes but I sure have had a lot of spicy ones. Have you tried cherry belle and French breakfast? Those come out nice for me. I found the Daikon type very spicy. I can't figure out how they grow those big sweet ones in the store. Your veggie garden sounds huge to me!

Donna,
I agree that our dry air keeps us from having to worry about watering at night. In fact, the county of Los Alamos has asked us not to water between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. I have only had mildew on roses and those were somewhat shaded -- not an ideal spot. Your vegetable patch sounds as nice as the rest of the garden. Asparagus, yum. I just can't imagine digging the two foot hole for it in my yard. It would take dynamite to break up that much rock.


White_Hydrangea,
You may be lucky that your grass died. Now you don't have to dig it out in order to get your veggies going. Your lettuce and carrots could have succombed to a lot of different things. Carrots are difficult to germinate, like to be watered once or twice per day until they germinate -- about 10 days. Also, earwigs and other critters do mow things off at the ground level especially in the early spring when there isn't much else to eat. Things like potatoes and squash are large to begin with and don't come along until later. I have never had earwigs bother them. Another thing that bothers lettuce, carrots and other small seedlings is cutworms. They tend to live just under the soil wherever they are eating. I have been known to dig them out and smoosh them. You can also put BT on anything that is endangered by caterpillers. It is a bacterial insecticide and doesn't hurt anything but caterpillers. Not people, cats, dogs or birds.
Once thing that works for me is growing lettuce in small flowerpots or cells that are left over from nursery plants, or yougurt cups, or even egg cartons. You could plant them indoors on a window sill, under a growlight, or outdoors on a table. Then once they have more than the two seed leaves, plant them in the soil of your garden. This is often enough to enable them to survive earwigs. This doesn't work so well with carrots though because it is tough to get their roots in the hole straight when they are transplanted.

Watering at night shouldn't be a problem in Denver except for on roses which are very prone to mildew. Watering at night actually saves water because it doesn't evaporate as much as in the heat of the day. If you barely have time to water in the morning, consider putting a timer on your hose that will go off at whatever time you want and for how long you want. Timers work fine on hoses, not just drip irrigation systems.
Anyhow, as you learn more and as your soil improves all of this will get easier.

Betty



Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

My radishes have been bitter (hot) and not very tasty. I have related it to all of the mushroom compost I put in to fill the raised bed. My daikons were about 6 to 8" but tasted like crap. I will have to buy the lovely ones at the store. Bok Choy went to seed quite quickly so I am planting earlier next year. Squash is always a bumper delicious crop. Tomatoes are also most delicious. We remove all of the non fruiting branches to get max light on the fruit. Speeds up maturation big time. We have tommies from end of July till frost and haul in the dead vines and mature the greenies in the house in the sun.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Soferdig,
Sounds wonderful. I grow bok choy too. It does go to seed fast. It is just kind of like mustard and lettuce and lots of greens that put out leaves then go to flower and seed. I have Korean neighbors so when mine starts to get ahead of me, I give it to them. They use it to make Kim Chee. They also enjoy any extra onions. They eat a lot of veggies and are always happy to get some more. They often repay me with homemade dumplings. Yum!

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

pajar, okra neat heat, and plenty of it. they will stop growing if they don't get enough consistent heat. when you say you have not succeeded with them in the past, what happened with your okra plants?

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

garden_mermaid,
Nothing happened with my plants. They stayed alive but did not grow and produced one or two flowers if I was lucky. Basically I got 10 pods out of an entire row if I was lucky. I imagine all those little okra plants standing there shivering. But my previous gardening spot was windy and many things didn't do well. I have a less windy spot now and will have to see if okra can make it in a not too windy spot.

Aurora, CO(Zone 5a)

I don't have my sprinkler system set up, so I can't exactly use that overnight.

I am becoming more and more convinced that earwigs did in a lot of my plants, especially the ones that I planted near the house. I know the house was heavily infested with them, and I've read that they don't tend to come into the house much unless there's a heavy infestation outside. I certainly grew a bumper crop of bugs this year, if nothing else.

My yard is actually a pretty good size, but it's an odd shape. A lot of it is bare. What isn't bare is overgrown with weeds or shrubby type growth. I'm going to try different places to plant things around the yard. I planted in the raised beds I did because they just happened to be there, and they were the easiest to get ready.

I kind of do a translation in my mind of what people mean when they say full sun, partial sun. I have a place to put raised beds that's nice and clear and gets full sun. But in high summer, full sun means 10 hours of sun and 90-100 degree heat. I've also read instructions that say not to water more than once or twice a week. When I do that, plants dry up and blow away in the wind. Every 1-2 days is more like it around here. When the temperatures got into the 100s, I watered every evening, and it was still dry by the next evening.

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

soferdig, Have you ever planted Champion radishes. I have the best luck with them and using lots of water. I can't see how the mushroom compost would have been bad for growing radishes. I plant radish seed mixed with lettuce seed in one of my 4 x 4 raised beds and covered loosely with Reemay, or a similiar ground cover. As soon as our weather cools a little more I will plant lettuce for fall crop. Cool enough this morning, it was 45 degrees.

Donna

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

When the temps hit the mid-90's here and continue up to around 107 or so, and when the nights stay up around the high 80's, with our sandy soil (even amended beds) and 7-9% humidity, it takes a daily watering to keep things from drying out. Now that the nights are in the high 50's (even though the days are still in the 90s), I find that every other day is ok... mulch, mulch, mulch...my new (since I've moved to the High Desert last year) meditation mantra: mulch, mulch, mulch...

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

My meditation mantra is more like organic matter, organic matter, organic matter, but it doesn't have the ring of mulch, mulch mulch. Actually mulch is very often organic matter so they are almost the same -- but yours has a better ring. I, usually water 3 times of week with a drip irrigation system, but in the height of summer that isn't enough in my raised beds. Then I give extra water when the plants look like they need it. Right now my watering system is off. We are having one of those rare but wonderful spells of rains every so often.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Mainecoon,
Are you allowed to drill wells where you live? I would sink one right into that underground river if I were you. Maybe you could use it to expand your iris farm.

Denver, CO

I am glad to hear of those who have not soured too bitterly to growing veg.

Like said above, Earwigs and drought moxed all but two individuals (out of hundreds) of my favorite veg- carrots. The weedeier flowers whose seeds came in the compost (ipomoea, Ricinus and Datura) are taking over my unkempt veg garden. Pumpkins and spaghetti squah are virus via squahbug fodder. I think from now on, I will mix veg with flowers and not get upset when about half of the things fail for one reason or another. What is doing well is the few corn (2-3) that survived the heat (I was gone for two weeks then- no water) and the watermelons. Actually, that is failure with more than half, but that is OK. One kind of food out of all that isn't bad.

The soil is extremely good- I removed half of it and replaced that with compost.

I think we all have proof that humidity and poor air circulation are not really factors for powdery mildew!

Here-here to "Mulch mulch mulch." I'm using small-chipped wood-chips. What do you use?

K

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Take heart! I am now picking zucchini and sunburst scallop and yellow crookneck squash. Today I picked my first 3 cucumbers. But, I have been here watering the whole time. I still recommend the sprinkler on a timer if you can't manage drip irrigation. Or hire a neighborhood kid to water if you can't organize the timer/hose/sprinkler number.

Mulch as well, but I am not so sure about wood chips. Wood chips are okay where you have large trees and bushes but I think they aren't so hot on vegetables. They need to be rotted a bit so they don't steal nitrogen from the soil. Actually quite a bit. Go for straw, grass clippings and tacky though it may seem, manure.

Squash bugs are the pits. I am very lucky not to have them here. It is just a little too cold. I understand that row covers will keep the squash bugs out, though I haven't tried it.

Now is the time to plant fall lettuce and spinach. You can get a crop before first frost easy. Also cool things like arugula. Later you can plant radishes. James, you seem to know a lot about plants and soil. Are you sure about uncomposted wood chips? Last time I used them, I killed my entire potato crop.

Will send pictures after my camera battery recharges.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

I mulch the trees and bushes with compost with fair sized wood chips on top to keep the good stuff from blowing away. The wind usually adds sand as another layer of inorganic mulch to the top of that. Veggies get mulched with compost, and since the raised bed walls are almost a foot tall above the dirt, and the compost stays somewhat damp, the sand does not tend to invade quite as much. I didn't mulch my first set of baby trees (black austrian pine) initially (for about 3 weeks), and they were looking poorly - and litterally within days of puting a goodly layer of mulch, they were much happier looking. Didn't change watering schedule, didn't feed them - just added a nice, thick layer of wood chips. Subsequent babies got the mulch treatment from day one. The wind does tend to blow everything away - mulch, empty buckets, chairs, small tables, small children, large dogs. If I'm missing anything, I just go to the chainlink along the eastern border of the property - everything is all plastered there against the fence :-) DH hates the wind, but the wind and I have come to an understanding - the wind will blow whenever she darn well pleases, and I will graciously allow her to. And between her bouts of fury, I just keep adding more mulch, mulch, mulch :-)

By the way, since I never had a green thumb, any way (I can't take credit for anything that grew in GA - our garden was on a piece of old, well composted cow pasture, and it rained about an inch every week, so the plants just do what plants do - my only contribution was to stick the seeds in the dirt and occationally pull weeds), my gardening expectations are very low. If I can get 5 ripe tomatoes, 2 ripe peppers and a hand full of basil leaves and a few jasmine blooms, I am a happy camper. Shoot, if the tomatoes cook on the vine, but the vine stays GREEN all summer, I am a happy camper. It helps me to understand that I am a lousy gardener trying to garden where really only sand and sage should exist. So even if the beans germinated and then promptly cooked and died - well, I held my ground against Mother Nature for 3 whole days! I know she will win the war, so I don't worry about that. I just enjoy the small (sometimes very small) victories that are alotted me during my short stay on this earth. Saves me a lot of stress :-) And when I feel stressed, I go out at sun set to spread some mulch, sprinkle some water, inhale the smell of basil and/or sage, and watch the most glorious sunsets I've ever seen - and I'm happy. I could wish for fireflies, but I am happy with the late flying dragon flies.

Besides, there is always next year :-) Gardeners, the original eternal optimists!

Aurora, CO(Zone 5a)

I bought a bag of wood chips. Is it too late to put them around my sad little lilac bushes? Will it help?

And what is good to put over/around iris bulbs?

(Edited for typo.)

This message was edited Aug 13, 2006 1:26 AM

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

I would say, couldn't hurt. Keep away from the actual stems if possible. Lilacs are normally pretty tough.

Bearded Irises don't like damp against their tubers. I've never mulched mine in the past... but I haven't tried then in the desert, yet, either. Maybe something fast draining like sand? Some are growing down the road from me in what looks like pure sand. I've always planted my tubers "mostly above ground" because we had clay, but these look like they are planted in the sand right up to where the stem comes up. The clumps look fair sized, so they have probably been there a while. I noticed, they are staked - gotta love that wind! I've never seen staked irises before!

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Mulch your lilacs but don't mulch your irises. They like their rhizomes, just below the soil, I mean barely, or with the top of the rhizome sticking out. They are the most forgiving plant I grow other than weeds. They need a bit of water, but not a whole lot, or they will rot. They need dry weather and they are completely happy with lousy soil. Is it any wonder I have maybe 30 varieties all over my yard -- actually probably more.
Let your irises just sit and mulch other things. I don't think you will need to worry much about them, but do understand that it may be 2 to 3 years before they bloom. Not your fault. Just the way things are.

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

What I have seen with wood chips is that they hold moisture for a long time and when in contact with the soil will feed the plants a year or so later. Please not that I always incorporate manure with my wood chips. You must know that in my wet winters and falls and springs they are soaked and the worms love living next to them and are very effective in distributing their waste deep into the soil. Therefore wood chips by themselves are used in deep amounts to kill and eat up unwanted plants. But with manure they feed for years and supply their water for months to my thirsty plants.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

pajar, if your really want to grow okra and are willing to babysit them, try putting a cover on the okra bed. You can use pvc pipe to build a frame and then cover with floating row cover or greenhouse type plastic film to keep them warm and moist. You may want to use a double cover for extra heat retention.

I'd start them indoors with a heating pad under the seed flat and a plastic bag around them. When you transplant, you can either put individual cloches over them until the weather warms up, or just cover the whole bed. Keep them covered to retain heat anytime the weather gets below 75 degrees. You can open the leeward (downwind) side of the cover to let the pollinators in during the day. Just be sure to tuck them in again before it gets cool in the evening.

Water them with warm water to keep their feet warm. Weather permitting, you can set a bucket of water in the sun to heat up, or if your weather isn't hot enough, mix some water from the tea kettle so that the contents of your watering can is warm (not hot!!!).

Keep them warm and they'll produce quite a bit. Let them get chilled and they'll just stop in their tracks.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I believe your method would grow okra even here. The one and only problem is heat. Our nights are only above 75 for about a month ( between late June and late July.) Our low tonight is predicted to be 56 degrees F. Row covers, warm water etc. would probably be the trick to make okra produce here. Perhaps by next year I will be able to baby them like that.

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

OK being a yankee what would okra be good for? I have had it in a few meals but don't see the need for all the hard work. Steve.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Soferdig, you've clearly been deprived of some properly prepared okra dishes!

Okra is a staple dish in many cultures........and it does not need to be slimy!
We make a few variations of "masala bhindi", which for us is basically a pan fried/sauteed okra with a coating of ground spices and or coconut.
I also like to stuff them and pan fry them.

I've even been known to throw okra into Hoppin' John, although on new years day, we have to use frozen okra.

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

Why is John Hoppin? It must be like zucchini and you slice it and saute or fry in in olive oil?

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Not sure why the dish based on black eyed peas and rice with some hot pepper is called Hoppin' John. Tradition holds that if you are humble enough to eat beans and rice on new year's day, you will have prosperity through the year.

We cook the okra whole. I pop black mustard seed in some coconut oil, olive oil or ghee, saute the okra until tender, then add ground coriander, garam masala, a little salt, tumeric and sometimes a handful of dried shredded coconut or ground almonds. I'll stir the spices and coconut/alomnd meal with the okra while over the heat for a moment or two and then serve. The spices absorb any excess moisture that might make it slimy.

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

That sounds yummy! Will try it in my other stuff this year, IE zuchinii and eggplant.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Okra also have beautiful flowers - kinda hybiscus like.

San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Yep, they are malvaceae (mallow family) like the hibiscus, cotton, hollyhocks, marshmallows et.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

I want to move back to Georgia! (You will hear me say this more and more as the temperature drops, but I don't know if I really mean it... Nevada is kinda getting under my skin and into my blood... besides, I have also conveniently forgotten about the HUGE bugs down in the south and the suffocating humidity)

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

My oldest son lives and has for 25 years, in Baton Rouge. I have been to visit them a few times, trying not to go there when weather is hottest. Can't stand the heat and humidity. Do love the food tho.

I have lived my whole life there in this area, 80 years, have been to all but three of the states and still prefer to live here in my more sparsely populated area. My little town, 4 miles away, is 1000. There is a Super Wal Mart and now being built a Home Depot, in Omak 25 miles away. Thie area is growing population wise, When I moved here some 10 years ago from my other place where I lived 50 years, there were less than 10 homes in view from my house on the hill, Now there are at least 25, and more being built. But not many MacMansions. There are also 5 for sale within a couple of miles, ranging in price from $350,000.00 down to 150,000.00.

Thumbnail by rutholive
Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

The first picture was taken 10 years ago. Here is a more recent one. The orchard you see in first photo is now gone and alfalfa grows there.

Thumbnail by rutholive
San Francisco Bay Ar, CA(Zone 9b)

Lovely spread rutholive!

We'd move away from the crowded SF Bay Area too, if we could figure out where to go. Somewhere with a yard big enough to grow our fruit trees and vegetables, without "MacMansions" as you call them (we call them "monuments to the delusion of net worth") and a decent yarn shop so I don't run out of knitting. My husband doesn't want "too small" of a town. He had some bad small town experiences when his dad moved the family from here to New England during his high school years. Also explains why he won't live in snow country. We mermaids need to live within an hour's drive of a large body of water or our souls wither away and die. Maybe one day we'll find a place. *sigh*

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

rutholive,
I can see why you like it there. Spacious views, light population and the ability to grow a lot of things. You do have everything a gardener could dream of there.

To completely change the subject, I will show you one of my favorite edible plants, one that is sadly overlooked in western ( like opposite of Asian ) cooking. It is the oriental garlic chive, often referred to as Nira by Asians. These are chives but are used in many more ways than we use chives. They can be chopped in small pieces and sprinkled over potato and cheese and many other dishes as we do in western cooking. The do have a mild onion/garlic flavor -- not anywhere near as strong as onions or garlic. They can also be stir fried with meat in quantity. Craig Claiborne's Chinese cookbook has a recipe for 3 cups of chopped chives stir fried with the meat from 1/2 of a cooked duck. Yum.. I have also cooked them with clams. Yummy. Asians cook the buds. Though I have often seen bunches of buds for sale in the Chinese grocery, but I have never found a recipe for them.
They also have very nice flowers, like many aliums and the individual flowers can be cut off and sprinkled on top of a salad or probably a lot of other dishes for a nice pervasive alium flavor.
I undersand that Asians use them medicially but I don't know much about that.
These chives spread like western chives and are easy and attractive to go. I have a large number of them in my lily bed -- yes it is wierd, but my lily bed contains many herbs as well as lilies.
I include a picture so you can get the feeling. Looking for something pretty, easy to grow and edible? Try oriental garlic chives. They have a flat leaf instead of a round one like western chives.

Thumbnail by pajaritomt
Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Soferdig,
People who haven't lived in hot climates rarely appreciate okra but it is extremely nutritious and bears in the hottest time of the year when even tomatoes give up. Not a problem in Montana!
The two okra dishes I grew up on were fried okra and okra and tomatoes. Both are soul food for me and many southerners. And I don't recall a lot of bug problems with okra, but it has been a while.
This spring I went to Turkey. Though we didn't have any then because it was out of season, I discovered that they eat quite a few okra dishes in the summer. I bought a cookbook and will probably try some of the Turkish dishes when I can get okra -- which isn't very often. I buy it at the farmers market or the Chinese grocery or frozen. The okra that comes to the regular grocery store always looks like it fell of a truck.
Also okra is a standard thickening agent for gumbo another soul food for me. It doesn't have to be seafood gumbo. It can be chicken and/or sausage gumbo. Yum!

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