More Side Trips with Pictures on the Way Home

Santa Fe, NM

I thought these belonged in their own thread. One of my favorite places ended up to be The China Date Ranch. Off of a side road not far from Tecopa hot springs lies the dirt, 1 lane through a canyon, curvy and once you get on it you can't stop road to The China Date Ranch. They make huge, date ice cream shakes as well as having many other diversions there. There is an actual date palm oasis and some homes where people live. There is a sign asking you to respect the privacy of the people who live there and not to go traipsing around their yards. I figured that also meant not taking photographs. But, there was plenty in the public realm. For one thing, they grow and sell agaves there!

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Santa Fe, NM

I was sorry we didn't have room in the car for one.

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Santa Fe, NM

They had a variety of agaves and other cacti. I was utterly charmed because I had been designing a garden in my mind for that mojave-near Death Valley area. And these folks did it right!

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Santa Fe, NM

I didn't get pictures of every plant. Nor did I photograph the date groves. Nor did I get a picture of the wonderful bottle trees someone had made in their yard! Do you know what bottle trees are? I consider them a type of Southern folk art. Very unexpected! I wish i could have hung around and asked questions but D.H. was getting weary.

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Santa Fe, NM

So, I keep talking about this garden. Let's get on with it. Well, there were cactus.

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Santa Fe, NM

And there were iceplants with red and yellow flowers.

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Santa Fe, NM

Oh, the flowers...But, more cactus first!

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Santa Fe, NM

There was a little fountain and a hummingbird with a bright red head who was too fast for me. This is all about the shots I missed!

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Santa Fe, NM

Maybe they would give me a job there.

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Santa Fe, NM

I did get a few pictures at least. Look at these guys!

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Santa Fe, NM

Too cute!

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Santa Fe, NM

Just one more and we're out of there! I really like cactus.

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Santa Fe, NM

There are more sights but will stop here for now. Gotta have Joshua trees. These were on the way to Search Light, Nevada. There was a forest. this one tree.

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Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Agaves are so beautiful.

Santa Fe, NM

I bought one at SantaFe Greenhouses today! It was 75% off and quite lovely!

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I plan to have oodles of them when we live there. I hope you can transplant them from the desert? Or is that illegal?

Santa Fe, NM

It probably is. You could take a little seed, though, I think. Although I'm not sure agaves grow from seed. Isn't tequila made from agaves? Is it agaves or yuccas where the roots are roasted in the ground for feasts? Wild/Native plants that you buy at nurseries are generally not ones that someone dug up somewhere. But if you own a piece of ground and must manage it then you could move things all over the place, right? The mind boggles.

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

Agaves are pseudoviviparous. They are grown from little bulblets that grow in the place of some of the flowers. That way you get an exact clone of the parent. I have a blue agave (the tequila kind) that grew from a pup that one of my botany professors gave me off a plant he kept in his green house. It must be about 10 years old and has to live on a high shelf because the leaves are rather pointy and dangerous.

Cacti are protected in most states and some succulents too. I know that in the National Parks in the southwest the cactus poaching problem is so bad that they have inserted microchips in many of the larger cactus and take DNA samples to keep on record in case they are stolen.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

okie dokie. No agave/cactii gathering in my future in NM.

Santa Fe, NM

So, Katlian, is it the yuccas that the indigenous people roast the roots of and eat? I seem to remember this from a Arizona elementary school film strip. Or the agave? I am always interested in food!

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

From a U of Colorado website:
"Agaves were used as a food source as long ago as 1,000 AD. They were grown on terraced hillsides. The leaves were cut away and the large heads were placed in roasting pits. The buds and flowers of agaves can also be eaten raw or cooked. Agaves were outranked as important plants by the Aztecs, Mayans and other Indians of Mexico only by corn and potatoes. Agaves have been used for: food, drink, soap, clothing, rope and other fibers, needles and thread, paper, glue, weapons, military instruments, medicines, red coloring matter, forage, and ornamental and hedge plants.

Pulque, a mildly alcoholic beverage, is made from agaves, principally A. salmiana, A. mapisaga, A. atrovirens, A. hookeri and A. americana. Mescal is a distilled agave beverage. Tequila is mescal made in the state of Jalisco near the town of Tequila. By law that's the only mescal that can be called tequila."

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

I think it's yucca root, at least that's what I've seen in the ethnic grocery stores.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I went to an agave plantation in Mexico and learned how to make te-kill-ya by hand. I was much more interested in learning how to make the yummy tortillas we had for lunch.

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

Oops. we cross posted. Agaves certainly have a lot of uses but I think it was yucca root that roybird was thinking of. You can still buy it at certain grocery stores, though I have never tried it myself.

The first time we were in Mexcio we saw an interesting video about agave harvesting while we were waiting at the airport. After all the leaves are cut off the centers look like giant pineapples.

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

Dang, you type faster than I do.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I love the barrel cacti of Arizona, especially that nice one with pink spines. I also love the ones with fish hook spines. It is indeed illegal to dig wild cacti in Arizona and probably in New Mexico, though I am not sure of that. But, there are companies that grow them from seed which works amazingly well, thought they are rather slow growing. You can buy the plants that are commercially grown. I visited such a greenhouse -- or rather set of greenhouses and was amazed at their wonderful work. This was in Tucson and was most impressive. So you can buy a farmed barrel cactus when you get to NM or Arizona, a nice big one if you want.

Santa Fe, NM

There is a dish called yuccas fritas. Salvadoran. Yuccas may be spelled differently. It is a white fried starchy vegetable much like a potato but better! I am not sure if it is from a yucca cactus or if it is another sort of root. I'm glad agaves are so useful.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Are you thinking of Yacon? I have not tried it but it sounds like yucca. I don't know if they are related or not. I think it is thought to be good for you.

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Bacon? mmmmm Canadian bacon mmmmmmm

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Love Canadian bacon, but this is a plant root.

Here's an article on it. Supposed to be good for diabetes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yacon

This message was edited Mar 25, 2009 4:10 PM

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Sorry I got sidetracked.

Santa Fe, NM

No, not yacon or bacon. Paja, they have it at El Tesoro at Sanbusco. Maybe we should have lunch there! In Arizona on the way home not far from Peach Springs or someplace like that. This is probably one of my favorite pictures recently. I like clouds.

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Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

Nice contrast between the sky and the earth.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Beautiful photo. Maybe it is yucca root. People do eat yucca root.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

Are you thinking of yuca? Apparently that is how you spell yucca in Spanish. Yes, let's go to El Tesoro. I don't think I have been there under the current ownership. See:

http://www.recipezaar.com/Yucca-With-Garlic-Sauce-Yuca-Con-Mojo-148632

Calgary, AB(Zone 3a)

I suppose transplanting yuccas from the desert in NM is illegal too (being the state flower and all)?

Carson City, NV(Zone 6b)

Probably, but you can get very nice ones at the nursery. I have a very pretty variegated one in my front yard that turns pink in the winter. The flowers are edible too, they kind of taste like sweet artichoke.

Los Alamos, NM(Zone 5a)

I am not sure that it is illegal to transplant yuccas, but I think most people just buy them at the nursery because it is easier. And there are the tall white ones like the state flower and there are the small red ones with little thin curled things that look like spines coming off the sides of the leaves. Probably it is okay to dig up a yucca on private land with permission -- but I don't actually know. Getting permission might be the trick.

Dolores, CO(Zone 5b)

DN, when you move to AZ, choose a home with lots of natural cacti if you can, and if that is what you want. Our home in AZ had amazing saguaro, aloe, yuccas, mesquites, etc. that all grew there naturally. I'll see if I can post some pics tomorrow, have to pull them from the other computer. We had the most beautiful saguaro cactus I've ever seen on our property, and I've seen a lot of saguaros.

Then, continue networking with the SW Gardening forum, one of the guys was just giving away a huge specimen cactus, aloes run rampant.... you will find cacti aplenty!

Santa Fe, NM

I think it is yucas fritas and if we are not in a blizzard tomorrow, we're on for lunch there. They have stopped charging for parking at Sanbusco, by the way. I grew up in Arizona, as many of you have already heard. I love the beautiful cactus in the Sonoran desert. People on the SW gardening forum are really nice, too! I have an agave or yucca or something like in the back yard. It is blue-grey-green and very sharp tipped. I think the tips were probably used for sewing needles. But, not on this particular cactus. One year I cut all the sharp ends off because I was tired of getting stuck in the face with them! Seems like they grew back or grew new leaves.

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