Snowstorm Sept 9, 2020. That’s not a snowman. It’s my Gold of Bacau bean trellis wrapped in row cover for protection. ©nan fischer

Create climate resilience in your yard

There’s no better way to plan your garden season than looking at the previous one. Last year, here in Taos, New Mexico, the last frost was June 8, and our first frost was Sept. 8, accompanied by snow. That’s a pretty short growing season! This is not the new normal, because some years are warmer, extending the growing season on each end by weeks. Either way, the weather is more and more unpredictable and gardeners are increasingly frustrated.

Over the last five years, I’ve seen summer days and nights get warmer. The overnight lows used to be 40–45 degrees, and…

Photo by Adobe Stock/Engdao

Discover how this versatile fruit is becoming popular in the U.S., in both garden plots and meal plans.

My daughter texted me from a Tennessee supermarket last spring, asking, “What the heck is chayote?”

Knowing it was a trendy food that year, I informed her that chayote is a squash-like fruit in the gourd family, and jokingly told her to buy one so she could be on-trend. But she thought it was so ugly, it couldn’t possibly be good.

However, many people think otherwise. Chayote has a long, roaming history around the world, and, whether it’s planted or purchased, this fruit can become a nutritional star in a variety of dishes. In 2018, Pinterest searches escalated 76 percent…

Photo by Yen Vu on Unsplash

We may not be gardening right now, but we still have needs!

Even though there is snow on the ground and summer’s gardens are a distant memory, we gardeners are planning for the upcoming growing season. Just because we are not out there digging and planting doesn’t mean we are not gardening in our minds. As seed catalogs roll in with unwanted junk mail this time of year, the fervor intensifies.

Satisfy and inspire your favorite gardener this gift-giving season. From seeds to services, there is something for everyone.


There is nothing like sharp new clippers and loppers when it’s time to prune fruit trees in late winter. …

Photo by Maksim Zhao on Unsplash

Fall chores and looking forward to next year

Frost has arrived signaling the end of the growing season and time for garden clean-up. There are two schools of thought about fall chores. One calls for a thorough cleaning of the whole landscape, while the other says leave it all until spring.

I am usually ready for the season to be over by October, so clean-up waits until spring. I do remove diseased or insect-infested plants and their surrounding mulch to eliminate or at least reduce their recurrence the following year. …

Cherry, Beefsteak, and Roma open-pollinated tomatoes, ©nan fischer

Next time you eat a tomato, put the seeds aside for processing.

The tomato is the most popular garden vegetable in the US and Canada. If you like starting them from seed in the spring, consider saving the seed of your favorite varieties.

You do not have to sacrifice a tomato in order to get the seed, unlike other crops. Many vegetables need to be dried or overripe and inedible for the seeds to be ready. When a tomato is ready for eating, the seeds are ready to be processed for drying.

Types of tomatoes

Seed can only be saved from heirloom or open-pollinated varieties. Hybrid tomatoes are the result of two…

Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

Grow UP!

Every home can have a garden, even the smallest balcony, deck, entryway, or patio. To fit as many plants as possible in your space, grow UP. You can have ornamentals or food or both with a little planning and imagination.

The basic vertical support is the trellis. These can be a simple wooden fan-shaped frame or an elaborate cast-iron design with botanical designs on it. I made one by cutting 12” long pieces of willow branches and nailing them horizontally the full height of the porch supports. …

Spider plant, photo by Lucian Alexe on Unsplash

Filter toxic air pollutants with a little bit of greenery

In September 1989, NASA published a study about using houseplants to reduce indoor air pollution. Who better to be interested in healthy air in an enclosed area?

Furniture, clothing, and household cleaners give off toxic gasses, sometimes for years after manufacture. Houseplants can remove benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, three common VOCs that are in our everyday lives. Plants, whether they are inside or outside, convert carbon dioxide to oxygen, necessary for all living things to survive. They also regulate the humidity in your home.

As a bonus, houseplants improve your sense of well-being, boost your mood, reduce stress, lower blood…

Photo by Rémi Müller on Unsplash

Save natural resources and reduce CO2 emissions

Lawns are thirsty. The average homeowner uses 60 gallons per day on their lawn. And for what? What does a huge expanse of grass do? It takes up space, might be pretty and might provide a soft play area for children and pets. Aside from that, a lawn really has no practical function.

Not only does a lawn demand a lot of water, it also demands a lot of your attention. They need to be mowed and weeded. If you are not into digging weeds out (like my dad used to do), you will be spreading chemical fertilizers to eradicate…

Chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, in the garden. ©nan fischer

Invite rich nutrients and history into your garden with chickpeas, one of the oldest crops in the cultivated world.

Once my daughters grew up and moved out, I had the opportunity to make my garden my own and fill it with vegetables I love. My garden has undergone many transformations since, as I’ve experimented each season with new crops. I’ve grown foods I’d never heard of before, and I’ve tried to tackle some favorites that seemed too challenging to grow years before.

For the last two gardening seasons, I’ve undertaken growing chickpeas in my garden. I’d never looked into chickpeas as a crop because I thought they needed a long, hot growing season. Living at a 7,000-foot elevation in…

Flower stalk of Beargrass and elm trees in the background covered with frozen fog crystals, seen from the kitchen window. ©nan fischer

Plan now for visual interest next year

As I look out my window this morning in the new year, the gardens I did not clean up in fall are outlined with frozen fog. Backlit by the early morning sun, flower stalks, tree branches, and wire fences seem so delicate they would break if touched. Just yesterday, leaf blades of yuccas and the tops of fence posts were capped with several inches of snow.

What do you see when you look outside this time of year? A winter wonderland of interesting shapes and lines, or a humdrum expanse of white?

Landscape design needs to provide year-round interest, not…

nan fischer

Writer, thinker, reader, picture taker. Gardener, dog lover, earth mama. Unmistakeable introvert.

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