This part of New Mexico has been dry since January, and we have been having fierce, dessicating windstorms that carry blowing sand and dust. Hard to reconcile 40 inches of snow with dry dusty winds!
We had a smoke pall over much of the state because the southern part of the state lost millions of acres to forest fires. Because of global warming, and projected dryness in the south, the government will not replant pinyons on the burned lands.
Due to the lack of rain this spring, the northern part of the state is under hazardous weather watch for forest fires. Living in a forest has the downside of worrying about getting burned out during forest fires.
I grew up in the forests of Oregon and my dad and most of the men in town went off to fight forest fires when necessary.
Fierce winds kept me inside most of yesterday, but I finished the layer of deadwood for raised stone bed 6. I have excessive deadwood on my property from 11 years of drought, the trees continuously shed limbs they cannot support without water.
The government will pay money if you let them run a controlled burn on your property, to burn out the deadwood. It is a horrible mess for a long time, though, and I have taken the risk of not allowing them to burn. Here, with low water, controlled burns do not green up very quickly.
What I have been doing is burying the deadwood, turning it into something that holds moisture in the soil. It is not as fast as a burn, but in the long run it helps my forested acreage stay moist and resist burning. It also enriches the soil to successfully grow a wider range of plants and trees, only using what is available here.
As I was collecting deadwood yesterday, I could see that in building my 6 raised beds, I have cleared the deadwood for a large area around my house. It is a relief, because I left this area for my “home” beds. Without a house plan, I did not want to build beds, then tear them out again.
I started clearing and burying deadwood my first year, and buried large amounts uphill while planting trees. I made several stone berms and filled in with deadwood, with soil over the top.
I had one small gully uphill, and filled it with deadwood and covered with soil. I now have a couple 6 inch pinyons colonizing that formerly bare area. It cleared a large area of fire hazard as well.
Mixed in with all the deadwood, I have hauled many pickup loads of leaf debris from friends in Albuquerque. I am committed to improving my soil’s ability to hold moisture through drought.
I have cleared out and buried about an acre and a half of deadwood. It seems an insurmountable task, like cleaning the Stygian Stables! Each one is not difficult though, and well within my capabilities. I try not to look at it as an overwhelming whole and just clean one pile at a time.
I spent about half yesterday studying medicinal herbs, something I haven’t made enough time to do before now. Part of my love for plants, and native plants, is to learn all the First American uses of native plants. Europeans came into this country and brought all foreign seeds in for their gardens. In doing so, a couple hundred years later, we still know little about local foods and medicinals that grow without supplemental irrigation and little or no care.
Monsanto would have us believe the answer is GMO crops and endless toxins! That is blatantly absurd! The answer is to learn to eat what grows here.
I grew up eating both wild foods from the forest and my mom’s cultivated foods from her garden. I still eat that mix. Few people overcome what they always ate, but I have added Southwest delicacies like pine nuts and prickly pear to my diet.
After our wet year I hope we don’t have a long drought. The dessicating winds are hopefully only going to last a few days followed by some rain. I am pleased to see moisture where I have buried deadwood in past years. Sixteen inches of rain is plenty if it is not allowed to drain away so fast.