Lovely Spring Planting with Los Sembradores

Blog by Donne Gonzales, NMAA Farm Trainer

Planting ‘three sisters’ May 2023 at the NMAA demonstration Farm

As we roll into June many of us are finishing up with our spring planting. Our team wanted to share what we have been up to, and how growing is going. We’d love to hear what you all are growing and any questions you’ve got in the comments!

Prepping for Planting – The season started with NMAA Farm Leaders Donne and Edward preparing the hoop house by broad forking beds (a method that minimizes disruption of the soil structure) and amending with compost that we make on farm site. Our compost is a good mixture of weeds and grass that we pull from our garden beds, food scraps, cardboard boxes, and some love. We have a few different piles on site, and it’s always helpful to add brown broken down material back to the garden beds. I highly recommend this process to farmers, flower lovers, anyone who needs better soil health.

Season Extension – Using a hoop house to plant crops early in the spring, creates a more regular harvest while it is cold. In the greater Pen~asco area the last frost date is in early June. We start by planting things that do well in the cold like lettuce, spinach, chard, kale, and root crops in February. Then we are able to harvest goodies through colder months of March and April. Now that the greens are done we plant crops that need summer heat, and little to no frost. So far we have planted watermelons, cucumbers, and herbs.  We are located in a small valley that has a short growing season because of the cold, so placing these delicate summer crops inside creates a perfect space for them to thrive. 

Traditional Crops – Our summer crops have been planted throughout the entire month of May. At the beginning of the month we planted a few hundred feet of sweet peas, and some avas just because they are hardy and will stand through the frost in May. Peas and avas are also a traditional food for northern NM. Lastly, peas are a good cash crop. Once they are in season, everyone wants to buy/eat them. 

Towards the middle to end of May we focused on the three sisters: corn, beans, pumpkin/squash. Usually, I like to plant corn just a few days ahead of beans, and pumpkin. This gives it a headstart, so it is stable for the beans when they are ready for support. Then sometimes life and time is hard to manage, so planting all on the same day also works! 

Farming is all about experimenting, and finding out how to make it work. There are alot of different ways to make it successful. You just have to find the way that feels right for you. 

The Sembradores have taken planting practices that we learned together and implemented them on their own home garden. As a beginner I think it’s important to plan and plant according to your area; When is your last and first frost? What types of crops grow good? What types of things are traditional to the region? What kind of produce will you eat/ share with family? What type of vegetable would make profit? 

A few things that are traditionally grown in Northern NM

  • Bolita beans 
  • Pinto beans
  • Anasazi beans
  • Garbanzos
  • Lentils
  • Corn (so many different varieties)
  • Sweet peas
  • Avas
  • Pumpkins
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic 
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage 
  • Variety of flowers: sunflowers, marigolds, manzanilla
  • Chile (in the warmer zones) Dixon, Espanola, Chimayo

A few examples of seeds we have saved and will plant this year.

2 Responses

  1. Vincent Garcia

    Just Gotta Love it~ May the season bless all farmers with an abundance of their harvest! Keep doing what you are doing!

  2. Nancy Singham

    Thank you. I love learning about gardening and farming traditions from different parts of the state, country, even the world. Beautiful beans especially!

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