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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Growing Veggies in Northern New Mexico

In our area of Northern New Mexico the growing season is so short that Danny DeVito would look like a giant standing next to it. Most people plant around May 1, with fewer than 150 actual growing days. Average summer nighttime temperatures are in the upper 40's, which makes it tough for tomatoes to set. Last summer I chose cool weather, short season tomatoes and picked a few tasty fellows, but not enough to have some lasting homegrown tomato memories. But there wasn't much else to speak of.

My dad was an avid gardener and even when the folks moved to a senior citizen neighborhood with a small back yard, Earl was hard at work, growing enviable veggies in a teensy amount of space. I've always wanted to be as good a veggie grower as my dad was, but so far I am not even close. Maybe our new Growing Dome will move me up to James Earl Coots status. (An aside: Did you know that Ralph Cotton, a prolific writer of western novels, has a character named James Earl Coots in two of his novels? Named after my dad? Yup!)

Let me catch you up on the greenhouse project. I saw an article about year round harvesting in a Santa Fe paper and noticed the author had a geodesic dome greenhouse. I did my research and visited the author's greenhouse just after our worst sub-zero freeze in 30 years. In Santa Fe, she picked tomatoes until mid-February, a week that brought temps as low as -22 F.  The raised growing beds inside the dome were thriving with any kind of green leafy thing you'd ever want. The waterfall inside the dome was soothing, a warm refuge from the windy 40 degree weather outside. I was sold.

The guys from Growing Spaces arrived on a Monday afternoon and were finished Wednesday early evening. Here's a quick look at the process.

Rock foundation

Walls: We opted for 2 ft walls for more head space
Components are assembled on the ground
Triple wall polycarbonate glazing
The walls have added foam insulation, as does around the outside
Wall insulation is in
Vents open and close automatically to regulate temps in the dome. I am not looking at his butt.
A finished dome and happy crew
Later--the inside and how it all works.

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