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Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains
Table of contents
(Third Edition described on this page is out of print. Please see new, expanded 4th Edition.)

Who is Lisa Rayner
Book preface by
Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan
Growing Food 3rd Edition
Growing Food 4th Edition
What is permaculture?
 The 3rd edition is out of print. Please see the new  4th edition.


Preface, by Dr. Gary Paul Nabhan

This book is written primarily for gardeners who live in the Ponderosa pine transition zone around 7,000 feet in altitude. However, most of the information is also applicable to lower elevation Pinyon-Juniper woodlands and higher elevation Spruce-Fir forests.
Ecological farming and gardening techniques suited to the Colorado Plateau and other high-altitude locations in the Southwest include ways to conserve water and heat, and shelter crops from sun, wind and local pest animals.

Chapter 1 — Creating a Bioregional Food System
What if four-fifths of our food was grown within 250 or fewer miles from home rather than hundreds or thousands of miles away? Our food would taste fresher. Thousands of gallons of fossil fuels would not
be needed to transport our food to us. Local people would be employed as market gardeners, farmers, ranchers, wild food harvesters and food processors. We would develop a unique, bioregional cuisine.
Menus would be based on the seasonal offerings of the harvest.

Chapter 2 — Permaculture Design in the Home Garden
Permaculture involves working with nature, arranging human gardens and communities into fully functioning ecosystems.
Gardening strategies of Southwestern peoples such as the Hopi and the Quechua in the Andes Mountains of South America are especially helpful to those of us living in high-altitude, semiarid climates.

Hopi farmer drawing

Chapter 3 — Southwest Mountains Bioregional Food Crops

An astonishing array of fruit, vegetables, herbs, beans, grains, nuts and seeds can be grown successfully
in our semiarid, high-altitude climate. The following plant lists include most commercially available cultivated species that grow well here. The table include information on drought tolerance, sun and shade needs, frost tolerance and USDA zone information, and more.

Chapter 4 — Seed Starting and Seed Saving
Gardening successfully in our climate requires growing plant varieties that are adapted to low rainfall and drought, a short growing season, large daily temperature swings, strong sunlight and wind. Thousands of heirloom and newer open-pollinated seed varieties are sold by a growing number of small, regional seed catalogs and other gardeners.

Chapter 5 — Southwest Mountains Garden Planting Timetable
The following planting dates have been found to be the best and safest for seed starting, transplanting and maturation of crops in USDA Zones 4-5 (Flagstaff, Ariz., Taos and Los Alamos, New Mex.), Zones 6-7 (Prescott, Ariz., Santa Fe, New Mex., Cortez, Colo.), and Zones 8-9 (Sedona, Ariz., Albuquerque, New Mex.).

Chapter 6 — Southwest Mountains Harvest Seasons Calendar
Eating locally grown foods in season is an important part of living sustainably. It is also a wonderful way to be in touch with the cycles of nature. Here is a list of which foods can be harvested from the garden, greenhouse and root cellar throughout the year in USDA Zones 4 and 5. The crop harvests naturally fall into distinct, yet overlapping harvest seasons.

Chapter 7 — Cold Climate Gardening
The cool to cold temperatures we experience in the Southwest mountains are not a deterrent to bountiful harvests, if you know how to work with and modify temperatures and properly protect vulnerable plants. This chapter describes four ways that our climate's cold temperatures affect plants and explains several techniques to work with and modify cold temperatures effectively.

Chapter 8 — Water in Dryland Gardens
Water is lost from gardens in three ways: by runoff, by deep percolation below the root zone and through evapotranspiration from soil and plants. With good designs and practices, these water losses can be greatly minimized. The essential strategies include water catchment and storage, efficient water distribution to plants, the prevention of evapotranspiration, and an emphasis on low water use and drought-tolerant plant species and varieties.

Chapter 9 — Good Garden Soil
Successful gardeners know that healthy soil rich in organic matter and soil microorganisms is the basis of organic gardening. A gardener's job is to feed the soil, not the plants.
Most of our regional soil types are very low in organic matter. To get good soil you need to create it, improve it, protect it and fertilize it.

Chapter 10 — High-Altitude Sunlight
Due to our thin, high-elevation atmosphere and semiarid climate, we have very strong sunlight. The high intensity of sunlight increases the evapotranspiration rate and heats the air and soil, causing many cool
season crops to overheat and lose needed moisture. The strong ultraviolet radiation also burns the tender leaves of many cool season crops and all new transplants. Many native plants and plants from other drylands and high-altitude regions are adapted to our sunlight. However, most cultivated plants need some shading here.

Chapter 11 — Sheltering the Garden from Wind
Here in the Southwest we frequently have windy days, especially during the spring dry season of April, May and June. Wind harms plants in several ways. It causes higher evapotranspiration rates from leaves
and soil. It can also erode soil and break off branches and leaves. Some crops, like tomatoes, are especially wind-sensitive, and will not grow or fruit properly in windy locations. Cold winter winds remove heat from gardens and homes and blow away insulating snow cover. The solution is to create sheltered microclimates using strategically placed windbreaks of different sizes.

Chapter 12 — 'Pests' in the Permaculture Garden
In fully functioning ecocommunities, all species have a role to play - plants, fungi, animals, birds, insects and bacteria. Population explosions of any one species that threaten the survival or well-being of others are cyclical and do not last. A healthy ecocommunity works to restore balanced species relationships. In permaculture gardens, the strategy is to arrange garden elements so as to create conditions that encourage desired species of plants, insects, animals and soil microorganisms to flourish, and to discourage, redirect or block harmful species from spending time in a garden.

Glossary of Lesser Known Food Crops
The glossary contains brief descriptions of numerous lesser known vegetables, herbs, beans, grains, fruit, nuts and seeds that grow well here.

Resources for Southwestern Gardeners
Extensive listings and descriptions of seeds catalogs, permaculture and organic gardening books, magazines and videos, permaculture institutes, arboretums and horticultural institutes in the Southwest and more.

Contact: Team (at) LisaRayner (dot) com, 3201 Zafarano C 445, Santa Fe, NM 87507

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