Unless you saved seeds from last year’s successful crops, you’ll need to get them from others. Considerations for your choices might include: preserving genetic diversity, drought tolerance,  heat tolerance, disease resistance, productivity, ability to save seed for replanting, elevation adaptation (toleration for temperature variability). Here are labels – some overlapping – to consider as you buy seeds.

Wild: undomesticated ancestors of crops that are bred and adapted by human farmers for their own preferences, such as wild mustard or teosinte grass (mother of corn). Available from

Land race: indigenous to a particular geographic location or adapted to an area following more than 100 years of selection and seed saving, such as Chimay or Sandia Pueblo chilepeppers. Available through and

Heirloom: adapted and culturally significant to land-based cultures (mostly indigenous) such as strawberry popcorn or bolita beans. Open-pollinated and curated over generations. May overlap with “land race.” Examples: Big Jim or Poblano chilepeppers. Available,

Open-pollinated: seed saved from the parent plant will grow with the same characteristics (taste, color, shape) if care is taken to prevent cross pollination with other varieties. Bred naturally by wind, insects, animals or human hands.

Organic: untreated, not genetically modified, and grown/processed without herbicides or pesticides to standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Available through,,

Determinate/indeterminate: indeterminate plants produce a continuous harvest throughout the growing season, while determinate ones mature their fruit all at once, which makes for more efficient preservation.

High-desert: plants are adapted to elevations over 3500 feet in the Southwest, often early-maturing to fit short growing seasons in mountainous regions. Example: Zuni gold bean or Green Beauty snow pea. Available

Hybrid: cross-pollinated varieties whose seeds may not exhibit same traits as the first generation but may be more vigorous, productive or disease-resistant than the parent strains. Hybridization can affect nontargeted traits like protein content in beans and corn, for example. Example: mammoth or kong sunflower. Available

Treated: biologically, chemically or physically altered to protect from fungus and/or insects or to make the seeds larger and easier to handle. May have a white coating and cost more, but may have a higher rate of germination. says their seeds are “always untreated & non-GMO.”

Genetically modified (GMO) aka genetically engineered: have had their genetic makeup altered to include desirable traits from other organisms or to survive herbicide spraying. Patented and not generally available to nonfarmers, they often do not produce viable seed and cause 65 serious health risks. Common GMO crops include canola oil, cotton, soybeans, and corn. by Donna Detweiler

Keep It Small – Espalier

I associate early spring with pruning. Growing up on our little farm in Ohio, we had several hundred fruit trees, mostly apple, with a couple of peaches and plums, and an old sour cherry tree. Dad and my brother would go out in early spring and prune and spray the tree. I remember Dad explaining about pruning apple trees. “You want to take out the branches that slant higher than a 45 degree angle because those won’t grow fruit.”

Mount Vernon Espalier. Photo: Galen Parks Smith, via Wikimedia Commons

Quite a few years ago I attended a master gardener demonstration at what is now the rose garden around the Tony Hillerman Library. The gardener did a great job of explaining her thought process for which stems to leave and which to remove. It was helpful to learn that, if you cut the “wrong” stem the plant will recover in time and it won’t really matter. Whew! That took off a lot of pressure. Ever since, I’ve been pruning roses at my house in early March.

At the new place I inherited a small peach tree. I don’t know whether it is dwarf or semi dwarf, but the fruit was really good the first year. Now I have in mind to plant a peach tree along the south wall of my garage and espalier it. That is, prune it so it grows flat along the wall. Since I’ve never done this, I did some reading. Of the three books I read, Grow a Little Fruit Tree, Simple Pruning Techniques for Small-Space, Easy-Harvest Fruit Trees, by Ann Ralph, was the most helpful for my purposes. It seems to only be available in electronic format.

A couple important points I gathered from Grow a Little Fruit Tree include:

  1. When you plant the peach tree – a little whip about 3’ tall – the most difficult and most important thing you must do is to cut it back just above a couple buds at about knee height. It’s really hard to do, and really essential so the tree grows in the right shape and has its first branches close enough to the ground.
  2. It doesn’t matter if you buy full size, semi dwarf, or dwarf; the secret to keeping the tree small is how and when you prune it. In fact, the author recommends that you buy the full size tree, because the root stock is supposedly better than for a semi dwarf. (And dwarf trees are often too small).
  3. To keep the tree small, that is, no taller than you can easily pick the fruit off it while standing on the ground, the secret is in the pruning. In addition to pruning in late winter or early spring, you should also prune around the summer solstice. At that time, the energy of the tree is in the leaves and fruit. By removing branches at that time, you curtail the tree’s growing energy, thus keeping it short.

I haven’t yet tried this, but I’ll certainly let you know how it turns out.

By Leslie Kryder

PS. Two other books, which are available from the public library, are: Fruit Trees in Small Spaces: Abundant Harvests from Your Own Back Yard, by Colby Eierman, and Pruning Made Easy: The Complete Guide to Pruning Roses, Climbers, Hedges, and Fruit Trees, by Peter McHoy.

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center: An Albuquerque Treasure

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Photo: Sue Brown.

Whether for two hours or 2 days, a visit to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) is a treat for your senses as you engage in the fulfillment of its mission, “to preserve and perpetuate the accomplishments and evolving history of the Pueblo people of New Mexico.” This is your “Gateway to the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.”

Enter the courtyard and you will be captivated with the bold, larger-than-life murals featuring multiple aspects of Pueblo life. Explore them on your own or check the schedule for guided mural discovery tours. While in the courtyard, take advantage of the opportunity to visit with artists who work in various mediums presenting their traditional and modern works.

Each weekend, visitors are invited to the courtyard to experience a kaleidoscope of dance, dress, color, drums, singing and movement with dancers from one of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico or other Tribal Nations. While many Pueblo dances are closed to the public, incredible dancers share their social dances and, at times, invite visitors to participate in circle dances.

In the museum, “We Are of This Place: The Pueblo Story,” depicts the Pueblo people’s resilience and traditions of honoring life in this land of sacred mountains and rivers. Here, Pueblo people share their history and culture which sustains this sense of place. Learn about water’s importance through symbols on pottery and exhibits tracing the development of waffle gardens and other water-saving farming techniques. Films and headphones enhance your visit with additional choices of what and how to learn. While Covid may have altered a few tactile interactive features, be sure to explore museum sections such as “Grandma’s” kitchen, the seasons, historical religious friction, boarding schools and much more. A newer exhibit features the impact of uranium mining on Laguna Pueblo’s people and land. Resilience is ever present.

The Artists Circle Gallery currently hosts sculptures by Anthony Romero and Jemez artist Cliff Fragua and includes his second rendition of Po’Pay. His first Po’Pay represents New Mexico in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. South Gallery recently opened Pivot, a fascinating skateboard exhibit presenting uniquely designed skateboards created by Native artists of all ages.

No visit to IPCC is complete without indulging in the culinary creations of Chef Ray Naranjo at the on-site restaurant, Indian Pueblo Kitchen. The menu offers small plates, sandwiches, New Mexico favorites, desserts and brunch items all day. Try Pueblo stew, elk chili or prime rib dip or for the vegetarian, order the blue corn enchiladas with three sisters (corn, beans, squash). The vibrant mix of colors, tastes and delicious smells will fill your stomach and please your palate. Then don’t forget to take home some bakery items to enjoy later: scones, pueblo pies and cookies. The Indian Pueblo Store, like the museum and the restaurant, is worth a visit by itself to browse exquisite and every updated choices of jewelry, pottery, clothing, books, flutes, mugs, foods and so much more. Arrowheads, books, winged puppets and dreamcatchers are popular with kids. Need a gift? Can’t decide? Gift certificates make much-appreciated gifts and give the recipient an opportunity to explore this local treasure trove.

Designed to present historically accurate Pueblo history, the Indigenous Wisdom Program equips K-12 educators with age-appropriate lesson plans, webinars, and downloadable curriculum. The IPCC’s Library & Archives is the sole special collections research library preserving Pueblo people’s history and culture. View the catalog online, call for research requests and enjoy the monthly blog’s timely topics and view past blogs.

The Resilience Garden on the north side of the IPCC parking lot, is a living exhibit where you can observe and participate in traditional Pueblo farming techniques, learn to cultivate heirloom seeds. The Seasons of Growth series offers monthly hands-on and virtual learning experiences led by IPCC Cultural Education staff and expert guests. Participants learn the history and how-to of agriculture, sustainability, heirloom crops, pollinators, and pre-contact foods.

Join other readers at the IPCC Pueblo Book Club monthly opportunities to discuss a book by a Native American author or a book about the Pueblo experience. Led by IPCC Cultural Educator, Jon Ghahate, who is often joined by a guest author, readers may currently join in person or by Zoom. Check online or email for this year’s books, discussion questions, dates and times. You can also view past discussions on line.

No matter how often you visit, you will find new exhibits, merchandise, foods and programs. The final panel in the museum notes that Pueblo people tend not to say goodbye, but “until we meet again.” After one visit, you will certainly want to visit again. by Jeanne Elmhorst

Call or check online for current hours for the Museum, Store and Restaurant as they
may shift with Covid guidelines.
2401 12th Street NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Indian Pueblo Kitchen. (
The Indian Pueblo Store (