I left New Mexico for a few days on Feb. 1: the exact day the brutal, 50-year cold front began its move into the state. While my absence was beautiful for more reasons than I can count or even remember, it did result in at least one casualty: the rooftop garden.
My attempt to raise winter greens in an warm microclimate at 30-40 feet high, surrounded by heat-absorbing stucco, was decimated by the weather. My flimsy, makeshift greenhouse of PVC and plastic wasn't enough to withstand the elements or protect the organic greens -- from which I got several good harvests! -- from severe cold. When I came back, the rooftop garden looked like a strange, Icelandic landscape! So I gave up for a month.
I'm just now nurturing one group of greens on the roof that is emerging from the decimation. The two tubs of soil up there are now prepared for the planting of the next several weeks. And there's some great cilantro just starting to thrive on the west side, despite some real neglect.
Meanwhile, I have this other rooftop news to report:
- 1.3 Kilowatts of Solar PV Have Entered the Building! Yes, just 7 panels, but my very small rooftop is now full. We wrapped this and the solar hot water heater -- whose water will burn your ass if you like it like that -- into the mortgage, so upfront costs were basically none. In my particular situation, solar PV will probably cover it's own costs in 6-7 years (thanks to VERY generous federal and state tax credits, my own LEED situation, the payment for energy generated and subsidies paid by all PNM customers for the environmental attributes, or RECs). What does this mean? While my garden hesitates until the weather turns for good, I'm able to harvest various benefits of the sun, including reduced carbon emissions.
- Rooftop Composting? I Need To Be Convinced. It was an experiment for a number of months. I did two 20 gallon containers from Home Depot, mixing not only scraps, coffee grounds and dryer lint, but various other, unmentionable things. It got physically hot, then not. Messy for a rooftop, particularly for someone who gave up a yard for simplicity. Experts, maybe vermiculture is better for more intensity?
- Perennial Container Plants DOA? I have a number of great grasses and other plants I was growing in containers outside that I suspect may have been killed by the -7F winter low in Albuquerque. Despite watering, they show no sign of life as of this writing (3/18).
Once I get my taxes done,
I'll be planting. The soul is willing, and the skyshovel is ready! Thanks for reading!!
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