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Protecting Plants Presentation

Greetings all!

This morning I gave a presentation for the Albuquerque Area Master Gardeners Association on how to protect your plants from the dry desert climate we live in.  We had a lot of fun learning how to examine our home environments for natural microclimates and how to create them if needed.  We looked at the forecasts for heat, cold, rain, and more throughout Bernalillo county over the next year.

Most of this is captured on the attached powerpoint linked below. If you have problems with that then click on the .pdf.

Powerpoint:   Protecting Plants apr 2024 ABQ MG    

PDF:  Protecting Plants apr 2024 ABQ MG

If you want to learn more about protecting plants from high desert heat, winds, and solar radiation, you can check out my full color book, “Secrets to Creating Microclimates for High Desert Gardening” now available on Amazon.




Secrets to High Desert Gardening Book Released

Did you know that the US Department of Agriculture updated the hardiness zone map which guides farmers and gardeners as to the expected first and last freeze dates in every area of the country?  Seed companies, greenhouses, and farms large and small have been trying to guess the coming seasons for centuries and they base their annual planting and harvesting around these dates.  We have all been noticing the changing weather patterns as the global temperatures have been slowly rising.

For individuals who enjoy growing, harvesting and preserving their own fruits and vegetables, their are ways of modifying yards and gardens to protect our plants most of which do not require going to the extreme of buying a greenhouse.    I live a mile high in central New Mexico, and have learned to take notice of how our location –  geographically, and vertically – affects plants.   At this altitude the cushioning layers of atmosphere enjoyed by sea level dwellers is greatly reduced.  Newbies to the area are surprised by how quickly they can get a sunburn even in mild temperatures – and don’t realize that the increased levels of solar radiation can also burn their vegetables when combined with the increasingly hot temperatures.

The Secrets to Creating Microclimates for High Desert Gardening covers basic weather patterns for the American southwest, and how to identify the microclimates all around us.    It gives ideas and advice on methods for protecting our home gardens using both commercial products as well as readily available and inexpensive options. It includes case studies of four properties located a varying altitudes from 1,000 ft to 7,500 ft. above sea level.

Author, Rose Kern is a veteran Master Gardener with certifications from the National Weather Service.  She’s given lectures on Microclimatology in New Mexico and Arizona for the USDA Master Gardeners program.

This full color book is available on Amazon in both print and ebook form.


Advice from a Crazy Mad Gardener

Does your passion for gardening sometimes drive you insane?  

—-or maybe it is a release for pent up frustrations?

I can honestly say it is a bit of both for me and yet, there is also a deep seated compulsion to surround myself with healthy, living plants.  I want to breathe the petrichor as water liberates the scent from hot, dry earth.  I love to just in the garden and take in the scents of roses and lavender,  watch the mad dance of bumblebees scavenging apple blossoms or russian sage or listen to sparrows feed their young in nests hidden among the ivy.

Recently I’ve begun writing a series of articles which you can access through the Amazon Vella series.   It is written in an Erma Bombeck style of humor with crazy observations related to gardening.  As I say in the introduction:

Some people plant a few flowers. Some grow veggies in summer. Maybe they have a little spider plant or bamboo in the office.

I am not exactly one of those people. My philodendron extends from one pot on a shelf across three walls in my dining room. The Maple sapling in my front yard cries when temperatures top 100 degrees. Starbucks baristas across the city save coffee grounds for me. Plant catalogs choke my mailbox and, yes, this 67 year old Master Gardener owns a tractor.

My book “The Crazy Mad Gardener” will be coming out soon.   Some advanced reviews by other gardeners are below:


Comments from readers of the Crazy Mad Gardener :

From Fil Chavez, author of “Unused Towels”

MAD MAD MAD . . . with lots of really good advice! 

I am not a serious gardener, I am more of a “Well, I tried but …”  Nonetheless, this is indeed CRAZY MAD HUMOR … i.e., “squash bugs …. Horniest critters in the insect world … Live in a constant state of post-coital euphoria … take a cold bath.”

All that on just the first page … and it gets better!  Well, not ‘better’ since these first thoughts are truly uniquely MAD!  It continues in a very enjoyable manner.  Oh, yes, lots of good advice as well.  I can hardly wait til next spring … maybe then, I would be able to say, “I am a serious gardener.”  

In the meantime, I gotta check out the composting guidance.  Lots of other good advice; wish to read this again.  It will definitely be worth getting the book.  Thanks, Rose!


Parris Afton Bonds , Internationally Published Romance Author          


Rose Marie Kern entertains with humor the agony and ecstasy of her gardening experience. Whether you are a gardening afficionado or not, you will enjoy her foray into her passion for gardening


V.F.R.               Fun and Informative
Fun to read while filled with good advice for low-water-use gardeners. As a beginning gardener, the author wasn’t confined with the do’s and don’ts of gardening. She just dumped layers of compost materials and became thrilled with the results. With trial and error, help from friends, and copious coffee grounds from Starbucks, she “created my space and it reached back to transform me.”
Now after many years with spade and trowel, research, and persistence, Rose Kern shares her experience with humor and practical observations. The Crazy Mad Gardener is definitely worth a read.

Dale Garrat      A fun romp through an offbeat approach to gardening

An informative and entertaining read. Rose really thinks outside the box working on her (pretty extensive) garden. I love her high-imagination and low-effort approach to eliminating squash bugs on pumpkins. “Grab a 100-foot extension cord and a shop vac and ‘whoosh’ they are all gone.”


D. E. Williams       Humorous take on gardening in the High Desert

Rose Kern has a delightful way of writing that brings freshness to the technical aspects of gardening. Not being a gardener (brown thumb all the way up to the elbow), I wasn’t sure the story would fit my reading taste, but it was witty and interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 3 chapters and eagerly await what follows. Thanks for sharing your skill and your humor, Ms. Kern!


Michael       Hilarious yet educational take on gardening

From the first sentence, Rose has such an engaging style of writing, laced with humor.
And if you’re not careful, you might even learn something. I appreciate enjoyable learning experiences.
Bravo! Well said…

Vicky         So much fun to read!

I’m not a gardener, and I rarely read anything about plants or gardening. However, I do greatly admire those people who can turn an ugly space into a beautiful garden. Rose is one of those, and I know this even though I haven’t seen her yard because she paints wonderful pictures with her words. I loved reading about her efforts to rid her yard of weeds; her discovery of unexpected surprises in her new property; the trials and tribulations of growing anything in the high desert. Her ability to take me right into her front yard as she creates raised beds is delightful. I’m a fan, and I can’t wait for finished book.


Bees, Books & Solar Cooking

Greetings Solar Enthusiasts,

If you wonder what my life is like down here in New Mexico and also if you have an interest in Solar Cooking, you might enjoy this youtube video featuring … me.  (Ta Da!) This was filmed in late fall of last year, but Luther did not get around to posting it until early spring.  I beg to point out that his cameras were unfortunately set at waist level…and this video in part made me realize how badly I needed to go on a diet. (I’ve lost about 27 pounds since then).

The first 26 minutes are in my front yard about solar cooking, then we take a tour of my sunroom/greenhouse.  We stroll out to where I have the solar vegetable dehydrator and at 33 minutes we are in the garden area ending up by the beehive.   I hope you enjoy the tour of my property!




Managing a Suburban Harvest

By Rosie Kern


I live just south of the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico on half an acre.  This is a convenient halfway point for anyone who longs for a touch of country self-sufficiency but who may have a need to be near a larger population base for some reason.

The property is large enough for me to have a 50×60 vegetable garden, fruit trees, a beehive and chickens.  I enjoy organic gardening, canning and otherwise processing the foods I eat to enjoy all year.  The problem is that my harvest extends for a long time, but I don’t always have the time to pull down my canner!

Commercial farmers plant large areas and harvest everything at once – at the time they feel their plants have most of the produce at a perfect state of ripeness.  Then everything gets trotted off for processing.

In my garden I have 5 varieties of peppers, 2 types of tomatoes, green beans, lima beans, corn, cabbage, potatoes, onions, potatoes, peas, asparagus, broccoli, apples, pears, pecans, cherries, and a lot of herbs.   They do not all ripen at once.  (thank heaven)

Sometimes I can anticipate when a lot of one thing will be ready, but more often than not things will ripen in stages.  It is ridiculous to fire up the pressure canner for just a couple of quart jars!  Not to mention that sometimes other personal responsibilities or vacation will supersede the joy of cooking and processing.

There are a few ways you can handle this with your kitchen garden to make it easier and more efficient.

Tomatoes are one of my favorite items to preserve – they are so versatile! Salsas, soups, sauces – YUM!   The first luscious red fruits are sparse, but over time they pick up the pace.  I plant just a few of the large beefsteak type tomatoes, a couple cherry tomatoes and 7 or 8 thicker paste tomatoes.  Though the beefsteak and cherries are primarily for eating fresh, an overabundance of either can be added to the paste tomatoes when canning.

During those times when there are more ripe tomatoes than I have time to process, I will harvest and wash them, frequently cutting them into chunks and removing stems or spots.  Then they get put into a gallon sized Ziploc bag and plopped into the freezer.

Freezing at the peak of ripeness is a perfect way to build up enough of them for a good day of cooking and canning later on.  I leave the nutritious skins on because tossing them in a food processor pulverizes them beautifully.

Another vegetable than you can partially process then freeze for future use are green chile peppers. Chiles are normally roasted and skinned before being cooked or canned. If you have a couple hours you can pick the ones you feel are large enough and roast them on your BBQ grill.  You want them to puff up and the skins to brown and crack a bit – but don’t blacken them entirely!

You can grill at least a bucket full at a time.  First soak the peppers for 1- 3 hours in water, then fire up the grill to high and toss them on.  An option to turning them individually by hand is a grilling basket or rotisserie cage which allows you to turn them easier.

Take the roasted peppers and place them in a zip bag or other airtight container while they are still very hot and let them set in a warm place for a few hours or overnight.  This is called “sweating” them, which helps separate the meat from the skins.  Then plop them in the freezer.

Some people just leave them in the freezer until they wish to use them in cooking.  I don’t have enough freezer space to keep everything I harvest there so I process as much as possible by canning.  When you are ready to use them or can them you take them from the freezer to a clean kitchen sink.  Fill the sink with water and when they thaw out you can begin stripping the skins from the peppers by hand.

Wearing rubber or latex gloves is a VERY good idea as the capsaicin in the peppers will make your hands burn after a while. I usually heavily cream my hands an hour before donning the gloves as an extra precaution.

Once the skins, stems and most of the seeds are removed you can either process them whole, chopped, or make great tasting sauces with them.   I get heartburn from bell peppers and poblanos, but I have no problems with pimentos, cayenne or green chile.  As a result my homemade spaghetti sauce has a mild bite to it, which southwesterners appreciate!

Like most home farmers I love to pick my ears of corn just as they are fully ripe.  If some of them escape my notice they can start to dry out a bit…or sometimes a lot.  That’s ok. When I find those I just let them continue to dry out until I am ready to use them.  Then I shuck them and cut the kernels off and add them to homemade soups and stews.

If pollination has been spotty the corn cob may be partially bald. Rather than serve them on the cob I will cut the kernels off and freeze them.  You can also freeze full cobs, but it takes a lot of freezer space.

Potatoes can be left in the ground long after the tops die back.  A mild freeze late in fall won’t usually hurt the ones that have a few inches of dirt over the top.  Onions, carrots and garlic can just stay where they are all winter until I want to use them.

Broccoli is planted very early in the year – before the last frost date.  It can handle a bit of cold.  However it will create one big head per plant which commercial farmers harvest and sent to the store before plowing the rest of the plant under.  Personally I think that is very premature!   After I’ve harvested (and eaten) the main head I leave the plant in the ground where it will start to send out side shoots.  You won’t ever get another great big head, but the little shoots are great in salads and stir fry.

Cabbages are another plant that develop one huge head.  However, the leaves around the main head are also edible and can be snipped off at any time for cole slaw, sauerkraut, or cabbage rolls.

In many climates carrots, parsnips, turnips, garlic and onion seed can be planted in the fall just before the first frost.  Cover the beds in straw when nighttime freezes begin.  You’d be amazed how many of them will be pushing up early next spring and ripe by June.

Of course, if you just have too much food on your hands at any given time, neighbors and local foodbanks will thank you for it.  Giving away your extras makes a lot of friends!


Rose M. Kern is a New Mexico Master Gardener and the author of “Creating Microclimates for High Desert Gardening.”   She cans much of her home grown produce or cooks delicious meals in her solar oven.  For more information

Modify Your Market Booth



It’s a beautiful day in the desert.  Probably going to be hot…that’s a given…so you need a shade structure to set up over whatever items you plan on selling today.  Whether it be vegetables, crafts or pretty much anything, you and your customers will appreciate relief from the sun!

The 10×10 foot awnings available anywhere will provide shade.  These are generically designed to protect from a light rain as well.  Most of them have stakes to drive into the ground for stability from a light breeze, but the biggest drawback will be any moderate or greater gust of wind.  I’ve seen these shelters picked up by afternoon desert winds and tossed around like a dog with a stuffed toy.

You can mitigate the wind flow problem by using several strategies for anchoring or modifying the standard structure.  Ropes or bungees hooked to the upper corners and secured to cement bricks or 5 gallon buckets or plastic tanks of water is a good start, if you are allowed to set up next to a truck you can anchor to it as well.  Even then you’ll get some significant pulling when the wind scoops up from underneath. Even if the structure stays in place the wind can warp or damage the poles.

Another modification that significantly lessens winds ability to pull the structure.  Set it up and using a very sharp knife, make some V shaped or wave shaped slits in the fabric roof.  My daughter and I carved several different patterns into one of our structures and they work very well.  Also, in order to “hide” the modifications, we used acrylic paint to create a nice mountain picture on the outside of the roof.

The next time I set up to do some solar cooking demonstrations my structure withstood the afternoon winds significantly better than the others in the area.  While neighbors grabbed for the anchor posts frequently, the wind fluttered through and escaped through the venting.  We don’t often have to worry about heavy rain here, and the structure will still tolerate a mild rain without soaking people and items inside.





Finding Your Niche Markets

Are you a writer who wants to make money with your craft?

The first step is knowing who your real audience is.  You can find your audience by knowing your own capabilities and all the ways they touch on other people’s interests. 

SouthWest Writers is sponsoring a workshop being presented by Rose Marie Kern on Saturday: January 8, 2022, from 12:30 – 2:30 pm mountain time.  It is a Hybrid Meeting: In Person and via Zoom so anyone, anywhere,  can attend.  The cost is only $30 for the general public.

If you are searching for your audience? Rose Marie  will give you some insights into the knowledge, skills, and abilities you already have which can stimulate your creativity in writing.

This workshop will discuss:
√ What is a Niche Market?
√ Identifying your skills and abilities.
√ Marketing your niches.
√ Using your niches to create multiple streams of income.

Rose Marie Kern has written over 1,000 published articles and 5 books on the topics of aviation, gardening, sustainability, solar cooking and writing. Her wealth of experience in these areas provides her a rich basis for each one.

To Register:
Call the SWW office (505-830-6034, Monday–Thursday, 9:00 am–noon) or use the Online Registration Form. (Our online payment portal utilizes PayPal, but you’ll be given an option to pay by credit card without signing into PayPal.)

The Zoom invitation link and the password will be emailed to those who register. Please contact the class/workshop coordinator at for more information.

A Different Take on Exercise

A couple months back an acquaintance who lived back east posted a video of herself with her physical fitness trainer running through some of his “special fitness techniques”.  There was a large tractor tire in the middle of a parking lot, and my friend was lifting it up and pushing it over.

Hmmm.  Turning over a tractor tire…and the area she was in was no where near a farm by the tall buildings in the background.

Doesn’t that seem silly?

When I told her I had a tractor out west here and a ranchette where she could actually do something practical while exercising she unfriended me on Facebook. Of course, she’d probably need to buy some jeans and cotton shirts instead of the bright pink and black work out clothes that probably cost more than my new goat.

I realize city folks spend all day sitting in cubicles with artificial lighting so they have to find ways of staying physically in shape to be healthy.  Like them, I was stuck in the D.C. area for two years in my job.  But I just can’t see paying money for the right to use a lot of machines – also indoors under artificial lighting – or having a private coach with “innovative” methods that look a lot like old fashioned farming.

During that time I found several state parks that needed help with keeping trails cleaned up or weeding gardens.  There was an animal rescue ranch not far away where I could help out and get to ride the horses.  I got a lot of exercise one day when the baby pigs got loose.  Of course, in winter I got the joy of shoveling snow out of my driveway, not something I do much here in New Mexico.

Every muscle group targeted in a gym is worked thoroughly by anyone who has a yard and garden.  Trimming bushes and trees works the forearms, biceps and hand muscles. Overhead swings with a pickaxe to break up clay soil is good for the abs.  Steering a loaded wheelbarrow around clamps the buttocks. Hoeing works the shoulders while shoveling dirt, piles of manure or snow is good for the calves.

The best part is that all this is done outside in the sun.  Not a lot of gardeners have vitamin D deficiency.  When you get to working on weed whacking the lawn or mulching the flower beds you lose track of time because your brain is engaged with details.  You don’t have to wear a headset while watching TV on your cell phone because running on a treadmill is incredibly boring.

Yards and gardens offer ongoing challenges and the delight of lovely flowers and fresh vegetables.

Re-using Mulch Bags

Do you like to garden or do yard work?

Recently I landscaped my front yard and in doing so purchased 80 bags of mulch, each of which contained 2 cubit foot of material.  Another 30 bags of garden soil was mixed with homemade compost for some new raised beds.

As I emptied each bag I thought to myself there really should be another use for these other than going into the recycling bin.  As it turned out I was right.  The mulch bags are about the same size as my kitchen trash can, and the smaller garden soil bags fit into the office and bedroom wastebaskets!

The trick to making good reusable trash sacks is to open the bags at the top – nick a corner and pull hard straight across, or use scissors to get an even tear. Once the first bag is empty, use it as storage for the rest of the bags.  Roll or wad them up and stuff inside.  I filled up three of the bags with the others and set them in my storage shed.

These bags are perfect to collect yard trash, and my husband uses them in his garage workshop.

Plastic Straws, Cups, and Pill bottles

The advantages of recycling have finally gotten through to most of the population, but before it is tossed in the recycle bin you might consider how daily  items could be reused first.  For example: plastic straws.  Many communities are banning local restaurants from automatically providing their customers with plastic straws because so many end up in landfills or floating in the ocean along with flimsy cheap plastic cups and lids.

A restaurant near me serves their beverages in sturdy plastic cups with strong lids and straws that frequently survive an unexpected drop on the ground.  These are the kind of cups you really want to keep around!  They used to refill these large cups for less than a dollar until Covid restrictions stopped that practice.  I have dozens squirreled away which I use at home whenever I plan to work out in the hot sun for a few hours.   They make great travel cups.

Other drink cups are just the right size to plant seeds in during February that will be set out in the garden come April.  All they need is a drainage hole.  I set them in the sunroom in big plastic boxes and usually have more than enough to share with friends and fellow gardeners.

People with medical issues are saddled with unrecyclable plastic prescription bottles in varying sizes.  The uses for them are legion!  Gardeners who collect seeds from year to year love that the amber colored plastic helps protect viability.