Stories From Growing Domes Across the Globe
Suzanne’s Growing Dome Desert Greenhouse
Suzanne’s journey with a desert Growing Dome Greenhouse has reoriented her towards a more holistic way of living. After extensive travel as a leadership coach and business consultant, Suzanne’s life took a drastic turn when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Luckily, after intensive treatment she overcame the cancer, only to discover in 2007 that she had an autoimmune disease so intense that she couldn’t travel, let alone go out in public due to a horrendous skin reaction. At that point, she knew something had to change.
As she sat in a little nook of her combination passive/active solar house, in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico, she found herself asking the question, “Who am I now and how can I continue to offer my life in service to the Earth?” Day after day, as she meditated on this question, circles started to emerge in her minds eye. The earth as circle. The breast as circle. Women’s group work in circle. Seasonal gardening as circular. And….a Growing Dome as circle.
“To me breast cancer symbolized the pain of the Earth, reflecting itself in my body. The Earth was hurting, I could feel it’s pain. I wanted to offer my life as part of the solution, not the problem.”
Cyclical Healing in the Growing Dome
Instead of the linear, outcome-driven life she had been operating under previously, Suzanne began to see creativity, vision, and soul-purpose as her top priority. She decided to get Permaculture Design certified from Scott Pittman, became a Master Gardener, and built her one-acre property as a demonstration site for holistic living.
“I outlived my mother and great grandmother. I knew that this work was more than environmental, it was soul-work with the Divine Feminine. The energetics of getting my hands in the dirt was a huge part of my healing journey, but it was merely the gateway to integrating the feminine elements of earth and water into my life. Working in my greenhouse connected me to the nurturing elements of life: the sensual, the soft, the nourishing. I asked myself how we can begin to nourish each other as humans and caretakers of the land.”
In 2009 Suzanne and her husband bought a 26-foot Growing Dome and used our self install kit to build it in three days time (with the oversight of one of our builders)! Over the years, they’ve also turned a “mirror image” 26-foot circular labyrinth into a permaculture garden with raised beds.
Desert Gardening in Northern New Mexico
Suzanne’s Growing Dome is located at 6,100 elevation in northern New Mexico. Growing in this desert climate comes with many challenges including dealing with drastic heat waves, lack of precipitation, and poor soil quality, all challenges that a Growing Dome Greenhouse helps ease.
The surrounding land in the desert southwest is nothing but pure clay. Because of this, when adding soil to her garden beds she used mostly Black Gold – which is certified for organic growing – and supplemented with homemade compost, Yumyum Fertilizer, and Fish Emulsion.
Suzanne uses her Growing Dome to cultivate all of the crops that rabbits would go wild eating if it weren’t for the protection of the dome. Some of the crops she has growing include common ‘weeds’ such as lambs quarters, purslane, and tumble weed, as well as a giant fig tree, kale, and chard that produce all year long. She also starts her tomatoes inside, and transplants them into the outside labyrinth garden where onions, potatoes, okra, beans, squash, and garlic flourish in the warm New Mexico sunshine.
What projects has she initiated?
For those of you with a desert Growing Dome, you’re likely well aware of the dreaded bindweed. This plant loves heat and will climb and suffocate any and all plants it can wrap its tendrils around. For Suzanne, this problem turned into a year and a half endeavor that’s up-leveled her gardens for the better.
She was able to manage the problem fairly well inside her Growing Dome, but as far as the 26-foot labyrinth garden, bindweed was completely taking over. She decided to go to drastic measures and completely covered the garden in a black plastic for a year and a half. Her hope was that she would blast the bindweed at the roots with such extreme heat that managing it in the future would be no problem.
After a year and a half she noticed three large lumps sticking up from underneath the black plastic. As she pulled back the cloth she realized that three artichokes had volunteered themselves in her garden. To this day, these 7-foot artichokes (see picture below) are the dominating crop in her outside gardens and will be a featured “plant guest” in their upcoming garden tour (see below for more details).
What is she up to now?
Suzanne and her husband John’s desert greenhouse and garden will be featured in the 2019 Placitas Garden Tour where they’ll be opening her property to over 300 people and teaching them about sustainable living and the importance of beneficial insects and seed saving.
When she’s not tending the land on her property, or working in her Growing Spaces greenhouse, can be found hosting women’s groups or doing vision work with local tribes through Open Space Technology.
Show off your Greenhouse!
All of our Featured Growing Dome’s are highlighted in our monthly newsletter “The Happy Grower“, on our social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram), and in our blog. At the one year mark of our newsletter, we will be creating a yearly calendar that includes every Dome of the Month. Apply here.
Written by: Desiree Rose. Desiree is a biodynamic gardener, content developer, artist, and embodiment coach. With a degree in Resiliency Leadership and Environmental Education, she’s had the opportunity to study intensively under many thought-leaders in the fields of Environmental Agroforestry, Women’s Embodiment, Ayurveda, Astrology, Life-Coaching, Curriculum Design, and Biodynamic Beekeeping. When she’s not tending the gardens at Growing Spaces, she can be found rock climbing, highlining, and soaking in the hot springs in southwest Colorado. Find her latest projects at desireerose-studio.com