A free gardening class sponsored by Bethel Storehouse returns next week in Moriarty. The class will be held at Schwebach Farm April 12, outdoors and in the shade. Attendees will be offered free seeds and seedlings.

The class will be taught by farm owners Dean and Ivie Schwebach. According to Ivie Schwebach, the class will cover basic gardening, hoop houses, and the best way to go about growing things in the climate of the East Mountains.

Attendees will not need to bring any tools as the class will be less hands-on and more how-to, she said.

Bethel Storehouse is sponsoring the event. The nonprofit has been providing food, clothing, furniture, and more to those in the Estancia Valley and East Mountains who need a little extra help for the past 34 years, said Linda Smith, executive director.

Bethel’s Thrift Store is its main source of income, and all proceeds go directly back into helping the community, Smith said. The thrift store sells gently used clothes, furniture, kitchen supplies, books, and more.

Bethel Storehouse has offered a variety of free classes. Subjects ranging from financial education to low-cost pet care to sewing have been taught there for years, always free of charge, said Smith. She said the gardening classes have been one of their more popular events. In years prior, the classes had been “jam packed,” she said.

Bethel feeds up to 1,800 people a month, Smith said. Though that number has decreased a bit during the pandemic, Smith expects it to start rising again as restrictions lift and subsidies decline.

Volunteers are paramount to Bethel’s continued efforts, and they can choose between working at the store, the donation center, or the food pantry, said Smith. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering should contact Linda Smith at 505-832-6642.

As the last year encouraged more people to consider home growing, some knowledge on how to go about doing that in the high desert climate could prove invaluable.

According to Ivie Schwebach, key tips to remember include not planting warm-season crops like tomatoes, peppers, and herbs too early; though the weather is lovely and warm now, the late freeze always destroys crops planted before the time is right.

Smith’s advice for successfully growing produce in the sandy, rocky soil in our area includes conserving water in any way you can, and mulching heavily.

Schwebach Farm will partner with Bethel and Bonnie’s Plants to provide attendees not only knowledge, but assorted vegetable and flower seeds, seedlings, which will be available for pick up at Bethel immediately following the class.

The class will be held under the covered lean-to at Schwebach Farm, located at 807 W. Martinez Road in Moriarty. Registration is not required. The class is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Anyone who’d like to learn a bit more about gardening in the high desert is encouraged to attend. For further details, visit the Bethel Storehouse Facebook page, or call 505-832-6642.