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bumble bee pollinator

I usually don’t write a mid-week post, but this is important and I want you to have a chance to know about it.  Recently, a documentary was done called “Neonicatinoids, the Next DDT”. It’s full of really important information and quite nicely done. It brings scientists and experts together to give the viewer more complete information than much of what has become available to this point. Here is the link and I hope you will take the time to watch it. It is just shy of 30 minutes in length and is on linkTV. If you have DirectTV, my understanding is that it will be broadcast on Satalite TV today, but I have cable and don’t have access to the channel information. I watched it online using this link and that was quite easy to do.

https://www.linktv.org/videos/3837468553001

On another note, I will be speaking tomorrow at 11:00 am at the John C. Fremont Library in Florence, Colorado. If you would like to join me, I’m talking about windowsill herb gardening with culinary herbs and how to cook with them.

The presentation will be an hour-long, and I’ll have my books for sale following the event. If you’re looking for a great holiday gift for someone this season, maybe one of my books will be a perfect fit.  The address of the Library is 130 Church Ave. in Florence, CO. The phone number there is 719-784-4649.

WildlifeFriendly Vegetable Gardener Cover  HomegrownHerbs

Chris is continuing his work to prepare the logs for our future porch. Lizz helped him today and they made fantastic progress. Of course, Shrek continues his role as important supervisor!

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Finally, as a reminder I will be speaking at the Pueblo Herb Society next week on Tuesday, October 28, 2014. Call 719-542-0986 for more information if you are interested in attending.

Next February 13-14, 2015, I will be presenting at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle, Washington. This is a really huge event and absolutely wonderful. If you are pondering a trip to a conference or show that would be fun and educational, maybe this is the show for you. Google the Northwest Flower & Garden Show for all the specific details.

I realize that my events page of this blog has not been updated yet to reflect some of the events. My apologies for that. I’ll try to take some time soon to get it back up to speed.

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Mrs Powley's class  #2

Today was great fun here at the farm because we had a whole bunch of visitors. Mrs. Powley’s 2nd graders came to the farm to learn more about the life cycle of plants and seeds specifically. Here is the class holding up their chocolate flower seed heads that they picked from the garden.

While they were here we talked about wild birds and how they are good for eating pest insects. We visited the greenhouse, where they searched for plants that smelled like a pickle (dill), chewing gum (mint), grandma’s perfume (lavender), and pizza (oregano). Next they cleaned some garlic chive seed heads so that they could take some of the seeds home to plant, and then they each planted a pot of tiger’s eye beans. When they left the farm they went with their bean pots, a pot of lemon grass, and their garlic chive seeds. It was great fun for all!

During their visit here they participated in a long-time tradition at our farm. There is a tree in the gardens that we call the “Peace Tree”. It’s really a honeylocust tree, but that isn’t what we call it. When school kids visit the farm they get a colorful ribbon. Each child writes a message on the end of the ribbon about living in a peaceful world. Some kids wrote “Be kind”, others wrote “Peace on earth”. There were any number of wonderful messages for peace and good will that the kids wrote on their ribbons.

The ribbons are tied onto the branches of the Peace Tree, where they will stay all year. As the breeze moves the ribbons in the tree, we hope those messages for a peaceful earth get carried out into the universe. Certainly, it is an inspiring task for the kids and for us when we add peace messages to this tree…leaving us to think about the possibilities of  living together on this earth in good will.

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Well, it’s already mid-October, and I hardly know where the time is going as it passes by too quickly in my favorite season of the year. Already we are planting for spring now in the greenhouses, as you can see on this bench of kava kava plants divided at the roots from the mother plant. If you look closely you will see rosemary, dwarf curry, southernwood, and society garlic cuttings. Lizz was quite busy last week making baby plants for next spring’s sales.

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Below are the horseradish cuttings she did three weeks back. There are some baby hens and chicks, which are hardy succulents, that will be for sale in our farm stand next spring during Open Farm Days.

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The house project continues onward. Chris picked up spruce logs at the local saw mill. These will eventually be used as support poles for our roof gables at the front and back porch. He will be peeling the logs to remove all the bark and make them nice and smooth and beautiful. There are eight of this size log.

You can also see the neat piles of rocks I’ve been foraging. I’m planning to use these over the winter season to create some interest in my gardens. I figure this will be a good project to work on whenever I need a stretch break during book writing sessions.

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This trailer load of pine logs will become the porch railing. Again, they will all have to be peeled of bark and smoothed out to make them very beautiful.

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I’ll leave you with a picture of the rabbit brush in the south bird garden. It is stunning right now in it’s golden autumn glory. The honeybees and native bees are foraging pollen from  the flowers like nobody’s business. Sometimes I wish autumn would last all year…not really, but I do so love this season!

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Autumn Greetings,

Recently while working in the greenhouse, I was listening to an NPR report about the lack of food security that happens in so many parts of the world, including the United States. The report was specific to the people of Central and South America, where many of those countries are facing terrible losses of their primary food crops and cattle, up to 70% loss of some crops like beans and corn, due to serious drought conditions.

Drought periods are becoming more frequent and lasting for longer periods of time as climate change manifests as part of our daily lives, and this is true for many places around the world including my own area in southern Colorado which only this year broke out of a severe drought that had lasted a really long time. Extreme weather patterns, not just drought situations, but flooding and excessive periods of rain like they have been having in Arizona , extreme cold as the northwest and mid-western United States experienced last winter…these are realities we must learn how to cope with as our planet’s climate shifts, be it in Australia, Peru, Iceland, Africa…all over the globe.

And it is not just climate change that affects our food security. People have their ability to eat nutritious threatened by many different reasons, including economic influences, logistical problems like food deserts in urban areas, lack of knowledge about how to prepare nutritious meals, too much time spent working and not having time to eat appropriately. There are a whole gammet of reasons why people’s ability to eat well are threatened, some of which are relatively easy to alter and control like learning to cook a squash or a pot of rice properly, while other factors like being able to afford good food or not having sources to purchase healthy foods can be more difficult at times to correct.

The report left me pondering the situation that will leave people unable to have even basic staple foods they rely on available to them. It left me thinking about ways folks can take more control over their ability to feed themselves well.

Certainly, one thing nearly everyone can do in some capacity is to grow at least a portion of the food we need for our pantries. We may be able to plant a decent sized garden in our yards, or we can container garden on our porches or indoors in our homes.

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This is a pot of ginger and a small lime tree that I grow on my back porch during warm months of the year and bring them indoors for cold months making them house plants in winter.

salad greens

Growing pots of salad greens, baby carrots or beets, green onions, herbs and even red robin tomatoes are all plants that can be grown as indoor gardens with bright indirect or direct window light. Nothing beats being able to snip fresh-cut thyme or chives to cook from a pot growing on the counter and adding them  into an omelet or topping a baked potato.

These are small steps that add to your food security of being able to feed yourself well and nutritious. Seeds are inexpensive and a packet goes quite a long ways in producing a large amount of food. Consider trying it if you are already not doing so. It is autumn, and outdoor gardens in many climates are finishing up for the growing season, but that does not mean you have to stop growing fruits, vegetables and herbs entirely for the cold seasons of the year.

2010 peach harvest

Another avenue that is open to many of us, and this is true world over, is to utilize farm markets or food markets as a way to buy food more locally and seasonally. Here the farm markets will be ending at the end of September or early in October because it is the end of the outdoor growing season where I live. That said, it is a perfectly good idea to go to the farmers market and buy some fruits or vegetables that keep well and quite a long while at room temperature like apples, squash and pumpkins, beets and turnips, onions and garlic. All of these types of produce can be stored in baskets and used up well into the fall and winter. As the outside temperatures cool down cooking a pot of crock pot spiced apples means a delicious and good for you part of your meals.

echinacea tincture

You can also consider making some of your own herbal remedies to help care for your health and well-being. Here I’m preparing Echinacea tincture from freshly harvested echinacea flowers I cut in the garden. Lemon balm can be dried for tea. Spearmint is delicious and nutritious prepared as an herbal honey. Lavender flowers and leaves are good stress relief remedies when added to the bath or for an herbal foot soak…on and on it can go. This will add to your health security.

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There are other simple things that you can do to take good care of yourself and the earth. One very easy thing to do is air dry your wash. A clothes line is not an old-fashioned or outdated part of your landscape. If you dry your laundry on a clothes line outdoors or indoors on a wooden drying rack (you can buy these easily at hardware stores or by mail order at places like Lehman’s) you will save yourself some money that it would normally cost to run your household dryer or pay for dryers at the laundromat, a minimum of $150.00 per year! That’s a decent bit of cash that could be going to pay a water bill or buying groceries at the market, or even paying for entertainment like going to the swimming pool or the movie occasionally throughout the year. This is really good for the environment too, as air drying clothes does not use fossil fuel of any type. This adds to your environmental and economic security.

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Finally, consider ways you can take care of your mental security like reading good books or listening to wonderful music. Going for walks or bike rides is good for mind, physical body and the spirit.

You may have heard about neighborhood “free libraries”, which are little book boxes on poles built at the edge of people’s property or yard space…a bit like a mail box kind of thing. Books are placed inside these little boxes that can be borrowed or taken for free by neighbors passing by, and they can leave a book in  return that someone else can take to read, and so the cycle goes. We could even start music free libraries too couldn’t we. At our house we have for years had a “give-away reading basket” that sits in the living room near the hallway door. Whenever I finish reading a book or a magazine, etc. I toss it into the basket. Friends, family and our farm crew know that anything that is in that basket is available for immediate adoption. In other words they can take a book(s) home for their own use and then pass it on to someone else when they are finished with it or keep it permanently if they like. Every household, large or small, could have a give-away basket of sorts, whether that be for books, clothes or whatever. Sharing our “stuff” with others when we are finished with it is always a great idea.

So, I hope I’ve left you with a few things to ponder. You can go to other pages of this blog and find recipes for crock-pot apples, how to grow ginger or make your own herbal tinctures, plus so much more. Have some fun exploring the pages of this blog and see what you find that is useful or interesting to you.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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This past weekend found us hiking in the mountains outside of  Westcliffe, CO. The high-country autumn colors are just beginning, but are so glorious! I think this weekend and the next one will be really a show of color.

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The marmots were keeping a close eye on us as we walked the trail past their homes. This fellow looks like a miniature bear sitting there in the rocks, but no, it was really a very vocal marmot. I really like these critters.

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I harvested some clusters of ponderosa pine needles on that hike, which I will use to make another pine needle basket sometime this winter. Here is a picture of those needles and you can see a small pine needle basket I made some years ago. It is a pleasant task to weave a pine needle basket, but it takes a lot of time, so I’ll wait for a good snow storm to work on that project.

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Some other signs of autumn here at the farm are the birds that arrive this time of the year and stay through the winter months like this downy woodpecker. There were two scuttling up and down the pear tree trunk outside my office window a couple of days ago.

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This past Tuesday evening I gave a presentation to the Horticultural Arts Society. There was a good sized crowd that turned out and we talked about herbs that have special needs when it comes to growing them, plus how to use them. Here I’m talking about Lemon Grass, which is a delicious tea and culinary herb. Use it in soups and stir-fry, or generously in a noodle bowl.

Today found me again putting up loads of tomatoes, peppers and squash from the garden. I was able to freeze a few raspberries too for later use this winter. Before I even had my breakfast I was cooking big kettles of spaghetti sauce, making fresh salsa, and a pot of cowboy chili. I used up a half bushel of tomatoes doing that, but if the weather holds there will be twice that many more tomatoes by the end of the weekend. I’m in gratitude to have all this good garden harvest to fill the pantry. Growing your own food garden translates to groceries all year, which is never a bad thing.

On the greenhouse front, we have finished potting up most of the new stock plants, and I’m nearly done with my major cleaning projects. Next week we will hope to get the supply barn organized and cleaned up so that it will be ready when supplies start arriving for next spring’s inventory. I have loads of clay pots to wash before they can be re-used, so I work on that a little bit just about every day. Scrubbing clay pots is heavy work and it is hard on arthritic hands, but it still must be done, so a little at a time works.

Lizz got all the planting done in the gardens…thank you very much Lizz! There is still some gardening work to be done, but at this time of the year we start to not fret so much about it. We’ll work on it as time allows and enjoy all the autumn colors that will soon overtake the farm gardens, flower field, and trees. What a glorious time the autumn is!!

Elisa has been working on caulking the outside of the greenhouse end walls, which is a pretty big task too. She is doing a great job and it’s going to look really nice when it is all done.

desert bird of paradise This plant is called Desert Bird of Paradise, and the hummingbirds love it. It is in our south bird garden and really only started to flower a couple of weeks ago. That is quite late compared to normal. The hummingbirds should be starting to think about making their trip south now for the winter, but with flowers like this still blooming around the farm, those little birds are hesitating to start their migration journey. I hope they hit the road soon, because its starting to get cold here at night…last night was 37 degrees…too cold for little hummingbirds to be very comfortable I should think.

Chris continues to work daily on bringing in the seed harvest. The flower seed crops are behind schedule this year due to the cooler than usual summer temps. There are a lot of crops that are still in the flower stage and haven’t yet begun to form seed. That makes us just a little bit nervous as we hope there won’t be a hard frost here for some time to give those seed crops time to finish out.

harvesting roseamry

Recently, I wrote a little piece for the Storey Publishing September Newsletter about drying rosemary and also making rosemary herbal honey. Here is the link if you would like to read that newsletter. Beyond my bit, the whole newsletter is quite fun. Check it out…

http://bit.ly/1oJl8U9

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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I mentioned in earlier blogs that I’m starting a new book project, and today was the first full-fledged work day on that writing project. The book is going to be about plants in North America and how they enrich people’s lives. Today, I am off to an auspicious start to my writing. I interviewed a potter friend who makes his pottery using local raw materials, including clay he harvests himself, and glazes he prepares using plants that grow on his land. This is one of his three kilns. Not only was this interview really fun, but I learned so much! And so the book is in its beginning days.

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Much of the past week, and probably a great deal of this week too, has been all about garden harvesting and putting food up for later use. You can see from the counter above that my garden is really producing a lot of good fruits and veggies now.  Herbs too.

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The hawthorn tree was loaded this year with wonderful berries. I harvested about 2/3 of the berries and left the remaining ones for the wildlife that lives with us here on our farm.

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Potatoes were another crop that I harvested this past week. The white potatoes were cooked and frozen to use later for hash-browns and mashed potatoes. The red potatoes I’m using in my cooking on an as-needed basis.

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Shrek had an eventful week too, as he tore his hind toe and nail nearly off. That required the help of our vet to remove the dangling nail, repair the toe, and bandage the area. He is supposed to be in quiet mode for 5-7 days, keep the foot clean and no swimming in the pond…yikes! We’ll see how that all goes, but so far we’ve made it through one day pretty well. He has the help of his teddy bear friend keeping him company as he works at being a “quiet and calm” dog. Hmmm.

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Tomorrow will be a major greenhouse plant work day. I have a lot of cleaning, potting up of stock plants, and other misc tasks to accomplish. I should have worked on that today, but it was nearly 100 degrees outdoors, which translates to above 100 degrees in the greenhouse. That’s too hot for me right now, so I’m opting to do that work on the marrow. I also have some garden tasks that need doing, so if time allows tomorrow I’ll squeeze one or two of those into the day too.

Hope you will have a productive and enjoyable week as well.

 

 

Tammi on Knife's Edge trail mesa verde 2014

This past week I took three days and drove to Mesa Verde National Park where my daughter works as a Park Ranger. It was time for a visit and it was so nice to see her. While I was there we did some hiking. Above we were hiking on a trail called Knife’s Edge. Below is the Spruce Tree Canyon trail. Hiking and Mesa Verde is always great, but the best part of the trip was long visits with M’lissa and her friends.

M'lissa at mesa verde aug 2014

Upon my return home to the farm I discovered that my pomegranate tree has a baby pomegranate fruit forming. Wow! I’ve been watching to see if anything was pollinating the flowers, and I hadn’t noticed any creatures doing that, but obviously someone did, because now there is a small fruit growing.

Tammi's pomegranate tree aug 2014 2

Many posts back I told you about some trials we have been doing with different brands of growing media (aka: soil) in the greenhouses. We’ve tried a number of different brands and different formulations within each brand.

So far we’ve trialed 4 different formulations of Sungro organic mixes, 2 formulations of Premier Pro Mix organic mixes, 2 types of Berger organic mixes, and one called Batch 64. Some have preformed terribly, others have done very nicely at growing our plants out.

Below is a picture of tomatoes growing in Berger and Batch 64, both planted on the same day, from the same plugs, and growing side by side. You can see the difference.

So far, we’ve narrowed it down to two mixes that seem to do equally well…PRO MIX HP Organic and Sungro Organic #2 Basic. Since they seem to perform about the same, we will make our decision at this point comparing pricing and logistics of delivery, etc.

Thankfully, by this time next week I should have the soil and all our other growing hardgood (pots, trays, vermiculite, perlite, etc.) supplies ordered for the 2015 growing season. Then it will be time to start on the seed orders…oh my!

batch 64 soil tomato vs berger soil

Below is one of my favorite flowers in the White Rabbit Garden. It’s the Grandpa Ott’s morning glory, an heirloom variety. It is so beautiful and cheerful, you just can’t help but smile when you see it.

white rabbit garden 2014 grandpa Ott's morning glory

019     I’ve been picking loads of tomatoes of all kinds in the garden this week. German heirloom, which is the pinky red large tomato above, red robins, black cherry, sungold, martino’s roma, italian paste, stripped cavern…just to name a few!

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These are some of the red robin cherry tomatoes, which are still one of our all-time favorites around here.

The Italian Plums are very nearly ready to harvest too. I think they need about 2-4 more days and then I’ll pick them.

Raspberries, strawberries, squash, cabbage, anaheim peppers, and cucumbers have been coming on in big amounts. I’m grateful for the harvest and having the pantry full.

 

This will be a short post tonight. I lightening storm to beat the band is starting to happen all around me, and I think it’s best to turn this computer off until a later time.

Until next time.  Keep on smiling!

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