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Everything is in total chaos now around here as we are in full swing for our wholesale season, plus our Open Farm Days start in just over 1 week on Saturday, April 26th! That means there is a lot of extra work going on right now to prepare the farm and the Farm Stand for our visitors.

We are working hard to put all things into order on the farm…workshop tents must be put up, wagon handles repaired, grass mowed and hopefully gardens cleaned up a bit from winter…the list is pretty much endless at this point.

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Inside the Farm Stand we are organizing, cleaning and labeling plants and putting in informational signs. All the extra plants that are for wholesale sales that have been using the Farm Stand for growing space to this point must be relocated to other areas so that the aisles are clear for customers to walk through and shop for plants for their gardens.

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Our wonderful Farm Stand entry way signs that Lizz painted a few years back must be removed from storage, dusted off and be ready to greet farm visitors when they arrive.

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It’s all very exciting and we hope that you will visit if you are near enough to the farm to come out on an Open Farm Day this spring. Please look at the Open Farm Days and Classes & Events pages of this blog for more information and all the specifics you will need to know if you plan to visit, and we hope you will do just that!

The other major project that has been going on for the past couple of weeks is Chris’ work to expand our desert garden in the center of the driveway. This is a really lovely garden that is filled with native plants to the southwestern region of the U.S. In addition to being home to loads of incredible plants, it is also quite the wildlife habitat garden.

Quails and finches make there homes here, as do the wild rabbits, but the most famous and unique member of the desert garden habitat is the curved billed thrasher family that lives in the giant cholla cactus and nests each year. The curved billed thrashers usually have 3 batches of youngsters each spring/summer, so it is quite the busy place! More about these birds in a later posts. For now, let me go back to the garden expansion project.

paintbrush garden 001  So, Chris had 13 tons of gravel mulch hauled in.  All  that mulch had to be spread out by hand of course, which was no small task.

paintbrush garden 009  What is the reason for all this work, you might ask…well, it is primarily to house these sweet young plants called Indian Paintbrush. We already had a few of them growing in the desert garden, quite happily so, which prompted Chris to decide to expand the garden to make it not only a garden for beauty and wildlife habitat, but also to make it a production seed area. These plants would not grow well planted in row beds in the field like our other seed crops, because it needs other native plants to grow in community with it.  It has a symbiotic relationship with other plants that is required by it in order for them to thrive. The desert garden is a perfect place for these Indian Paintbrushes to  grow.

paintbrush garden 005  And, so the planting of 350 little one inch plugs began. There are also some other additional plants that were added like another fernbush, a turbanella oak, and a second large cholla so more thrashers will have a place to live in the garden. Lots of other little plants will be added too, like Gaillardia pinnata, zinnia grandiflora, mirabilis, and others.

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Of course the supervisor was on the job site for the entire project!

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Chris and Shrek collected over 350 rocks that were carefully placed next to each newly planted Indian Paintbrush. This was not intended to be decorative, although as the plants get established it will add character and beauty to the garden landscape. The purpose of these rocks in multi-fold…first they will keep the deer from nibbling and stepping on the baby plants until they can get rooted in and hold their own. Secondly, the rocks will offer some protection to the plants from our intense sun and wind during the spring months, and will collect some extra warmth for the babies on cold nights. Lastly, and what will be very important during the very hot months of summer, the rocks will help hold moisture in the soil underneath them, which the plants will then be able to use as a resource when things are hot and dry.

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Right now all those rocks look a bit strange because from a distance as you cannot tell that there are plants inter-planted among them. No, we are not trying to created a boring rock garden here!

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This is what the Indian Paintbrush plant looks like when it is mature and flowering. Can’t you just see in your mind’s eye what 350 of these will look like in a desert garden environment. It’s going to be stunning.

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And, what would you expect the whole garden expansion to look like as it becomes more mature? Something like the older part of the garden looks like now (see below), only with more red in the foreground where the Indian Paintbrush plants will be living. If you were a curved billed thrasher, a quail, a sharp-shinned hawk, a rosy house finch, a cottontail rabbit or a jack rabbit, or a red fox, of course you would enjoy living here too, and all those critters do live in this garden. It really is a magical place!!

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If you can, please come visit us on an Open Farm Day this spring and you can inspect the desert garden expansion project for yourself. And bring your field glasses and camera with you too so that you can watch all the wildlife while you are looking over the plants in the garden.

Hope to see you soon!

Tammi and Chris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For those of you who have been wondering if there is a plant list of what we will have for sale in our Farm Stand during Open Farm Days this spring, the short answer is no there is not a plant list of exactly what we will have for sale in the Farm Stand this year.  That said, however, there are two plant lists on this website that will give you a pretty good idea of most of the plants that we will have available.

If you go to the pages on this blog called “Heritage Heirloom Food Plant Info” and “Herb Plant Info”, you will find databases of all the plants we grow here at Desert Canyon Farm. The majority of these plants will be for sale in pots at our Farm Stand during our Open Farm Days,  on Saturdays and Sundays only, from April 26th through May 25th.

Hopefully, for those of you who are planning to visit the farm on one of those open days and if you are like me and like to go with a list in hand, these databases should allow you to have a pretty good idea of what we will have available in Spring 2014.

Cheers!

 

You know the saying “There no room in the inn”?  Well, it’s a bit like that around the farm right now. As you can see from this photo of the inside of our Farm Stand, we’ve filled the benches and we’ve nearly filled every bit of floor space too. Every day I spend a great amount of my work time just trying to figure out how to create more space to put newly planted flats and pots of plants.

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Our wholesale customers are beginning to order now for their garden centers and nurseries, so soon there will be plants going out the door as quickly as we can plant new plants to replace them with…at least that is what we always hope will happen from a business perspective. We are always happy to send out wholesale orders for things like these tasty salad boxes (below). You can see we have different kinds of heirloom lettuces we are growing from a nice red romaine to a romaine lettuce called Speckled Troutback. There is Butterhead, which is mine and Chris’ favorite variety, and a blend of leaf lettuces we call Peter Rabbit Salad Lettuce. We also do White Rabbit Gourmet Greens, which you can catch a peak at on the lower shelf. Anyway, salad lettuce is delicious, especially if you grow your own!

 

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Last week you might remember that I said Chris would be going to Tooley’s Trees to pick up our bareroot order of heirloom fruit trees. We are planting a new orchard area here on the farm and it will be located just in front of the Farm Stand where our farm visitors can enjoy the trees too. We will be planting 11 different varieties of apples, plums, peaches and apricots. Here are the trees the night Chris got back home with them.

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So, Chris has spent a large amount of his week digging the new orchard tree spots. If you look closely you can see blue flags that are marking the location where the new trees will be planted and you can just see a few of the spots where he has removed the pasture grass sod in preparation for digging the tree holes. Today he continued to work on this step, which is a huge task and a whole lot of hard work!! He also got the wire cages made that he will put around the trees to protect them from the deer browsing on them until they are old enough to hold their own against the deer (in 3-4 years most likely). All this work of preparation and not a single tree planted yet, but very soon they will be. We are quite excited to have two orchard locations on the farm now. Our other orchard spot is about 6-7 years old now and the trees are bearing fruit for a couple of years now. I’m hoping for an excellent tree fruit harvest this year if the flower blossoms don’t get hit by a hard frost we’ll be in really good shape for that harvest.

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We also began the very big task of gardens clean-up, which is no small feat around this place as we have loads of different gardens needing attention. Chris and Wess began with the iris bed behind the seed room. It occurred to me that our Open Farm Days are about 3 weeks out now and we sure do have a lot to do to get the farm ready for our farm visitors.

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So, the list of “to do” tasks is about 800 miles long at this point, or at least that is how it feels. We have more than enough to keep us busy every waking hour, but even with the warm spring weather a woodstove fire still feels mighty nice in the evenings.

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Even Gwenivere is finally warming up to being in the same space as Shrek the dog, however, only if she can remain “in charge” of him. He thinks that she and Pouncita (our Siamese elder cat) are the queens around here and that is for the best, since they also think of themselves as queens. He doesn’t mess with the cats!

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I hope you are still enjoying some warm and cozy evenings too, but making the most of the warm spring days. I’m sure we’ll probably get a spring storm before all, but it’s sure nice to feel the sunshine for the time being.

Happy Spring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This past week we have been continuing to work on getting ready to open for our Open Farm Days weekends starting April 26th. I felt a small sense of panic as I was looking at the calendar and realized just how little time there is before that magical day arrives and there is so much to accomplish between now and then to get ready. Lizz (pictured above) planted fairy gardens this week and cape violets too. Both will be cheerful and fun additions to the more than 500 different kinds of plants we will have for sale in our Farm Stand on those Open Farm Day weekends.

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Here is a picture from last year. We will have even more plants, more workshops, and more fun this year!! And so the preparations will continue as we get everything ready.

All this planning and preparational work had me thinking that I should share with you some information about three other nursery businesses that you may enjoy. All three are owned and operated by good friends of Chris and myself for many many years. Perennial Favorites is a small nursery business in Rye, CO. Shortgrass Greenhouse is a small greenhouse farm in Erie, CO, and Tooley’s Trees is an heritage tree farm in Truchas, NM.

All of these are small family farm businesses just like ours, but each one specializes in slightly different kinds of plants for sale. Like our farm, Tooley’s Trees, Shortgrass Greenhouse, and Perennial Favorites are all mom and pop types of plant businesses, and just like Chris and myself, these folks is intimately involved with the day to day happenings of our farms and nurseries.  It is really  hard work to run a small farm or nursery business and be able to earn a right livelihood doing so, but that is just what we all are doing because we feel it is a really good thing to do. We do this type of work because we love plants, and we love sharing our knowledge with other folks.  We are all working hard this spring, and feeling fortunate that we can earn our living doing something we enjoy.

So, let me share just a tiny bit of  information about Shortgrass Greenhouse, Tooley’s Trees, and Perennial Favorites. My hope is that you will want to learn more about each of them and will visit their websites first and then visit their farm or nursery this spring.

Be sure to visit us too on an Open Farm Day weekend. If you go to the Open Farm Days page of this blog you will find all the information you will need to know when to visit and enjoy our farm.

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Perennial Favorites is a wonderful nursery in Rye, CO that specializes in perennials that are great for Colorado Growers. Diana and Merrilee own and operate this nursery and they really know there plants. Visit their website at www.pfplants.com and you’ll definitely get a taste for what to expect if you visit them this spring to shop for plants for your garden.

They will open their nursery for business on May 1, 2014, but if you are in the Denver area you can also visit their booth at Denver Botanic Garden’s rock garden sale on April 25-26, 2014.

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Shortgrass Greenhouse is another fantastic small plant business located just outside of Erie, CO off of Hwy 52. I have know Amy for nearly 30 years now and all that time we have shared a passion for growing plants. She and Guy have been in the business of plants for so many years I can’t even count them, and their small family greenhouse farm offers potted plants of every possible kind. They grow more than 2000 gorgeous hanging baskets alone! Visit their website at www.shortgrassgreenhouse.wordpress.com to see what is happening on their farm.

Shortgrass opens soon on April 5, 2014. You will have so much fun shopping there that you will probably go home needing to expand your garden space!

Another favorite farm I want to share with you about is an heirloom tree farm called Tooley’s Trees in Truchas, NM. Tooley’s Trees is owned by Gordon and Margaret and they have a wonderful selection of heritage fruit trees that have been grown in the southwest region for decades. I wish I had a picture to share with you of their farm, but sadly I do not. That shouldn’t slow you down visiting their website at www.tooleystrees.com where you will find a long list of all the trees they offer for sale.

We will be getting our own order of fruit trees from Margaret and Gordon this spring to plant here in our own orchard and I can hardly wait for Chris to go pick those trees up and bring them home!

Tooley’s Trees plans to open on March 28, 2014 weather permitting. They will open the following weekend if the snow prevents their March opening date from happening.

That’s about all I know for now.  A little bird told me that fairies are dancing and skipping in the gardens now that spring has arrived and there are flowers starting to bloom!

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve gotten time to sit down and write. In that time we got a rare snow of 9″, very wet, and wonderful. This week it has been mostly warm and now things are really happening around here that speak of spring. This is a dwarf iris in my fairy garden. Not the best picture because I had some four-legged doggie help taking the photo;), but you get the idea anyway. This beauty is about 3″ high and the flowers are easily 3-4″ across in size!

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A lot has been happening in the greenhouses too, but that should be no surprise to my readers, as it has been busy here for a while now. This is our very first tomato crop. Small in size and just a few varieties at this point, but soon there will be a lot more. Today the crew planted the second tomato crop, which you can just catch a peak at on the bottom of the picture…all newly planted and not very big yet.

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Finally, the strawberry bare-roots arrived last week. We’ve been waiting for them since the second week of January and the weather in the Mid-west has prevented the nursery we order them from from being able to ship out any orders. I was beginning to think they might never arrive in time to plant for spring  Farm Stand Sales. They made it though, and they are all planted…6000 plants in all!

The photo above is Carol and Wess trimming the plants to the proper length to be planted in jumbo 6-packs. Another crew member, Chris, is planting those trimmed roots below.

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This is the cuttings crew working on mojito mint cuttings…Shrek and Chris (my Chris this time). Shrek has become quite the farm dog and is involved in nearly every task that happens here now. He has settled into his new home pretty nicely.

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Another bit of news is that I have a new post up this week (it was posted on March 17th) on the Storey blog. The post is about welcoming pollinators into the garden landscape. Here is the link if you would like to read it…

http://insidestorey.blogspot.com/2014/03/tammi-hartung-encouraging-native.html

Well, that’s all for now. It’s time to build the fire in the woodstove for the evening, do a few more chores and then call it a day.

With Green Thoughts,  Tammi

 

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What do you think of this wonderful lighthouse painting! My mother-in-law painted it and I have been looking at it at her home for more than 20 years, wishing it was mine. I love lighthouses and I really LOVE this painting. For Christmas she gifted it to me and I couldn’t wait to find it the perfect spot in our home. Now it is hanging in our kitchen sitting area where I enjoy it every single day. Thank you, Mom!!

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My kiwi vine (left) and pomegranate tree (right) have both been dormant all winter, living, until just recently, in an unheated greenhouse since September. I put them in the Plant Barn greenhouse not too long ago to warm up, and it didn’t take long before they decided it was time to wake up and start to leaf out. In three days time the pomegranate is fully leafed out and the kiwi vine is right behind it, even starting to put out a bit of new growth.

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Lizz planted the hanging flower baskets and planters this past week and they are now settling into their new pots. Before long they will have filled out the baskets and pots and then it will be all about blooming!

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It’s always sad when we have to throw out something that normally would be very beautiful like these Cape Violet plants, but they have been in their pots too long and have gotten so root-bound that they just weren’t thriving any longer. I finally said they had to go, so into the chicken trailer (our name for the trailer we dump thrown-out material in and then we haul it to neighbors chickens) they were dumped. Chris started a fresh batch of Cape Violets, and soon they will be ready to transplant into clay pots and be blooming for late spring, probably about Mother’s Day.

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The bare-roots have STILL NOT arrived and this entire space is reserved for the strawberries. The flats are filled and ready to go, but no plants yet. I know the bad weather in the Midwest is responsible, but in truth, I’m running out of patience. These bare-roots should have been planted the 2nd week of January and we’ll be heading into March next weekend!  Yikes!!!!  I hope they show up in the next couple of days.

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I guess that is all the news for now. I’ll be in touch soon.

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What strange weather we have been having….last week we had winter to the max, with very cold temps and snow nearly every day. Today it is sunny and near to 60 degrees, which is how it was yesterday and is supposed to be through the weekend. I must admit that I loved getting the snow moisture last week, but the warm sunny weather this week is more than welcome too.  I am noticing fat leaf and flower buds on many of the trees and shrubs, so they are at least thinking about spring, although they are wisely not showing any signs of acting on those thoughts at this point. I’m sure we will still have a lot of winter weather ahead of us before the spring truly arrives.

As a gardener and as a grower it seems like I am always pondering the growing season. This week I wrote another post for the Storey blog about attracting beneficial insects into the garden. Here is the link in case you would like to read that post and begin pondering ways that you can bring more beneficial insects into your garden landscape too.

http://insidestorey.blogspot.com/2014/02/tammi-hartung-managing-garden-pests.html

On another note, I finally did get the workshop schedule posted up on the “Classes and Events” page of this blog. Thank you for your patience with me as I realize I am very late in getting it posted up.  I hope you will check it out in case there are some topics that you are interested in and may want to attend one or more of those classes.

We are not only in planting mode around this farm in the most serious way, but we are also seriously working on preparations for our Open Farm Days coming up this spring. A part of that has been putting together a wonderful collection of free workshop events on each of those Open Farm Days.

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The workshop topics are fantastic, with workshops on vegetable gardening and canning, bee-keeping and dying natural fibers with plants and the power of the sunshine. There are workshops on herbs and fairy gardens, container gardening, heirloom vegetables. If you are a keeper of small livestock like chickens or rabbits, you will appreciate the workshop on gardening with small livestock. And of course, we have a farm walk-about tour with Chris and myself slated at the end of May for those of you who want to get the inside scoop of what goes on around this farm from a growing perspective.

In additions to myself, there will be three other really excellent teachers for these workshops. Many of you will remember James from last year, as he gave the most inspiring and informative workshops related to vegetable gardening and preserving your food harvest so you can enjoy eating it all year long. James grows food gardens like no one else I know and he has been keeping Chris and I supplied with wonderful meals all fall and winter from his garden like carrot squash soup and pesto and salsa that is absolutely amazing!  Lizz, who many of you have met here at the farm, as she is the assistant grower here and the beekeeper, will be teaching a beginners bee-keeping workshop, a class on solar dying natural fibers using plants, and ways to garden with small livestock. Lizz keeps wool rabbits, dyes and spins her own yarn, is a keeper of chickens, sheep, turkeys and many other critters….she even makes her own cheese… so she speaks from first hand experience.  We also welcome Monica to our teachers group, and wait till you take a workshop from her….she is also an experienced beekeeper and a wildlife biologist, who has a fantastic way of inspiring people. Monica grows extensive herb and food gardens and you will gain a lot of insights from her.  Monica will be offering a beekeeping workshop and also will be talking about great ways to plant a garden to welcome the wild birds and many other kinds of pollinators. I will be teaching classes on herbs, wildlife-friendly habitat gardening, fairy gardening, container gardening and doing the farm tour with my husband, Chris. No matter which workshop you decide to attend (or maybe you will come to every one!), I think you will really have fun.IMG_3214

 

There are oriental poppies starting to poke their heads out of the ground in my gardens now, along with pasque flowers and nettles. Before long I’ll be able to harvest some fresh nettle leaves to make into tea or cook into soup. Spring is a ways off, but at the same time it is just around the corner!

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Brilliant orange oriental poppies above. Purple pasque flowers below.

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