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