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We had a fantastic week and last weekend, Mother’s Day weekend, was really fun here at the farm. It’s been crazy busy, but nothing new about that. The crew, Chris and I are exhausted, but smiling, so life is pretty good.

One thing that makes life really good and pretty fun and hopefully a lot easier is the purchase of our new tractor. We’ve been wishing for a tractor for the entire 22 year history of this farm! This week the dream became a reality and Chris and I are the proud owners of this little kibota tractor, complete with a front end loader, a rototiller and a mowing deck. I’m thrilled!

I used to drive tractors and fork lifts when I worked as the propagator at Paulino Gardens in Denver, but that was 26 years ago. Since day one of our buying this farm we have wanted to get a tractor to make the work a bit easier. A tractor has never been in the budget, though, so we would talk about it a lot, but that never manifested into an actual tractor. Now we have one. We’re so excited.

My parents gifted us with a large john deer lawn tractor and it has been our saving grace all these years, but we’ve worn it out and three engines later it is time for us to retire that little green beast for something that can do a greater range of tasks. Now if I can just think of a good name for this orange creature!

We have the most amazing farm visitors and customers!! We love each one of them and at some point we start thinking of them as our extended farm family. These women were picking out peppers last weekend. We have 36 pepper varieties for them to choose from and I think they ended up choosing ones that will make them smile when it comes to the pepper harvest time.

Strawberries are another really popular plant in the Farm Stand store and we have two kinds of everbearing strawberries (Ft Lariame and Eversweet) to choose from, plus 2 kinds of Alpine Strawberries. We had wonderful weather last weekend and we all enjoyed being outdoors in the Farm Stand nursery.

This is tomato alley and it includes 62 kinds of heirloom and heritage varieties of tomatoes for our Farm Stand visitors to consider. There are Japanese Trifele Black, Moonglow Orange, Brandywine Pink, German Heirloom Pink, Siberian and so many more. We have paste-roma types, slicing types, salad types and cherry tomatoes. There are striped tomatoes, heart-shaped and pear-shaped tomatoes. We have something to please everyone I think…at least I hope so.

Most of the year we are a wholesale grower only. In the spring we do our Open Farm Days for folks to visit the farm and have some fun and do a bit of plant shopping in our Farm Stand store, which is farm-direct retail. For weeks and weeks we have been full to the point of no return in terms of the greenhouses with plants everywhere.

It became critical when we had to start putting plants outdoors on weed barrier cloth, along with growing plants on every available 5 shelf rack, in all the aisles and tables and even our carts where housing flats of plants. We couldn’t get much-needed planting done because there was no space to put any newly transplanted plants! Yikes….it’s a double-sided sword when that happens. We’re grateful for all the customers that require us to grow so many plants, but we also feel frantic trying to figure out how to get things planted and where to put them until they are ready to sell.

Anyway, we crossed over the line in the other direction after this past week. That’s what happens. We run out of space for weeks and weeks and then after two weeks of busy orders the plants move out and Chris delivers them to their new homes, our garden center customers, and our Farm visitors buy and take them home to plant in their gardens. We now have some space in the greenhouses again to get some more planting done and to move some of the plants that are outdoors on weed barrier back indoors where it is easier to water and care for them. This picture was Thursday in the Plant Barn, which is now completely full yet again. No spare bench space to be found after today, but that’s fine. We planted fresh crops of herbs and I moved an entire section of outdoor flats inside this greenhouse and the Woodstove Greenhouse. Yippee!!

This Saturday, tomorrow, at 1:00pm we will be raffling off one of our two fairy gardens. If you come to the Farm tomorrow consider buying a raffle ticket and perhaps you will be the winner of one of our fairy gardens. The tickets are $1.00 each and the money we earn from raffle ticket sales will be used in June to buy fresh produce for our local food bank. This is a Desert Canyon Farm tradition and it is loads of fun for all of us.

We also have great workshops happening this weekend. On Saturday, James will be giving a Plant/Flower Photography workshop and also hosting a Gardener’s Round-Table for all your gardening questions and thoughts. On Sunday, Lizz, who is the farm beekeeper in addition to being the assistant grower, will be giving two workshops on Bee-Keeping.

All for now. Time to hit the hay for an extra early get-up in morning. There is much to do before farm visitors arrive at 9am.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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Scented Geraniums for our Mother’s Day Weekend Special

Mother’s Day has arrived and it’s always nice to treat our special moms with something beautiful, fragrant and useful!

For this Saturday and Sunday only we will have our 8″ clay pots of Scented Geraniums on sale as our Mother’s Day Weekend Special!

We still have 3 varieties to choose from…Nutmeg scented, Attar of Roses scented and Isadora scented.

These plants make great patio or houseplants. They are beautifully scented and can be used to make skin care products or sachets. The flowers and leaves are completely edible and if used when baking bread, cake or cookies, they will infuse the baked good with a subtle unique and delicious taste.

We have a good supply, but it isn’t unlimited, and on Monday they will return to their normal pricing. Priced at $8.00 each for this weekend only

In the past two weeks we have had much-needed wet snow and much-needed rain and the plants are responding in glory! It’s a beautiful spring at Desert Canyon Farm and Chris and I are pleased we live on this piece of land.

Above is a Winter Red Flesh Apple tree in our heirloom fruit orchard. This is a large crabapple that has bright pink flesh inside and purplish skin. It is the size of a small apple and not tiny like crabapples normally are. It is tart and delicious and I really really like this apple tree!

It’s been mostly quite warm over the past two weeks with daytime temps in the 70’s and up to 80 degrees. The nights have been well above freezing too. The greenhouses are getting hot now and things are growing faster than usual for this time in May, but they are happy and thriving. Something we noticed several years ago is that whenever the weather is shifting and will be cooler or moisture is arriving, the red wing black birds gather into big groups at the feeders. Just before the snow, they were all gathering at the feeders and in the honey locust tree. We knew there would be moisture when we saw them.

We have been enjoying great workshops here on the weekends. James has been giving talks about homesteading and chickens. Kris was talking about permaculture and Lizz spoke on how to dye fiber with plants. Monica gave an excellent workshop on butterflies.

This coming weekend we have new workshops planned and they will be great too. I will be talking on Saturday about the herbal uses of trees and shrubs and also on growing onions, garlic and such. On Sunday, Monica will be speaking about pollinators and growing a herb garden in our arid conditions. Join us if you can. Visit the “Classes & Events” page of this blog to get the starting times for these workshops.

We put out a small collection of hardy figs in the Farm Stand store and they were gone before the day was out. I hope everyone is enjoying them.

We have no shortage of plants to choose from, though,  like these beautiful white sage plants, and so many more. Stephanie and I put out many flats of new varieties today and I have more to put out tomorrow in time for the weekend.

If you visit, be sure to take a stroll around all our gardens. The claret cup cactus is blooming in the desert garden. The tiny trumpets honeysuckle is blooming and gloriously fragrant in the white rabbit garden. The pasque flowers are blooming and so is the cherry tree and so so much more. There will soon be iris flowers open in every possible color any day now. The yellow ones are already open.

It is truly spring…the season of birth and renewal in the nature world. It makes me very grateful that I can enjoy it in this place. I hope you are enjoying a lovely spring at your home too.

Oh, a woman came today and bought 8 catnip plants for her 3 cats. She talked to a man who was also shopping and he ended up buying catnip for his cats too. My cats have a taste for catnip also and if it happens to come with a big box to play in, well…that is a cat’s dream life I think.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

Last Saturday, April 14th, began our Open Farm Days at Desert Canyon Farm. We opened the Farm Stand store and started our series of free workshops for the spring season. We are still stocking in more plant varieties to the Farm Stand, and we will be doing that for the next couple of weeks, as plants get big enough for sale. That said, there are plenty of choices to begin the Open Farm Days season as you can see in the picture above.

We have cool season veggie patio containers, ginger, morning glories and pumpkin spice hanging baskets. There are loads of different herbs and perennials, lots of native plants this year, including 11 different species of Penstemons. This week we are working to get the rest of the tomato varieties ready and some of the squash, cucumbers and pumpkins will start showing up on  our benches, along with a number of additional herbs and annual flowers.

This is one of two fairy gardens that we will be raffling off during our Open Farm Days. Raffle tickets are $1.00 each and the money raised we use to buy fresh produce to donate to our local food bank after the Farm Stand store closes in June.

So, there is a lot of fun and good things happening these days at Desert Canyon Farm. That said, today was not one of our best days. We have had strong winds for several days now, but last night they were unreasonably strong and today they have easily hit the 60mph plus range all day long! When we went out this morning we found that part of the roof on the Hygge House was torn off by the wind. This is one of the pieces that was twisted and off of the greenhouse. We had a doozy of a time trying to make an emergency repair that would hold up to the sustained winds until tomorrow when the winds should be much calmer and Chris can begin the process of making proper and long-lasting repairs.

The day has been nerve-wreaking for all of us..Chris, myself and the farm crew. All in all, we had 4 greenhouses that sustained pretty big damage and lots of other things around the farm that are askew from the wind. Hopefully, everything will hold up thru the night and tomorrow we can begin the process of putting things right around this farm. Wish us luck.

All for now, Tammi

We have had another crazy busy week with wholesale business and preparing for our Open Farm Days and Farm Stand Plant Sale. We will be opening in one week on Saturday, April 14th and we have a boat-load of things to accomplish between now and then in order to be ready for our farm visitors.

This was the open floor area around our work table in the Plant Barn greenhouse last Sunday. It was filled with flats of plants to process for wholesale orders that Chris delivered this week.

It wasn’t just the floor that was filled up…nearly every cart we own was filled with flats of plants for orders. We are in deep gratitude for these orders! That said, what a chaotic place the work space was as Lizz tried to get all the orders ready for delivery.

While Lizz worked on orders, Beki and Susan were transplanting like crazy women, and Farm Stand Liz and Stephanie were busy at work in the Farm Stand store putting labels into pots of plants, staking the morning glories, runner beans and hops so that they have something to climb up as they are growing.

Meanwhile, I spent nearly every moment I could moving plants from one place to the other trying to get things in the right places and to make more room for newly transplanted plants to have a warm bench to live on. We are so far out of room it’s scary! I have plants lined out outdoors everywhere because the greenhouses are full to bursting.

The night-time temperatures haven’t been very helpful either. Every day the night temps have been predicted to be in the 30’s, but every night except once this week, the low temps have been in the low to mid 20’s! That’s testing the limits of some of our plants and keeping me from getting everything I need to put into place in the outdoor nursery area of the Farm Stand store. Tonight was supposed to be raining and 33 degrees, but it’s snowing and in the mid 20’s already and it’s only 8pm.

So, life feels pretty challenging right now. We want everything to look nice, tidy and well-placed when we open on April 14th. It feels like the to-do lists are way longer than is even possible to accomplish, and we all have these lists with our selective tasks to do. However, we are all still smiling. I have a big stock of chai tea on hand, which is my preference to coffee, and plenty of chocolate, which is always necessary at these extra busy times. We are working as hard and fast this week to get everything done for Open Farm Days and to service our wholesale customers. Chris has put the field work on hold temporarily, as he has his own very long list of things to get done before Open Farm Days. He is also driving several days a week now making deliveries to our wholesale customers in Colorado and New Mexico. Shrek is bummed because there is not nearly the usual amount of time for doggie walks as he thinks are required.

But… this is how farming is, and in this type of farming, this is the time of the year when we stretch to our absolute limits. Plus, we like what we do for our livelihood, we just wish it was a tiny bit more sane in the spring than it is. And, since this is our livelihood, we have to make this happen or we will be up a creek with no paddle as the saying goes. Now I’m done whining. Thanks for listening with patience and a smile. I appreciate that and sometimes it just feels better to get said and then return to getting things done.

In our preparation for Open Farm Days, the farm visitor ambassadors have arrived this week. This couple is hanging out near the Farm Store entrance to direct anyone they see to go inside to look at all our lovely plants.

This fellow is all about peace and happiness and will surely have you smiling when you come across him in the Farm Stand nursery area.

This gal likes to sit a spell and have a chat. If you find her when you visit, be sure to tell her hello.

The only problem I have with our farm visitor ambassadors is that they haven’t learned how to help us move plants around yet. Every time I see them, they are just sitting around looking happy and cheerful. I guess that counts, because they are making us grin when we pass them by as we push cart-loads of plants to their spots in the Farm Stand store.

The Red Robin 8″ tomatoes are always very popular and we have a nice crop of them ready.

Our basil crop includes MANY different varieties of basil. These basils should be the perfect size on opening day.

I think that is about all my news for this week.  Tonight, I still have to write my article for the Daily Record newspaper for next week. Chris is playing jazz at Ito’s tonight with Guy Madden. The cats, Shrek and I have a quiet house to work in. Well, sort of…

Pal has been chasing around a paper ball all evening and now he has batted it into the water bowl. He seems a little bit puzzled about how to get it out again. I’ll close for now and lend him a hand.

Cheers!

Today, Carrie Canterbury wrote a great article about us that appeared in the Daily Record newspaper. This is our local Canon City newspaper. It’s a fun article, so I’ve copied it into this post for you to read. I hope you will enjoy it.

Chris and Tammi Hartung, owners and operators of Desert Canyon Farm, stand next to their farm stand store at 1270 Field Ave. Carie Canterbury/Daily Record

By Carie Canterbury
The Daily Record
Desert Canyon Farm
invites the community to visit
their farm and gardens,
shop for plants and take part
in free weekly workshops
when their spring season
kicks off April 14.
The 2018 Spring Open
Farm Days & Plant Sale
runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturdays through Thursdays,
April 14 to June 10.
The farm is closed on Fridays.
Owners and operators
Chris and Tammi Hartung,
both organic growers,
moved to Canon City and
started their farm 22 years
ago. Chris formerly was a
manager at Denver Botanic
Gardens at Chatfield. Tammi,
also an herbalist,
worked at a wholesale nursery
and as a lab manager for
an extract company in Boulder.
The couple is heading into
their fourth year of transitioning
into offering more
retail products at their farm
stand, and less wholesale.
The Farm Stand Store has
expanded again this year.
Desert Canyon Farm offers
more than 1,400 varieties of
plants for sale, all grown on
site. Nearly 500 of those
include heritage and heirloom
varieties of fruit and
vegetable plants. The farm
offers 34 kinds of heirloom
pepper plants and nearly 60
varieties of tomatoes.
Desert Canyon Farm also
offers heirloom fruit trees,
edible flowers, container
gardens, hanging baskets
and more. The plants are
USDA Certified Organic and
all are grown on-site at the
farm.
Tammi Hartung said their
plants are unique and the
old-fashioned variety.
“The things people find
other places, they won’t find
here,” she said. “And they
probably won’t find anything
that we are growing — outside
of things like basil and
chives— anywhere else.”
The farm also has added a
number of new free workshops
to its slate this year,
going from offering two
each weekend to four.
The Saturday workshops
will be from 10-11 a.m. and
1-2 p.m., and Sunday workshops
will be from 1-2 p.m.
and 2:30-3:30 p.m. They are
presented by the Hartungs,
their farm crew and other
guest teachers.
The farm’s opening weekend
will feature a workshop
for children, who will plant
their own windowsill herb
garden. The fee for this
class is $5 per child, but
there is no charge for other
classes held throughout the
season.
Some of the topics include
herbal relief for the allergy
season, attracting butterflies
to gardens, making jams
and jellies, home brewing
beer with your own hops,
beekeeping, using weeds as
food and medicine and
using plants to dye fiber.
On April 28, Kris Isom will
travel from southern New
Mexico to present the workshop,
“Introduction to Permaculture.”
Permaculture is ancient,
but has become very popular
the last couple of years
where people are looking at
how they can blend the
chickens providing the fertilizer
and eating the weeds
in their gardens,” Hartung
said, “and they can situate
shade trees around the buildings
to provide shade
in the summer but then they
lose their leaves to get more
solar benefit in the winter
— it’s a whole integrated
system of plants and animals
and locations of things and
how to use your water wisely.”
Another new class Hartung
said attendees particularly
will enjoy is a photography
class on how to take
photos of plants and flowers,
which will be taught by
James Krumm.
Dr. Roselia Conrad, the
owner of Desert Reef Hot
Springs, will present a foot
soak extravaganza.
“We will have tubs and
herbs and flowers that people
can choose from to steep
in their water and they will
get to soak their feet in
it,” Hartung said. “They love
that, especially the ladies.”
Pre-registration is not
required for any of the workshops.
Attendees may simply
show up. They are
encouraged to bring a pen
and paper and something to
drink, and to be prepared
for any weather condition.
They also may bring a lawn
chair or a lap blanket if it’s
cold outside. Some of the
workshops require walking
during the workshop, rather
than sitting.
The farm does not allow
pets. When making a purchase,
Desert Canyon Farm
accepts cash, checks and
debit or credit cards.
Desert Canyon Farm is
located at 1270 Field Ave.
For more information, or to
view workshop topics and
times, visit their website at
DesertCanyonFarm.
wordpress.com.

Chris and Tammi Hartung, owners and operators of Desert Canyon Farm, look at plants in their farm stand store at 1270 Field Ave. Carie Canterbury/Daily Record

There are only two weeks left before we open our Farm for Open Farm Days on April 14th. So much to get done between now and then. We are excited to have you visit when we open!

For now, I’ll keep this post short. I’m wore out from moving plants all day placing them in the Farm Stand store and nursery area. It’s time for a glass of leche and then to bed. Talk to you soon. Tammi

 

This week is spring break for the kids in Canon City and it has become a tradition for farm crew kids to come to work for part of a day and help out. Thursday was our spring break farm crew’s day to come and visit and do some work projects here at the farm. Arianna and Abraham are friends of ours and Shrek’s and they joined us for the rock painting project.

Beki’s girls, Keyana and Zia, come to help each year.

Painting rocks wasn’t just for the kids. Beki, Lizz, Lesley, Chris and myself all got involved in the project.

These rocks will be tucked into places around the Farm Stand store and the gardens during Open Farm Days. If you visit and you find a painted rock, we ask you to tuck it into a different location in the Farm Stand store or the gardens for another farm visitor to discover. I suppose this could be called a musical painted rock event. We have friends, Diana and Merrilee, who own Perennial Favorites in Rye Colorado and they have been doing this in their nursery for a while during their Open Days and they made it sound like such fun, I decided we should enjoy it too.

By the way, Perennial Favorites will open their nursery doors in May and you should check it out. Their nursery is as fun and beautiful as can be. Of course, we want you to visit our farm and Farm Stand store during Open Farm Days here too, but if you are like we are, there is always time to visit another plant nursery, and you’ll find some fun and beautiful plants at both our Desert Canyon Farm and Perennial Favorites.

Below are the finished painted rocks that we will be tucking around in the Farm Stand and the Gardens this spring for you to find and re-locate for other visitors to discover!

After the rock painting task, it was time to fill F32 flats for planting. The girls were happy to help out with filling flats.

Zia was learning how to mix the organic fertilizer and the Rootshield granules into the soil mix. Zia is interested in applying for a farm greenhouse crew position when she turns 14 in a few years. She thinks it would be a great part-time job.

Leslie and Lizz were planting rhubarb, goji berries, and tea trees while the girls were working with Beki to fill planting flats

The girls also took time to get the Fairy Garden here at the Farm looking good so that it will be ready to be explored by farm visitors during Open Farm Days, which begin April 14th and go thru June 10th, 2018. We’ll be open every day (except closed on Fridays) during that window of time. Our open hours are 9am to 4pm.

I’m noticing so many things beginning to bloom now in the gardens and around the farm. The bulbs are blooming like these cheerful daffodils. Our apricot and almond trees are blooming and the peach and nectarine trees will be blooming soon.

Everywhere you look there are sweet violets and naturalized violas (called Heartsease or Johnny Jump-ups) blooming. These are wonderfully fragrant!

The oregon grape has been blooming a little bit for a while now, but this week it really started to bloom abundantly! The bees are enjoying the flowers. We have a lot of dandelions around and the bees are delighted to visit and pollinate those flowers!

Please do not spray any chemicals in your landscapes, and especially not where flowers are blooming. These chemicals, whether they are pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers, are poisonous to wild critters and pets, not to mention people, and including our important pollinators. Your gardens can thrive without them, and you can use organic growing methods instead and get wonderful results!

I also wanted to give you a significant update about Hannah and Gretel (formally called Hansel and Gretel). We have learned the ducks are two hens rather than a mated pair, hence the name change. They are enjoying life here on the farm and are foraging bugs, worms and newly sprouting green grass near the pond. Today, Chris and I made them a house for night-time use. If you visit during our Open Farm Days, you’ll be able to visit with Hannah and Gretel if you like, but remember, please do not feed them while you are here. Part of their job on the farm is to do bug patrol work and the more bugs they eat, the better our gardens and crops will be. Do enjoy your visit with them, but leave them to do their work when you are here.

That’s all for now. We are hard at work getting the Farm Stand store stocked with great plants, getting gardens tended, and making sure we have things ready for the free workshops on the weekends during Open Farm Days. One task is finished and that is the painted rocks are ready to be found when you visit.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi