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Since early April we have now received more than 13″ of rain and counting. Everything is so green and the flowers are huge. Everything is so soggy and muddy! Yesterday we had a sunny warm day that was the perfect spring day. After weeks of cloudy wet weather it was quite a welcome day.

Last fall we had a killing frost that was brutal on the health of many plants. Things that normally are bomb proof for us in terms of weather extremes suffered greatly…many plants just died that would normally be completely hardy here. Others, like our fruit trees, suffered major damage and are having a difficult time re-grouping and coming back to health.

One of those fruit trees is an heirloom red delicious apple tree that we brought with us to the farm nearly 20 years ago. As with many of the trees and shrubs here on the farm, the only way to save this tree was to prune it dramatically. Chris began the process last week of pruning trees and shrubs to help restore them to good health. Here is our poor little apple tree, all pruned. Hopefully, now it can begin to recover and grow strong again.

 

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The rainy weather has put the field work seriously behind schedule. The field is too muddy to work in and the weather has been too wet and cold. Last Wednesday the weather was slightly improved for the day, but only a little bit, so Morgan and Elisa worked at weeding and pruning in the White Rabbit Garden instead of working in the field. This garden is mulched and has cement and flagstone paths so they could work without bogging down too much in the mud.

It is really nice to see some work happening in the gardens, which would normally be delayed until June when more time allows. This area along the seed room wall used to be a munstead lavender hedge, which was about 14-15 years old. Many of those old lavender plants died in the harsh winter we had last year, so they have now been removed. They are one of the perennials that was hardest hit in my garden, and one of the plants that most surprised me that they were affected, since they are extremely durable to weather extremes. But they were very old plants, so perhaps that was a factor. Regardless, Mother Nature will have her way and many of the lavenders died or seriously died back. Elisa did “surgery” on them to remove those that were dead and prune back the ones that are showing new growth from the roots. Now I have big gaps in my hedge, so soon I’ll plant some things in to fill the open spots. Certainly, I’ll plant back several Munstead Lavenders, as they are perfect for this very hot dry wall in the garden and I love how they look when they are blooming. Below is a picture of that same hedge last June, so you can see what is possible and what an extreme impact the winter temps had on these plants.

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Today, is an Open Farm Day here and I’ll be teaching classes on fairy garden plants, herbs for soups/potatoes/bread on Saturday, and herbs for digestive health, along with how to handle wildlife challenges in the garden landscape on Sunday.

It’s Memorial Day weekend and a traditional weekend for gardening and buying plants  to add into the garden. I hope you will have a grand weekend that has gardening as a part of the schedule. Hopefully, we’ll see you here at the farm to shop for a few new additions to your garden, or maybe take in one of the workshops. We are hoping for some partly sunny weather this weekend, but rain or shine we’ll be here and Open Farm Days will be happening, all with smiles and good cheer.

Cheers!

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Two nights ago I finally had a bit of time to just stroll through our gardens and really notice all the things that are starting to bloom and look lovely, despite the weeding waiting to be done and plants waiting to be planted. In spring we are mostly in survival mode trying to get all our work accomplished and make sure that folks are enjoying their visit to our farm during Open Farm Days. So, as this month reaches it’s mid-way point, I’m starting to look seriously forward to having some personal time to return to a more normal pace of life. I’m eager to begin my own gardening time, and returning to work on my book project. You know…all the things that make life rich and happy.

This week’s garden stroll was a tiny step in that direction. I took time to admire the plant communities that share this land with us that we call our homeplace, and that people know as Desert Canyon Farm.

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The chives are just amazing this spring from all the extra rain we have gotten in the past few weeks. They are tall and cheerful and delicious in my egg salad today at lunchtime.

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Every weekend we have been hosting free workshop as part of our Open Farm Days. This morning Lizz taught a fantastic workshop on beyond the basics of bee-keeping. This afternoon I was sharing insights about the herbs that can be used when you are challenged by allergies. We have had so many fun workshops happening and more to come over the next two upcoming weekends. You can find the schedule of workshop titles on the page of this blog called Classes and Events.

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Look at the fairy garden right now! The sweet woodruff with its tiny fragrant white flowers is precious and the lewisias (pink) are so charming and perfect in a fairy garden.

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Below is the fairy rose baby’s breath , so sweet.

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In the desert garden the claret cup cactus is blooming too with huge scarlet red blooms.

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So, as the middle of May arrives, I’m looking forward to a bit of time to sit a spell on my porch and admire our gardens. I hope you can do the same at your place. Gardens enrich our lives in so many ways. The plants give us so many gifts to make our lives rich, healthy, and wonderful. I’m in gratitude to them for the beauty they add to my life.   Enjoy!

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There are a lot of new plant varieties available in the Farm Stand for this weekend, including all the squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and melons…heirloom and heritage choices.

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We have loads of different plants for fairy and miniature gardening like this Baby’s Breath Fairy Rose. This picture is of a patch growing in my garden. It’s perennial and beautiful and very hardy.

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For Mother’s Day gifts we have gorgeous flower baskets. All our plants are pollinator-friendly, grown without the use of any systemic pesticides including neonicotinoides.

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This year we have managed to make some of our famous Mini Gardens in a Tray, which are theme mini garden kits that give you 8 individual plants tailored to a specific theme. This weekend we will have culinary, medicinal and fragrance mini gardens available. This is a perfect way for a beginning herb gardener, or as a gift idea for Mom or someone special.

010Cape Violets just make you want to smile. They are perfect as a houseplant, flowering year round, or you can grow them as a patio plant during the warm months of the year. These are one of my favorites!

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The gardens are becoming more and more beautiful with each passing day.

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For wildlife watchers and birders, we have a lot going on with many different kinds of wild birds to watch. Bring your field glasses,  your nature journal, and your camera with you when you visit during our Open Farm Days, and then plan to leave enough time to do a walk-about on the farm to see which wild critters live here with us.

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All for now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flowers are really beginning to bloom now in our gardens. The iris are outstanding this spring with all the extra moisture we have been getting.

I’m sorry to have been out of touch for a while. This week and last are the two busiest weeks we have in the entire year, so it is about everything we can do just to keep up with the work schedule, eat a little bit and sleep a little bit.

If you have been visiting the farm on our Open Farm Days, we thank you for coming and hope you had a grand time. We will be open until May 31st, Saturdays thru Wednesdays from 9am to 4pm. We are closed on Thursdays and Fridays. We have had such a wonderful lot of people visiting and sharing with us. Chris and I enjoy Open Farm Days and we always feel very supported by our farm visitors.

That said, all the rain we’ve been getting has made things a bit more challenging than it would normally be. Everything here is soggy and we haven’t been able to park cars in the field outside of the Farm Stand entrance until the ground dries up a bit. We have a big driveway though, so it’s working out pretty well.

The fairy garden looks incredible right now, with lots of little flowers like sweet woodruff and lewisias blooming.

Anyway, I just thought I’d check in briefly to tell you all that we are still alive and kicking here, just too busy to write much on the blog right now. That will change soon, as things will slow down in a couple few weeks. I’ll try to write whenever possible in the meantime, and hopefully get a few new pictures to post up too. Talk to you soon!

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This is the time of the year when everything at Desert Canyon Farm is all in a dither! There is more to do, of course, then there are hours in each day, so we work along as fast and as hard as we can to accomplish all that needs to be done. Right now we are scrambling around to get all the final preparation done to open tomorrow for our annual spring Open Farm Days and Farm Stand Plant Sale. You can find all the specifics about open dates, hours, directions to the farm, free workshops schedule, and so forth on the pages of this blog called Open Farm Days and Classes & Events. You can also find database pages for all the plants we grow here on the farm on the Heritage Heirloom Food Plants and Herb Plant information pages of the blog.

So, let me take you on a quick virtual walk-about of what we have been doing this week to get ready for your visit to the farm…

The picnic table sits in the White Rabbit Garden at the back of our house. It has been washed and is waiting for visitors to bring their own picnics and enjoy a bit of birdsong around them as they eat their lunch. Seriously, you are all invited to stroll the gardens, the flower seed crop production field, the heirloom orchards while you are visiting. The production greenhouses will be closed to the public, but there is plenty of other areas of the farm to stroll and enjoy.

There are zillions of wild birds all around for those of you who would like to do a bit of birding while you are here. The curved billed thrashers are nesting in the desert garden, the red wing black birds are nesting around the ponds in the cattails. Two days ago the yellow headed black birds arrived and have been hanging out. The quail are scurrying about and endless other wild birds too.

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Our friend Dwayne has been a life-saver in our preps this week. He’s been here twice to help. He and Chris assembled and put up the tents for our free workshops two days ago. Then he was back yesterday to do all manner of odds and ends from pumping up wagon tires so that Farm Stand plant shoppers have wagons to fill with their plant purchases, to planting a Persian Mulberry tree next to the Farm Stand entrance sign. He was hauling chairs out, putting signs up…on and on it goes. Thank you Dwayne for all your help!

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The farm crew has been super busy too. Elisa and Morgan, Carol and Lizz have been cleaning and labeling plants in the Farm Stand. Morgan is wearing gloves as she labels the Nettles flat of plants. So for all you herbalist and permaculture gardeners…yes, we have nettles and comfrey plants available in the Farm Stand, along with nearly 500 other varieties of plants.

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Carol finished cleaning up all the outside nursery plants yesterday. They are a bit weary from being in the snow storm last weekend, but those plants are very hardy and they are quickly bouncing back and looking perky again. Here is Carol working on the poppy section in the Farm Stand.

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M’lissa (our daughter) and Luke (her partner) have spent hours and hours on preparations. M’lissa made color picture signs for all the flats of plants we have for sale, so visitors shopping can see what the plants will look like, learn a bit about their growing needs and also how to use them, whether that is an herbal use, a cooking use, a wildlife-friendly use, or a fairy garden use…to name only a few of the ways our plants are grown by gardeners. She and Luke placed most of those signs yesterday and today I will be finishing that very big task. M’lissa helps me so much, not just at Open Farm Days, but all through the year with office tasks and updating the website databases, etc. The list is endless of ways she offers help to us here. Now Luke has arrived in her life and in ours and he has been wonderful too at offering extra support and help. Loving thank you to them both.

Chris has been hanging up posters that Lizz spent many hours this winter creating to tell you about the uses of the heritage and heirloom vegetables, edible flowers, and how to plant container gardens complete with suggestions of great plants to put together for this purpose.

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It’s really hard, nearly impossible actually, for us to get any time to work in the gardens in spring, as our time is needed planting and processing orders for wholesale customers, and getting plants ready for Open Farm Days for retail visitors. That said, Morgan, Elisa and Carol managed to get an hour in this week to do a tiny bit of garden tidying up. It’s hardly a drop in the bucket of what needs to be done in the gardens, and we trust visitors to understand that on a working farm things happen in the order of priority that is most urgent to those tasks that can wait until more time allows. Gardening is one of those tasks that must wait until more time allows. That said, there are many things starting to bloom in the gardens and flower buds getting fat and ready to open soon. The gardens are wonderful even when they haven’t been tended to very much yet.

Lizz, as always, is the quiet and steadying person here. She keeps things moving along as smoothly as they can go. When wholesale orders come in, I pull them and send them into her care, where she makes sure that every plant is dressed and labeled and ready to go to it’s new home at one of our independent garden center customers. She keeps the planting tasks on track while I’m scrambling around trying to figure out how to create more space for newly transplanted flats to go in the greenhouses. She is the farm’s beekeeper on top of all the other things she does here. In fact, today she is planning to split one of our hives that has gotten too large and is preparing to swarm. Lizz will spilt the colony to start a new colony of bees. She is amazing and Chris and I would be lost without her help and love.

Well, I’m noticing that it is time to get to work for the day, so I’ll close for now. If you live close enough to visit the farm during our Open Farm Days and Farm Stand plant sale, we will hope to see you here. If you are a reader of this blog that lives too far to visit, we’re sorry we won’t see you here, but we wish to tell you we greatly appreciate your interest in the happenings here and hope that you will find useful bits of information on this website.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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There is a lot happening, always, around this farm during the spring season, and this week was right up there with lots going on. Spring has full-on arrived here, with blooming flowers like this Erigeron that is a seed crop of ours. The wire cage over top protects the flowers from nibbling deer lips!

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Chris has continued with his field prep work and the seed crop field is really starting to get whipped into shape. This is the Mongolian Bells Clematis crop that is really coming up now. Chris mowed and trimmed back all the grasses and other taller perennials that needed tidied up. If all goes well, he plans to begin planting the new seed crops this next week.

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Last winter was really difficult for many perennial plants, especially the woody ones. Our fruit trees are struggling to regroup after a harsh winter with very cold temperatures, but one especially difficult cold spell where temps dropped about 30 degrees in little more than an hour’s time. That took a lot of plants and animals by surprise and we are seeing now the damage that was done. This is one of our peach trees, which we thought might actually have died, but it is starting to leaf out. Most of the buds winter-killed, but I’m seeing just a very few blooms. Maybe we’ll have enough peaches and other fruits for some fresh eating, but I’m doubtful now that we will get a really good crop of them that will allow me to preserve fruit for the winter pantry. Maybe…but it’s not looking too promising. In fact, plums are really tough and usually do well, even when other fruit trees have challenges. One of our Italian plum trees isn’t showing any signs of life at this point, although I’m not giving up on it yet. The apricot looked the same way a few days ago and now there are just a small few leaves coming out on the apricot, so maybe there is still hope that these trees will have survived and will re-group. I hope so. I so love my fruit trees!

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One very big surprise I discovered this evening is that the hardy kiwi vine has come through this difficult winter, although the tops seem to have died back, there are tiny bright green shoots showing up at the root crown. I’m thrilled about this, as I didn’t think it would have made it through our minus teens temps on several occasions this past winter. So, this being the case, we have 5 of these plants that we will be selling in the Farm Stand this spring and I can now testify with confidence that they will survive our Colorado winters. The next test question is whether or not we will have what it takes for them to bear fruit here. They are supposed to fruit here, but one never knows until you see it with your own eyes.

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We also donated these tomatoes to our local elementary schools for the young ones to do their experiment to see how plants will react to too much water, not enough water, and just the right amount of water. Tomatoes are very reactive to watering changes, so I have no doubt that the kids will see immediately the results of their watering practices with these plants.

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Chris and our friend James went last weekend to Tooley’s Trees to pick up our bare root heirloom fruit trees. On Sunday, Chris and Shrek potted those trees up and now we will hold them for 1 year to give them time to root in well before we offer them for sale to our Farm Stand customers. It is also true, that in order to label these trees with an organic tag, our organic certification license requires us to hold them on the farm for 1 year before labeling them as organic. So this batch of trees will be for sale in spring 2016.

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Last year we did the same thing with a batch of bare root heirloom fruit trees so that we could have some to sell this spring at our Farm Stand during Open Farm Days. They look great and you can see them here. There are apples, plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots…all heirloom varieties. These have been grown here at Desert Canyon Farm for the past year organically, so they now qualify for organic labeling.

The other thing you can see in this photo is a portion of our Farm Stand expansion area. We are offering more plant varieties this year for sale, and we can’t fit everything inside our current Farm Stand space anymore, so Chris made us an outside area to put out some of the fruit bushes and trees, the hardy succulents, strawberries, and lots of other great plants that won’t fit indoors.

This is all part of our plans to expand into more retail sales, and this year is the first year to implement that plan. Help us out, if you will, by coming in mass to our Open Farm Days and shopping in our Farm Stand plant sale. We’re going to need your help to make this transition successful. If it works, you can plan that each year we will be offering even more fantastic plants and different types of plants as your specialty certified organic farm nursery. If you read the page of this blog about our Open Farm Days you can find out a lot more information on what we will have and our open days and hours, etc. You can also go to the pages of this blog for “Herb Plant Information” and “Heritage Heirloom Food Plant Information” where you will find lists of the plants we are growing, and which we hope to have available for sale this spring.

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Lastly, the fairy community has returned to the farm’s Fairy Garden. I noticed that their homes and all their belongings were back in the garden this evening when I was doing my end of day farm chores to close up greenhouses and reset the thermometers for the night-time low temps. It is our belief that the fairies go to Mexico for the winter cold months, because in late fall all their homes and personal items disappear from the garden in preparation for the winter cold. There just can’t be any other explanation! Anyway, when the weather warms up and the flowers start blooming, the fairy community returns to the garden. I know our little neighbor girl, Arianna, will be pleased to see that they are back the next time she visits the farm to play with Shrek. She can often be found exploring the fairy garden. It is quite a magical place!

With that thought, I’ll leave you to your night’s rest. It’s only two short weeks until we open the farm to the public for Open Farms Days. There is so much work to do in preparation that it makes my head swim, but somehow we always seem to get enough done to feel good about welcoming visitors to our homeplace. If you live near enough to visit on one of our Open Farm Days dates, we will hope to see you here!

This week the garden has come alive with the flowers of blooming bulbs like this sweet little one that is in the Fairy Garden. There are many different blooms from dwarf iris to daffodils and lots of others. Very cheerful!

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All the seeds for new field seed crops are finally planted. Ideally, I would have gotten them planted in winter near the holidays, or even in late fall, but life gets in the way sometimes and things must happen at their own pace. In any case, the seeds are planted now and very soon the little plugs will be ready for Chris to transplant into the flower seed crop production field. There are other plants ready for him to plant that we held over from last summer and these will be planted in the field very soon, as they are all ready.

Any flat with an orange tag is a field crop flat.

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So, with all that in mind, Chris has been hard at work getting the field ready for those new plantings. Old crops that are no longer needed for production are being removed, like this planting of Penstemon pinifolius ‘Mersea Yellow’. The weed barrier must be removed, the plants dug out, manure will be added to this part of the field to nourish the soil before the next perennial seed crop is planted in April or May. It’s a lot of very hard work! Of course, you can see from Chris’ expression that he is taking it in good humor, and Shrek has been keeping him company through every step of the process. He thinks that is his job, and he’s right.

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Some of the plants that Chris has removed from the seed field have been recycled into our gardens around our house like this sporabilis grass. This is a tall beautiful grass that will be a nice complement to our new house stucco repair, plus the birds will enjoy the seed heads in late summer.

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My life right now is all about greenhouse work and getting the Farm Stand ready to open for our Open Farm Days coming at the end of April. The ladies who work with me in the greenhouse, Lizz, Carol, Elisa and Morgan, have all been equally busy. Our days are very full and we end them feeling exhausted, but knowing that we have gotten a lot of good work accomplished.

So, with that, I’ll say goodnight until next week when I’ll be back with more news.

 

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