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Here at Desert Canyon Farm, like everywhere, we have been discussing the Cornonavirus and if that will change our plans to be open this spring for Open Farm Days & our Farm Stand Plant Sale. Chris and I, and the farm crew, feel strongly that we should and will remain open for retail business this spring and early summer.

We plan to have our doors open for business on April 11th thru June 14th, every day of the week, except closed on Fridays, from 9am to 4pm.

The Farm Stand store will be fully stocked with more than 500 different varieties of herbs and over 300 varieties of vegetable and fruit plants and trees, plus a few kinds of grains to grow like quinoa and an heirloom wheat variety. We will have loads of native and wildlife-habitat plants to support pollinators and beneficial insects, wild birds and other wild critters. There will be edible flowers for your meals and unusual perennials, plus a few plants that just make you smile, like hanging baskets (including nasturtium baskets which you can eat!)

We feel that what we offer to the public is an essential service as gardening, especially food and herb gardening, is not only a critically important thing to do, it brings pleasure into our lives as well. Growing your own food and herbs for cooking and health and well-being is part of the process of living a full and complete and secure life, especially in times of uncertainty about supplies of food and health-supportive products.

There will be large size milk carton tomatoes for sale, along with over 68 different varieties of smaller sized tomato pots for sale.

Our famous Red Robin Cherry Tomatoes of course!

We also plan to keep our free workshops schedule in place, although we will be strictly following our years-old policy that workshops are held outdoors (rain, sun or cold) under our open workshop tent. If the weather is absolutely terrible, we will cancel the workshop. Otherwise, we will be sitting in a circle, rather than chairs lined up in rows, to facilitate more space between those who attend.

We will be insisting on good social distancing practices inside the Farm Stand, we will have extra hand-washing stations in place, and wiping down surfaces often to keep them clean. If you pay by credit or debit card, we will ask you to swipe your card and then we will ask your permission to sign with an “X” with you on the signature line on our ipad.

Of course, if you are feeling ill or symptomatic, thank you so much for staying home and thinking of the well being of others and yourself first!!

We are also putting in place a second option for shoppers to order their plants by email and pick them up by appointment in our farm driveway – curbside pick-up. This will allow those who would prefer not to come inside the Farm Stand store and nursery to still purchase the plants they need for their gardens – we will  just be the ones to collect your order from the Farm Stand benches on your behalf and have them ready for you to pick up during your designated time slot.  As I get all of the logistics of this in place, I will update you on how exactly it will work and how you should go about placing your order if you choose this option. This shopping  option will further keep the Farm Stand open for business, even in the event that the government should insist that we not allow customers inside our Farm Stand store and nursery at some point.

One last bit of news is that we will no longer be accepting checks for payment from retail customers. Please plan to pay for your plants with cash, credit or debit cards only. Checks are not longer accepted for retail business.

The Farm Ambassadors are planning on seeing you this spring, so start planning for your visit during Open Farm Days to our Farm Stand store and nursery OR feel free to choose placing your order by email (details upcoming soon) and doing curbside pick-up in our farm driveway. The choice is yours!

Coral Nymph Salvia is great for attracting massive amounts of hummingbirds!

With Green Thoughts, Tammi & Chris and the Farm Crew

Dear Governor Polis and Commissioner Greenburg: GreenCO is an alliance of seven Colorado trade associations representing all facets of the horticulture and landscape industries. As Colorado grapples with COVID-19, we applaud the efforts of Governor Polis and the Colorado Department of Agriculture to minimize the spread of the virus throughout our state, and assist businesses through the SBA loan assistance program.
The discussion of maintaining public health has included the potential of asking “non-essential” businesses to close their doors temporarily to avoid further exposure to the virus. While we support sensible steps put forth by health officials to combat COVID-19, we ask government officials to see landscape companies, nurseries, greenhouses and garden centers as absolutely essential businesses within their communities.
There are significant and tangible health and safety benefits our industries provide Coloradans. Outdoor activities are one of our core values, and our businesses offer the opportunity for a safe haven in an outdoor space while practicing safe social distancing. Likewise, the professionals who take care of outdoor spaces are able work while maintaining a safe social distance from the general public.
Landscape professionals protect property and maintain greenspaces that could otherwise jeopardize public safety, including frequent snow removal. Landscape professionals also protect public health by performing essential treatments to lawns and green spaces to reduce the transmission of dangerous and deadly diseases through pests like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Spring is a critical time of year due to the abundance of growth to maintain and care for the health of trees and landscapes. With heavy spring storms, tree removal is also necessary to protect homes, streets and businesses. Any halt or delay in landscape services during this time of year only magnifies potential safety problems and become much more difficult to maintain later in the year.
The spaces we create and maintain and the products we provide offer individuals a way to avoid heavily populated public areas and shelter in place by working at home on outdoor projects. Such activity promotes both physical and mental health, the importance of which cannot be underestimated during this difficult time. Additionally, our members provide what is necessary to allow people to grow their own herbs, fruits and vegetables, giving families access to healthy food options and helping them to relieve mental and financial stresses. More and more people concerned about food security will want to begin summer gardens soon. This could significantly help off-set the produce shortages we are seeing at local food markets if the pandemic should last into the summer months.
Many of the products carried by garden retailers are agricultural, like seeds and edible plants. Others are necessary tools and supplies. Together they are essential to maintaining a healthy living environment. In many communities, the garden retailer may be the only outlet where consumers have access to essential supplies for growing, gardening, maintaining or repairing their residences. It is also important to note that many garden retailers have been cornerstones in their communities for decades, providing essential supplies in past emergency situations, such as floods and fires.
Nursery, greenhouses, garden centers, and landscape professionals are entering a decisive moment as spring arrives. Any interruptions now will have long-lasting and dire consequences for the entire year and perhaps beyond that. Plants are highly perishable and must be cared for daily. If the stock is not cared for now, there will be a plant shortage for this year’s growing season.
Colorado’s green industry contributes approximately $2.5 billion to the state’s economy and employs over 40,000 workers.
Our organizations are going above and beyond the CDC’s guidelines for safety, and our staff know to STAY HOME if they are sick. We want to keep paychecks in people’s hands, happiness in our customer’s hearts and food on everyone’s table. Many of our businesses have already adopted curbside pickup and online ordering. Most offer wide-open spaces where there is more than sufficient space for social distancing.
Because of these considerations, we urge you to consider our businesses among those operations determined to be “essential” that can exercise the option to remain open in a manner that is protective of public health, to support their communities and continue to maintain healthy landscapes that provide critical mental and physical health benefits during these trying times.
Sincerely,
GreenCO
Representing:
Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado
Colorado Arborists and Land Care Professionals
Colorado Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association
Garden Centers of Colorado
International Society of Arboriculture. Rocky Mountain Chapter
Rocky Mountain Sod Growers Association

 

Last weekend we kicked off the spring garden season officially with our booth at the Spencer’s Garden Show in Colorado Springs, CO. Despite snowy-rainy and cold weather, people came out to enjoy a day getting ideas for their gardens, attending workshops and shopping for plants and seeds.

Even though that was the first event of the spring where the public joined us, we have been busy for months in the greenhouses preparing for the garden season! This group of women are part of our fantastic farm crew that has been busy planting and getting things all set up for our Open Farm Days and our Farm Stand Plant Sale, which opens on April 11th thru June 14th. Check out the “Open Farm Days” and “Events & Classes” pages of this website for all the specific details.

Times are a bit unusual right now with all the Coronavirus happenings. Lots of uncertainty about how each day will be for each and every one of us. Some people are working from home, many children are out of school for extended periods of time beyond the normal week of spring break, many businesses are not open in the usual way, and grocery and other stores have more empty product shelves than they have full shelves.

We are all thinking about this a lot. Chris and I have been having many conversations about how this virus event is making it all the more important that we have more ways to take good care of ourselves. Growing our own food and herbs for meals, health and well-being is one of the things we can have control over in a time when it feels like there are a lot of unknowns. Being outside in nature, whether that be taking a walk with our dog or enjoying my work in our gardens brings a lot of pleasure, but is also very empowering. It is good exercise for the body, but also for the mind and spirit. That is very important when something as serious as the Coronavirus is turning life upside down for most of us.

I went to the grocery market last Saturday  and was completely shocked by not only how empty the shelves were, but also how much panic people were feeling and acting on. Hoarding food and personal care products – stockpiling items that support good health. Well, I was there to pick up milk and eggs, which was really all I needed, and both are things I am not able to provide for myself from my garden. Looking around me at the empty shelves and distraught people affirmed how important it is to be able to grow much of my own food in my yard and to have herbs in my garden that I can use for tea, cooking, personal care, and medicinal use. Thankfully, much of what Chris and I eat and need herbally, I do harvest from my gardens during the growing season. In addition, I grow many herb and food plants indoors during the cold months of the year. I freeze and dehydrate part of my herbs and garden food harvest, that we do not eat up fresh in the moment, when it is plentiful in the gardens (some people do canning too), I prepare herbs for personal care like skin creams and other herbs for our health and well-being like tinctures, salves and health-supportive teas. I have plenty of tasty treats from the herbs in my garden like herbal honey, beverage teas, herbs I can use in my cooking and for making delicious desserts. After-all, this is part of the joy of life! My pantry is pretty full, even now after we have been eating garden foods from it all through the winter months. There will still be plenty for us to use until the harvest begins to happen in my food garden this spring, summer and fall. Even now, I am  growing salad lettuces, nante carrots, green onions, lots of different herbs, even strawberries, in containers indoors that I’m harvesting from fresh right now to eat.

This is a very special part of my life, growing my own herbs and food, plus flowers and plants for the birds, bees and butterflies. That said, I’m not doing anything that requires special knowledge. Anyone, of any age, living in any place just about, can grow plants, especially herbs and food plants (vegetables and fruits). I would encourage you to give it some thought. If you aren’t already growing your own food and herbs, and other plants you like too, consider doing it now – start this spring. I know you’ll find joy in it and you’ll be thrilled by the security it also gives you to have food and herbs in your pantry whenever  you need or want to use them.

So, with that in mind, the crew has been sowing a lot of different kinds of seeds, so that we will have loads of variety in plants in our Farm Stand store this spring. Above, Kaila is sowing Calendula seed. Calendula flowers are edible, they can be used like food coloring for birthday cake frostings, soup broths and the like to make them golden in color, and they are really good for skin health.

I planted these large containers of peas, both snap peas and snow peas, which I plant each year for the Farm Stand store. In this way, people who enjoy eating fresh peas have a crop in a pot ready to start picking and using throughout the spring season.

We have more than 68 different kinds of tomatoes, which means you can grow and eat delicious tomatoes right from your garden. There are cherry varieties like sungolds, red robins and black cherries to name only a few. We have paste tomatoes such as roma and san marzano, perfect for making sauces and salsas, which can be canned for winter use. One of my absolute favorites is German Heirloom Pink Tomato, a very large and reliable slicing tomato, which I love on a sandwich like a BLTA(bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado). Honestly, if you like tomatoes, we have varieties that will make you jump for joy!!

Of course, our famous salad boxes will be here and so many to choose from. There are White Rabbit Gourmet Greens, Peter Rabbit Salad Lettuces, Cottontail Rabbit Butterhead Lettuce, Speckled Trout Romaine, plus Little Rabbit Spinach and more.

One must grow parsley for salads, or on top of baked potatoes, plus to support a healthy urinary tract and as an antidote to garlic breath after you use the garlic you grow to make the most yummy garlic bread ever!

We are known for offering hundreds of different kinds of herb varieties, truly, including comfrey (used for the muscular and skeletal systems of the body), echinacea, 38 different kinds of basils, well over a dozen kinds of mints, tea herbs galore…wow!

We will have Nettles for making nettles lasagna or using as a whole body tonic herb, including supporting the respiratory system and to relieve discomforts from allergy season.

I honestly don’t know how people can get by without growing their own ginger root for cooking, making ginger lemonade tea, helping relieve digestive discomforts and settling an upset stomach.

If you like hibiscus tea, you will be pleased to know that this year we have tea hibiscus plants, which not only make a very delicious and pleasing tea, the tea is a beautiful red color.

So, whether you want to make sure you have a good supply of salad makings by growing your own cabbages, kale, Asian greens like pac choi and tatsoi, or you want to grow beets and swiss chard, there will be several varieties of each of these kinds of vegetables that you could consider planting in your food garden this year.

Don’t forget about fruit too. Nothing is better than growing fruit trees and bushes, whether it is an heirloom variety of apples, peaches or apricots or shrub cherries, currants, dwarf ever-bearing mulberries and strawberries, you can plant these things in your yard or grow them in a container to provide you and your family with fresh fruit to eat.

Remember, that life is boring without basil! Extra basil can easily be made into pesto and put in the freezer for use all winter on pasta or to top a baked potato.

We grow and offer herbs that can be used in cooking and for medicinal use like this Lovage, which tastes like very strong celery and can be used as a celery substitute in your recipes or can be made into tea or tincture to support a healthy respiratory system. One plant – two uses.

Despite this scary time we are all facing right now with the Coronavirus, and the impacts it is having on our daily lives, Chris and I are remembering how many good things this spring brings too. The joy in the company of each other, our family and friends. Being able to enjoy being out in nature, whether that is taking a walk or enjoying the advantage of fresh air and sunshine with a glass of tea on our back porch. The gardens make us smile each and every time we walk past them or through them, and knowing that soon we will be eating fresh food from them is one of the best things ever.

Today, just before I started writing this post, I was very happy to see bulbs blooming in the garden. The little birds were as thrilled with the warm afternoon weather as I was, and they were taking advantage of the warmth to splash around and bathe themselves in my birdbaths.

The Mahonia in the garden started blooming these past couple of days too. The root of this plant is used medicinally as an antimicrobial herb and for digestive health. The clusters of bright yellow flowers will end up making dark purple-blue berries in late summer and fall which can be used to make jelly.

Even as we are planting all day, every day, in the greenhouses, we are also beginning to set up the Farm Stand store. We’re getting all the plants we grow in place on the benches, cleaned and labeled and their signs hung up so that in a few short weeks when we open on April 11th, everything will be in place and ready for our farm visitors.

Of course, the Farm’s Ambassadors are getting spruced up and ready to greet people when they come to the farm and visit the Farm Stand.

Take it from Shrek, the farm dog, you need to think about planting and growing gardens, especially food and herb gardens! Whether your gardens grow in the ground or in containers, they will be useful and beautiful. Maybe plant some flowers, wildlife habitat plants, native plants and fragrance plants to mix in with your food and herb plants too.

It’s all good medicine for the mind, body and spirit in every sense of the word!

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

Lizz and I began the process of moving plants into the Farm Stand and Nursery for Open Farm Days. It feels a bit overwhelming to figure out where every thing should go, getting plants all cleaned up and labeled after the winter sleep, but we are off to a great start.

This entire bench is different varieties of thyme and sage. Kaila and Susan will be labeling and cleaning them tomorrow. All of us will be getting this week’s wholesale orders ready for delivery, which includes a very nice large order going to Spencer’s Garden Center in Fountain Colorado for our booth during their Garden Show event next Friday-Sunday. If you look at the “Classes & Events” page of this blog, you’ll find the topics of the classes I will be giving there on Friday and Sunday.

In addition, on Saturday, I’ll be speaking at the Western Landscape Symposium of propagation methods. The details for this event are also on the “Classes & Events” page. Hope to see you at both places.

I wanted to give you a sneak peek at the Barbados Cherry shrub and what the little fruits look like. These are the same size as a traditional cherry, but they are not a true cherry. We are seeing a few fruits starting to ripen now and I’ve eaten two of them. They are really tasty!

Barbados Cherry is a tropical plant that will be appropriate for indoor growing during cold months of the year and out on the patio during warm months of the year – or just grow it indoors all year long. It has sweet pink flowers and is self fertile, which means it will produce fruit indoors. Another great addition to your indoor food gardening efforts!

We will have Barbados Cherry for sale in the Farm Stand store during Open Farm Days this spring. Open Farm Days begin on April 11th-June 14th and we will be open every day except closed on Fridays. Our hours will be 9am -4pm.

We will also have these gorgeous coleus plants in large 8″ pots. They are beautiful for indoor growing or in a shady place outdoors during the warm months of the year. They bloom with lavender flower stalks that are so pretty!

Chris is doing a pretty good job of getting me out for evening walks a couple times a week with he and Shrek. These walks are great for my body, mind and spirit, but sometimes I need some convincing when my list of tasks in spring is very long and feels pretty endless.

Last fall, we began a relationship with the Lincoln School of Science & Technology Elementary. The kids visited the farm for a day of exploring and learning. Every month we send a message to the school about the happenings on the farm for that specific month. Last fall, we delivered enough peaches to the school for all the children and staff to enjoy a freshly picked peach from our trees here on the farm. This week, we delivered carrot boxes to each classroom for them to finish growing to the point that the carrots will be ready to harvest.

During my visit to bring the carrot boxes to each classroom, I took a few minutes to explain what they needed to do to care for their carrot box.

We also talked about how to harvest the carrots when they are big enough to eat. When the kids harvest their carrot box in a few weeks, they will all enjoy a delicious sweet carrot snack. We are delighted to see the magic that carrots can inspire in these young faces. It just makes you feel wonderful, and best of all, we are teaching, encouraging and hoping that these kids will grow their own carrots from seeds now while they are young and going forward for their whole lives.

We love working with the school children to help them discover more about growing food, the world of nature and  the environment, and how they can be proactive in all of these things to take care of themselves and the Earth.

We have relationships with several schools in our county, hoping every year to have even more schools partner with us to teach kids about these things and have them experience first hand what a working organic farm is all about.

Thanks to the Rim of Heaven organization that belongs to Cornelia Funke (world-renowned children’s author and dear friend) and her great side-kick Angie (also a wonderful friend), for making it easy for us to provide such things as freshly picked peaches, carrot boxes, educational booklets, plants, and other gifts to school kids like the amazing community at the Lincoln School of Science and Technology.

Susan joined Kail, Lizz, Chris and myself back to work for the spring season. They have planted and planted and planted loads of seeds and a few thousand baby plants this week. We are so happy to have such a great greenhouse crew helping us with all the farm work.

In the unheated Hygge Greenhouse plants that have been sleeping all winter in a semi-dormant stage, are waking up as the spring season quickly approaches. These dwarf iris are past waking up and are already at the business of blooming. The are so precious!

We had supper with friends recently and I made the green salad for the meal. I went poking around in the greenhouses to see what I could come up with to add to our homegrown butterhead lettuce. I came up with green onion tops, cilantro, miniature roses, violets, magenta spreen (which is a type of lamb’s quarters), lemon balm and sweet basil. We all enjoy the colors and flavors of the salad. The real treat was the fresh curry stir fry that Jan created!

It has been brutal cold and snowing every few days, which of course we are grateful for the moisture that comes with that snow, but in truth, I think we are all feeling a bit ready for warmer temperatures.

We heat our house with a wood-stove and it has been going nearly all day, every day, rather than just at night as would be usual. Willow and Shrek have made it a regular practice of soaking in the warmth from the fire whenever they can.

And while we are all indoors enjoying the wood-stove warmth, this small hawk lives with us on the farm. We are honored to have it’s presence here.

Hoping you are staying warm and cozy wherever you are and looking forward to the warmth of spring, while still appreciating the gifts of winter.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

The first week of February was very busy and so much got accomplished!

A week ago today, Kaila came back to work for the growing season. We are thrilled to have her back working with us in the greenhouses this spring and in the flower field this summer. Kaila makes everyone around her smile!

Lizz planted all her beautiful flower baskets and planters. Everyone loves these flower beauties in the Farm Stand store and her color combinations this spring will make you happy too when you see them later in spring.

I spent my entire weekend putting up a new shade ceiling in the Basil House while Chris visited our family in Nebraska. This was almost more of a task than I bargained for, but I got it done and Shrek kept me company to give me encouragement.

I managed to get it 90% up and finished by the end of the work day and finished tying it in place the next day. So glad to have it and so glad to have that task finished!

The first crop of baby cabbages, swiss chard, beets and Asian greens are coming up nicely. These will be for wholesale the first part of March.

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This past week we had 2 snow events and we ended up getting an inch of great moisture out of the snow melt. We so needed that moisture so much!

Unfortunately, the snow also pulled one of the panels out of place on the Hygge Greenhouse, which meant a whole lot of frigid air was coming in on the plants in this greenhouse. It took Chris a while, but he was able to fix the damage. Thank goodness! And, I’m so glad this happened last weekend when Chris was back home from Nebraska instead of happening while he was out of town.

So, this is damage event #5 to this greenhouse’s roof. We have 9 greenhouses here and this is the newest greenhouse, and it was the most expensive to build, and it has been the most problematic. This is the fifth time that the roof came apart due to snow or wind and this is supposed to be the house that is the strongest and most weather resistant. Clearly, the marketing by this manufacturer was a lot better than the quality of the greenhouse we bought from them. In 24 years we have never had so much trouble with any of the other greenhouses. We are now keeping our fingers crossed that we have no more problems with this greenhouse. Keep your fingers crossed too and maybe between all of us, our luck will hold.

As I peeked around the corner into Chris’ office the other night, this is what I saw… a man with his guitar, playing gypsy jazz. That face is one of pure relaxation and it makes me smile whenever I see this picture.

I’ll close leaving you to imagine Lizz and Kaila sowing our main pepper crop today. They’re planting around 75 flats of plug trays (each one holds 128 seeds) just of peppers! All different kinds of peppers. If you come to the Farm Stand store this spring, you will find close to 50 different varieties of sweet peppers, fry peppers, hot chilies, miniature peppers, purple and orange peppers, funny shaped peppers- all sorts of peppers. There is even one called the Mad Hatter Pepper!

I’m stuck in the office a lot this week. Our organic renewal application, which we must submit each year, is due by the 19th and we are nearly finished completing that. I finished the tax prep and handed it off to Carol, our wonderful CPA and her team. Now I have the label database to update and what seems like zillions of plant signs to create and laminate for the Farm Stand store of new varieties we will be growing and selling this spring. I have quite a few speaking presentations happening, so a lot of preparation work to do for those and Cornelia and I continue our work on the children’s plant book project. We are also working on two major garden projects – one is a healing garden and the other is a storey garden.

Chris spent the day making trips to the cardboard recycle station with flattened boxes from planting pots and repairing things needing fixing. We are getting ready to put on a new plastic roof on the Goldfish Greenhouse very soon, as we are nearly ready to start filling up that greenhouse with plants.

Life is full, but in a good way. Hope it is the same for you and yours.

Good Morning,

I want to share with you a great upcoming event on March 14, 2020. I will be speaking, along with many great speakers, at the Western Landscape Symposium in Pueblo, CO.  Here is the link to their facebook page…check it out!

Western Landscape Symposium – Home

My topic will be:

Plant Propagation – It’s Easier Than You Might Think!

This is a one day event filled with all things wonderful related to plants.

 

Also happening that same weekend, starting on Friday and going through Sunday, will be the Spencers Garden Show in Fountain, CO.  We will be there for the whole event with a booth filled with wonderful plants. I will be speaking on Friday and Sunday, but the times are not yet put in place.  Here is the link to their facebook page …check it out too!

Spencer’s Lawn & Garden Center Fountain – Home

My topics will be:

Growing Herbs in a Low-Water Xeric Garden  Friday at 11:30am

Managing Deer in your Landscape with Organic & Peaceful Methods  Sunday at 12:30pm

** You must sign up for these two seminars, which you can do by calling the Spencers Fountain store at 719-392-2726 or go to their website and sign up online.

This is a three day event that will get you jazzed for the gardening seasons and filled with lots of great ideas.

More later. Time for me to get to work!

With Green Thoughts, Tammi