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




Shrek and Chris began the field work this week in the perennial flower seed crop production field. It is a production field, but I like to call it the production garden because the flower seed crops are so beautiful when they are all blooming it looks like a giant garden!

Anyway, there are several crops that are being removed because Jelitto, the seed company we contract grow these plants for, doesn’t need any more seed from those varieties for a while. We have loads of new seed crops waiting in the greenhouse to be field planted starting in early April once the field prep work is finished.

These massive roots Chris is digging are Callirhoe involucrata tenuissima. They must be removed before we plant the new crop of traditional Callirhoe involucrata (commonly called Poppy Wine Cups). This is important so that cross-pollination doesn’t occur between the two varieties.

The women planted the bare root heirloom stone varieties of fruit trees this week. Stone fruits are fruits like peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums and so on that have a pit in the center which houses the actual seed. These trees will be grown on our farm now for a full year before we sell them next spring in our Farm Stand store. The heirloom fruit trees that we planted last spring will be available in the Farm Stand store this spring. Lizz and I started organizing them in the nursery on Wednesday and there are a lot of them!

The trees above will be our 2019 spring heirloom fruit trees to sell.

I spent half of my day today transplanting the first tiny tomato crop into 2.5″ pots. These will be the first tomato plants ready when our Farm Stand store opens on April 14th and also for our wholesale customers who are eager to start getting a few varieties of tomatoes in stock. The main tomato crop will be sown next week so that it will be ready at the end of April and first part of May. Tomatoes grow fast, so we don’t have to give them as much lead time as we do for herbs, perennials and many of the other varieties we grow.

I got half of them planted today and tomorrow after I finish watering the greenhouses (which takes half a day now to complete EVERY SINGLE DAY – thank goodness for good music and a set of headphones!), I’ll finish planting the rest of this tomato crop.

Chris and I eat fruit, yogurt, nuts and of course a sprinkling of bitter chocolate chips nearly every morning for breakfast. If I run out of fresh fruit we use the frozen fruit I picked in the garden last summer. We’ve nearly used up all our frozen fruit supply, but there are still a few bags left in the freezer. Today, we had frozen sunberries and raspberries from the garden last year. Sunberries are incredible! They are tiny and blue and taste a lot like blueberries when used in cobblers, pies or in yogurt breakfasts! Raspberries continue to be my most favorite fruit in the whole world and so I can never have too many raspberries!

You should grow some sunberries in your garden or in a container pot this summer. They produce a big harvest and I know you will love them!!

Now that we are working 12-15 hour farm days, it is all the more important that we start each day out by stretching and getting limbered up for all the physical work that is required each day. As you can see…Shrek takes this very seriously and never misses a stretching session!

Talk to you next week!!




What a crazy week we are having this week! Plenty going on, to say the least.

Meet Lesley. Lesley will be working as part of our greenhouse spring crew and we are delighted to have her company and her help. Lesley is an herbalist, master gardener and has done a lot of different plant related work, so we are pleased to have her working with us this spring. On Monday, she and Beki were planting up little trees and shrubs. They planted Manchurian apricots, mulberries, two different kinds of oaks and several other varieties.

We have more than filled up our greenhouses now, like the woodstove house above, which is filled to the brim with cool season veggies waiting to go out on wholesale orders.

Our strawberry crop, which is growing quickly now. It has been in this house since early February, rooting in and now growing tops under frost blanket and with no supplemental heat. We uncovered everything a week ago and now that they are getting more sunshine, they are realizing that it is springtime and time to get busy and grow lots of leaves, flowers and berries. These will be for sale in our Farm Stand store this spring.

The hops are starting to sprout from the roots now too. We will have seed-grown traditional hops and 5 varieties of brewers hops for sale this spring. Now that they have sprouted they will be on a mission to grow fast. That’s fine with us!

We had friends stop in to cut some extra tall basil for cooking. This is Marc in the hat and his intern, Andrew, with his wife Maria. We really enjoyed their visit on Saturday.

Another project was our retail Farm Stand store expansion of the nursery yard. We have too many plants growing, that will be available in our Farm Stand store this spring, and they won’t all fit in the existing space, so we’ve enlarged the outside area.

Shrek and Chris are working on this all week, so that next week we can start placing plants on benches, getting them cleaned and labeled and ready for our April 14th Opening Day.

This is the new area. Yesterday we placed the pallet benches on cinderblocks and started putting the lattice up that holds our plant information signs. Pretty exciting for us.

Tomorrow, we deliver wholesale orders, including a large order of plants going up to Spencer’s Lawn and Garden Center in Fountain, CO for their Garden Show event this weekend. It starts on Friday morning and runs thru Sunday afternoon. If you visit the “Classes & Events” page of this blog, you will find the details of my workshops that I will be giving on Friday and Saturday. Workshops are free to Garden Show visitors and the show itself is beautiful, inspiring and fun! Hope we’ll see you there.



It has been so cold this week during the days! We did get some snow early in the week that gave us 4/10″ of moisture, which was a grand gift, however, when the days are lingering in the teens and twenties, it does make our work here challenging. Lizz and Beki were transplanting herbs and perennials and the newly transplanted flats needed to go in a different greenhouse, which means a journey outdoors to get there. The gals had to drape each cart-load with frost blanket in order to move it outdoors and not have the plants get frozen. Extra work! They were wonderful about taking good care of the plants and every flat made it to its next bench home safely. They also transplanted the first crop of pepper plugs into flats and planted the next round of seeds. These women are amazing and every day I’m in gratitude that I work with such amazing women each day!!

I spent most of my time this week moving plants around to free up space for the newly planted flats on the benches. It is always a game of musical flats in the spring as we try to keep finding more room so that everything gets planted on schedule. It will be the same every week now through the spring season. There are loads of seedling plugs waiting their turn to be moved up into bigger pots.

I’m also working every day in preparation for our Open Farm Days. This week I was able to arrange all our advertising and continue my work on making and printing up plant signs for each variety we will have for sale in the Farm Stand store. M’lissa did a great deal of the work on these signs, but now I’m going through all the ones she created and doing a final edit. Once they are all printed, it will be time for a big laminating party event. Sometimes, my parents take on this tasks, which is very helpful, especially as my time is needed more and more in the greenhouses.

Last weekend it was my turn to do the seeding project. I had 166 salad boxes to plant of various types of lettuce and greens, but also carrots, onions and leeks. I had 26 plug flats of Gaillardia seeds to sow for a new seed crop we will be growing for Jelitto and so those also got sown. Today, I noticed that they are already beginning to germinate less than a week later. Cool Beans!


I’ll leave you with this taste of the upcoming spring Open Farm Days season. It’s going to be here before we know it and I can’t wait!!

I’d like to introduce you to our two new members of the farm family, Hansel and Gretel.

They arrived a week ago and have settled into life here without much effort. They are friendly and beautiful, so I am enjoying them. Today I decided they looked like a Hansel and Gretel to me, so that is what I’m going to call them. Maybe they’ll have a family at some point.

This week has been another full week in the greenhouses. Lizz and Beki planted over 35,000 cells of seeds in plug flats! They sowed the main pepper crop, loads of herbs and perennials. Sowing that many seeds over two days time is not for the weak of heart, and they kept smiling even though I know they were probably ready to have screaming mimi attacks. We will have a lot more seeds to plant between now and the first part of May. Nearly every week there will be a seeding project, and some will be as big as this week’s seeding project. This task required Chocolate!!!

In addition, they had a big batch of plugs ready to be transplanted into 2.5″ pots in flats of 32 count. I think they planted about 200 flats on Thursday.

As if that weren’t enough, they also planted up about 250 (2 gallon) pots of bare root small fruits….grapes – both table and wine varieties, raspberries, loganberries, kiwis, hardy figs, and more brewing hops varieties!

And…today we had our greenhouse inspection, which we have each spring, with the Colorado Dept. of Agriculture. Beki and Lizz and I spent part of the week making sure everything was in order for that inspection.

Chris introduced beneficial mites to all the newly planted pots and flats. He does this each week for all the newly planted inventory as part of our IPM (Integrated Pest Management) program. The predator insects make sure that no pest insects are around and if they do find any pest insects, they quickly eat them.

So it was quite a busy work week for all of us around here!

Chris, Shrek and I did get in a few evening walks. Those are so much fun and so necessary for mental sanity especially in the busy season.

Pal and Willow put in a lot of effort, as you can see, into sunbathing in the morning hours.

Sadie is the queen cat here, as she is the elder of the three. She gets the best sunbathing spot on the kitty pole right in front of the south-facing window.

This is our crop of Tanager Gazanias (also called African Daisy). These plants are to be planted in the flower seed crop production field this spring. They surprised us by starting to bloom in January! and they will keep going like this until fall.

Because they are growing right now in a greenhouse, they really do not have any pollinators working the flowers, so Beki hand pollinates each flower every day with a small paint brush. When the seed is mature, we’ll start picking it. Once they are planted outdoors in the flower field, we won’t have to hand-pollinate them any longer as bees and other pollinators will take over that task with pleasure. They sure are pretty and a reminder that spring is well on its way.

This weekend I’ll be planting salad boxes of gourmet greens, lettuces and spinach, plus carrots, leeks and onions for the Farm Stand store. I also have a seeding list of my own to accomplish this weekend, plus farm stand plant signs to work on. It will require good music and plenty of hot chai tea!

With Green Thoughts, Tammi


Sunday I returned from a working trip to Kansas City, MO to speak at the 2018 Kansas City Garden Symposium. It was an excellent event and I so enjoyed the three other speakers. So much wonderful information to think about!

I was hosted by two wonderful ladies, Ann and Sue, who took such good care of me while I was there. Chuck and Brian, who coordinated the symposium, are truly amazing and all the efforts of them and the huge group of volunteers showed in the perfect details and how everything fell into place beautifully.

People were enjoying my books, which really makes happy. I signed a lot of copies.

It was my birthday while I was there, so no birthday celebrations, but it hardly mattered. We were busy the whole time I was there.

Now I’m back home at our farm and I got a loving greeting from Chris, Shrek, Sadie, Pal and Willow! The work week took off in a flurry and  we are swamped busy. It’s all good though.  Last night, Chris treated me to delicious Mexican food for my birthday, so I had my celebration after all!

I’ll be back in touch again soon. Cheers!

Frost-Covered Greetings,

I have some very cool photos to show you in a minute, but first let me quickly remind you that next weekend I’ll be speaking in Kansas City, Missouri at the 2018 Kansas City Garden Symposium. You can find more details on the “Classes & Events” page of this blog. Perhaps you’ll have an open weekend and you can attend. It should be great fun for all.

Last year in March we had a terrible wind storm with 80+ mile per hour winds and it wrecked havoc here on our farm. It tore the roofs off several greenhouses, including the Uffta House below. All the other roofs had to be immediately repaired because we had tender plants in those houses, but the Uffta House only had some hardy shrubs in it, so that roof repair was put on hold until this winter.

This past week, Chris began the work of putting a new roof on the Uffta House. We will be moving plants into this house in a week or so, and we need a secure roof in place before we do that.The project is close to being completed with only a few more days left of work to finish. Yay!

Today the forecast was for 55 degrees and sunshine. Instead it has been bitter cold with freezing fog and a high temp of 30 degrees! What happened?!

I had planned to finish putting the shade cloth up in the Hygge House and starting to move plants into that space, but no such luck. It was far too cold to move plants outdoors from one greenhouse to the other, plus I wasn’t thrilled about working out in the Hygge House in 30 degree temperature putting up a ceiling shade cloth. So, tomorrow it is also supposed to be warm and sunny. Let’s hope so because the ladies and I will need to move a LOT of plants to other greenhouses via the great outdoors, and there is still that shade cloth to put up before we can move plants into the Hygge House. This all really must happen because all the other greenhouses are full now and we have a lot of new planting to do this week and nowhere to put the newly planted flats unless this moving project takes place. Keep your fingers crossed that it will be a nice day tomorrow and we can accomplish what we plan and need to do.

The hoarfrost on all the plants today has been amazing and beautiful. Let me take you through a quick virtual walk in the desert garden here all beautifully coated in hoarfrost.


      Sporabolis grass

     The Thrasher’s Cholla Cactus

     Thrasher’s Cholla Cactus close up and personal


      Mahonia fremontii

     Arizona Cypress

      Kelly’s Chinle Opuntia

      Ephedra nevedensis


If you follow this blog, you have heard me mention before about the Smith farm next door and the family’s efforts to preserve it as a Conservation Property. They are very close to accomplishing this goal and they hope to close the arrangement with the Central Colorado Conservancy in April. They still need to gather a few more funds and so here is the update below on what they are doing and what they still need. If you feel you can help out, I know that they would be endlessly grateful and appreciative. Chris and I are also thrilled about this project as it will make a permanent space for wildlife adjacent to our farm.

Since Desert Canyon Farm is a part of the Colorado Birding Trail, a Xceres Pollinator Habitat, A Certified Wildlife Habitat and a United Plant Savers Native Medicinal Plant Sanctuary, the Smith Farm Meadow would be a tremendous gift to have next door to our farm with no threat to it of future development.

photo by Tammi Hartung, Desert Canyon Farm

Please Help Protect the Smith Meadow

A unique gem on the outskirts of Cañon City will be protected forever through the generosity of the Smith family, long-time residents of Fremont County. The Smith siblings – David, Lee Ann, and Susan – are donating a conservation easement on the family’s 8-acre, beautifully irrigated hay meadow, to prevent additional homesites and development, and to preserve this peaceful, scenic spot in honor and memory of their parents, George and Dorothy Smith.

photo by James Krumm, nature photographer and local school teacher

It is the family’s desire that in the future, the property will become a park with walking paths, wildlife habitat, gardening, and local food production. The property, which is located along the popular Gold Belt Tour Scenic Byway on Field Avenue, provides a safe haven for deer, birds, foxes and other wildlife. The curved-billed thrasher nests nearby, attracting tourists on the Colorado Birding Trail.

The Smith family is donating this conservation easement to the Central Colorado Conservancy. The Conservancy needs to raise $10,000 to help cover the costs of creating and stewarding this protected oasis. Generous supporters have already contributed more than $5,000 in donations big and small. We need to raise just $5,000 more to complete this project in April 2018. Please consider making a donation of any amount today to help protect this beautiful green space in a growing suburban neighborhood.

You can contribute online at the Conservancy’s website at centralcoloradoconservancy.org. Click on the “Smith Property” green box on the bottom left-hand side of the homepage to make a donation.


Well, Chris, Shrek and I will leave you with these thoughts for a cold frosty winter evening. Stay warm and cozy if you can.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi