The curved billed thrasher family is growing up. All three youngsters are out hopping about on the cholla cactus branches, getting fed by mom and dad and soon they will be on their own. We unusually see the parents raise three batches of chicks each spring and summer in this cholla.


Let me take you on a little garden walk-about to see what is blooming just now. We still have all of these plants for sale in our Farm Stand store, but some of them are in limited quantities at this point. They are all superb for gardeners in the southwest.

This is Penstemon supurbus (pink) and Chocolate Flower (yellow). The chocolate flower smells like hot chocolate chip cookies each morning as the new flowers bloom. This plant blooms from May thru end of October, sometimes into November. The Penstemon is wonderful, with vivid flowers and grayish-blue foliage.

Alamosa farmers visit 022

This beauty is Siberian Motherwort and it is a really good medicinal plant for women’s issues and as a nervine. It is also a fantastic plant to attract bees, both native bees and honeybees, both of which love it!

farm stand 2015 010

The Sea Kale is also blooming now with gorgeous white flowers. This is a big plant (similar in size to a rhubarb plant). The foliage and flowers are completely edible, although the leaves, though tasty, are big and need to be cooked since they are too tough to eat fresh.

farm stand 2015 012

This is a little mat-forming plant called Silver Kisses Pyrethrum Daisy. It is a very sweet plant for rock gardens, xeric gardens or fairy gardens. It prefers full sun and moderate water and gets about 3″ tall or so.

Alamosa farmers visit 024

Smokey Hills Skullcap is another small, but beautiful plant that blooms all summer. It is about 6-8″ tall, grows in full sun or part shade. Another great miniature or fairy garden plant.

Alamosa farmers visit 013

This yellow-flowered plant is Bulbine and it is a semi-succulent medicinal skin herb. You use the foliage similar to how you would use the gel inside an aloe plant and for the same type of skin conditions, but it is NOT related to aloe in any way. It likes full sun or part shade, moderate water and blooms the entire summer.

mirabalis 005

Muhley Grass is a fantastic ornamental grass that is native to New Mexico. It blooms in late summer through the fall with pinkish-mauve flowers. It dances in the breeze and puts on quite the garden show. Stunning!

penstemon-garden gnome flowers 025

Another really nice Penstemon is Penstemon psuedospectabilis. We have this blooming in our hawk well garden with hot pink flowers and silvery foliage. It is tallish to about 2-2.5 feet tall with large flowers that attract bumblebees and hummingbirds.

Knifophia triangularis 10-2013

For those that like shades of oranges, tangerines, yellows and apricots, there is Hot Poker Hybrids (Kniphofia triangularis hybrids). This is another hummingbird magnet both in our flower seed field and in the garden.


I’ll leave you with this photo of our back doorstep garden where the huge Anasazi pot will soon be placed. This is one of my new gardens and I’m quite pleased with how it is turning out. You can see the Chocolate Flower in the background. The reddish pink is Jupiter’s Beard (sometimes called Red Valerian, but not used medicinally like true Valerian). Then there is a little dwarf iris in the front.

Hope you have enjoyed this garden walk-about of some of the things blooming right now in our gardens. If you think you might like some of them in your gardens, come and visit us on our Open Farm Days until June 5th, between 9am and 4pm. Remember that we are closed on Fridays.  We are located at 1270 Field Ave. in Canon City, Colorado. Maybe you’ll find these or a different plant in our Farm Stand store that is calling to you to grow in your garden.

With Green Thoughts,



























We’ve been having a spot of wet weather of late. Two weekends ago we have major rain and snow that resulted in over 3″ of moisture. We had just finished putting up our plant explanation signs in the outside nursery part of our Farm Stand Store when all that moisture arrived. When we get a storm here it is usually proceeded by wind and that storm was no exception. This is how our signs looked at first, only they were clipped to the wires. The wind had its way and the signs came loose, flying all over the nursery!

So, plan B was to try larger stronger clips, but that also failed, so the next part of plan B was to punch holes in the signs and wire them to the frame wire. That seemed to work pretty good until the next round of big winds came and this time it simply tore down the frame wires and signs again flew everywhere. Yikes! This brought me to tears, because we spent the whole winter making these signs, the goal of which was better and more information, bigger pictures and NOT having to punch holes in them so that moisture wouldn’t get into the lamination and ruin the signs. Clearly, things were not off to a good start.


My husband is my hero and he came through with a plan C that seems so far to be the answer, at least in part. The wire frame has been replaced with stronger lattice frame and the wind seems to not be causing trouble with this. My trouble has been lack of time to get the signs wired back up on the lattice frame. I’ve been working at it a bit at a time, since it requires removing flats from the benches so that I can climb up and wire the signs onto the wooden frame. No big deal, it just takes a fair bit of time to accomplish. So, this weekend SOME of the signs have been put back in place and there are still some to do. Now my trouble is more moisture.

We got another round of rain and snow this week and it’s not too easy to work in that weather to put up signs. Ahh…this is turning into a longer story than I planned, so I’ll just say to our farm visitors this weekend…thank you for your patience that all the signs are not yet back in their proper places. I’m working on it a little bit at a time as time and weather allows.


Everything else in the Farm Stand store is looking grand. The baskets are getting fuller and very beautiful. All the tomato varieties went out yesterday and a few of the squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. Most of the rest of those will be out by sometime next week. They are nearly ready, but still a little to small for me to feel comfortable putting them out this weekend. We have put out Jerusalem Artichokes and some great Mini Gardens.

This weekend we have workshops about veggies, making your own sauerkraut and beekeeping, but Sunday I will be doing a workshop on great herbs and perennials for mountain gardeners. Once again we have moved the workshops indoors due to the weather, but they are happening and the inside of the Farm Stand store and the nursery are still great places to be, despite soggy weather, so we hope you will come out and enjoy a free workshop and do a bit of shopping while you are here.

Have a great week and we’ll hope to see you soon.



Last weekend we opened our farm for Open Farm Days this spring. Our first day looked like this! Oh my, it seems each year, no matter what date we open on, we don’t have the best weather. That said, we had several hardy folks that came anyway, both for the free workshops, and to do a bit of shopping in our Farm Stand store. We are in deep gratitude for those people who kept our moral up as we started our Open Farm Days for this spring. Thank you.


So, on Sunday morning it still looked pretty darn snowy around here, but the snow was juicy wet, and great moisture for the earth. We can never complain about good moisture in the farming or gardening world. By Monday morning it was muddy, but the snow was melted and soaked in.


A week later, its beautiful here. Everything is greening up and blooming. Tomorrow when we open the Farm at 9am it is supposed to be a gorgeous day. Warm and sunny. The perfect Open Farm Day we think.


There are milk carton heirloom tomatoes for sale.


Or maybe we can interest you in a Mini Garden in a Tray that will attract native and honey bees to your garden space.


If you follow this blog, you’ll remember a while back that I planted three old  bird baths that had cracked and no longer hold water to be used as a bird bath. Two are succulent gardens and this one is an herb garden. Now it is filled in and looks amazing. The herbs are ready to use. This was a perfect way to reuse this birdbath. I put this garden in the Farm Stand store as a display for a while, but eventually, I’ll take it out into my own garden and find it a good home there.

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 4-4-16

The other very exciting thing that happened is that we made the front page of the Daily Record newspaper. Carrie Canterbury, who is a journalist for the newspaper, interviewed us a couple of weeks back and said she was going to write an article about us since we are celebrating our 20th Farm Anniversary. We were stunned to find ourselves on the front page and a very wonderful and long article about us, and how we came to be here in Canon City, along with all the things we do here on our farm. Thank you, Carrie, for making us feel fantastic, and letting people know about Desert Canyon Farm, as we celebrate our 20th Anniversary here this year. We are in gratitude!

Well, this has been a whirlwind week around here, between the weather events, getting more final touches done in the Farm Stand store, pulling wholesale orders and getting them delivered, and planting, planting, planting more plants to sell in the month of May. We have filled every nook and crannies, literally, in our greenhouses! I even have flats of newly planted veggies and herbs sitting on carts until I can find them some bench space. This is how spring is. It’s both exciting and exasperating all at the same time. We’re so tired at the end of each day, but each morning we’re back at it and happy to be doing so. Life is good.











First I have a very important announcement about Open Farm Days, which begin this Saturday, April 16th. As is usual for us, the opening weekend of our Open Farm Days is forecast to be wet and probably snowy, but at least rainy.

On Saturday, my friend and permaculture expert Kris Isom, was supposed to be driving up from southern New Mexico to teach both of the workshops on Saturday. However, after looking at the most recent forecast she and I agreed that it would be very silly and possibly very dangerous for her to make the drive up to teach in a possible snow event. If you were planning to come to her workshops on Saturday, know that she will not be teaching them, and instead I will be doing different workshops instead.

The Saturday morning workshop will be “Herbs That Deer Don’t Like to Eat” and the afternoon workshop will be “Making Herbal Tinctures, Vinegar, Honey & Infused Oils”.

Kris will be checking to see if she can get off work on June 4th to come up and teach her workshops then. When we know if her employer will agree to this, I will post an update here.

We are both very sorry to disappoint those who intended to come to her workshops this Saturday, but it’s much better for us to be wise about her driving safety than to have her chance it by driving so far in bad weather.


Today we were working very hard to get all the final tasks done in the Farm Stand store so that we will be ready to open on this Saturday. No matter what the weather, we will be open. There will be workshops on both days, and we will be holding them inside our seed room rather than outdoors like usual. If you are inclined to brave the weather, we will hope to see you this weekend.


Morgan and Beki got all the plants tidied up today in the outside section of the Farm Stand store. Carol and Lizz worked indoors doing the same, putting in price tags, and so on.

Tomorrow we have to hang up all the plant signs, posters, and whatever else we haven’t gotten finished yet. Wish us luck that by Saturday all will be in order and we’ll be ready to host visitors to the farm for Open Farm Days. Our hours are 9am to 4pm.


These are the two fairy gardens that we will be raffling off during this year’s Open Farm Days. We do this each year and with the money earned from the raffle we purchase fresh fruit and vegetables to donate to our local food bank in June. Raffle tickets are $1.00 each.

But maybe you would like to plant your own fairy container garden? Lizz will be doing a workshop this Sunday  at 1:30pm on how to plant a fairy garden container and good plants to consider. In the morning on Sunday at 10:00am, Monica will be giving a workshop on growing herbs in arid southern Colorado. She really knows about this first hand and will have a lot of good thoughts for you to ponder on the subject.


While your here, be sure to wander over to Tammi’s outdoor fairy garden on the north side of the seed room. It’s 2′ wide and 30′ long and filled with a lot of fairy activity.


Check out these containers of sugar peas! They are amazing and filled with lots of pea pods already. My mom planted them for the Farm Stand store and they are just beautiful and tasty.


This past week, Chris built a coyote fence entrance to the Farm Stand store and the Heirloom Orchard. It turned out great and I’m so glad he did this for us!

So, we are very excited to have you visit Desert Canyon Farm at some point during our Open Farm Days. Please explore the Open Farm Days page and the Classes & Events page of this blog to learn more specific details. We’ll hope to see you soon.













It’s very nearly April. I can hardly believe it’s true. But then again, if I look around me at all the chaos (fun chaos, but still chaos) we are now surrounded by, I can’t believe anything else except that it’s nearly April!

I learned recently that the Xerces Society, which is a group that studies and works to  support native and domestic pollinators, is going to be hosting an all day workshop in southern Colorado. I was thrilled and immediately signed Chris and I up to attend. I attended one of their workshops like this in New Mexico a couple of years ago and it was so informative, interesting and inspiring. Here is the link so that you can check it out for yourself if you might be interested in knowing more.

Pollinator Conservation Short Courses in Your Area

3-27-16 003

Lizz and Beki planted some cool season heirloom vegetable container gardens a week or so ago and they are really starting to look nice now. These are great for patios, apartment dwellers with only a deck (providing it has some afternoon shade), anywhere really. If you are limited on space or simply want to keep things simple in your life, these gardens are perfect. A bit later on we will be planting similar ones, but with warm season vegetables.

These cool season veggie gardens have things like beets, kale, swiss chard, cabbages. The warm season ones will come later with tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in them.

Just imagine all the delicious meals you could create!

3-27-16 001

In about three weeks the Farm Stand store will open, on April 16th…Yikes! This is what it looks like in that greenhouse at the moment! Remember that word “Chaos”, well, the Farm Stand is totally the definition of chaos at the moment.

Lizz and I worked all day last Sunday attempting to begin the process of putting things to order. I’m not sure if you can see them well in this photo, but all the flats that have a red tag in the front are for our Farm Stand. In addition, yellow flags mean that they will be going to the outside nursery area of the Farm Stand next week. Everything else, and there is plenty in this category, has to be moved to another greenhouse as soon as possible.

Most things aren’t labeled yet, so that must be done. The signs have to be put in place for each variety, along with setting up the check-out area, hanging educational posters up. Well, suffice it to say we have plenty, plenty, plenty to accomplish before the 16th arrives. But no fear…it will all get done. Each year it looks like this and each year we manage somehow to put things to order just in the nick of time.

So, with that said, tonight I need to work on some of the computer part of the signs. Once I get my part done and print them, I’m taking them to my parents house for them to do the laminating part. M’lissa has already finished about 400 signs. I’m guessing I have between 300-400 more to go. I guess I best get to it, but not before I fix myself a cup of chai tea.

Ta Ta!




CattailMoonshine_3D (2)

I’m very excited and happy to announce that my upcoming book is getting closer to being available! Here is the book cover and it is due for release in December 2016 – so at the end of this year and hopefully in time for the holidays.

Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine is a book where I can share all the amazing ways that we have used some of our most important North American plants like Cattails, Milkweeds, Spruce, Nopalitos, Mexican Chocolate, Black Walnut, and loads of other amazing plants. There are stories about Hickory bark syrup, Valerian root as a baked vegetable, California Poppy to help you sleep or as eye make-up, and on it goes. I have so much to tell you about in this book and I think you will enjoy it a LOT. And yes, cattails used to be made into a type of moonshine alcoholic beverage. Milkweeds have not only been used as a medicine plant, but they are currently being used to help clean-up oil spills and other natural chemical disasters. I hope you will consider purchasing my new book or borrowing it from a library when it is released later this year.


You might remember a month or so ago I was talking about growing carrots in boxes or other containers. Well these are the carrot boxes we have growing that will be ready when we open the Farm Stand store on April 16th. They’re looking great.


You might also notice in each of those carrot boxes there is a little white sachet like the one in this picture. These little sachet are part of our beneficial insect pest management program we are using now in our greenhouses in order to not need to use any organic pesticides. These sachets hold teeny tiny little beneficial mites that live in each pot and hunt down and eat any thrips on the foliage before the larvae become fully mature thrips and before they cause damage to the foliage and flowers of many kinds of plants. That is a tremendous help to us, because thrips can make plants look terrible from the damage they do to the leaves and flowers, plus if they become too much of a problem there is a risk that they will spread plant diseases as they move about chewing into the plants as they are feeding on the foliage. These little predator mites stop all those problems in their tracks and we are really excited about that.

Now, for anyone who might be concerned about these beneficial mites living in the plants, there is absolutely no need to worry. They only hunt thrips and they are very tiny. You cannot even see them unless you use a magnifying hand lens, and they absolutely do not bite!


We’ve been doing a bit of sprucing up around here. Our little garden house and our seed room/garage building have been calling to us in need of fresh painting. Elisa, who works with us here at the farm, has stepped up to the task and is making them look gorgeous!


Of course, the 60 mile and hour winds we got last week didn’t help the project much, and tore off part of the roof on the little garden house, so now that building will have to get a new roof to match the new paint job. Chris will be taking on the roof task soon.


The seed room is next and Elisa started on that last Wednesday.


All the wood trim on this building was super old and had begun to rot, so Chris is replacing it with trim that will look similar to the wood work on our house. Very “southwestern casita” like. It’s going to look fantastic and the best part is that we believe it will all be finished before we open for Open Farm Days and before the iris garden starts to bloom on the back side of this building. At least that is the plan baring any unforseen challenges.

062 (2)

Tomorrow, March 19th, I’ll be speaking at the Western Landscape Symposium in Pueblo, Colorado. This is a great event, and this year is sure to be exceptional with all the wonderful speakers and people who will be attending. There is more information on the classes and events page of this blog. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Have a good week.






mahonia repens

Since last weekend things have been starting to leaf out and bloom like crazy. We really didn’t think we believed it when the groundhog said it would be an early spring, but now we’re forced to concede he must have been right.

Above is the Mahonia repens, which has been budded up for a few weeks, but is now covered in beautiful yellow gold flowers.

Below is a pink flowered sweet violet with the first gigantic bumblebee we’ve seen so far this year. These violets bloom all year, including during the winter even when there is snow on the ground, but they usually only have a flower or two during cold months. Now they are a riot of pink and this huge bumblebee couldn’t resist the chance to sip some nectar.

pink sweet violet with bumblebee 3-3-16

Here is the bee right next to where the violet was growing. You can see it’s lovely colors of orange, yellow and black with black wings. It was easily half the length of my thumb!


The apricot is still covered in gorgeous blooms and there are zillions of native bees and our honeybees working the flowers. This was last Saturday, March 5th, just after the tree really started to bloom. Now it is pure white with so many flowers. I’m hoping they won’t get frozen because I’d really enjoy harvesting some tree fruit this year.

manchurian apricot with bees 3-3-16

Two weeks ago we went sneaking off to Red Canyon Park for a small walk with Shrek. We decided to walk up the dry wash and avoid all the vehicle traffic that was in the park on the roads. The wash was quiet and beautiful. There were a lot of cockleburs though, and it made us thankful that our dog is not a long-haired dog. Those stickers would have been terrible to remove from long fur!

Now Shrek is on house rest for two more weeks, as he slightly injured his tendon in his knee. He’s not happy about missing out on walks, no playing ball or fetch or tug of war. Instead he follows us around looking completely bored. It’s only been one of the three weeks he must stay calm, so the next two weeks are going to be challenging for all of us.


This weekend we will be at the Spencer Garden Show in Fountain, CO. They have their garden show this time each year and we are always there to talk about our plants, how we grow them, and answer questions. We will be there with pots of herbs and cool season veggies. I’ll be giving two free workshops on Saturday on cool season veggies and growing perennial herbs. There will be loads of great workshops happening throughout the Garden Show given by others too. You can find out more information about my workshops this weekend on the Classes & Events page of this blog. I’ll be at the show on Friday, Lizz and I will be there Saturday, and Chris will be there on Sunday, so stop in and say hello.





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 262 other followers