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Last Saturday, Lizz, James and myself got up in time for a 3:00am departure to make the drive to Truchas, New Mexico and Tooley’s Tree Farm. The purpose of this insanity was to attend a Holistic Orchard workshop given by Michael Phillips. Lizz drove us in 4 wheel drive over icy roads on La Veta Pass and through the San Luis Valley. We arrived to a freezing, but sunny, morning and a great day of learning how to care for heirloom fruit trees in a holistic and organic fashion, paying attention to the fungal community in the soil that fosters the tree’s good health, and how to identify diseases and pests and deal with them in a holistic fashion without having to rely on toxic chemicals. We learned about supplying nutrition to the trees via a 3 season spray protocol using fish, seaweed and other organic nutritious ingredients. There was a bit of talk about pruning and root stocks and all manner of good information that was presented on a very practical level.

Michael is considered one of the nation’s best authorities on heirloom fruit trees, especially apples and pears. He cares for his orchards in a way that fosters a thriving tree community that can resist diseases and pests and yield great crops. You can visit his website at http://www.GrowOrganicApples.com . Consider adding one of his books to your plant library. You’ll find them incredibly useful!

Gordon Tooley and Margaret Yancey hosted this amazing day at their farm, Tooley’s Trees. They are considered some of the greatest heirloom tree authorities in east of the Mississippi river, so they had plenty of great insights to share with us too. Gordon spoke about controlling ground squirrels, voles, moles and gophers in an orchard. He shared how he is  making their own compost. He gave us an overveiw of Keyline Plowing, which is a permaculture type of approach to restoring healthy soils in difficult situations. He and Margaret have been at this for many decades and they seriously have one of the best heirloom tree nurseries you can ever imagine!

Now, I got an extra treat while attending this workshop because Michael’s wife, Nancy, is an herbalist friend of mine and since they live in New Hampshire, she and I rarely get to see one another. Nancy was traveling with Michael on this trip, so we were able to have a small visit before the workshop really got going. A day filled with wonderful gifts. And we were exhausted by the time we got back home at 9:00pm Saturday night.

The other thing that is happening in a big big way is mating season for the mule deer here at the farm. All the big boys are hanging around trying to get their chance to breed the does. This year’s crop of young fawns seem to be baffled by the whole situation, and are clearly trying to figure out why all these bucks are chasing and pestering their moms.

Yesterday, I got to snap this picture of one of the bucks laying in the helichrysum planting in the flower seed crop field. They are so majestic! Most of these bucks and does we have known since they were fawns themselves. They are comfortable here and we appreciate having them nearby. For those of you that are skeptical, it is possible to co-exist with a herd of 35+ deer on a working farm and still be able to earn a living. If you are wondering how to co-exist with wildlife, even big wildlife like deer, check out my book The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener.

You can find information on this blog on how to mail-order my books directly from me, if you would like, on this blog website. There is Homegrown Herbs at $20.00, The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener at $17.00, and Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine at $20.00 plus shipping and handling costs. They are also easily available at good bookstores and online. They might be the perfect solstice gift for someone on your gifting list. Sadly, my first book Growing 101 Herbs That Heal is now out of print, but you might stumble across it at a used bookstore ;-}

I thought you might enjoy seeing the woodstove sheriffs at our house. Pal is the long-haired gray cat in the back of the woodstove and his brother Willow is the short-haired black kitty in the front. They are just over a year old now and let me tell you…they do keep this house lively with all their antics! Below is Sadie inspecting the firewood I just brought in, making sure it will do to keep us warm. These cats love being near the warm fire on cold days. When the fire is in need of being refueled, Willow finds me to let me know it is time to put in another log.

This week is Thanksgiving, and as a friend said to me yesterday, it is one of the best holidays because it is just about being in gratitude for your family and friends and whatever else makes your life nice. I’ll leave you with my gratitude for taking some time out of your day to read this blog…I really do appreciate that very much. Thank you for all the happiness and love from all of you that have been the best of friends and family to us. To our community near and far, which has made Chris and I welcome here for the last 22 years and for the support and nurturing of our farm and business. You have helped this small organic farm exist and made it possible for Chris and I and our farm crew family to live and work here earning a living. We hope that we have given back to you something that has made your life richer for being a part of our lives and this farm experience. Enjoy your holiday week and may it be the best ever!

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There have been plenty of things to keep life busy here, but that seems to be old news.

I did finally get my garlic planted. These were the biggest bulbs from this summer’s harvest and they were super nice. So these were the bulbs that I saved out of the harvest to plant for next year’s crop.

They are all nicely planted in one of the raised beds in my food garden, and next summer I expect we will have another wonderful garlic harvest.

And as far as the harvest goes, this was lunch this week and it included the last of the summer squash, our onions and garlic, carrots and some of the peas were ours. The rest of the peas, celery and the cashews came from the market. It was a delicious lunch served on top of udon noodles.

We’ve been planting for next spring and this is next spring’s comfrey crop.

And next spring we plan to have scented geraniums for sale in the Farm Stand store. Here they are as newly transplanted babies in their new clay pot homes. By spring they will be amazing!

We have two seed crops left to harvest in the field; muhley grass and yerba mansa. All the rest of the seed crops are picked now and waiting in huge paper sacks. This week we hope that the last two crops will finish out and Chris can pick them, but even if that doesn’t happen until next Thanksgiving week, he is going to start boxing up the seeds that are already harvested in preparation to ship them to Germany after Thanksgiving.

This is a sackful of Kniphofia triangularis seed. Boxing the seed up is a massive job. Each seed variety is put into huge cloth sacks, tied closed and labeled with the appropriate information required by German customs and the EU organic officials. Each sack must be weighed and then every box weighed and all that information is put into documentation. Once we have all the seed boxed and ready, then the Colorado Dept of Agriculture, on behalf of USDA, must give us a Certificate of Inspection with all the individual seed information listed to prove that the seed was grown here certified organic. After we are given the Certificate of Inspection, then the seed can be picked up by the shipper and off it will go on its way to Jelitto Perennial Seed Company in Germany. Once all this takes place, then we can finally say that the field season is officially over for this year and put the field to bed for winter.

Even as the seed crops are finishing ripening in the field and being boxed to ship to Germany, Lizz and I are growing the new seed crops for next spring’s field planting. Here are some of them starting to sprout in the greenhouse. We have 86 flats of 72 count cells of new seed crops sprouting as we speak. Chris and the field crew next spring will have their work cut out for them with all these new perennial seed crops to plant.

This week I also put all the potted greenhouse perennials to bed that we are wintering over for next spring’s sales. These are perennial varieties that are growing in 4″, 6″, 1 gallon and 2 gallon size pots. This process of wintering them over under frost blanket in an unheated greenhouse is called vernalization. In February I’ll uncover the plants, fertilize them and start to warm them up and by spring they will be nice in size and many will be flowering when we open the Farm Stand store in April for Open Farm Days and retail sales.

So, there has been a lot of plant work going on around this farm, but also we have been busy doing house maintenance work too. All the log work on our house must be given an annual coat of a wax-oil mixture that protects the wood and keeps it looking great. Chris has that all done now, but it was several days worth of work to apply the mixture with a paintbrush over every log – we have a lot of logs on this house now!!

I worked on sealing the foundation and the porch (Chris helped too). This was something we have been meaning to do since we redid the outside of the house three years ago, but we had never gotten around to getting the job done. Now it is done and the cement porches and the foundation of the house are all sealed up and protected from moisture. Yahoo!

We try to keep Sundays as our hiking day, so today we went for a hike to the Cowboy Cabin. On every single hike we take, Shrek does his “bone work”. He always finds at least one wildlife bone, and today he must have found close to a dozen of them. Thankfully, he doesn’t eat the bones, but he is quite serious about the work of finding a particular spot to bury them.

Not just any old spot will do for the bone burial. He carries the bone with him on the trail until he is satisfied that he has found the proper place and then he buries it with his nose, using his nose as both the shovel and the taper to settle the bone into its final resting place. Today he had a lot of “bone work” to do!

And then there was the game, with Chris, of pine cone tag. When we got to the cowboy cabin, they ran all around the surrounding meadow with Shrek playing keep-away with a pine cone in his mouth.

So, this is an old homestead cabin not too far from our farm on BLM land. It still has the old furniture inside and until half a dozen years ago it was clean enough inside for hunters to use the cabin for overnight stays. Then about 6 years ago, more or less, the cabin was taken over by wildlife critters and although it probably could be cleaned up enough to used again, it’s pretty dirty inside with a lot of wildlife scat. The cabin, remarkably, is in really good shape otherwise, and the trail that leads to it is a gorgeous gentle day hike. I especially like going there in the fall, as there is a lot of autumn color along the trail to enjoy.

I guess that is most of the news around here for this week. I’m hoping to finish up with my greenhouse seed orders (for seed we don’t grow ourselves in the gardens here) and get them turned in. Our plant labels are supposed to be arriving this week, and there are plenty of other things that will be on our list of tasks to do. Lizz is on vacation this week, but Beki will be here finishing up the new coat of paint on the greenhouse end walls and the new purple painted doors that I love so much. Next Saturday, Lizz, James and I will be attending a wholistic orchardists workshop, while Chris and Shrek take care of the farm. That is…if Shrek will stop cuddling his teddy bear long enough to go to work :-}

 

 

 

Greetings All,

Chris and I are hoping that you are enjoying this autumn season, even as we move towards December and the arrival of winter.

Here are the dates for November and December when Chris will be playing Jazz Music at  Ito’s Steakhouse & Sushi Restaurant in Florence, CO. Depending on the date, he will be playing guitar duos with either Guy Madden or Justin Allison, both excellent musicians  and singers. The schedule is below… Please come out and join us for an evening of great music and delicious food!!

Ito’s recommends reservations for Friday and Saturday nights – call 719-784-7556. The restaurant address is 114 W. Main Street in Florence, CO
November 3, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Friday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
November 10, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Friday)
Chris Hartung & Justin Allison
November 11, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Saturday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
November 17, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Friday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
December 1, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Friday)
Chris Hartung & Justin Allsion
December 9, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Saturday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
December 15, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Friday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
December 30, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Saturday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
​Chris Hartung
​Guy Madden

Justin Allison

In addition to the Friday and Saturday nights that Chris, Guy and Justin will be playing, here is the schedule for other nights of great Jazz planned at Ito’s. These nights also run from 5:30-8:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays:

November 4, 2017     Dwanye Zanotelli & Bill Finch (trombone/sax duo)

November 18, 2017     Tricia Parish (guitar/vocals)

November 24, 2017     To be announced

November 25, 2017     Richard Clark & Kimberly Sewell (piano/vocals duo)

December 2, 2017     Skip Moore (piano/vocals)

December 8, 2017      Carlos Crull & John Fujishiro (sax/piano/vocals duo)

December 16, 2017     Trisha Parish (guitar/vocals)

December 22, 2017     To be announced

December 23, 2017     To be announced

December 29, 2017     Carlos Crull & John Fujishiro (sax/pinao/vocals duo)

Yesterday, Chris and I took a drive to Truchas, New Mexico to pick up our order of baby heirloom apple trees which we buy each year from Gordon and Margaret of Tooley’s Trees.  These trees were grafted in spring March 2017 from their permanent orchard trees of hundreds of varieties of heirloom trees. They specialize in apples, but also do pears, plums, cherries, stone fruits like apricots and such, plus berries like currants, and then some really fantastic rose shrubs and other types of shrubs. Above is Gordon loading our little trees into our truck for the 5 hour drive home.

Meet Garrett and Kelsey, who are apprentices with Margaret and Gordon this growing season to expand their experience and knowledge in holistic orchard-keeping.

These are a few, and only a few, of the great many permanent fruit trees that live in orchards on the Tooley’s Trees farm.

This is a young apricot section of their orchards. I love apricots to the max, so I’m always thinking about apricot trees. We have several here on our farm too.

A few of the new varieties of apples we bought from Tooley’s to offer next spring include Northern Spy, Winter Redflesh and Scott’s Winter. We’ll have a really nice selection of fruit trees next spring for sale in our Farm Stand store that includes a great many other varieties of heirloom apples, peaches, apricots, and plums.

In case you can’t wait for next spring to shop at our Farm Stand store during Open Farm Days, well, Tooley’s Trees is open for this weekend and the next and then they will close until next spring too. They are open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Here is their website link Tooley’s Trees apple apricot cherry pear plum other trees P.O.Box 392 Truchas, New Mexico 87578 (505) 689-2400 .  You can still plant fruit trees this fall, so if your up for a 10 hour round trip drive to Truchas, New Mexico, consider going this weekend to buy a great fruit tree from Gordon and Margaret. The autumn colors on the drive there and back yesterday were amazing and beautiful and the trip was worth doing just to enjoy the fall colors, but heirloom fruit trees are really great and they have plenty of them! We will too next spring if you would rather plant your heirloom fruit tree in the spring next year.

Have a great weekend coming up and I’ll be back in touch next week. With Green Thoughts, Tammi

Hello from Kansas! We just finished the Mother Earth News Fair, so time to write a quick post to say thank you to everyone who attended my workshops this weekend and also to those who purchased my books at the Fair Bookstore. Thank you each and everyone!

I had a lot of fun at the Fair talking to others who share similar interests and thoughts. I enjoyed shopping at the bookstore myself and picked up a couple of titles that will be great additions to our home/business library. And I purchased a luxury item that I’m thrilled with…a new alpaca sweater!

I’m going to keep this post short, as my friend Rosemary and I are about to head out to find some good Thai food for dinner. Speaking of dinner, this was this week’s harvest in the greenhouse from plants I keep during cold months so that I can continue to have fresh produce to eat. I picked the last of the lettuce crop, there was 1 lime ready to pick and then there was the weekly harvest of purple beauty bell peppers and red robin tomatoes. I harvest about this many of each of those every week, sometimes more often if they are producing a lot.

Since my lettuce crop is eaten now, I’ve got a new crop coming up and some dwarf scotch kale and french paris carrots planted too. All of those should have been planted a couple of weeks ago, but life has been busy -too busy in fact- of late, so their planting was delayed a little bit. That means I’ll have a gap between this last harvest of salad greens and the next, but that’s ok. There are plenty of wild greens I can pick out in the garden like dandelion, mallow and such to make into salads in the meantime.

The fall color is amazing right now at home and here in Kansas too. This is a bigtooth maple tree that is growing in one of our hedgerows on the north side of our house and alongside of a row of wine grapes. It is finally coming into it’s own as it grows older and this year the color is just wonderful!

This was a grafted tree that Chris started about 23 or so years ago when he worked at Chatfield Farms at Denver Botanic Garden, then called Chatfield Arboretum. He gather the bud wood and grafted onto rootstock. These were grafted for good fall color and suitability to growing in the Colorado front range. As you can see the color has turned out to be stunning!

Well, this is short and sweet tonight. I’ll write more this next week. Until then, enjoy the fall color at your home.

The seed harvest continues to be one of our main priorities right now. With cold nights, the seed crops are ripening more quickly and every day there is quite a bit of seed harvesting to be done.

Last weekend Chris visited our family in Nebraska to see his parents, brother, nieces and nephews and their little kiddos. While he was away the seed harvesting fell to me. That’s how it is with farming…when one spouse is away, the other spouse fills the gap and does chores for both. We’ve been doing this for nearly 22 years now, so we’re pretty good at stepping into one another’s shoes when needed. It was a perfect weather weekend, and even though I was super busy, I enjoyed the work outdoors.

Above is some of the Agastache rupestris seed that I harvested. We lay it out in shallow boxes to dry for a day or two after we pick it. You can see the seed I picked on Friday is dry, and the seed I picked on Sunday is bright pink when I took this picture. I also moved aside some of the dried seed stalks so you could see all the tiny little brown seeds that have fallen out of the flower stalks into the bottom of the box.

The seed above is Kniphofia triangularis (common name is Red Hot Poker, but these are shades of orange, yellow, peach and tangerine colors). You can see the seed from Friday and above it the freshly picked seed from Sunday’s harvest.

Kniphofia triangularis

Every day since May we pick the Chocolate Flower seed (above). The Latin name is Berlanderia lyrata. This is a native southwestern wildflower and it gets its name because in the morning the new yellow flowers smell like hot out of the oven chocolate chip cookies! Chocolate with no calories…doesn’t get much better than that!

You can see in the picture above the yellow flower and next to it is a flower nearly ready to pick going to seed and next to that one is the brown dried flower with dark black seeds. Those are the ones we pick. This process of blooming to seed takes 3-4 days, so there is always a new batch of seed to pick on the chocolate flower each day. That will continue until hard frost, which for us is normally in November, although we have had two modest frosts already – that’s pretty early for us here in Canon City.

The frost hasn’t dampened the Nettles at all. She is growing as beautiful as ever in my garden. I will be harvesting this next week when I get home from Kansas and speaking at the Mother Earth News Fair. When I harvest the nettles, I’ll dry some for tea through the winter, and I’ll put some fresh in the freezer to use in cooking this winter.

Nettles is delicious cooked into soups and casseroles. You must use care or better yet, wear gloves when you harvest the nettles because when they are fresh they will leave a stinging sensation and tiny blisters on your skin if you handle them bare-handed. Once the nettles is dried or cooked, the “stinging”, which is caused by an oil called Formic Acid that is on the plant’s leaf and stem hairs, doesn’t happen. The oil evaporates when the plant is dried or exposed to heat as in cooking or brewing tea. If you do get stung by nettles, be patient, as the stinging and blisters will eventually fade away in several hours time.

Nettles is filled with vitamins and minerals and is very nutritious. It is an excellent health-supportive herb for every organ and system in the body, and has very beneficial medicinal properties as well. This is a tasty food plant (once cooked). If you know where to look you can often harvest nettles from wild places, but if you do this, use care that you are picking it in a place that has not been treated or exposed to any toxins like chemicals. Better yet, why not plant a patch in your garden or grow some in a large container. Just use care that you plant it in your garden in a location where people won’t brush up against it unaware and get stung. In my garden, the nettles grow away from the walking paths. This patch has been in my garden for nearly 22 years now and it is thriving and much appreciated by me.

So, just a brief reminder that I’ll be speaking at the Kansas Mother Earth News Fair this weekend in Topeka, Kansas. Check out their website for all the specific details. This Fair is mega fun and filled to the gills with opportunities to learn about an earth-friendly sustainable lifestyle.

A couple of years ago, Chris and I renovated the outside of our very dilapidated house. It’s now restored and a beautiful little stucco casita farm-house. When we did that work, we decided that we wanted to paint the trim and doors purple to make the house fun, beautiful and hold a flavor of the southwest were we live. Chris calls the purple our little bit of Hippie!

This fall it’s time to do some maintenance on our greenhouses and part of that is a fresh coat of paint on the end walls. Beki has been busy painting them to match the house and other out-buildings here on the farm, so now the greenhouse doors have a little bit of Hippie too. I love it! I think a purple door just makes you smile and feel happy!

The flowering kale in the garden is appreciating the cooler temperatures too and becoming more colorful. This flowering kale is fully edible, but it is also very beautiful in the garden, especially in autumn.

Shrek says it’s time to fill the bird feeders, so off I go. I’ll be writing again next week with tales of the Mother Earth News Fair and more.

This week the women of the farm repaired the bee yard shade structure! The frame was falling down and the snow fence on top was billowing down so badly it was threatening to knock over the bee hives. Something had to be done, so we took matters into our hands and fixed it.

We redid the structure frame and then positioned the snow fence on top to provide shade, but with a lot more support then it had before. Hopefully, when the wind blows or there is heavy snow, it won’t sag at all. The bee hives are safe once again.

Never underestimate the determination of three women out to save their honeybee friends!

We have had some adventures this week…

On Monday, we put a new plastic skin roof on the Goldfish Greenhouse. The old plastic was ripped badly in the 80 mph winds this past spring, so this was a greenhouse that had to be repaired before we can fill it with plants again in January. Now it’s done and it looks great.

Much of my week was filled working with Jelitto in Germany and the Colorado Dept of Agriculture to learn how to send our organic seeds with the new EU program called TRACES. The paperwork to export our seed to Germany has always been somewhat complicated, but now it is complicated and it must be done electronically getting everyone involved in the process. Since none of us have yet to send a seed shipment through this process, which has only become mandatory this month (October), we had a serious learning curve to master. It took us all week! Today, we got the export documentation finished and electronically sent, so now the seeds can go on their way. This was a trial run for us and only one box of seed involved, but later this fall when we send our big shipment from the seed harvest at least we’ll all have a better idea of how to do the process.

I’ve also spent copious amounts of my time this week making a Facebook page for Desert Canyon Farm. Once again, M’lissa to the rescue! Thank goodness for technology savvy daughters!! The page is up and functioning. It is a work in process and I have a lot more to learn about “being on Facebook”, so I’m requesting your patience.

This WordPress blog website will continue to be our primary source of communication, and this is definitely where you should look for specific details about farm happenings and updates on what Chris and I are up to, but at least we have a presence now on Facebook. Since Facebook is clearly how much of the world finds one another and talks to each other, we felt it was now time to take the plunge and put the farm on Facebook.

Last Sunday we went to the Sangres to hike the Cottonwood Trail and it had snowed in the Sangres quite a bit. Just before we hit tree-line there started to be patches of snow and up above tree-line there was quite a bit on the peaks. The white snow was a lovely contrast to all the fall color in the aspens and oaks. Even the wild roses had leaves that had turned scarlet red!

I also want to let you know that the schedule for the Kansas Mother Earth News Fair has been finalized and is up on their website. Here is the link to the workshops and other information you may be interested in. Topeka, Kan. Workshops | MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Mother Earth News Fair

My workshops at the Mother Earth News Fair are as follows:

Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine will be on Saturday from 3:30-4:30 with a book signing at 4:30 to 5:00pm the same day.

Herbs You Can Grow & Use That Are Also Wildlife-Friendly will be on Sunday from 3:30-4:30

Last year I also spoke at this Fair and the Fair is sooo much fun. If you can attend, please try to do so. You’ll learn a lot and have a blast!

Tonight and Tomorrow Night

Tonight (Friday, October 6th) and tomorrow night (Saturday, October 7th) Chris and fellow musicians, Dan and Guy, will be playing from 5:30 to 8:30 at the ITO Japanese Steakhouse in Florence, CO.

Friday night, Chris and Dan will be playing jazz  with guitar and trombone.

On Saturday night, Guy and Chris will do a jazz guitar duet with Guy singing.

Both nights are bound to be great and I hope you’ll come by and support these men and their music. The food is really good at ITO’s and they serve Japanese, sushi and Thai food. Maybe I’ll see you there!

I think that is about all I have to share for now. Check out our Facebook page if you get a minute, but come back to this website often for all our Farm and personal news.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi