There is a lot happening, always, around this farm during the spring season, and this week was right up there with lots going on. Spring has full-on arrived here, with blooming flowers like this Erigeron that is a seed crop of ours. The wire cage over top protects the flowers from nibbling deer lips!
Chris has continued with his field prep work and the seed crop field is really starting to get whipped into shape. This is the Mongolian Bells Clematis crop that is really coming up now. Chris mowed and trimmed back all the grasses and other taller perennials that needed tidied up. If all goes well, he plans to begin planting the new seed crops this next week.
Last winter was really difficult for many perennial plants, especially the woody ones. Our fruit trees are struggling to regroup after a harsh winter with very cold temperatures, but one especially difficult cold spell where temps dropped about 30 degrees in little more than an hour’s time. That took a lot of plants and animals by surprise and we are seeing now the damage that was done. This is one of our peach trees, which we thought might actually have died, but it is starting to leaf out. Most of the buds winter-killed, but I’m seeing just a very few blooms. Maybe we’ll have enough peaches and other fruits for some fresh eating, but I’m doubtful now that we will get a really good crop of them that will allow me to preserve fruit for the winter pantry. Maybe…but it’s not looking too promising. In fact, plums are really tough and usually do well, even when other fruit trees have challenges. One of our Italian plum trees isn’t showing any signs of life at this point, although I’m not giving up on it yet. The apricot looked the same way a few days ago and now there are just a small few leaves coming out on the apricot, so maybe there is still hope that these trees will have survived and will re-group. I hope so. I so love my fruit trees!
One very big surprise I discovered this evening is that the hardy kiwi vine has come through this difficult winter, although the tops seem to have died back, there are tiny bright green shoots showing up at the root crown. I’m thrilled about this, as I didn’t think it would have made it through our minus teens temps on several occasions this past winter. So, this being the case, we have 5 of these plants that we will be selling in the Farm Stand this spring and I can now testify with confidence that they will survive our Colorado winters. The next test question is whether or not we will have what it takes for them to bear fruit here. They are supposed to fruit here, but one never knows until you see it with your own eyes.
We also donated these tomatoes to our local elementary schools for the young ones to do their experiment to see how plants will react to too much water, not enough water, and just the right amount of water. Tomatoes are very reactive to watering changes, so I have no doubt that the kids will see immediately the results of their watering practices with these plants.
Chris and our friend James went last weekend to Tooley’s Trees to pick up our bare root heirloom fruit trees. On Sunday, Chris and Shrek potted those trees up and now we will hold them for 1 year to give them time to root in well before we offer them for sale to our Farm Stand customers. It is also true, that in order to label these trees with an organic tag, our organic certification license requires us to hold them on the farm for 1 year before labeling them as organic. So this batch of trees will be for sale in spring 2016.
Last year we did the same thing with a batch of bare root heirloom fruit trees so that we could have some to sell this spring at our Farm Stand during Open Farm Days. They look great and you can see them here. There are apples, plums, peaches, nectarines and apricots…all heirloom varieties. These have been grown here at Desert Canyon Farm for the past year organically, so they now qualify for organic labeling.
The other thing you can see in this photo is a portion of our Farm Stand expansion area. We are offering more plant varieties this year for sale, and we can’t fit everything inside our current Farm Stand space anymore, so Chris made us an outside area to put out some of the fruit bushes and trees, the hardy succulents, strawberries, and lots of other great plants that won’t fit indoors.
This is all part of our plans to expand into more retail sales, and this year is the first year to implement that plan. Help us out, if you will, by coming in mass to our Open Farm Days and shopping in our Farm Stand plant sale. We’re going to need your help to make this transition successful. If it works, you can plan that each year we will be offering even more fantastic plants and different types of plants as your specialty certified organic farm nursery. If you read the page of this blog about our Open Farm Days you can find out a lot more information on what we will have and our open days and hours, etc. You can also go to the pages of this blog for “Herb Plant Information” and “Heritage Heirloom Food Plant Information” where you will find lists of the plants we are growing, and which we hope to have available for sale this spring.
Lastly, the fairy community has returned to the farm’s Fairy Garden. I noticed that their homes and all their belongings were back in the garden this evening when I was doing my end of day farm chores to close up greenhouses and reset the thermometers for the night-time low temps. It is our belief that the fairies go to Mexico for the winter cold months, because in late fall all their homes and personal items disappear from the garden in preparation for the winter cold. There just can’t be any other explanation! Anyway, when the weather warms up and the flowers start blooming, the fairy community returns to the garden. I know our little neighbor girl, Arianna, will be pleased to see that they are back the next time she visits the farm to play with Shrek. She can often be found exploring the fairy garden. It is quite a magical place!
With that thought, I’ll leave you to your night’s rest. It’s only two short weeks until we open the farm to the public for Open Farms Days. There is so much work to do in preparation that it makes my head swim, but somehow we always seem to get enough done to feel good about welcoming visitors to our homeplace. If you live near enough to visit on one of our Open Farm Days dates, we will hope to see you here!