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It’s the time of the year when we announce our dates for this spring’s Open Farm Days & Farm Stand Plant Sale.                                                                            We will be opening our farm to the public on Saturday, April 11th thru Sunday, June 14th. We will be open Saturdays thru Thursdays (closed on Fridays) from 9am to 4pm.

We will have more than 1800 different plant varieties for sale this year!

If you visit the “Open Farm Days” page of this blog, you’ll find all the specific details.

As always, on Saturdays and Sundays during our Open Farm Days, we will be offering free workshops for your enjoyment and learning. Here is the schedule for this year’s workshop offerings.

If you go to the “Classes & Events” page of this blog, you’ll find all the specific details you will want to know.

This year, we have several wonderful guest teachers teaching workshops, in addition to myself (Tammi) and Chris. Lizz Colvin, Cheryl Davison, Liz Kirby, James Krumm, and Michelle Taylor are each fantastic teachers and they have much to share with you.

So, with all this talk of spring happenings, needless to say, we are keeping really busy around here getting ready.

This week, Chris and Shrek repaired the floor in the Farm Stand store and the Hygge Greenhouse.

We replaced the plastic on the Yarrow Greenhouse with the help of Lizz and our wonderful farmer friends, Brad and Jan.

Once there was a new plastic covering on the Yarrow Greenhouse, then it was weeded, the benches put back in place, and the shade cloth for the ceiling put back up.

We’ve been planting like crazy, especially Lizz, who has been seeding, taking cuttings and transplanting like a crazy woman! I’ve been moving plants from one greenhouse to another, depending on where they need to go according to their heat needs. Some houses are kept warmer than others for starting baby plants in and allowing others to get well-rooted into their pots. After that, they are often moved to a greenhouse that isn’t quite as warm at night until they are sold to customers.

These plants have been in an unheated greenhouse all winter, under frost blanket to help them stay a tiny bit warmer, so that they would be semi-dormant. Now it’s time to uncover them and start waking them up. That was my task this week. I went through all these sleeping plants, getting the weeds out, trimming off old dead tops, and moving them into warmer places. Next week they will be treated with beneficial nematodes, a beneficial soil-dwelling insect, and given a meal of organic fertilizer, so that they will start to grow and even be blooming by the spring.

Next week will be more of the same, plus we will be planting some of our hanging flower baskets. I’m also thinking of planting some container gardens to have in the Farm Stand store. I haven’t decided for sure about this, but I’m pretty sure I will do it.

All of these plants will be for sale here in our Farm Stand store during Open Farm Days or they will be sold to our wholesale customers.

It has been cold and the wind has blown a lot this week. It feels like my hands are always cold – yikes! Still we made sure to get in our walks and hikes with Shrek.

So, the work days are 7 days a week now, and the hours are getting longer, but it’s all good. And we are still having time to sit a spell on a log for lunch on a hike.

Hunt for bones and then bury them on that same hike.

And sneak in a little bit of stitching time in the evenings before bedtime.

We are very lucky for the life we have and we know it. It’s hard work, but good work. Gratitude is abundant here. This place is 10 minutes from my homeplace…it kinda speaks for itself, doesn’t it. I’m very fortunate to live in a gorgeous part of this Earth!

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

Now Hiring Farm Crew Positions

We are currently looking for 2, possibly 3 people to work with us this next growing season.

The first position is a person or persons to work in the Farm Stand store. This person would work Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and the Monday of Memorial Day weekend. There is also a possibility of a Saturdays only position.  Hours are 8am to 4pm with a 1 hour lunch break. This job would start on April 1st and go through June 14th. This person should know something about plants and gardening ideally, as sometimes they will be working solo in the Farm Stand store and need to address customer questions appropriately. There is a lot of plant sign information, so it is not necessary that they know the specific plants we sell, but some background knowledge would be helpful. They need to like working with people and be able to run the cash register and handle money well. They also need to be willing to do odd jobs in the Farm Stand store when things are slow, like cleaning plant inventory, sweeping the floors, maybe some planting or labeling tasks, etc. Reliability, honesty, the ability to work with other crew members well, and a cheerful personality are a must.

The second position we have is for a field crew person to work part-time in the flower seed crops field. Honestly, this job is mostly hand-weeding, but there may be some spring planting involved and there will be seed harvesting throughout the spring and summer once the flowers begin to come into seed harvest. This position is a Monday thru Thursday morning job from 8am to noon initially and then 7am to 11am when the summer temps begin to get hotter. This person needs to be comfortable working in the summer heat and doing hands and knees type of work and be able to work independently on days when Chris is doing other tasks. This job would start in early May (possibly the last week in April weather-dependent) and go at least until the Thursday before Labor Day weekend. There might be work into September, but that isn’t definite.
Pay for all of these jobs is $15.00/hour. The only benefits are paid Memorial Day and paid 4th of July holiday. It’s possible that the same person could be hired for both the Farm Stand store and field crew positions if they seem like a good fit and are interested in both jobs, but we are anticipating 2-3 different people.
If you are interested, we are hoping to hire someone in the next 2 weeks, even though the jobs won’t actually start until later in spring. Please  email us at desertcanonfarm@gmail.com or phone at 719-275-0651 (No text messages). It is best to phone during normal business hours if possible
With Green Thoughts,
Tammi & Chris

Happy Solstice and Happy New Year!

These are the wonderful kids we claim as our grand-kids, even though they may not officially be. M’lissa has always had a traditional of decorating Christmas cookies the week of the holiday and now she is carrying on that tradition with her family.  Gabe and Lyli are taking their cookie decorating responsibilities very seriously ;-}

What a treat to see wild turkey tracks in the snow as we were on one of our dog walks recently.

This is Magenta Spreen – which is a type of beautiful Lamb’s Quarters. I love growing this plant and it is delicious to eat. Very tasty in salads and great cooked with potatoes and then put inside corn or flour tortillas to make great tacos and burritos. I’ll have small pots of Magenta Spreen for sale in the Farm Stand store this spring if you want to grow some too.

It’s winter outdoors and cold, but we are well-geared up for spring now in the greenhouses. I just finished filling up the next greenhouse yesterday – fondly called the Lizard House, as all our greenhouses have fun names. This house if filled with figs, scented geraniums, bay trees and tender succulents, passionflowers and pomegranates – all sorts of wonderful plants to sell this spring.

The one bad thing that happened over our winter solstice break is that a neighbor cat climbed on one of our greenhouses and ripped the plastic with their claws to the tune of a 4 foot long tear! Grrrrrrrrr. That is not only frustrating, it gets expensive to replace greenhouse coverings, and it makes them hard to patch in the meantime so that they will hold heat properly.

I just wish people who have outdoor cats would keep them at their own homes. I know people will say that isn’t possible with cats, but that simply is not true. I am soon to be 59 years old and have had cats all my life since infanthood, and whenever they have been outdoors they have stayed within boundaries we taught them to honor. They are not allowed to be outdoors at night for their own safety, or they would be at risk of becoming a predator meal. So, it is very possible and do-able to have cats that will stay at home when they are outdoors. It just takes some time and patience to teach them to honor that requirement or else they have go indoors. This also protects the wild song birds that cats hunt and  kill. I’m not the only one who has cats that abide by these outdoor conditions, so my cats are not an isolated example. Please – if you have outside cats, teach them to stay home or keep them indoors. It really isn’t any different than a dog – you wouldn’t expect your dog to run around the neighborhood, or at least I hope you don’t expect them to do that – and I seriously doubt you do. You teach them to stay at home. It can be the same with cats.

So, sorry about the rant, but really…I enjoy the wild birds on our farm and I don’t like cats to hunt them and I don’t allow my cats to hunt them. I would not want my cats to tear people window screens on their homes and I don’t want neighborhood cats to be tearing the roofs on our greenhouses. So, enough said and spoken or written by a cat lover of the highest degree, all be it a frustrated cat lover.

On a much more wonderful note – we spent Christmas day sick with colds, but not too sick to keep us from going on a dog walk to the cowboy cabin with our friends Jan and Brad. It was a sunny and warm day and good medicine for our colds.

We’re looking forward to the coming year and hope you are too.

 

 

 

Have a wonderful solstice season from our house to yours!

December’s First Friday events in town found Chris playing at The Hive for their Artists Night. It was a lovely evening and we all enjoyed not only the artists and their works, but listening to Chris play the evening away. Very nice!

We have loads of propagation tubs full of native plant seedlings and this week Lizz began the process of transplanting them into pots and larger plugs. These will be for sale in our Farm Stand store this coming spring and there will be a great many to choose from. We’ll have a large selection of Penstemons, Globemallows, Zinnia grandiflora, woody species like a few species of oaks – all sorts of plant varieties.

Next week she will be sowing the next batch of perennials, some of which will be natives, all of which will be good choices for gardeners, especially gardeners interested in growing plants with a lot of uses or which are appropriate as wildlife habitat plants.

Yay! Yesterday I finished my seed orders for next year’s growing season. I’m glad to have that task completed and now I can hardly wait until the seeds begin to arrive in the mail! So many varieties of plants – old green friends and new green friends.

When Lincoln School of Science and Technology came to visit the farm the first week of October, many of the children planted seeds, and some of those seeds were different kinds of beans. Of course, I planted a pot of seeds for each class that planted bean seeds as I demonstrated the process of planting a seed to kindergartners thru 2nd graders. Now those demo pots of beans seeds are big plants and producing bean pods. We will be eating freshly harvested beans before much longer.

Of course, Shrek is always involved in the daily happenings of greenhouse and other farm work.

Grow your own Climate Victory Garden this Winter

So those have been some of the tasks happening this past week on the farm. But now I’d like to talk to you about something really fun, inspiring and important you can be doing this winter season in your own lives.

Some time back ago, maybe it was in late spring or early summer, I wrote about growing a Climate Victory Garden and how in this day and time that would be an incredibly good and important thing we can all be doing. For most of us, at least those of us that live in places where winter is a cold season and its not really possible to do much, if any, outdoor growing, the traditional food gardening season has come to a close.

That does not mean that the food gardening season cannot continue indoors when winter weather outdoors is too cold. If you think that you cannot grow a food garden in the winter, I would challenge you to re-think that thought and get busy planting yourself a winter food garden indoors. It won’t matter if you live in a house, have a sun-room or greenhouse or not, live in an apartment or even a collage dorm room. It is possible to grow many types of food plants indoors!

Remember during the World War when there were food shortages and the government asked people to ration their food and to grow as much of their own food as possible? Well, people did just that and they benefited in many ways by growing a “Victory Garden”.

Now we are in a different kind of crisis with climate change a very real challenge for all of us and every living thing on this planet. It’s time to grow as much of our own food and herbs as we can do and besides it feels great to do so. It’s time to start growing “Victory Gardens” again, but now we will call them “Climate Victory Gardens”. I challenge you to grow whatever you can starting this very month. You won’t be sorry and it will leave you feeling great. You’ll be a wonderful example to others and inspire and teach kids how to take good care of themselves and the earth. It’s the right thing to do and it is pure pleasure besides!

So, let me encourage you to become a winter food gardener with these ideas:

This is a sunny spot in my kitchen and we use this as a gathering space. I have an end table there sitting about 2 feet away from a window that is filled with pots of herbs and veggies. There are salad lettuces and greens, chives, parsley and spinach all growing on a space that is about 15″ x 24″. It looks like a very sunny spot, but that is deceiving, as the only time the sun shines directly through this window is for about 2 hours in the mid afternoon. The rest of the day it is indirect light.

How about growing veggies like carrots or green onions, radishes and the like, in addition to salad greens and lettuces. These types of veggies will grow well in bright, but indirect light, and they are pretty much trouble free. Sow them in any kind of pot you have that has drainage holes in the bottom (remember to put a water-catch tray of some sort under the pot to catch the water that drains through the pot when you water the plants). I like to grow nantes or paris market carrots indoors because they don’t grow quite as long in length as other types of carrots, which means you can grow them in a pot that is about 6″ deep.

Green onions or leeks and shallots are great grown in pots indoors.

Once your carrots get to their proper size, you simply pull them out of the pot, twist off the tops (I toss the tops outdoors for the wildlife to forage on), wash your carrots and your ready to enjoy eating them. They are so much sweeter than the carrots you buy at the grocery market!

There are a great many other types of food plants that can be grown indoors, like figs! Figs are easy to grow indoors, as they like indirect light, temps that are compatible with house temperatures like 60-80 degrees. Your fig will produce fruits on-going and when they turn chocolate brown, they are ready to pick and eat fresh. Delicious!

Don’t forget to grow some herbs too. This is a ginger plant and ginger is really simple to grow indoors. Like figs, they prefer indirect light and warm household temperatures. In January or February, the ginger plant will start to go dormant with leaves getting yellowish and floppy. When this happens, it is time to harvest your ginger rhizomes (roots) for cooking or herbal medicine making. Simply, dump the pot out, remove all the soil from the roots, then wash your roots and store them in the fridge crisper until you are ready to cook with them, make tea, tincture or herbal vinegar.

Remember to save back one section of the ginger root to plant back in a pot with fresh soil. This piece of root will re-grow and begin multiplying the rhizomes for the next January’s crop harvest.

You can also see in front of  my pot of ginger is a pot of scented geraniums. These can be a fun addition to your indoor food and herb garden. The leaves and flowers are edible and very fragrant. They bloom all winter long and are easy to grow. You can use the leaves and flowers in bread or salad or float them in a pitcher of ice water.

Purple Beauty Bell Peppers are one of my favorite indoor veggies to grow. You could choose other types of peppers to grow instead of these, but I like these best. The outside of the peppers are dark purple and the inside is bright lime green and the flavor is very sweet.

It’s not unusual for these pepper plants to be loaded up with peppers ready to use in stir fry, vegetable roasts, casseroles and so much more.

Some folks like to grow citrus trees in pots indoors. I grow limes and kumquats. I do get some limes to pick, but not that many, but any I can pick I enjoy eating immensely. The kumquat tree always produces a lot of fruit in the winter and I pick a handful every day for a couple of weeks.

If you grow citrus indoors, you will need to have a location with pretty bright light, but it doesn’t have to be direct sunlight. Don’t over-water these plants. Mine get watered once a week.

Pomegranates do well indoors too with low water and bright indirect light. I do set my pomegranate plant outdoors on a shady porch all summer so that the hummingbirds will find the bright scarlet flowers and pollinate them. You can see the pomegranate fruit above that starts to grow in mid summer and gets bigger and fatter and juicier with the passing weeks.

Then around Thanksgiving, I harvest my pomegranate fruits to eat.

One of the very best tomato variety for growing indoors is called Red Robin and it produces large red cherry tomatoes. These plants don’t get all whiley and huge and floppy like most tomatoes would. Instead these stay bushy and about 15-18″ tall. They are self-pollinating and prefer to be in indirect light, not direct sunlight (which they kinda hate). If you fertilize them every 3-4 weeks, they will continue to produce tomatoes for you to pick each week all through the winter and spring months.

There are loads of herbs you can grow indoors, including this cutie, called Spilanthes or Toothache Plant. It is a medicinal herb and you can make a mouth rinse from the leaves and flowers that help keep gum tissues healthy. It will bloom with these sweet yellow flowers on-going.

Remember, that whenever you grow plants indoors it will be important to fertilize them every 3-4 weeks with an organic fertilizer. Don’t fertilize them more often or you will have luscious foliage, but not much flavor, fruits or smell if they are an aromatic herb.

There are many good brands of organic fertilizer to choose from, so visit your local garden center to see what they have available. DO NOT use non-organic fertilizer, as this is not good for you and the earth.

For heavens sake, don’t forget to consider growing some strawberries indoors. If you grow an ever-bearing variety, like Eversweet, Tri-Star or Ft Laramie, you will have fresh berries to harvest all winter since strawberries will flower and produce fruit indoors and outdoors both.

One must have breakfast food after all ;-}

You could even plant a rather large herb garden if you want to like this one and it can double as a fairy garden for indoor magic and fun. This fairy garden has alpine strawberries (edible leaves and flower and fruits), violets (edible leaves and flowers), thyme (for cooking and herbal medicine), dianthus pinks (edible flowers) and lemon verbena (leaves and flowers for cooking, tea and as a bath herb or sachets).

Once I brought an old birdbath indoors and planted it as an herb/fairy garden. It was fun and beautiful and I could water it carefully and it wouldn’t leak on the floor since it was a birdbath converted to a growing container.

In this time in our earth’s existence, we need to do whatever we can to help the planet and ourselves in a time of climate change. Growing a food garden outdoors in warm climates or during warm months of the year, especially a garden with a lot of perennial food plants included, and growing an indoor food garden during the cold months of the year is a way that you can do something incredibly positive for the earth, yourself and your family.

By growing a Climate Victory Garden you will have fresh food and herbs to use at a hand’s touch. That means the food and herbs do not have to travel to a store via planes, ships or semi-trucks and that is a much smaller carbon foot-print. The food will be picked fresh and that gives you best flavor and nutrition over something that may have been picked before it was truly ripe or a fruit or veggie that might have been grown using a lot of chemical fertilizers and pesticides – which of course isn’t good for your health and it is terrible for the health of the planet! Often you can have exotic types of foods that you grow fresh yourself that you might not otherwise have during the winter months if they aren’t something the grocery market stocks in the winter season (think figs, fresh chilies, ginger, all sorts of things).

Remember during the World War when there were food shortages and the government asked people to ration their food and to grow as much of their own food as possible? Well, people did just that and they benefited in many ways by growing a Victory Garden. Now we are in a different kind of crisis with climate change a very real challenge for all of us and every living thing on this planet. It’s time to grow as much of our own food and herbs as we can do and besides it feels great to do so. It’s time to start growing Victory Gardens again, but now we will call them “Climate Victory Gardens”.

I challenge you to grow whatever you can starting this very month. You won’t be sorry and it will leave you feeling great. You’ll be a wonderful example to others and inspire and teach kids how to take good care of themselves and the earth. It’s the right thing to do and it is pure pleasure!

And Shrek says to remember to include a pot of peppermint or spearmint in your indoor Climate Victory Garden  for tea, sore muscle relief and mint chocolate chip cookies.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s mating season for the mule deer that live here on the farm with us and this is one of several  large bucks that have been pestering the does for favors. He was hanging out about 30 feet from the back porch, looking very majestic, so I couldn’t resist getting his picture.

You haven’t heard from me in a few weeks because we have been taking a bit of time to make our annual camping trip to the Cedar Mesa area in southern Utah and then visiting our family in Nebraska for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Once a year we can get away from the farm, thanks to Lizz’ great farm care-taking, for a week to go hiking. It is a time we greatly look forward to, and when we can see all the plants we love and visit the Anasazi ruins that are abundant in these canyons where we hike. We love that too!

So, we load our very old and warty pop-up camper onto our truck and off we go. It’s a no frills kind of trip, but those are the trips we like the best, and we have everything we need in our little camper.

Of course, Shrek goes with us and he absolutely lives for his full days of hiking. This is HIS sleeping spot in our camper.

In one of the canyons we hike in often, there is an isolated population of maples that are spectacular. With a bit of luck, we will have some of these trees to offer for sale in our Farm Stand store during Open Farm Days. They are very isolated from other maple communities in this part of Utah and they have a vibrant red fall color that is nothing short of amazing!

Look at the color of these leaves!

We had lunch in one of the washes where there was a great fallen tree, perfect for Chris to use as a picnic spot.

The canyons where we walk are full of ancient Anasazi ruins. Some are high up in the canyon walls and not really accessible. It is always an honor for me to see these old homes of a people who totally lived off the lands around them. I always feel very humble in the presence of these places.

There are many ruins that we are able to get to and see the most amazing things in and around them. There are often pottery shards, pieces of stone tools, sometimes there are still old wooden rafters in the ruins. We see matataes (corn grinding stones) and petrified corn cobs, sometimes pieces of rope shoes – all sorts of things. There is rock art everywhere on the walls of the canyons.

It is a precious place, and you must approach it for the sacred places that they are, as a visitor, with the greatest respect for all that is around you.

There are wild gardens of manzanita bushes, planted by Mother Nature herself. You can see that some still had berries on them, even though my picture was terrible from my hands being so cold they were shivering.

I harvested a little bit of manzanita, some shapherdia and artemisia to bring home and create my winter solstice wreath for the back porch door.

At home, I added some Arizona cypress seed pods, mahonia leaves and some hawthorn berries, plus a few duck feathers from Hannah and Gretel. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

The junipers on our hikes were loaded with huge berries. That color of blue is one of my favorites.

There were some penstemons we saw all around the canyons of Cedar Mesa that we are not quite sure what species they are. Of course, they are all resting for winter and the early cold turned what foliage they had a deep purplish blue-green color. Any ideas?

Here is another penstemon.

One day it was raining and we were not able to hike in the canyons. We went to the visitor center at Natural Bridges National Monument so that I could look for a good book to read.

The bookstores in National Parks and Monuments always have the most interesting selection of books that you rarely see in other kinds of bookstores, so I’m always eager to treat myself to a good read. After we drove there for me to look, the visitor center was closed. Bummer, but we accidentally found a trail we had no idea existed up on the mesa top. We decided to walk this trail, even though it was raining, and we really found it interesting and enjoyable.

The trail was an old covered wagon route that the Morman people used to go from Moab to Bluff, Utah. The signs told us that this was only one section that followed the mesa top along the canyon rim of Grand Glutch.

It was an easy walk for us, but it was a hard trail for these folks to build for their wagons all those years back ago, and so beautiful. You can still easily see the ruts in the soil where the old wagon wheels traveled in many places.

Some more ruins we visited.

Look at this funny rock, which has split open in such a way that it looks like a giant creature’s mouth opened wide.

Now we’re back home from our travels and back to work as well.

This time of the year, Chris uses only beneficial insects in our greenhouses for pest insect management. These are tiny wasps that he releases in the greenhouses. They hunt and eat aphids. Don’t worry, these wasps do not sting!

We have greenhouses that need to be covered with new plastic roofs, so the plastic is ordered. This picture is of where a deer buck’s antler poked through the plastic – not intentionally, but the damage was done all the same.

This other greenhouse was torn up by a bad wind storm and we had to patch it to get by until time allowed for us to recover it. That is on our list of winter tasks to do before we have to fill this greenhouse with plants again in January. With all these patches, this greenhouse kinda looks like a crazy quilt at the moment!

Yesterday, half of our greenhouse soil mix was delivered. Lizz and I spent all morning moving and stacking 8 tall pallets worth of soil into the supply barn. That was almost 400 big and heavy bags of mix. Today, my arms are reminding me that they didn’t like that task very much ;-}

 

My writing desk is currently piled with seed catalogs, as I work on our seed orders. They should have been done months ago, so now I’m scrambling to finish this task and get the seed orders placed.

Cornelia and I are continuing our work on our children’s plant book and it is a big, glorious project I am enjoying very much.

Chris just got a new gypsy guitar that he uses to play gypsy jazz and his smile tells it all of how pleased he is to have that guitar to play.

The winter solstice is well on it’s way and the days are very short. I’m not crazy about these short dark days, but I remind myself that this is part of the seasons I live closely with. I’ve put up my solar solstice lights on several of the bushes and trees in my garden and they make me very happy to see all the color and brightness each evening.

Until next time.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a quick post to let you know that we will be holding you in gratitude during this Thanksgiving holiday.

Enjoy the holiday in the company of people you love and good friends, with relaxation and plenty of laughter, and good food of course! We will be doing the same.

Next week, I’ll have a longer post to share the many things happening these past 2 weeks. In the meantime, be in joy!!

With Green Thoughts,

Tammi