Greetings from Topeka, Kansas and the Mother Earth News Fair!

This morning I spoke on Wildlife-Friendly Gardening and the people who attended were wonderful and welcoming. This Fair is a lot of fun! Tomorrow at  11:30 am I’ll be giving another talk called Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine. That presentation will be at the Mother Earth Living Stage if you are attending the Fair and would like to join me.

In Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine I’ll be sharing some of my favorite North American native plants and how people use them…past, present and going forward into the future. I’ll hope to see you there.

Oh, and visit the Mother Earth News Fair Bookstore if you are attending. All of my books are there, of course, if you are interested in purchasing a copy, but there are hundreds of different books for sale there. I had the most glorious time shopping today for books in that bookstore. Books on gardening, using herbs, raising livestock, foraging wild plants, building sustainable structures…you name it and if it is about earth-friendly or sustainable living, they have a lot of books for you to explore. Enjoy!

Back at home, seed harvesting continues. We are expecting we might get a hard frost any day now, as when that happens the seed crops that are still maturing in the field will finish ripening and we can pick the seed. There are still a lot of seed plants that we’re waiting to harvest, including the Sunset Hyssop, Chocolate Flower, Sporabilis grass, Mojave Sage and a number of others. Autumn, thankfully, is a pretty long season for us in Canon City, so it won’t surprise me if we continue to pick seed crops well into November. Since Autumn is my most favorite time of the year, I’m always happy if the season goes long and lasts a while.

Driving to Topeka, Kansas for the Fair I was able to enjoy a lot of beautiful fall color. Chris and I have been getting in some Sunday hikes in the Sangres too and the color there was lovely, although it is mostly past now. In Canon City, the fall color is really getting cranked up now, so life is good!

I’ll be back to write more when I’m back at the farm homeplace. Hope you are enjoying your Autumn too!

With Green Thoughts, Tammi


This coming weekend is the Kansas Mother Earth News Fair and I’ll be there as a presenter. The Fair is going to be fantastic. The speaker line-up is incredible! I’ve presented at Mother Earth News Fairs before and these are really great events. There will be vendors of every kind towards a sustainable and earth-friendly lifestyle. There will be demonstrations whether you are interested in livestock or spinning and everything in-between. And the food…well, come hungry, because my past experience has been that the food is really delicious and not the ordinary “fair type” of food. This is real food and tasty!

I’ll be sharing ideas about gardening in a wildlife friendly way to address both the positives and the challenges. I’ll also be sharing some of my favorite North American plants and many of the ways that people use them, including California Poppy, Mexican Cacao (Chocolate), Mesquite Trees, Cattails, and Milkweeds.

The Fair Bookstore will have all three of my current books available to buy…Homegrown Herbs, The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener, and Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine. Cattail Moonshine is hot off the press and only just released 4 weeks ago. Of course, besides my books (which I hope you’ll take a look at) there will be hundreds of other books there. All the presenters books and every other possible earth-friendly sustainable living type of book you can imagine. I plan to do some serious book shopping while I’m there, as this is always a great opportunity to find interesting and unique titles to add to Chris and my library.

I’ll hope to see you there. Google Mother Earth News Fair for all the specifics.


More locally, I’m quite excited to be participating in the Holiday Open House for the Covered Treasures Bookstore on November 5, 2016. I’ll be there for a book-signing from 11am to 1pm. This is truly a lovely book shop and of course, if your like me, I’m always looking for some great books to gift away for the Winter Solstice and Christmas holiday. If you’re in the neighborhood on the 5th of November, I hope you’ll drop in to the Covered Treasures Bookstore and say hello.


We’re in the final weeks of the outdoor food garden harvest season. I’ve been picking a lot, including these Cuban Heirloom Cachucha Sweet Peppers and Cucamelons (also called Mexican Sour Gerkins).

My friends, Diana and Merrilee at Perennial Favorites, introduced me to the cucamelons this garden season and I planted the plant they gifted me with. Oh my goodness…this is one prolific vegetable! Below is a plate full of little 1-2″ long cucamelons I picked on Sunday and that was only one picking. Diana says these are really delicious pickled, but they never got the chance to be pickled around here. We ate them in salads, on sandwich wraps, and just as snacks. They are very fun. We hope to grow the plants of this vegetable to offer for sale in our Farm Stand store next spring.

Two years back, a friend of ours in the community gifted us with the Cuban heirloom pepper called Cachucha Sweet Pepper. Her mother in Florida grows these every year and Barbara grows some too here in Westcliffe as a patio plant in summer and then brings it indoors to grow it into the fall and winter seasons. She gave us some seed, which we grew into a small crop of these pepper plants last spring, and sold them in our Farm Stand store. They were a big hit, and I very nearly forgot to pull out a couple of plants for my own growing so that I could save some seed to plant them again next spring. Luckily I remembered and that plant has produced probably a hundred peppers at least. It’s still getting more peppers now that I brought it indoors with the cooler nighttime temps outside. These peppers look like scotch bonnet hot peppers, but they are sweet fry peppers and really delicious. They also dry very nicely for later use this winter.


Yesterday was my day to scrub the bird feeders for the fall season. I do this task once a season and it is a very big project since we have a LOT of bird feeders around here. It’s important, though, because if your bird feeders get too dirty, they can promote disease in birds that are eating from them. I scrub them in soapy water with scrub brushes and then rinse them in clear water that has 2% non-clorine bleach added to it. Once they are dry, I fill them with fresh bird seed and put them back in place around the farm. The birds are enjoying a meal from freshly scrubbed feeders.

Oh, and don’t forget to scrub your bird-baths once a week with soapy water. Rinse them very well before filling them with fresh water for the birds and other wildlife to use as a drinking and bathing source. It’s really important to scrub birdbaths weekly, because if you have watched the birds at your birdbath, you will know that they bathe in these, drink from them and poop in them. Unwashed birdbaths are a recipe for sick birds and other wildlife.


Speaking of other wildlife, we’ve have a family of raccoons hanging around (well, raccoons are always around the farm) with three youngsters. The other night those young coons were playing in the Manchurian apricot tree and making all kinds of racket. I stepped out on the back porch and they froze with fright in the tree. That was my good fortune, as I was able to take a few photos of them.  Sadly, though, one of the youngsters was hit by a car in front of the farm this morning. It’s not easy to be any kind of baby in this world. There is so much to learn, things to be wary of. Life for wildlife is tricky when you exist in a world with humans and other kinds of critters.

I know that some of you will say one less raccoon is a lot less trouble, but they are just doing what they need to in order to survive in the world. We co-exist in a friendly way here on our farm with raccoons, and lots of other types of wildlife, because this world belongs to them too. We use wildlife friendly methods to keep raccoons, and other challenging wildlife, from causing too much trouble here by using motion sensor water spray contraptions, scarecrows, yellow caution tape, and other methods.  If we have a big problem we can put out Plantskydd, a deodorized blood meal product that they can smell, but we can’t. It is OMRI registered, which means it works for organic growers, and it lasts for 6 months even with rain or snow. It is pricey, but if there is a big challenge with wildlife eating our produce or seed crops, and we can’t solve the problem in a different peaceful way, we fall to the Plantskydd. It works well for us when we need it.


As I said earlier, this is the time to get everything left in the garden harvested before we get a hard frost in November. I harvested my potatoes a few days ago.  I had grown them in 50 gallon tree baskets, which makes the harvesting pretty easy. I just dump the pots out in an area that needs some extra garden soil, and then forage through the soil to find all the potatoes.

Once harvested, the potatoes are laid out in a shallow layer on cardboard or drying screens and allowed to cure for a week or so in a place out of direct sunlight and with good air ventilation. Then they are ready to store until I use them up through the winter. Store your potatoes in a cool dry place and they will keep quite a while before sprouting. If your concerned that they will sprout before you can use them up, I’ve had great luck chopping them up into chunks about an inch in size more or less, and then boiling them in broth until they are nearly done. I leave the potato peels on, but scrub them before cooking to remove any bits of lingering dirt. After the potatoes are cooked and cooled, I put them into freezer containers and freeze them. They make for delicious soup, potato salad, skillet dinners and such. I’m told you can cook them and then dehydrate them, but I’ve never tried this myself. Might be a good way to store them if you have limited freezer space and more potatoes than you can eat fresh before they sprout towards the late winter or early spring season.



Last week, Chris and I took off for an overnight camping trip in northern New Mexico to celebrate our 22 wedding anniversary. It’s not a very easy time of the year to get away from the farm for more than an afternoon, but we left Lizz in charge of the cats and the farm and we left. Lizz did a great job of watching after things here, as she always does, and we had a wonderful time.

We drove to Espanola to eat our favorite tacos and then camped out in our handy-dandy camper, which actually finally has a working heater after 2 years of trying to get it to work properly…yay! On Thursday, we got an early start and went hiking on the Manzanita Canyon trail north of Taos. We were looking at interesting plants and enjoying a great day on the trail with our dog Shrek. Then back home we went Thursday night happy and smiling.

It’s impossible for us to be away for more time yet, as the seed crops are still ripening and needing to be picked. The greenhouses always have plants and tasks needing to be tended too, but this little break from farm and work was much-needed and enjoyed.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi


I’ve got quite a few events happening this month. The new one just scheduled is that I will be speaking at the Kansas Mother Earth News Fair the weekend of October 22-23, 2016. I’ll be giving presentations on Saturday and Sunday mornings and a book-signing event on Saturday. Here is the link to find out all the details about this Fair


Three years ago I spoke at the east coast Mother Earth News Fair. It is a really great Fair with so many different speakers, vendors and delicious food. If you can come to the Kansas Fair, maybe I’ll see you there.


Household news is that the kittens have graduated out of the bathroom and bedroom and into the rest of the house. It’s going rather “interestingly”. I’m not sure if that is a real word…but, for the most part the kittens are learning about the rest of the house. They are learning what they can do and what is off-limits, and Sadie is trying her best to teach them to respect their animal elders. Some  days she has better luck at this then on other days. The picture below is one of her with her ears flat and I think she is feeling a bit frustrated that they will always be goofy kittens! Pouncita, the Siamese is over 20 years old, and for the most part she hangs out in the rocking chair sleeping or sun bathing and trying to ignore the kittens. Shrek, the dog, in truth, isn’t sure what to think of them. Pal, the gray kitten, pushes Shrek’s buttons at every opportunity. Willow is more respectful.


We had a deer put its hoof or antler through two layers of plastic on our Plant Barn greenhouse and these holes are about 8″ in size. Yikes! All the time we worry because neighborhood cats sometimes climb on the plastic of the greenhouses, puncturing it with claw holes. Too many cat claw holes and the plastic is ruined and has to be replaced, which costs us a few hundred dollars per greenhouse to put new plastic covering on them. In 20 years of being here, we haven’t ever had a deer  damage the plastic, but this time they sure did a number on it. I patched it up and for now it’s holding. Hopefully, we won’t have to recover this greenhouse just yet.


I finally got my almond tree planted. I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t going to get it accomplished before it was too far into the Fall for it to root in well before winter. It’s now happily adjusting to having its roots in real soil in the earth, rather than growing in a large pot of bagged planting mix.

Growing an Almond tree in Colorado will be an experiment. If you go by the zone requirements, it should be hardy enough for us in southern Colorado. A tree friend tells me they are hardy in Santa Fe, NM, so maybe it will do well here in Canon City. I sure hope so. I would love to have almonds to harvest in a few years.


All for now. Have a really nice week.







I’m back from Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, and the recent site of the Heritage Harvest Festival. I was there to give presentations and do some book-signings. The Festival was really fun. The grounds of Monticello were absolutely amazing. And…would you believe that I forgot to take my camera with me!! So, next best thing was to buy a postcard of the food gardens there (that’s the picture at the top of this post). I have that postcard sitting in front of my computer screen so that it will conjure up all the great gardens I saw there in my mind’s eye.

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A lot has been happening here on the farm this past couple of weeks too. Above are some pictures of our new Dosatron injector, which I use when I’m watering in fertilizer to the plants in the greenhouses. It’s a really great piece of equipment, and allows me to mix up the organic fertilizer in the tank and then hook the dosatron up to the water line and the fertilizer is automatically added to the water at the designated and appropriate rate. I just water as I normally would and the fertilizer is already in the water. This is pretty huge as far as improvements go around here.

Before I had to use a syphojet attachment to the hose and it would suck the concentrated fertilizer up from a 5 gallon bucket and I would then water the properly diluted fertilizer into the plants. Trouble was that I had to attach the whole set up to each hose in each greenhouse and drag all the equipment from one greenhouse to the next, including lugging 5 gallon buckets full of liquid. I’m getting too old for that much moving of heavy awkward equipment.  The dosatron cost us a very pretty penny, but it was worth every cent in the time and energy it saves me when I have to fertilize the greenhouses, especially in the spring when there are 8 greenhouses full to the brim with plants. I love this contraption!


Our clay pots order arrived from Nebraska. We’ve safely stored them away in our supply barn where they won’t get broken. Now we are all set for clay pots when we need them for the entire year of planting in 2017.


Beki has been working hard to get all the newly planted crops weeded a final time before her work season closes here at the end of the month. Here she is weeding the Pennisetum orientalis crop.


Chris and Beki have been harvesting seed in mass these days as the flower seed crops are all ripening. This is the Mojave Sage seed crop. It is a stunning plant with beautiful mauve-purple flowers. The hummingbirds, bumblebees and other pollinators really enjoy the flowers. The foliage is quite aromatic and the silvery foliage is very pretty when planted in a garden.


My ginger mother plant has decided to bloom and the blooms are fragrant and lovely. This plant has been living on my back porch since May, but now that the nights are cooling off into the 40’s some nights, I’ve moved her into the greenhouses to live for the cold months of the year.


This beauty is Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). We grow two species of Passionflower, Passiflora incarnata and Passiflora edulis, and both are hardy in zone 5. They grow reliably as perennial vines in the front range of Colorado, even though their native habitat is in the southeastern part of North America. Not only are they excellent medicine plants, but their fruits are delicious, and the flowers are so exotic looking that they never fail to get appreciation from visitors coming into our White Rabbit garden.

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Very big news is that my new book, Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine, has been released and is now available at bookstores and online. You can also purchase it directly from me if you would like to do so (see the Ordering Tammi’s Books page of this website) and then I can sign it for you if you want. I’m so excited about this new book. I hope you will enjoy it!

On October 1, 2016 I will be doing a celebration presentation at Tagawas Garden Center in Centennial, CO called Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine, followed by a book-signing event. You can learn more about this on the Classes & Events page of this blog. The time will be 11:00am. Tagawas is located at 7711 South Parker Road in Centennial, CO. Their phone number is 303-690-4722. They will have all my books available for this event, including this new book. Hope to see you there.


Last weekend, Chris and I, along with our friends Marc and Joan, had a glorious hike in the mountains to enjoy the fall colors of the oaks, aspens and other plants. Our dogs Molly and Shrek had a great time too. This is the season that is the most fun to hike in…at least that is my opinion.

Talk to you again soon.














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I have several things to share in this post. The first very exciting bit is that next Friday and Saturday I’ll be presenting at The Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello in Virginia.  If you will be there, I hope I’ll see you at one of my talks, and be sure to say hello.

On Friday at 9:30am, I’ll be giving a talk called Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine at the Visitor Center. Right after that talk I’ll be doing a book-signing event.

Then at the same time on Saturday morning, also at the Visitor Center, I’m giving a presentation called The Wildlife Friendly Garden. Again there will be a book-signing event right after I finish my talk.


I’ll have my newest and just barely released book there, called Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine, and this will be the first time the public will get to see this book. I’m so excited to share it with everyone!

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This is the time of the year we are seriously focused on seed-harvesting. We field grow perennial seed for Jelitto Perennial Seed Company in Germany, plus we harvest seed from our gardens to use in our greenhouse potted plant production.

Below is a Desert Willow seed pot. This southwestern native shrub usually only gives us a few ripe seed pods each year, but this year the bush is heavy in seed pods. We’re really pleased about that.

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It’s been a mixed year for seed growing. We had a cool spring and then it got super hot and dry. We’ve had a bit of moisture lately and a few cooler days, but the seed crops like consistency (sort of like people I suppose).

They also depend on pollinators in order to produce viable seed. Sometimes we get fooled and think the plants have been pollinated well because we see a lot of pollinators visiting the blooms. We watched thousands of different kinds of bees working the flowers on the Agave plant and we thought for sure we would have a very nice seed crop. Of course the seed pods are about 15 feet or more above the ground, so it’s not like you can check on them to see how it’s going. Sometimes you must just trust.

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And sometimes you get disappointed! We had a hail storm last week and nearly every pod got knocked down from the flower stocks. They would have been knocked down before they finished ripening, but as it turned out, it wouldn’t have mattered because all the pods were empty. We didn’t have the right pollinators working those flowers to pollinate them correctly and the pods had no viable seed in them. Major bummer!!

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So, that is a big disappointment, but there are plenty of crops that are producing well and the bags of dried seed are mounting in the seed room. They will wait here until November when all the seed is finally harvested and then we’ll box it up and ship it to Germany.

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This sack has Linum narbonese seed in it.

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Sometimes we collect a bit of wild seed to use to start a few plants that we can put into our gardens to have as stock plants for future seed needs. Lizz is collecting some Uva Ursi seed.

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And this is some wild geranium seed that we found. I really love this plant, both for its beauty and for its medicinal properties, so I’ll be happy if I can get some to grow in the gardens here.

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And we are processing a lot of fruit from the garden this week too. I put up apples, raspberries and blackberries, peaches and grapes. These grapes are destined to be made into wine sometime this week. That’s Chris’ project.

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It truly is the harvest season. It is a time to be in gratitude for all the abundance that comes to us from Mother Nature.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi
















This is David Higginbotham. He’s not only our neighbor, but he takes care of the greenhouse heaters and all our plumbing needs here at the farm. You might know him from his business name, Mountain Plumbing & Heating, but did you also know that he is running for Colorado House District 60 seat this November?

David was here on Saturday morning to give our greenhouse heaters their annual check-up before we start running them in September as the night-time temperatures start to go lower. It’s important to have the heaters cleaned, inspected and tested to make sure that they are in tip-top working order. This is important not only to grow the best plants, but to do that with the least amount of fuel used. that is better for the earth and climate change and better for our heating bills.

Anyway, David’s business is about keeping heating and plumbing infrastructure working at it’s best not just for the comfort of his customers, but so that we do the best that we can to address climate change, especially as we transition as a society and a country to clean energy resources and a more sustainable approach to life on this planet. David also supports local and organic farmers, which again, contributes to a more sustainable approach to life on this planet and it’s good for Colorado’s economy.

So, since David was here working on our heaters anyway, I decided to take his picture while he worked and share with you what he is up to in terms of running for our Colorado State House of Representatives. If you want to know more about this, visit http://www.demdistrict60.org . Chris and I are very impressed and maybe you will be too!


Today I took some time to do some garden and orchard harvesting. There was quite a bit happening in the food garden and the heirloom fruit tree orchard, and this is what I picked today…apples (4 kinds), pears, peaches, sunberries, cucamelons, strawberries and raspberries too.

I also picked some peppers, which will become a green chili stew tomorrow. I soaked up the beans (pintos and black turtle beans) and chicos (dried sweet corn), cooked the pork chops we bought from a local farm called Larga Vista Ranch, so I’ll be ready to add some veggies like potatoes, onions and garlic, maybe some carrots, along with the Anaheim chilies. It’s going to be delicious!


Below are the Winter Redflesh apples, which are smallish, tart and have pink flesh. They are so tasty. I think this batch will make some pretty nice applesauce.


Next comes the Chestnut Crabapples. These are an old-fashioned crabapple variety that has pretty large crabapples. They are also tart and yummy.


Mind you, our orchard is only in its 2nd year of planting, so these are very young trees. This is the first year we’ve really picked any apples from them. As with most young tree harvests, there aren’t very many apples on each tree, but we’re getting a sample of years to come and we’re thrilled.

Below here is the Blue Pearmain Apple, which is a giant apple. You can see on this saucer that it is quite large. We had 3 of these apples this year on the tree and the poor little tree was pretty weighted down with just those few. These apples will make a great pie or apple crisp, or I might just snack on them when I go hiking the next time.


These were the very first apples that came ripe and true to their name, Early Gold. They are medium-sized and very sweet.


If you think you might like to grow some of these apple varieties, we will have a selection of these heirloom apple trees, plus a number of other heirloom fruit tree varieties, for sale next spring in our Farm Stand store during Open Farm Days. In January, I’ll post up the information on dates and such.

I was also given the most amazing gift from a friend. She invited me to come to her place and pick blackberries. She has quite a large blackberry patch and it is only just beginning to get ripe berries. I was so tickled and grateful. I picked enough for a good-sized bowl of breakfast berries this week, plus froze 4 quarts for later use this winter. Quite a treat.


Our life with cats continues to get more interesting. We have been working with Pal to get him comfortable around us in the hopes that it won’t be too  much longer before he can roam the house instead of being restricted to the bathroom. That’s going reasonably well.

Then yesterday, The black kitten I call Willow was returned to us by the woman who thought he would make a good addition to her home. We thought that was going to happen also, but surprisingly to all of us, Willow didn’t adjust to her home as well as we all thought he would and yesterday she brought him back to us. Now he has rejoined his brother, Pal, in the bathroom and Chris and I are working with both of them to help them learn how to be good house cats and family members.

Chris told his Dad that we are cat psychologists now, and I think he just might be right about that. Quite an adventure we’re having here with our cat friends.


Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you, but on October 1, 2016 I will be giving a presentation called Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine at Tagawas Garden Center. Tagawas is hosting this event to celebrate the release of my newest book by the same name, which will be in bookstores in early October.

I’ll also be going to Monticello to Thomas Jefferson’s Plantation to speak at the Heritage Harvest Festival on September 9-10, 2016. I’ll be doing the same presentation there, plus one on Wildlife Friendly Gardening.

At both of these events my books will be available for sale and I’ll be thrilled and honored to sign a copy for you if you would like.

Yikes…we’ve just started getting a thunderstorm storm with HAIL, and the power is blipping, so I’m going to close for now. More details about the Tagawas event the next time I’m blogging, but in the meantime mark your calendar if you would like to attend.




















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For the past two garden seasons we have offered plants of an annual sweet fruit called Sunberries and Garden Huckleberries. This year I planted both in my garden and in containers too. I wanted to see how they would perform for me in our climate and also I wanted to speak first-hand for how they taste.

They’ve grown wonderfully for me in both the garden and in  containers. Both plants are producing berries like crazy! Yesterday I picked a bowl of sunberries (the garden huckleberries aren’t quite ripe yet) and we all tried them freshly picked straight off the plant. Lizz said they tasted just green, I thought they were mildly sweet, Beki said they were melon-like and Chris agreed with her.

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Once washed, I put them in a baking dish, sprinkled them with brown sugar.

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The topping is a simple mix of oats, butter, cinnamon, a tiny bit of cloves, and a little more brown sugar. Then I put the dish in the oven at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. This morning we ate the sunberry crisp with yogurt and walnuts and a few dark chocolate chips on top. It was very tasty!

Both Sunberries and Garden Huckleberries are marketed in the seed catalog as a substitute for blueberries for people who garden in areas like Colorado where blueberries are nearly impossible to grow well. The catalogs say they are nearly tasteless until sweetened and then can be used any way that a blueberry can be used. I actually think they should not be compared to blueberries at all, because aside from their color and size they are really nothing like a blueberry. They should be promoted, I feel, as a sweet fruit in it’s own right. They are quite delicious, but they don’t taste like blueberries to any of us here at Desert Canyon Farm. It probably is true, though, that you could use them instead of blueberries in most recipes, but I think you should expect them to taste like sunberries or garden huckleberries, rather than a blueberry.

Both sunberries and garden huckleberries are annuals, meaning that you will plant new plants each spring. They do well in full sun or part shade and are growing for me with a 4 day watering rotation, which is quite reasonable. They have preformed well in containers and in the garden soil and pests are not bothering them so far, even the grasshoppers which are eating my raspberries, are not eating either of these fruits. I think they are both winners if you want a berry crop to eat fresh, cooked or to freeze. I haven’t made any preserves or jelly from them, so I can’t speak for that.

Next spring when Open Farm Days happen, we will plan to have both of these fruits available again as starter plants. Maybe you’ll want to give them a try.

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This is the Two-Inch Strawberry Popcorn that we also sold plants of. I had fun growing these in the garden and I will try popping the corn at some point, but for now I’m just enjoying how beautiful they look drying on my counter.

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For years we have hoped for seed on our Fragrant Ash tree in the desert garden. This is the first year it has produced seed, although it has flowered for many years. Now our challenge is to catch the seed as it ripens. When the seed ripens it turns loose of the stem and drops to the ground, and the seeds are ripening at different rates. The challenge comes because next to and underneath this tree is our giant cholla, which we fondly call the Thrasher’s Cholla, and that is a very mean plant to try to find the ash seeds in. Chollas have barbed spines that are long and ruthless and the spines often shed and are lying around on the ground under the plant. If the ash seeds fall onto the ground where the cholla spines are, well…surfice it to say none of us is ready to go digging around to salvage out those ash seeds among the cholla branches.

Lizz and I decided to net the end branches of the Fragrant Ash tree where the seed clusters were maturing, in the hope that as the seeds fall from the branches they will get caught in the net fabric and then we can take the nets down and have the seed safely inside of them. Keep your fingers crossed that this plan works as we hope. The wind has been recking a bit of havoc with the net bags, but so far I think most of them are holding up. If so, we’ll finally have some Fragrant Ash seed to plant.

Cat update: The mother cat, now named Charlotte, and her two kittens have homes. The black kitten went to live with a wonderful woman in town here and the gray kitten will stay with us. His name now is Pal. Charlotte is also here on the farm…she was just too wild to find a good home for. Thanks to everyone who worked to help us find homes for these cats. Well done!