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Ok, I’ve had enough snow for one winter! The snow brings good moisture, for which I am in deep gratitude, but it makes getting work done miserable and difficult. What I’m really over, though, are the freezing cold temperatures! It’s snowing again tonight, and we are expecting more snow through Wednesday. I know for many folks this would be a normal winter season, but for us in Canon City, there is nothing normal about this, and it is quite unusual for us to get this much snow, not to mention this much in a month’s time. So, great moisture, but how I’m longing for warm temps, colorful gardens, and less mud on my kitchen floor.

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Yesterday I spent part of the day transplanting baby Indian Paintbrush plants into 4″ pots. These will be for sale in our Farm Stand this spring if all goes well. In addition, I planted up enough seedlings for two plug flats of them that Chris can use to add to our Indian Paintbrush seed crop project in the desert garden. Isn’t this plant just gorgeous! And we are fortunate to have it as one of our native plants in Colorado. We are expanding our native plants and wildlife/pollinator plants offerings in the Farm Stand, so we hope to have a lot of these types of plants for sale.

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I’ve been planting loads of different kinds of salad boxes. These are always a big hit with our customers, and of course, I plant plenty so that Chris and I have fresh salad greens for our own meals too.

 

 

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A week ago our friend, James, came by and helped plant the hollyhock seeds for the various kinds of hollyhocks we offer. This yellow hollyhock is one of the few perennial hollyhocks, and a favorite of mine. This  plant is at the entrance to my White Rabbit Garden. Every year it makes a wonderful greeting for visitors. Last year, however, it outdid itself in terms of size and number of blooms! With all the moisture we have been getting, I’m thinking this summer this hollyhock should get off to a great start, and perhaps it will bloom just as much as it did last year.

Well, tomorrow we are supposed to break 40 degrees for the high. That’s the warmest it has been in a few weeks. Good thing too, because we have carts and carts full of plant flats that need to be moved into the next greenhouse, so that we will have some room to plant up more things. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weather warms up as they predict it will, but I know they are also predicting more snow stating tomorrow night through Wednesday. I guess to be safe I should stock up the firewood now on the back porch so that we will be warm and cozy no matter what happens with tomorrow’s temperatures.

Cheers!

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Well, like most of the country from what I’m hearing, we are in the thick of a very big snow storm here. We have lots of inches of snow so far, but it’s drifting from the wind, so it’s a bit hard to guess exactly how many inches…maybe around 8″ so far and no signs of slowing down. That will translate to good moisture, so it’s hard to complain about that.

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Last week Lizz and Elisa planted nearly a hundred flats of pepper seeds. We will have 31 different varieties of peppers alone, so think about what kind of peppers you want to plant this year in your garden and then come shop in our Farm Stand later this spring during our Open Farm Days.

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The ladies aren’t the only ones sowing seeds around this place. I’ve been planting herb and veggie seeds, perennials, native plants, some fairy garden plants, and even a few annual flower seeds. Yesterday, our friend James came and helped out with the seed sowing. He was in charge of 6 different kinds of hollyhocks. Today, while the snow has been coming down, Chris and I sowed seeds all day. Chris finished up two more varieties of Hollyhocks and then switched to herbs. I sowed all different kinds of herbs too, including a number of medicinal herbs like Arnica, Meadowsweet and Marshmallow.  Tomorrow, I’ll switch gears and sow cool season vegetable seeds. So, cabbages, kales, swiss chard, watercress, spinach and a zillion other kinds.

We are up to our eyeballs in plants around this farm now and filling up greenhouses quickly. Another friend, Dwayne, spent the better part of Friday moving flats of plants for me from greenhouse to greenhouse so that we could have that accomplished before the snow storm came and it would be too cold to take the plants outdoors to move them. You know you have good friends when they will give up their free time to help you move plants and plant seeds! Thanks guys!!

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Cuttings have been happening too. While I was in Seattle at the Flower & Garden Show, the gals were taking rosemary cuttings and they filled up nearly a whole bench with just rosemary cuttings. Rosemary is not the easiest herb to root from cuttings, but if we can get 80% of these to root nicely, we’ll be in very good shape for rosemary inventory this spring into early summer.

Finally, Chris finished up the house log work. It looks beautiful! We still have a few odds and ends to do on the house repair project, namely some caulking and a bit more painting, but it is close to finished. Those odds and ends will probably have to wait until summer now, as the farm work is too busy for much of anything else to happen now until spring is past.

So, I’ll leave you with a wish that you will be staying warm if you live in a place that is getting blasted by snowy weather. If you live in a warm place, think about all of us  in the snow with some warm thoughts.

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Greetings,

I only have a quick moment tonight, but I wanted to share with you some news that
Saxon sent to me. Here is his new ebook. His website is filled with amazing information too.

Saxon Holt’s New Ebook called  Think like a Camera

Very amazing and fun. It is available at this website http://www.photobotanic.com. Check it out!

Saxon was the photographer who did all the photos in my book Homegrown Herbs. He is a very talented photographer and a wonderful person to work with. His book will give you so many insights on taking better photos of anything, but especially of plants. I know you won’t be disappointed.

Not much other news tonight. I just finished giving a talk at the Flower & Garden Show about Pollinators and Edible Gardens. It went pretty well, but now I’m tired from a long day and ready to call it a day.

Talk to you soon.

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Hello Friends,

The universe is a strange creature, and I just spent well over an hour writing a post about my presentations at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, and a disturbing event that happened this past week. I thought I had published the post, but no…something went haywired and the post went off into some unknown place never to be found again apparently. It was a bit of a rant, in truth, so I’ll now try to re-write it again in a calmer way. We’ll see if I succeed.

So, I arrived today in Seattle to speak at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show over the weekend. Tomorrow, February 13th at 7pm, I will be presenting a talk called Welcoming Pollinators Into Edible Gardens in the Rainier Room. A book-signing event will follow my presentation.

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On Saturday, February 14th at 11:15 in the Hood Room, I’ll give a presentation called Peaceful Ways to Handle Wildlife Challenges, with a book-signing event afterwards.

If you are attending the Flower Show, I invite you to come and listen to what I have to share in my presentations. Both topics are near and dear to my heart and to life on our farm in Colorado, Desert Canyon Farm.

Now, let me tell you about a very disturbing thing that happened this past week, but first a bit of history around the subject. Last year several box store chains said they would be requiring growers who supplied them with plants to label those plants if they had been treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. This decision came from the zillions of their customers who were distressed that they were buying plants that contained residues in them from this group of systemic pesticides called neonics for short. It was especially troubling to gardeners who were wanting to garden organically or to encourage pollinators and beneficial insects, or other types of wildlife, into their garden landscapes.

For some of us, we thought this would be a great step forward that would give full disclosure to customers about what the plants they were buying had been treated with during the growing process, but alas it has turned into a horrible deceitful joke that won’t help customers who want to buy plants that welcome beneficial wildlife like pollinators into their gardens. Below is a picture of the label that Home Depot has announced it will be using in plants it sells that have been treated with these very harmful pesticides called neonicotinoids.

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In fairness to the marketing people who thought up this ploy, the label is “truthful”, but it is also greatly deceitful because what it doesn’t say is that plants treated with systemic neonics will not only kill these types of pest insects, but they will kill or greatly harm pollinating insects and beneficial insects (also called predator insects), along with contaminating soil and water, harming songbirds, bats, earthworms, aquatic creatures like fish and frogs, etc.  These systemic neonics are in all the plant tissues, including the roots, leaves, flowers, seeds, nectar and pollen…every part of the plant, and they last for months (up to 12-18 months). That means they are in the plants for a full year of season cycles at least. They are known to kill insects, good and bad, and if they don’t kill the insects, they can seriously harm the insects ability to behave in normal ways and to negatively impact their immune systems.

We are talking about domestic pollinators like honeybees, but also wild pollinators like native bees such as bumblebees, hover flies, some beetles, wasps, bats and hummingbirds. Research has found these chemicals in the soil and water, even so far as in some of the great barrier reefs in the ocean where many creatures living there have neonics in their tissues. Hmmm…  Because insects are the foundation of the food chain, animals that eat them get contaminated like wild birds, including songbirds, for example. Creatures that live in soil or water or that drink water or eat plants are exposed to these chemicals. It’s called the web of life for a reason, because all these nature things and beings, including ourselves, are interwoven together in this tapestry that is called living on earth. And remember, that if pollinators die or can’t do their work well, then plants don’t get pollinated and don’t yield good harvests, which means less food. Literally, every single whole or natural food that we eat is impacted by the work of pollinators somewhere along the way, so bad or no pollination means we have nothing or less to eat! This is a big problem for the whole planet, and if we want to be selfish and only look at our piece of the pie, it is a big problem for humans.

The good news is that we can get along quite nicely without using neonic pesticides. Humans have been growing plants for hundreds of years, and for the majority of those years we did that task organically, either intentionally or by default. We have succeeded until pretty recently in growing plants without neonicotinoid pesticides, and there is absolutely no reason we cannot continue to do so affectively. There are loads of better choices like taking advantage of working with nature to utilize wild birds and predator insects to control pest problems. There are baits and traps that can be used. We can nourish our soil and use good gardening practices to help lessen some of the problems that can arise of pests in the garden too. If there is a situation that just can’t be dealt with any other way than applying a pesticide, then let’s choose products that are ok for use in organic growing and gardening. These will either be certified organic or OMRI listed products and ingredients. They contain ingredients like neem, soap sprays, cinnamon and rosemary oils, jojoba or horticultural oils, diotanacious earth, sluggo for snails and pill bugs, pepper sprays, and many other options.

I do want to remind you that these types of pesticides are for organic growing, but they are still really strong and should not be used carelessly. READ THE LABEL COMPLETELY before you use them, so that you know how to prepare them, when to apply them, and how often to use them. This will keep you safe and make sure that they are affective in what you are trying to accomplish. It is not enough to just read the front panel of the label, so if you need to, make yourself a cup of tea and sit down for however long it takes you to read the entire label! Then you can do the best job of using these products.

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I’ll leave off the rest of my rant for tonight, even though I wouldn’t mind going on about it for a while. Surfice it to say, that this is all of our responsibility to garden and grow in the best, most earth-friendly ways possible. It is our obligation to the earth we live on and to all the wildlife and ecosystems we share this planet with. We must do this also for ourselves, our children, all the way to our great great great grandchildren and then some. We can do this! We know how to do it, and how to do it very well, so we have all the tools in our toolbox to succeed. We just need to get better at choosing the right tool and becoming expert at using them well.

Let’s insist that plants be grown in more sustainable ways, and without systemic pesticides like neonics. We must simply educate ourselves on the better choices, and then choose to use those options over the products like neonics that give us more harmful results in the long run.

Let’s insist that we don’t want neonic systemic pesticides in our garden landscapes or on our farms and orchards. Let’s insist that we don’t want them used in our parks, open spaces, golf courses and cemeteries, on our school or play grounds. Let’s insist that we don’t want them used near us or far from us. This is important for all of us, so please join Chris and I, and let’s get to it. It’s well worth doing for all kinds of reasons, but know at the very least the pollinators and beneficial insects will be in gratitude to you for your help.

With Green Thoughts,  Tammi

colorful moth pollinator photo copyright by Saxon Holt

 

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February Greetings,

Chris and I would like to share the news about our 2015 Open Farm Days. The first thing is that you can find all the specific details on the “Open Farm Days” page of this blog, along with the “Classes & Events” page, but here is the news in a nutshell!

We will be opening our Farm Stand Plant Sale from Saturdays through Wednesdays this spring, starting on April 25, 2015 through May 31, 2015. This will give three extra days each week for gardeners to shop for plants grown here on our farm! Hours are 9am to 4pm. We are strictly closed on Thursdays and Fridays. At all other times of the year the farm is wholesale only and not open to the public.

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On weekends, from April 25th to May 31st, we will be hosting our free workshop schedule, with workshops each Saturday and Sunday at 10:00-11:00 am and 1:30-2:30 pm. Each workshop is on a different topic, so visit the classes and events page to learn more about what workshops are planned and how you can attend.

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Also on weekends, visitors are invited to stroll the gardens, orchards and flower seed crop field. This is a great opportunity for birders and wildlife watchers to do a bit of birding or wildlife-viewing. Visitors are also invited to bring a picnic if they like and enjoy it in the gardens or one of the orchards.

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We are pretty excited about this change in our way of opening the farm to the public and we hope that if you visit the farm, this will be a great experience for you.

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All for now.

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Chris continues to make progress on the log railing project. He’s actually starting down the steps now with the hand railing, but I’ll wait until he’s got that bit done before I post up another photo.

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We are hopelessly behind schedule in the greenhouses for planting. We are waiting for another load of soil mix to arrive, hopefully next Tuesday, and until that gets here we have been just planting the most critical things. Now we are back-logged in the planting schedule, and feeling pretty frustrated about it, but since there is nothing we can do until the next load of soil arrives we are just trying to make the best of it.

We did get some things accomplished this week though. Between Lizz and I we planted 250 plug flats of seeds. I have another 60 flats to plant over the weekend and next week we have about 150 flats scheduled to be sown. Sowing the seed is critical right now, because if we don’t get it planted on time, the plants won’t be big enough on time to sell this spring. Every week between now and mid April we will be sowing a big batch of seed flats to make sure we have enough inventory to get us through until July 1st when things will start to slow down.

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Above is the first crop of strawberry plants. These were planted as bare-roots the 2nd week of January, and they are starting to root in nicely. The 2nd crop of strawberry bare-roots arrived on Wednesday and Lizz got a third of them planted last week. She and Elisa will finish planting those on Monday and Tuesday. We also have bare-root currants, grapes, raspberries, and a few hardy kiwi plants to pot up early next week too.

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Carol will be back to work on Monday to help transplant seedlings that are ready to be planted into individual pots. Some of them are feeling desperate to have more root room to grow, so it will be great that Carol can get some of that done on Monday.

As you can see above and below, there are a boat-load of baby seedlings waiting for our attention.

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So, there seems to be an endless list of planting tasks, not to mention other farm work, that is begging for our attention these days. It’s that time of the year when I’m working every single day as full of days as possible to keep up. It’s what we do. We’re farmers!

Other news is that Black Kitty has moved into the house to become part of the family. The cat went to the vet yesterday to get “fixed” and we finally discovered, after all the long hair was shaved back, that Black Kitty is a girl kitty. She is settling into the house and learning very slowly not to be afraid of people, of which she has a great fear. She has discovered that catnip is a grand thing and there are kitty toys in the world just waiting for her to play with them. I think she will be happy as part of our family, and we are very pleased to welcome her in.

You can check out the “classes & events” page of the blog to see the classes that are upcoming for this spring’s Open Farm Days here at Desert Canyon Farm. I got that much of the blog updated, but no further, so thank you for your patience. I’ll try to get the Open Farm Days page updated as soon as I can.

We have very exciting and big news to share with you soon about the farm, so stay tuned. Hopefully, I won’t keep you waiting too long.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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This has been an extremely busy week for us, but mostly in a good way. Yesterday the week ended with the most glorious surprise. The post brought a box filled with delicious hickory syrup from Joyce and Travis who own Falling Bark Farm.

I interviewed them at the beginning of the week for my book project. They make “the other syrup”, as they described it to me. Of course, we all know about maple syrup and pancakes, but these folks are doing something very special, in that they make a traditional heritage syrup from the bark of hickory trees. This syrup is not only great for breakfast topping of french toast and the like, but it is a perfect addition to BBQ or to top Mexican flan (Mexican custard).

I hope that you will go to their website and learn more about their syrup. You can also mail-order it if you’d like to have some in your kitchen to add to your pantry! Here is the link…  fallingbarkfarm.com

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I thought I’d give you an update on our house project too. Chris has been extra busy this past two weeks. We needed a new screen door on the front of the house. Chris built us an amazing door, complete with carved sunburst and spindles. He also carved a sun, moons, and a corn-stalk for the corners of the door.

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I wish I could have gotten a picture with the sun full on the front porch, because when the sun hits the door, the front porch just beams with good energy!

Chris also built this willow furniture probably close to 30 years ago. It’s getting pretty worn and rickety, not totally safe to sit in, but I just can’t bring myself to part with it. He tells me it is ready for the firewood pile, but we don’t really sit on the front porch, so it works fine there just to add some decorative flavor to the porch and quite often Lizz and I have dressed scarecrows to lounge in this furniture and greet people to the farm.

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Work on the back porch railing has also begun. Yesterday Chris finished the railing spindles for 1/4 section of the back porch railing. Of course, Shrek, has been making sure that the whole process is fully under his supervision!

We started installing this section of the railing last night and it’s going to look fantastic. We did run out of daylight, though, so I think Chris plans to finish up this part today and start working on the next section.

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Happenings in the greenhouses are in full boil ahead mode. Lizz and I have moved into the next 3 of our 8 greenhouses, so we’re filling them up quickly now. As we were moving plants from the Basil House to the Plant Barn we noticed that some of the benches needed repairing. Our benches are simply recycled wood pallets sitting on cinder blocks, so when a section needs upgrading it is pretty easy to accomplish.

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The first of two big shipments of bare root strawberries arrived this week (3000 plants in this shipment), so planting those is always the priority when they get here. We will be offering three varieties of everbearing strawberries this year. We always offer Ft. Laramie and Tristar, which are two of my favorite varieties, but this year we are adding Eversweet to the offerings.

Everbearing means that they produce fruit constantly, rather than having your strawberry crop come on all at once, as with June bearing strawberries. In truth, I eat berries in my breakfast nearly every day of the year, growing strawberries in my gardens for warm season harvesting, and in container pots for indoor gardening during the cold months of the year. I insist on having everbearing strawberries, because I don’t want any down time in my harvesting. For that reason we offer only everbearing strawberries to our customers. You will be able to buy strawberry plants from us during our Open Farm Days in the Farm Stand this April and May. I’ll be posting up more details about Open Farm Days on that page of the blog before too much more time passes.

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The list of tasks to do is very long now, and it is also quite overwhelming if I’m honest. Lizz is still the only one, besides myself, working in the greenhouses, as the rest of the greenhouse farm crew is still a couple of weeks out of coming back to work for the season. There is far more work to do than she and I can accomplish with any comfort level, but the payroll budget dictates when more help can come on board and we’re not to that point yet. We’re trying not to get too wigged out and just working down the list of priorities, hoping that the plants will cooperate in their growing rates with our planting schedule. Plants don’t read my planting schedule, so often they have a different pace in mind and we manage as best as we can.

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Above is the first of two iceplant crops that are ready now for transplanting.

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There there are the ten other benches, each holding 52 flats of plugs at 128 plants per flat, that are also in the holding pattern. They are ready to be transplanted into bigger pots too, but we will get to them as quickly as we can. There are seedlings in the basil house in mass that need transplanted into plug flats and then there are the seeding lists of seeds to be planted each week…flats and flats and flats of those too. And so it goes in spring.  Even though the calendar says it is only mid January, for us in the greenhouse spring has already arrived in full force in terms of the work load.

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Remember that pomegranate I showed you a few weeks back that I grew myself. Well, two nights ago I cut it open to enjoy a sweet snack. It was delicious!

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I also have gotten to enjoy this iris, which bloomed in a pot way too early. It was supposed to bloom later in spring to be available for sale in our Farm Stand, but as I mentioned earlier, plants don’t read my planting schedule. This beauty decided it wanted to bloom now, so I brought it into the kitchen to enjoy a taste of spring blooming flowers in the thick of winter. Very nice!

Talk to you soon.

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