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Yesterday, in the late afternoon, a wildfire began about 15 minutes from our farm. It started as a 1/2 acre and now is nearly 300 acres and 0% contained and just on the edge of town. It’s no wonder with temps near 100 degrees everyday, hot wind in the afternoons and NO monsoon rains so far. Yikes!!

Our farm ambassadors are plum worn-out, so they have been repurposed.

One of the projects that was supposed to happen in the spring, but I never found the time to accomplish it, was to plant a new garden in front of the Farm Stand sign and near the entrance door. Last weekend, I got that garden planted. The scarecrow farm ambassadors were filled with straw, so they were taken apart, the clothes bagged for another time, and the straw used as mulch in the newly planted garden.

This garden will be extra special because it contains two very special trees.

One is a Dine (Navajo) Peach tree that was grown from seeds gifted to a propagator friend by some Navajo Grandmothers that have been growing these peach trees on their land since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors were in Arizona. These Grandmothers wanted to make sure that the offspring of those original trees would be kept going. We are very honored to have one of those offspring trees and now it is living in this garden.

The other tree is equally special. It is a Downy Hawthorn tree and the haws from this tree taste like strawberries! No kidding – they really do! I have two of these trees to grow on the farm and one will live in this garden.

There are a lot of baby fawns now and they spend quite a lot of time here each day. This little one is one of a set of twins. They were outside my office window yesterday, so I snapped a couple of pictures.

This isn’t a great picture due to the window screening I had to take it through, but this is the other twin, who was headed for the shade of our north hedgerow. He managed to squigggle into the hedgerow under the maple tree and some other shrubs for a much desired nap.

This is my Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica) patch that grows just outside of the Plant Barn Greenhouse door. One of my favorite native medicinal plants and super important in my herbal medicine cupboard, Yerba Mansa is used for its antimicrobial benefits. It is especially useful for respiratory infections. It is the root that is mainly used and it tastes TERRIBLE, so I use it in tincture form. This is not an herb for preventative use, but rather is used when there is an actual health challenge happening.

On the trellis is one of our Passionflower vines (Passiflora edulis). This is native to sub-tropical regions and is found growing in the southern United States, but it is completely hardy here, and tolerates the hot summers so long as it is watered once a week, and the freezing minus-teens temperatures of our cold and snowy winters.

Look at this gorgeous flower!! It definitely reminds you of the tropics, doesn’t it, and it will produce passion fruits that are completely edible and delicious.

Another wonderful shrub is Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium), which is in the background of this photo with the white flowers. This is a plant that likes hot, sunny and dry locations. It is native to the southwestern North America.

The honeybees and native bees absolutely love the Fernbush flowers! When it begins to bloom, they don’t waste a moment’s time, and get right busy working the flowers. The foliage of Fernbush is very fragrant and I love the smell of it. Brush against a branch of Fernbush and your nose will get a treat for sure.

At the base of this scarecrow is a vining native gourd called Coyote Gourd (Cucurbita palmata). This grows everywhere near my home. It also likes hot, sunny, dry locations, although this particular plant years ago decided it wanted to be a garden plant, and it grows along the driveway edge of the White Rabbit Garden here at the farm. I have made an agreement with this specific plant that as long as it vines along the edge of the garden, it is welcome to stay, but if it insists on vining into the garden and growing over top of the garden plants, then it will have to go,

Coyote Gourd has small gourd fruits that are a bit bigger than a ping pong ball. You can harvest them and dry them and then decorate them with beautiful paint or etch designs into them.  The gourds are filled with a very bitter pulp that is high in saponins, which is a constituent that suds up when it is exposed to water. Indigenous peoples where Coyote Gourd grows sometimes use this sudsy pulp to make a soap to wash clothes with.

An FYI about Coyote Gourd…if you live where it grows, use care before you walk through a patch of it, as this is a preferred shady place for rattlesnakes to hang out. Carry a stick with you if you must walk through it and roust out the snakes before you come upon them, aye.

The other happening of the week is that our yearly supply of firewood was delivered from the sawmill nearby. We heat our home using a wood-stove, and so we must have a good supply of ready firewood. Kaila will be stacking it nice and tidy and then we will be ready when the cold weather returns – hard to imagine that right now when it’s 100 degrees outside.

All for now. Enjoy a lovely week!

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

The Farm Stand store closed in mid-June and I’ve been trying to get things planted in my gardens, the house cleaned up after the spring chaos, and attempting to settle into something of a more normal routine now for the summer.

Lizz gifted me with a black hawthorn tree, which is now planted in the Goddess garden. I’m thrilled to have it in my garden! The plants on this cart have found their way into garden homes around the farm, and the food garden is finally planted. The weeding is overwhelming, and I haven’t even begun to get a grasp on that, plus there are roses needing pruned and a new garden in front of the Farm Stand sign waiting to be planted. Of course, all of this is in addition to the normal farm work each day, but slowly things are getting done and it feels pretty good to see the progress happening. Oh, and did I tell you I picked my first garden cucumber of the season yesterday? Ahhh…life is pretty good when a fresh cucumber finds it’s way onto your lunch plate!

As we are talking about surviving the spring crazy season and settling into the summer season, well… we are also starting to plant for next spring already. Lizz and I harvested some soft wood cuttings of the native Black Currant bushes this week to propagate plants to sell next spring in the Farm Stand. So the cycle continues to spin.

The farm is full of baby wildlife, which is very special to us, and reminds us of our true tiny role in the life of all things on this Earth. If you look closely at this picture, you will see that it is a tiny fawn curled up in the grass, staying “still and invisible” just as its mother told it to do, as I accidentally came across it while walking across our orchard. I often have my camera slung over my shoulder for those “just in case” picture opportunities, and this was one such moment when I was thrilled to have my camera in hand. Without hardly breaking my walking pace, I snapped a quick picture so as not to linger or disturb this wee creature and kept on walking.

If you come across a baby fawn or other baby wildlife critter, it is almost never abandoned or orphaned, but rather just “staying put” where mama left it. These fawns stay hidden in bushes and tall grass while their moms go off to forage. It is a way to keep the wee babes safer until they are a little older and better equipped to take on the world they have been born into. Don’t touch them or linger around them….just go on your way and mind your own business. 99.9% of the time mama will be back to fetch them in a little while. Best for baby animals, their parents and we humans if they don’t get attached to us.

Then, last night I was weeding in the garden and pulled a couple of dandelions near the Furman’s Red Salvia, when I noticed a clutch of quail eggs hidden away in the salvia plant. Mom was not nearby that I could tell, but I stopped work weeding that section of the garden and left to work in another area away from the nest so as not to disturb things further.

We’ve discovered a new trail to walk on for our evening dog hikes. This is a beautiful area not far from the farm.

The Scarlet Gillia is blooming right now profusely in these wild places.

One of my favorite native medicinal plants, Asclepias asperula, is close to blooming. The common name for this in wildflower id books is often Antelope Horns, but herbalists know it as Immortal.

Ever smell a Ponderosa Pine tree? These beautiful great trees have bark that smells like vanilla or butterscotch, depending on who you ask. I lean toward aroma of butterscotch. It is with great pleasure that I sniff the bark of the Ponderosa when we are on our hikes.

I want to tell you about an excellent book I’m reading right now. It was a gift from our friends Cheryl and Jerry, who know that I consider gardens and wild nature spaces as sacred places. This book follows that way of thinking too.  Actually, Chris and I watched a movie some time back about the woman who wrote this book and it was a wonderful film called “Dare to be Wild”. I highly recommend the book and the movie for people who want to think about their gardens as places where they are the visitor and not the master of a nature place. You won’t be disappointed.

Finally, we celebrated Dad’s 80th birthday with ice cream and smiles. Very special.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We so enjoyed having members of the Plein Air Colours Painting group visit the farm on the 18th June. They were a wonderful group of people and they seemed to enjoy themselves while here. You can visit the Plein Air Colours group on facebook to see what all they are up to.

Here is the picture they put up on their Facebook page. I thought it would be fun to share it with you and you can see our farm through the eyes of some great painters!

The Farm Stand Plant Sale for this spring is now closed for the season. Thank you for your support and we’ll open again mid-April 2021.🌿🌿🌿

The farm is now closed to the public, except for bird and wildlife watching and farm tours by appointment. We will return to wholesale only on Monday, June 15th for potted plant sales.

Thank you one and all for being so great and making us feel like an important part of the community and the gardening world.

With Green Thoughts,

Tammi, Chris and the Farm Crew

Before I get busy telling you about the happenings here on the farm right now, I want to share some great and exciting news with you about a new business opening this week here in Canon City. Meet Rochelle, who is the owner of the new shop called Boat Barn Bagel Company!  She came this week to get some plants for the raised beds outside her shop, where she is planting herbs and edible flowers to be used in her homemade bagels and spreads, special lemonades and more.

Rochelle will be open for breakfast and lunch starting Wednesday, June 10th, at 420 Main Street in downtown Canon City. She is sourcing supplies and ingredients for her delicious food offerings from local growers and suppliers whenever possible, including locally roasted coffee beans! She is planning to grow many of the herbs she will use in her menu, including the herbs like basils, lavenders and mints we donated to her garden beds at the Shop. Stop in and give her a smile (underneath your mask of course – you can smile with your eyes too you know ;-}) and buy a delicious bagel, coffee or lemonade. Let’s make her business welcome in our small town!

As we near the middle of June, summer has fully arrived, but my goodness what a nice spring we have had. Despite the challenges everyone has been facing around the Coronavirus situation, Mother Nature has provided us with a spring full of beautiful green, lots of flowering plants, baby wildlife (especially baby birds) in abundance. There is much to be grateful for!

This next Sunday, June 14th, will be our last open day for our Farm Stand Plant Sale here at Desert Canyon Farm for this spring. Thank you deeply to each and every person who has visited this spring. We hope you have enjoyed shopping for plants for your gardens and landscapes, and hopefully you had a bit of time to stroll our gardens and flower field while you were here.

Your purchases of plants from the Farm Stand have been great and has provided support to our small family farm. This allows us to earn our livelihood for Chris and I …

and our Farm Crew.  We appreciate all your support very much.

     

Maybe you’ll decide to purchase one of Tamm’s books while you are visiting the Farm Stand store. They are filled with plant information and gardening tips, plus recipes and how to prepare herbs to use in your daily life.

Now that mid-June is nearly here, we will be giving more time care-taking for the gardens. The flower field will be in need of constant tending, and the field crew will also be harvesting flower seeds for the German seed company each day from now until the Thanksgiving holiday.

Many seed crops are beginning to flower now in the field. It’s turning into a beautiful place!

Chris uses a wheel hoe to keep paths clear of weeds in the flower field. This way of hoeing, rather than rototilling pathways, helps to protect ground nesting pollinators from harm.

Shrek and Chris harvesting seed in the flower field.

We continue our year-round wholesale business, selling potted plants to independent garden centers, getting the greenhouses prepared to begin growing the plant inventory for next spring when we will open the Farm Stand store again in mid-April 2021.

The farm is bustling with wildlife, including so many different kinds of baby birds, fawns with the deer herd, raccoons, skunks, two kinds of squirrels, foxes, frogs and toads and so much more.

Desert Canyon Farm is registered as a Certified Wildlife Habitat, a Xerces Society Pollinator Habitat, and we are a location on the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Birding Trail & Watchable Wildlife site. We are also a member of the United Plant Savers Botanical Native Plant Sanctuary.

This means you can visit the farm to do some wild bird watching or botanizing if you would like, but please let us know that you are here when you come so that we can guide you where you may stroll on the farm.

During this last week of our Farm Stand Plant Sale, please remember when shopping inside our Farm Stand, with Covid19 concerns, we are strictly requiring social distancing – please stay 6 feet from fellow shoppers. Shop early mornings, or weekdays rather than weekends for times when we are less busy.

We’ll be wearing face masks or scarves. We encourage you to wear a face mask! We have hand-washing stations and will be sanitizing surfaces.

If you feel ill or symptomatic, thank you for staying home and thinking of others and yourself first.

Our Farm Stand Plant Sale is open Saturdays to Thursdays thru June 14th (closed Fridays). Farm Stand hours are 9am-4pm.

A fox sleeping under the greenhouse benches in 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As plants have been sold, much of my time right now has been spent bringing new plant inventory into our Farm Stand store and putting it away on the benches. We have had such a great time visiting with farm visitors as they shop for plants for their gardens.

The Farm Stand still has a great selection of herbs and vegetables.

There are several kinds of Melons to choose from, along with Nopalito edible cactus and Ginger plants.

Woohoo!!! As I’m writing this post, it has just started to rain! We had a good rain yesterday too. It has been so hot and dry, dry, dry, that we were starting to feel desperate for rain moisture, and here it is. Today, I am in deep gratitude for this nourishing rain!

So, on with my post…There are still many kinds of Greens, including Cabbages, and Radicchio. There are Beets, Rutabagas, Kohlrabi, Tomatillos, Tomatoes, Peppers, Pumpkins, Winter Squash (all the Summer Squash is sold out). We have Quinoa and Corn plants, there are Sorghum and Amaranth plants. I just brought out the Tumeric plants this week, as they are finally waking up from their dormancy sleep from winter. And don’t forget the Cucumbers and Pueblo Wheat. There are all sorts of incredible and tasty food plants here you can plant in your gardens or grow as container plants.

If you want something already planted and ready to use in your kitchen we have cool season veggie gardens that are awesome! Some of the veggies they include are Swiss Chard, Cabbages, Beets.

Of course, we have loads of plants that are not vegetables too. Zillions of herb varieties, including a new herb this year called Jamaican Mint (which is not actually a mint at all, but rather a Satureja). There are culinary choices like Chives and Basil. Tea herbs like Chamomile, Lime Balm and Lemon Balm. Skin and personal care herbs such as Lavenders, and medicinal herbs like Nettles, Wood Betony and Angelica. I have a small crop of Osha plants, I grew from seed I harvested this past fall, for those that want a garden challenge and are serious about medicinal herbs to grow. We have ceremonial herbs like White Sage and Rue. We have Ginkgo trees too. If you are interested in growing herbs, we are the right place to come to find some good choices to choose from.

For those that want to grow fruit all year, we have container fruits like Barbados Cherries, Hardy Figs, and Dwarf Mulberries. Oh, and remember the Pomegrantes and Passionflower Fruit Vines too. We still have quite a few heirloom Apple tree varieties and Sea Buckthorn, plus Manchurian Apricots, lots of different Currants and Loganberries (these are a cross between Blackberries and Raspberries and they are fantastic!).

Not to be left out, we still have a few flowers that will make you smile. Cape Violets, Bachelor Buttons, Painted Tongue and Nasturtiums are waiting for a garden home.

Hopefully, I’ve enticed you to make a visit sometime soon to our Farm Stand store. We are open thru June 14th, from Saturdays thru Thursdays (hours are 9am to 4pm). We are closed on Fridays.

I did take a bit of personal time this week to plant my potatoes. They should have been planted in March, so I’m just a wee bit behind schedule, but it’s all good. They will grow fine and I’ll have a good potato crop to harvest later this year.

I grow my potatoes in big pots. I put 6-8″ of soil in the bottoms of the pot, space my seed potatoes evenly on top of the soil and cover them with another 6″ of soil.

Then I wait a little while. Today I noticed that my potatoes are growing and green leaves are just barely poking out of the soil about half an inch. Tonight, after I finish work, I’ll cover the emerging leaves with another 6″ of soil and when the leaves poke through that, I’ll repeat this step and keep doing that until the soil level is about 3″ below the edge of the pot. Then, at that point, I’ll let the stems and leaves grow like normal.

By doing this process, I will end up with layers of potatoes below the soil. When the leaves turn yellow and lop like they are dying, then I’ll dump out the pots in a pile and rummage through the soil to find all my lovely delicious potatoes. It is like a glorious treasure hunt.

This spring has been excellent for the wild birds and we have all different kinds of them around here. Western Tanagers have been hanging out. I took a quick picture of this fellow out my kitchen window.

Our friend, James, has been working with us in the Farm Stand on Sundays and he always brings his really “good” camera with him. At lunch time, he finds all  kinds of cool things to take photos of. He was kind enough to share a few of his photos of the Thrasher family and a Red Wing Blackbird nest and gave us permission to put them in this post.

This is one of the Curved Billed Thrasher parents taking a tasty insect meal back to the nest.

See those huge beaks waiting for that tasty meal! Three days ago, the baby Thrasher started hoping around in the Cholla cactus. It is still nest-bound, and hasn’t learned to fly yet, but it won’t be long. The Thrasher parents usually raise three batches of youngsters between spring and summer.

Look at the perfect nest building skills the Red Wing Blackbirds have! This is one of their nests in the Cattails that line our pond.

So many wild creatures live here with us on this farm and we are endlessly grateful for their company and the help they give us taking care of things on the farm. This Toad has been hoping around in one of the open greenhouses, eating insects. Did you know that seeing a Toad is very good luck in many cultures?

Chris got the heirloom orchard (now in it’s 4th summer) tidied up and it looks great!

This is the other big happening here. What do you do when you are an avid lap swimmer and none of the pools are open due to the Covid19 situation? Well, you get desperate and you figure out a different solution.

That solution meant that we bought a 15′ diameter, 42″ deep swimming pool and a harness and tether system that will allow Chris to lap swim in a small pool. It is actually pretty darn cool! I’m looking forward to using it too, although I’m not on the same level of serious swimming as Chris is, I think it will be good exercise and a great way to cool off in the heat of the summer.

Our ducks, Hannah and Gretel, are not taking this pool serious at all. Of course, they are not allowed to swim in it, as they have a giant pond to swim in and it is much more to their liking anyway. I wonder what they think when they see Chris swimming like this?

That’s all the news for now. Happy beginning of the summer season.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

 

 

 

We have great farm visitors and these two are just a couple of the many! Thank you to everyone that has been coming to shop in our Farm Stand store for garden plants. We love seeing all of you and we so appreciate that you are supporting our small family farm and our crew’s livelihood. Thank you! Thank you!

We hope you can take a few minutes to enjoy the gardens while you are here. There are even a some flower seed crops starting to bloom in the seed production field – Silver Kisses Pyrethrum Daisy and Shangri-La Sage, plus Sea Kale are just a few of these perennial flower seed crops that are starting to bloom now. Take a walk, while you are here, out to the flower field and see things that are beginning to happen out there. You may catch Chris out there working too. He’s planting new crops right now, so he can share with you which tiny baby plants he is planting.

Recovery is underway in the nursery, the gardens and the orchard. A couple of weeks back, we got a really hard frost and a few nights of low temps around 10 degrees. Many plants took that cold spell very hard and lost all their leaves in the process. They are teaching us patience, as they slowly re-group and re-leaf. This is the Desert Willow plant, one of my most favorite native shrubs, and it is beginning to re-leaf in the pots and it is leafing out in the gardens too.

Mother Nature will remind us who is in charge, when we assume it is us, and that is just exactly what has happened with that spring harsh cold after really warm temperatures. Now things are regrouping and starting to look beautiful. Iris have flower buds, Sunrose is blooming, as is the Fairy Rose Baby Breath, California Poppies are blooming everywhere in the White Rabbit Garden behind the house. In the Desert Garden, the Penstemons, Cacti, Wild Petunias, and so much more are coming into flower.

It’s spring, folks, and time to enjoy the show!!

Recently, we sent a trailer full of vegetables, fruit and herb plants to Denver Botanic Gardens for their May Plant Sale, which was online this year due to the Covid19 situation. These racks were loaded and waiting for their journey to Denver.

The week before Mother’s Day weekend is always extra busy in this business, and we had a lot of plants going out the door to wholesale customers, and as we restocked the Farm Stand store. Our growing greenhouses went from being over-full to the point of craziness to having a lot of space available.

Don’t worry, though, our retail Farm Stand store is well stocked and we still have a great selection of food plants (fruits and vegetables) and herbs, edible flowers, native perennials and wildlife-habitat plants and a lot more! We hope you will come and do a bit of shopping for your garden plants.

Our hawthorn trees have gone into full bloom this week! The flowers are amazing – so beautiful – such an important medicine plant. I will tincture some of the flowers this spring and later in fall I will tincture the “haws” or berries. When both tinctures are finished, I’ll blend them together in equal parts to create an incredible heart cardiovascular  tonic to support my heart health and well-being.

In the meantime, the bees are working the flowers and you can really get a sense of the joy they hold as they gather pollen and nectar from the flowers.  They are very efficient at their work. Not just honeybees, although the honeybees are certainly all over the blooms, but lots of native bees are working the flowers too.

We are very excited to say that the curved-billed thrashers have returned to nest in the Desert Garden in the cholla.

They were always here for years, but a few years back we lost our giant cholla where they always nested. The thrashers stayed in the neighborhood, but since the giant cholla wasn’t available for nesting and raising their families, we saw them only coming and going, rather than being here all the time. Two years ago, Chris planted a start off that original cholla in a different area of the garden and it has grown a LOT. This spring the thrasher couple decided it was good enough for a nest and raising their family.

I’m not good at bird photography, but all the same, if you look in the center of this picture you can see mama thrasher in her nest. You can see her head with her bright orange eye (adult thrashers have orange eyes and long curved bills). We are thrilled to have them trusting our garden as a good home.

The cholla cactus in the Farm Stand store are from this plant, which is why we call them “Thrasher’s Cholla”.

We actually had time to cook a proper meal this week. I know that probably sounds ridiculous to most people, but in spring I am working 90-100 hour weeks and Chris nearly so, and cooking is just not part of the tasks at hand. Indeed, we just eat what is fast and easy.

When it comes to the time that we can cook a proper meal and actually sit down and eat it with enjoyment and not rushing, then we know that the summer will soon be here. Our schedule will start to return to some sort of normal routine.

So, this week it was tacos and soon it will be summer and cooking will again be part of daily life.

 

 

Hello Friends,

I was thinking that it might be fun to share an old Green Thoughts Newsletter with you from the summer of 2009 – wow…11 years ago! We are now in our 25th year here at the farm and so much has changed through the years, yet so much remains the same. I hope you will enjoy this peek into our past.

The Green Thoughts Newsletter

Summer Beauty July 2009 Issue

Hot Summer Greetings,

With the long hot days of summer in full swing, it is a good time to sit a while in the heat of the afternoon, under the gracious shade of a gorgeous tree…in my case the Mulberry Tree. Make a mental list of all the things you want to hold in a place of gratitude.  Since I last wrote to you in late winter much has happened and Chris and I continue to experience life as an adventure, sometimes wonderful and exciting, sometimes challenging.

The spring really took off the first week of March with garden shows and open house events for our wholesale customers, who invited us to participate with a booth.  These events are always exciting, as it is the signal that the busy season has fully begun and everyone is very excited to plan and later plant their gardens.  Prior to that, I was filling up our greenhouses with seed flats and flats of cuttings, building up our potted plant inventory so that we would be prepared.  So, we were really getting ready and then April came, and with it came cold snowy weekends.  Now when you are in the business of supplying plants to garden centers, the last thing you need and want are bad weather weekends in the spring.  Weekends are when our customers sell the most plants, and if weekends are cold and snowy no one sells very much, so business became rather slow in April and early May.  Finally, the weather settled and spring truly arrived and business improved.  We hit the ground running as soon as we got out of bed in the morning and worked until late in the night, ready to muster up the energy to do it all again the next day. 

Farm stand opened the last weekend of April. Right after we opened a pair of robins decided to build their nest in one of our giant coleus plants that was for sale in the farm stand.  We were both thrilled at the prospect of being honored by these birds that wanted to raise their family in our farm stand, and horrified at how we could offer them the protection and quiet they would need to successfully raise their young in the commotion of busy farm open days.  We ended up placing the coleus plant behind a plank in the middle of the farm stand and hoping it would be enough to satisfy the feathered parents.  It was.  Mid-way through May they hatched 4 eggs and successfully raised the young ones to the point where they learned to fly and left home.  I was so pleased that the parent birds were very tolerant of me watering their coleus plant daily with a water can and watching these babes grow up.  Often mama robin would stay right in the nest as I carefully poured the water around her, trying to keep her coleus home alive while she took care of her young family.  What a gift the spring gave to me this year.

The farm has continued to be a happening place for all types of birds raising their families.  The thrashers have two nests in the large cholla cactus in the desert garden, and the quail have nested at the base of the cactus, making the desert garden their home also.  The blue jays have nested in the cottonwoods on the perimeter of the farm and there have been doves, gold finches, sparrows, red wing black birds, house finches and crackles all raising babies around our building compound.  There is a lot of bird song happening on this farm!

The spring started out dry and the forecast was calling for severe drought in this part of the State.  We were told that irrigation water would most likely run out the first week of June.  Instead we got wonderful rain nearly every day for a couple of weeks.  Everything got fully hydrated.  The trees and perennials are amazingly green and happy.  They look better then they have for the many years of drought since 2002.  The rain also replenished our irrigation supply and we have so far had good water available to us.  We have been blessed by the rain god.  Of course, we recognize that we live in the high mountain desert and things can change here in the blink of an eye.  It’s been two weeks now since we’ve gotten any more rain and it does cause one to wonder if the weather is shifting back to a more normal pattern of a hot and dry summer.  This week temps are up near 100 degrees.  Thankfully, I have a summer project that takes me indoors to work where it is shady, if not exactly cool. 

My publisher is planning a book revision on my book “Growing 101 Herbs That Heal”.  Officially it is a revision, but in many ways the book will be a new work, including a new title.  So, this summer I am writing and enjoying it very much.  The book is going to maintain its gardening and medicinal information on herbs, but I am adding 27 new plants and deleting a few of the old ones.  There will be new chapters on culinary use of herbs, along with ideas shared about food gardening with herbs and more on container growing.  I am including chapters on herb gardening with kids, one on edible flowers and foraging and using your garden weeds, along with an expanded section on gardening with nature rather than trying to keep nature out of your gardens.  So, there is going to be loads of new information in the book.  The other exciting news about the book is that the photography is going to be updated and I’m very pleased that Saxon Holt is set to do that photography work.  I’m quite looking forward to working with him when he visits the farm later this summer/autumn.  Can you tell I’m just a little bit excited about this project!!  My hope is that this book project will be only the beginning to a couple of other book ideas I have held in my heart for a few years now, but we’ll see what happens.

Earlier this spring Chris re-did our side yard garden, which has become a huge wild bird garden.  It now includes a Russian hawthorn, several blue rabbit brush plants, a golden currant and a great many other fantastic dry land plants.  These will make for less watering in that garden, but also there will be a lot of berries and seeds available to the wild birds throughout the year.  The garden will now be much more attractive and we anticipate being a LOT more enthusiastic about the garden then we were before.  The desert garden also has been getting an overhaul.  It now includes some Manzanita plants, a mesquite tree and several new penstemons and cacti species.  The wildlife loves this garden and it is truly in its glory, with loads of things blooming.  The Zinnia grandiflora has begun to bloom in earnest and all one can say about this plant is WOW!

                        

With the cactus all blooming, come the no see-um gnats.  Yikes…these little buggers are a pain in the neck and other body parts too.  I have been making large batches of bug spray (insect repellent), as we try to maintain our sanity from these little gnats.  Here is a recipe for making your own insect repellent…

No Bugs & Gnat Spray (name compliments of our niece Grace)  

1 oz.  Santolina tincture (made in grain alcohol only)

1 oz.  Lavender tincture (made in grain alcohol only)

Add 5-10 drops each of three different essential oils.  Choose from Lavender, Rose Geranium. Eucalyptus, Lemon Geranium, Lemon Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Citronella or Blue Cypress Oil.

Place tinctures and essential oils in a 2 oz spray mister bottle (use a glass bottle ideally, rather than plastic).  Cap tightly.  Shake very well before using and avoid spraying in directly your eyes, nose or mouth.  Apply as needed, usually about every hour or so if it is very hot, less if the temps are milder.  Yield is 1 (2oz) spray bottle)

 

The temps are soaring now and its easy working in the fields and gardens to take in too much sun.  Here is a recipe for a sunburn relief spray that feels oh, so well when the skin is extra hot and red. 

 

Sunburn Relief Spray

Mix 2 oz each of lavender tincture, plantain tincture, and calendula tincture. 

Add 2 oz of witch hazel extract or aloe vera juice.  Shake well. 

I also usually add about ¼ tsp of Lavender pure essential oil, as lavender soothes and

heals burns and smells glorious, but this ingredient is optional.

Store in a spray bottle in the fridge for up to 2 weeks time if aloe juice is used.  If witch hazel extract is used, the spray will keep for 6 months in the fridge.  Spray onto burned or overheated skin as needed or desired.  Yields 1 cup (8oz).  This same recipe is also good used simply as a skin nourishing blend and is very nice applied to newly-shaven skin.

 

When summer arrives and the heat that comes with it, we would probably starve to death if it weren’t for three kitchen gadgets…the electric skillet, the croc pot and the outdoor grill.  You can rarely convince me to heat the oven during the summer months to cook anything!  It actually works out great because there is so much fresh fruit and veggies from the garden that we have plenty of tasty options that do not require the oven.  One of our most favorite grilled chicken recipes is for Rosemary Red Pepper Chicken.  This is good any time of the year, but it really hits the spot with a cucumber tomato salad or potato salad.

 

Grilled Rosemary Red Pepper Chicken

1-2 Tablespoons fresh or dried Rosemary leaves

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon crushed red hot pepper (any variety will do…cayenne, habanero, riot ristra)

2 Tablespoons olive oil with a bit more to lightly coat your grill

Mix all the spices and the brown sugar in a shallow bowl.  Drizzle and coat the chicken lightly with olive oil and then rub the spice mixture into the chicken (use either skinned or with the skin on chicken), using the back of a wooden spoon or your freshly washed fingers.  Then allow the chicken to sit for 30-60 minutes, but not much longer or it will be too salty.  Time to grill it.  Heat the grill to medium high and lightly coat the grill with a paper towel soaked in olive oil.  Put the chicken on the grill and cover if it’s a gas grill, but leave un-covered if it is a charcoal grill.  Cook slowly, turning the chicken very often, until it is tender and done.  The secret to cooking all meats to juicy perfection is not to get in a hurry about it.  Cook them over medium heat and take the time needed to cook them completely.  For this recipe, cooking time is approximately 20-40 minutes.  Enjoy!!

 

Elizabeth, who works with me in the greenhouses and the gardens, harvested about 2 gallons of red currants off my garden bushes in June.  We left some on the bushes for the robins and other birds to enjoy and they have been doing just that.  M’lissa and I froze the currants to make into delicious bread during the autumn and winter months.  Then I got an unexpected and wonderful treat…Caleb, who works with Chris in the flower seed field, showed up at my doorstep one weekend with a huge bucketful of mulberries!  They were fat and juicy and exceptionally sweet.  Those became oat mulberry crisp for breakfast, with about 3 quarts left over for the freezer and another time of delicious eating.  We’ve been picking strawberries nearly every day and the raspberries are just about ready to start harvesting.  If you don’t have any fruit plants in your yard, do consider growing some.  Our pear trees are loaded this year and the wild plum bushes that grow along our irrigation ditch is heavy with fruit.  Sadly, the peaches and apricots were frosted this spring. The apples and cherries are still too small to bear fruit yet.  I was hoping for elderberries this year to make into cold season illness tincture and syrups, but there wasn’t enough moisture early in spring for them to put on berries.  I may pick a small amount of wild berries in the mountains nearby for my personal needs.

 

This time of the year Mary’s bees are really very busy pollinating our flower seed crops and other plants around the farm.  I’ve noticed lately that they are favoring the Fernbushes, the Desert Willow and several of the seed crops, which they seem to especially love.  We are so grateful to Mary for keeping one of her bee yards here on the farm.  Recently, when she was here checking on the bees, she left us with a chunk of beeswax filled with honey nectar.  Oh my goodness…what a treat!  For days we would break off a small piece and chew on it like chewing gum, savoring every drop of sweetness the chewed wax yielded.  Pollinators, like honeybees, but all types, are so important on this Earth.  They work in partnership with the plants to create something that benefits each, and of course we also benefit by the end result of delicious food, herbs for all our needs, wax for candles and herbal salves…just so many things.  If you haven’t thought much about pollinators lately, I highly recommend that you give them some of your time and energy to really ponder all the amazing work these creatures do and how awful our lives would be if they didn’t do their work so well.  There are a couple of really good books that I’d recommend on this subject.  The first one is a riot of fun and very useful information called “Sex in Your Garden” by Angela Overy.  This book is small and very beautiful and talks, or rather shows you, how pollinators see the plants and what the plants do to make sure they get “noticed” by the correct pollinator to meet that specific plant’s needs.  You’ll love this book.  The other one is by Gary Nabhan and is called “The Forgotten Pollinators”.  It is simply superb!

 

I hope that you have a wonderful summer season, full of glorious abundance that is in all ways good and magical for you and your families.  Stay cool and really take notice of all the amazing things happening around you at this time of the year.

With Green Thoughts,

Tammi

The Green Thoughts Newsletter is for people who are interested in plants and an earth-friendly approach to living.  With each issue there is an adventure into the world of how people interact with plants specifically, but also with the whole world, hopefully from a sustainable place.  It is the hope of Tammi that this newsletter will offer you inspiration and insight and that you will make plants a part of your daily lifestyle.  Perhaps the message most intended of this newsletter is the importance of honor and respect between all living beings as we all live together on this Earth.

The information in this newsletter is intended to be used for educational purposes only.  It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice to any specific individual.  Please seek the advice of a healthcare professional should you be in need of one.  The Green Thoughts Newsletter and Tammi Hartung accept no responsibility for how the information in this newsletter might be used by any one or group of individuals.

Copyright 2009 by Tammi Hartung.  All rights reserved.  You may not alter this newsletter in any way.  Please feel free to share and print this newsletter so that others may enjoy it.  However, please make sure that the person(s) you are forwarding it to do indeed wish to receive it…it doesn’t hurt to ask them first just to be sure. 

 

 

We hope that when you visit our farm, and shop in the Farm Stand store, you will wear a mask or scarf. This will help you stay safe and those you are around stay safe. It is a small thing that we all need to do when we are out in public.

Whew, life is very full here for all of us, although, Hannah and Gretel seem to be finding time to relax next to the pond. They might be the only ones that have time to sit a spell right now.

Meet Martine, who is one of the new members of our Farm Stand crew. Her husband, Ken, also works in the Farm Stand, along with James, Farm Stand Liz and Beki. They are all doing a great job keeping the Farm Stand looking great and helping farm visitors find the plants they are looking for for their gardens.

We are all wearing masks and scarves and gloves and when visitors come to shop in the Farm Stand they are also doing good social distancing, wearing masks or scarves and taking advantage of our hand-washing stations. Even with all those things we must all do right now with the Coronavirus situation, we are all finding joy in the process of growing plants in our gardens!

There are 2 fairy gardens in the raffle drawing this year.

We will be raffling one in May and one in early June. The money we make selling raffle tickets will be used to buy fresh fruit and vegetables for our local food bank.

Remember that Chris was giving our Farm Stand bench a fresh coat of paint recently…

The bench has been given the name the “purple people eater” because it is painted bright purple. This was a wonderful young family that came to the Farm to visit this weekend. They let us take their picture sitting on the “purple people eater” bench.

We so enjoy and are so grateful for all of you that are visiting and supporting our Farm and our farm crew! We really love having you visit! For those that are using email ordering for curbside farm pick-up, thank you too for making sure this small family farm can survive and thrive.

Enjoy this week of wonderful warm spring weather. Despite the stress that the coronavirus situation is putting on all of us, there is so much we all have to be in gratitude for and joy that we can experience in the simple pleasures of life. Enjoy friends!

With Green Thoughts, Tammi