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It’s a beautiful autumn day today. The temps are in the 70’s with a slight breeze and it feels delicious to be outdoors! We have been working around the farm today doing the daily chores of seed picking, greenhouse and garden watering, feeding the birds, taking the wash down from the clothesline – you know how it goes on a lazy Saturday. There are things that must be done, but the pace in which you do those things is your own for a change. Life is pretty good.

In my last post I said this week would be my two for one blog posting week, and so it shall be, but since I wrote that last post I’ve realized that I have a lot of thoughts to share. Some are important and some probably not so much, except maybe to me, but I’m in the mood to share my thoughts, so pour yourself a cup of tea and let’s have a blog visit.

I want to tell you a bit more about the Aunt Molly Ground Cherries, which are keeping my attention a lot these days. This is my plant (this is 1 plant) in a large clay pot. Last year I planted this variety in my food garden in the soil and it thrived, but it was hard to harvest because when ground cherries are perfectly ripe they fall off the plant. In other words you don’t pick them off the plant’s stems like other fruit, instead you pick the fruits off the ground when they become ripe enough to fall off the plant. So, in the garden they fell onto the soil beneath my very large prolific plant and I was left to rummage around beneath the foliage to find the ground cherries. It took a fair bit of time to harvest the fruits in this way and I can’t say it was a lot of fun. This spring I decided to grow my plant in a large pot and my intention was to take it out to the back yard and set the pot on the sidewalk beneath my clothesline, but I never got the pot moved outdoors. Instead it stayed on a bench in the Plant Barn greenhouse, where it also has thrived, but our greenhouse benches are made with pallets, so there are slots in the benches. When the ground cherries were ripe they fell off the plant, as usual, and landed underneath the bench. Again, not a lot of fun to harvest since I had to reach and crawl under the bench to pick them up off the fabric weed barrier floor. Ok, plan 3…I turned upside down another large pot and used it as a pedestal for the Aunt Molly ground cherry plant’s pot and bingo! This was the perfect plan. As you can see in my photo when the ground cherries ripen and fall they land on the ground under the plant, but since the plant’s pot is raised up off the ground on the upturned pot by about 1.5 feet or so, I can easily scoop up the ripe ground cherries, put them in a bowl and they are ready to start eating.

This idea came from an article in a magazine called Growing for Market. The article was about a market farmer who grew ground cherries for their local farmers market, but they also didn’t enjoy the harvesting process and it took too much time when they were hurrying to get ready to go to the market with their produce. They came up with a plan to plant the ground cherry plants on a hilled row that was covered with weed barrier. When the ground cherries would get ripe they would fall off the plant onto the hilled row of weed barrier fabric and then roll down the little slop into the aisle between the planted rows. It was easy for the farmer’s family to come along the aisle and just scoop up the fruits from on top of the weed barrier and off they would go to the weekly farmers market, where people quickly bought up all the ground cherries because they are so tasty to eat. And have I mentioned that kids love to eat these! They are like candy drops to kids and a whole lot better than real candy drops would be.

Next spring when you are ready to plant your Aunt Molly’s ground cherries, this will give you an optional way to grow them rather than growing them in a traditional garden row.

We produce a bit of organic waste in our greenhouses in the course of growing so many varieties of potted plants. Years ago we gave up composting this old potting soil and plant trimmings because we weren’t very good at keeping the compost piles turned and actively working. In part that is because it was always a pretty large pile and we don’t own a tractor with a way to assist in turning the piles. We would have to do it the old-fashioned way with pitch forks and shovels and hence it often just got put off or didn’t happen in a timely way. We needed a better plan. We bought a handmade trailer, which I call the chicken trailer and Chris sometimes calls the wiggle wagon because it is such a goofy trailer and it used to wiggle a lot when we pulled it behind the truck. It doesn’t wiggle anymore thanks to Jake and Lizz welding a re-enforcement brace to the trailer’s hitching tongue. So, I digress…

Below is the chicken trailer getting ready to be dumped at any number of friends gardens, often where chickens live. This is a great solution for us, because we don’t have to turn a massive compost pile regularly. I do have a tumbling compost barrel in my personal food garden for kitchen and garden trimmings and that compost gets used in my food garden whenever it is ready. The chicken trailer goes to a friend’s garden and if there are chickens at that garden, the chickens pillage through the trailer’s organic waste and as they do they add their own manure to the mix. Then our friends recycle the  soil into their own gardens as nutrient-rich organic matter. It’s a win win for all of us. Thanks to all the chicken trailer recipients: Carol, Wendy and Russ, James, Dwayne, Biggi, Christopher and Beki.

And whenever the chicken trailer is making a voyage to a garden, this is the back seat driver. ⇓

Many of us keep bird baths to provide our wild bird friends with a fresh drink or a place to take a refreshing bath, but other creatures use those birdbaths too. Below some honey bees were getting a drink. The deer, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, butterflies and other pollinators and of course Shrek all drink from our birdbaths here.

I have some exciting news to share. My newest book, Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine, has just won the 2017 Thomas DeBaggio Book Award! I’m so honored and thrilled about this! It is such an amazing honor to receive this award and my heart and spirit are filled with deep gratitude. Writing Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine was all about sharing insights and stories of the great many ways plants and people have been in relationship, and how dependent our lives are on the benefits we gain from plants. The plants I wrote about in this book are old frirends of mine and have been a part of my daily life since I was a little girl. My hope is that others will enjoy reading about these plants and learning their stories, and perhaps these readers will even be a little bit surprised at just how many ways plants fill all of our lives.

I’m waiting now to receive the gold seals for this award that I can place on the book covers when I sell copies of my book. My publisher, Storey Publishing, will also be placing seals on the books as they fill orders for my book. Once the seals arrive to me, I’ll take a photo and post it on this blog so that I can share this really wonderful event in my life.

On this past Wednesday, we had another greenhouse skin replacement event. It was time to recover the basil house, so we rounded up a total of 7 people to help and off we went to accomplish this daunting task. This greenhouse is 30 foot wide and 100 feet long, so it’s not a small building and when you’re talking about huge sheets (2 of them to be exact) of plastic that can be carried off on the slightest breeze, well…it’s kind of a big deal.

Above we are removing the old top layer and then the bottom layer of plastic.

Then it’s on with the first layer. Dave and several of us are holding it in place while Lizz and Chris (below) tie tennis balls and ropes to the second layer so that it can be pulled over top of the bottom layer.

 

After both layers are pulled onto the building and everything is adjusted to be in the proper position, then we all are stationed around the building holding the plastic securely in place while Chris begins to attach the plastic to the building via wiggle wires and tracks.

This is Beki’s approach to holding onto her corner of the plastic. She was pretty safe doing this because by this time both end walls had been secured into the tracks with wiggle wire, and she was just holding the bottom of the plastic in place until Chris got to her spot with more wiggle wires to secure the bottom wall edge.

The Basil House looks great now and this greenhouse is all inflated and doing a grand job of housing our plants. We have three other greenhouses to replace the plastic on this fall, but the basil house was the most difficult and biggest greenhouse to do, so it’s done now and we are breathing a little easier.

I’ve talked about this before, but I like to mention it every now and then. It’s one of those things I enjoy, but also feel is a very tiny thing many of us can do to help use a bit less energy and simplify our lives a tiny step. How many of you hang your wash out on a clothes line to dry after you launder it? In my mind there are few things nicer then the smell of clean clothes and linens that have hung in the fresh air to dry. They feel crisp on your skin, they smell great and guess what…if you dry your clothes on a clothesline for a year’s time you will have saved around $150.00 in energy costs you would have spent to dry those same loads of laundry in a dryer appliance.

When I save that money using my clothes line, I can use it instead to pay for my entire year’s subscription to the newspaper or it will pay for a 1/4 of the year’s cell phone bills, or we could just use it to have a special wedding anniversary event. I’m sure a great many of you are saying, well, that isn’t a lot of money to save, but imagine if thousands or millions of us adopted the clothes line to dry our wash! Then your $150.00 is multiplied into a great deal of money, but more important a great deal of energy savings!! Sun and breeze energy to dry the wash is free of charge and leaves behind nothing harmful to contribute to climate change. Indeed it helps towards the solutions to climate change. It’s a collective effort and believe me it adds up.

Now I realize that not everyone is into hanging their laundry out to dry. There are people who cannot accomplish this task even if they did choose to do so. I think here is a place for the dryer appliance in our world…indeed Chris and I have a dryer, all be it a very old one, and we occasionally use it when we are in a big time crunch and need dry clothes very fast,  but for most of us a clothes line approach is a realistic option for most of the time, and maybe it’s worth some serious consideration.

I’ll put my soap box away now.

I’ve also been thinking about what it is to live in an old farm-house. We live in one and it has a lot of “character” believe me. Our house was not the priority when we bought this land to have our farm. We needed a place that had really good soil, good irrigation water, and that we could afford. We needed a house that was livable, but beyond that we weren’t too fussy. We ended up with a good piece of land with good soil and water, in a great location to grow plants, in a wonderful community to live in. Our old farm-house was very livable, but let me tell you it has had a hugely long list of challenges.

We’ve lived here almost 22 years and over those years we’ve slowly fixed all the dangerous things about our house. The electrical and plumbing works had to be totally redone. The wood stove, we learned after the fact, had an open flue in the attic and we are thankful we didn’t burn ourselves to the ground in that first winter we lived here. The wood stove and chimney have all been replaced. These are just a few of the major things that needed fixing in the early years. Three years ago we repaired the outside of our house, which was the biggest project we’ve had to do so far, and it included putting up insulation, replacing all the windows and stuccoing the outside. Below is our house before that work and then afterwards. We are now in love with our little southwestern looking casita. Best yet, it is now in good repair besides looking good on the outside.

We’ve about fixed all the necessary fixes, and someday we hope to do more of the inside cosmetic fixes, but this is an old farm-house and despite the worn out linoleum and goofy kitchen cabinets, it is our homeplace and we really like it here. Our house is comfortable and it suits us and our dog and cats. When company comes they tell us they feel comfortable here, so that makes us smile. Our house has too much dust on things in the busy season and there is rarely a day that there isn’t dirt getting tracked inside as we go about our day of farm chores. That’s what brooms are for right?! Our house isn’t fancy and it sure won’t win any awards, but it is “home”.

Just think about your home for a minute. Maybe you also live in an old farm-house or some kind of fixer upper. Maybe you have a home where everything is tidy and beautiful. It really doesn’t make that much difference what kind of house you live in if it feels like a “home” and is comfortable and a place that makes you happy and feels like a sacred space for you and your family and for friends to visit.

Right now there are so many people without a home. Some of them have lost their home to wildfire or hurricane or tornado events. Some have lost their homes due to a financial or life-changing event. Some have no home through their own doing, but most who are without a home have that loss due to some kind of event that they couldn’t help. I’ve been thinking about all this a lot with so much going on in our world these days. It makes me appreciate our old farm-house that I live in all the more!

Finally, our friend Panayoti Kelaides also has a blog that is fantastic, so I wanted to tell you about it and hope you will explore it soon. It’s called PrairieBreak. Here is the link Prairiebreak

My Photo

Panayoti is an amazing gardener and world plant explorer. He’s the Senior Curator and the Director of Outreach for Denver Botanic Gardens too. We’ve known him for more than 34 years and we love him dearly. If you want to get a serious garden fix, then visit his blog often. You’ll see gardens locally and from different places around the world. Right now he is in Sweden and his newest post is about his trip there. Check it out!

As I close this very long post, I’m sure your cup of tea is long gone by now, so this is the last thing to tell you about. The Autumn is when the tarantulas migrate here in southern Colorado. They are harmless even though they look intimidating and scary. Don’t be fooled! They are just out walking around in their world looking for a mate, so please…if you see one crossing the road as your driving along, please do not run over it. They won’t cause you any harm.

Anyway, remember Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web – right! Well, when you see a spider, that is good luck, so surely a spider as big as a tarantula means mega good luck, aye.

Until next time. With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

 

 

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We’ve been picking a lot of fresh produce from the garden and of course there is always a long list of farm tasks to work on. But the autumn season has begun and this is our favorite time of the year…it is a time to hike, cook from the garden, play music…slow down just a wee little bit over the normal pace of each day. Don’t get me wrong, because every day my list of things to accomplish always seems to be longer than I can manage to get done, but there is no frantic pace in the Autumn season. We are in deep gratitude for that.

With that in mind, I’m writing a short post tonight. There will be another one at the end of the week, so I guess this is my two for one week. Short and sweet, but still a bit of news I think.

Above are some roasted Jimmy Nardello Sweet Fry Peppers. They are delicious no matter how you eat them, but I really like them roasted. I had so many tomatoes this week that I cooked a very large pot of spaghetti sauce and some of these roasted peppers went in the pot, along with a generous spoonful of rosemary. All day long it cooked. All night long it cooked. The next morning I poured it into freezer containers and now I’ll have it for cold winter days to remind me of this year’s garden harvest.

In this picture there is a large bowl of Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries and a small bowl of Tom Thumb Popcorn. I planted one plant of ground cherries and I can hardly keep up eating them. I’ve been sharing them with friends and took a big sack-full to Nebraska with us when we went to visit our family there. They look like tomatillos, but make no mistake…these are sweet, with a hint of cherry flavor, and they are delicious to just eat as a snack. You peel off the outer husk like tomatillos, but that is where the similarities end. Inside the husk is a small cherry-size golden fruit. If you haven’t grown ground cherries yet, please consider it for your garden next year. They also grow nicely in a big container and I think they are very easy to harvest when grown in a container. I’ll be talking more about Aunt Molly’s heirloom ground cherries in my next post.

Chris and I have been hiking in the mountains near our farm nearly every week. Three weeks ago we went up the Horn Lakes trail and that is where these photos were taken. We hiked to the alpine lakes and then ate lunch. There were hawks soaring on the air currents near the lake, so we thoroughly enjoyed watching them.

Of course, Shrek always hikes with us. This week we had a short hike, as Shrek was feeling a little under the weather. Nothing serious for the Shrek fan club, but his stomach wasn’t really up for a winding car ride to get to a trail in the Sangres. We walked at The Banks instead, which makes for quite a pleasant evening walk.

Yikes! I still have plants to get planted in my gardens! I hope I get this accomplished. There is still plenty of planting time before the weather gets too cold and unpredictable, so I’m not too worried yet. There has just been too much happening to get these green friends planted into a permanent home in my gardens.

 

As a final thought, I’m going to leave my sister’s hotel information on the bottom of my posts for a while. If you are interested in exploring a perfect business/lifestyle situation, have a read below. Maybe Wayne and Karri’s Inn will fit the bill for you. It’s for sale in Sidney, Nebraska just slightly north of the Colorado State line. Here’s some information below:

My sister and brother-in-law, Karri and Wayne Waller, have a mom and pop Inn/Motel business in Sidney, Nebraska. They’ve been running this motel, with their home there too, as a eco-friendly Inn for the past 17 years and it is an incredible place. There are all the Inn rooms, of course, which are lovely, plus their home attached to the Inn rooms. They have a greenhouse, extensive gardens and a garden gazebo, a place to keep chickens or other domestic birds. They recently had 7 beehives on the property, but they have now gifted those beehives to another family.

So, why am I sharing all of this with you? Because Karri and Wayne have decided to relocate back to southern Colorado to be nearer to our parents as they are in their golden years. This dream Inn business is for sale and we are trying to share the news with any that might have an interest in exploring this as a possible future. This is truly a turn-key business and a wonderful place to raise a family or retire or just for those who might wish to live in a smaller community versus a large city.

The motel sits a mile or so off Interstate 80, which means it gets a lot of tourist traffic. There is a huge wind farm not too far away, and the Inn has been a home away from home for wind farm workers, plus traveling farm crews that combine crops on many of the large farms nearby. Check it out. Maybe this is the dream business you are in the market for!

Here is the listing with Zillow which contains many pictures and some details.  https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/2093326809_zpid/41.

204231,-102.864733,41.095523,-103.028842_rect/12_zm/1_fr/?view=public

This is the front of the greenhouse and below is a side view with raised bed gardens surrounding it.

It’s been another super busy week, with a lot of things happening, so I have several things to tell you about in this post.

My sister and brother-in-law, Karri and Wayne Waller, have a mom and pop Inn/Motel business in Sidney, Nebraska. They’ve been running this motel, with their home there too, as a eco-friendly Inn for the past 17 years and it is an incredible place. There are all the Inn rooms, of course, which are lovely, plus their home attached to the Inn rooms. They have a greenhouse, extensive gardens and a garden gazebo, a place to keep chickens or other domestic birds. They recently had 7 beehives on the property, but they have now gifted those beehives to another family.

So, why am I sharing all of this with you? Because Karri and Wayne have decided to relocate back to southern Colorado to be nearer to our parents as they are in their golden years. This dream Inn business is for sale and we are trying to share the news with any that might have an interest in exploring this as a possible future. This is truly a turn-key business and a wonderful place to raise a family or retire or just for those who might wish to live in a smaller community versus a large city.

The motel sits a mile or so off Interstate 80, which means it gets a lot of tourist traffic. There is a huge wind farm not too far away, and the Inn has been a home away from home for wind farm workers, plus traveling farm crews that combine crops on many of the large farms nearby. Check it out. Maybe this is the dream business you are in the market for!

Here is the listing with Zillow which contains many pictures and some details.  https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_sale/2093326809_zpid/41.

204231,-102.864733,41.095523,-103.028842_rect/12_zm/1_fr/?view=public

This is the front of the greenhouse and below is a side view with raised bed gardens surrounding it.

Other happenings are that our friend Steve has been visiting and has been involved in the seed harvest. Here he’s cleaning seeds.

Speaking of seeds, we’ve harvested Prickly Poppy so that we can plant a crop of this plant into our seed production field. One of our crew, Beki, has a family homestead nearby and she invited us to come and harvest poppy seed from the land there. It was a fun field trip for all of us and the land is beautiful and the old family buildings that are there. They still use this land for ranching.

         

Another incredible part of the land are the old Native American rock paintings that exist there. On another area are the signatures of old cowboys that used to run a stagecoach route nearby. The date on one of these signatures was 1902. We had so much fun and we are so honored to have been invited to come to this amazing homestead.

     

The food garden is really going in high gear. This is one harvest this week! Pears, garlic, ground cherries, popcorn, raspberries, peppers, tomatoes…oh my! Summer is the time of abundance and we are in deep gratitude for all the fresh food this farm is giving us to enjoy.

Then there was the day of serious, serious weed management! Last Saturday my parents and Chris and I went to their home that is for sale here in Canon City on Rockafellow and cleared the front and back yards of the weeds, plus there is a huge garden space at the back of the property that has raised beds. It’s been about 3 weeks since I weeded this place and with all the extra rain we have gotten, the weeds didn’t waste any time growing back and tall. So, we whipped that place into shape and it looks great! It required a lawn mower, a wheel hoe, lots of hand pulling and probably a gallon of ice tea!

     

All our pears are nearly harvested now, but some of the ones that are high up in the tree beyond reach have been falling each day . It’s been perfect for the does and their fawns to have pears to eat off the ground every morning. Not too many, but just enough to please these four-legged creatures. It’s nice to be able to share the pears we can’t put to use because they are too high up. Co-existing with the wildlife is important and we put a high priority on it, so this is a perfect way for those fallen pears to get used up.

All for now. Enjoy your long weekend. I’ll be back again next week with more news.

Last weekend I made a quick trip to Washington DC to give a lecture at the U.S. Botanic Garden. My talk was about how people and plants have been in relationships throughout humanity’s past, in today’s world, and going forward into the future. This is the subject of my newest book, Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine, and it is a passion of my work with plants.

Below is a picture of the outside of the Botanic Garden conservatory. The building is very old and the glass house conservatory wraps you in a time from the past even as it serves as a home today for thousands of plants. It’s really a beautiful building and the entire Botanic Garden is gorgeous!

One section of the conservatory is dedicated to medicinal plants. There were so many different medicine plants in that small space. I saw Kava Kava, Thyme, Saw Palmetto, Valerian, Pennyroyal and so many other plant friends. Below is a bed of Gotu Kola – a fantastic skin herb and a herb that is used to improve memory and concentration.

In the entrance part of the conservatory there were a lot of different tropical food plants, including this banana. Even though we call this plant a banana tree, it isn’t actually a tree at all. It is quite tall though.

One of my favorite plants is the cacao (chocolate) tree and there were chocolate trees in this conservatory. These are the pods of chocolate beans that grow out of the tree’s trunk.

In the entrance area of the conservatory there were the most beautiful murals painted. The one below is of a farmer processing cacao pods that will later be made into delicious chocolate sweet treats. There were other murals too including one of a cotton harvest, an orange grove, a tractor in a farmer’s field and several others. These paintings were so beautiful!

After I finished giving my lecture and doing a bit of exploration in the Botanic Garden, I walked to a local bookshop called East City Bookshop. They were kind enough to stock copies of my book, Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine in their shop so that people will have a local store to buy a copy. I went there to sign those copies and to give them my thanks for having my book available.

On the walk back towards my hotel, I saw the Thomas Jefferson Building and of course there was a food garden planted at the entrance steps! If you know anything about Thomas Jefferson, then you know that he was passionate about growing gardens in general, but especially food gardens, so it is absolutely appropriate that there would be a vegetable garden displayed in front of this important building. The garden represented the War Gardens that people were encouraged to plant during World War II when food supplies were rationed. We would all be wise to have a food garden of any size at our homes these days too. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables taste so delicious and a food garden of your own gives you a bit of food security and control over your own pantry. If you cannot grow your own food garden, then please try to support and shop at your local farmers market. It’s the next best thing.

One of the monuments that was most moving to me and so beautiful and made such a powerful statement was the Peace Monument that sits at the sidewalk curb leading up to the steps of the United States Capitol. It’s reassuring to me in these crazy days of government that there is a Peace Monument so close to those who govern us as a country. It also makes me wonder if those who govern us – Republicans, Democrates, Independents – do you suppose they even notice or know that this very significant monument is right there as our champion to inspire them to make good decisions and hold them accountable for the decisions that they make that affect all of us so deeply. I rather suspect that they are mostly oblivious and too caught up in their own agendas to worry very much about what is important to each and every one of us. It’s frightening to me what is going on in our government these days. I try to keep politics mostly out of this blog, but I must tell you that seeing this Peace Monument really touched me at my core. I wish that our government officials could look at it and feel like that too.

On another note, we have our friend Steve from New Zealand visiting and it was an opportunity for us to gather with other friends to share a meal and enjoy each other’s company. Here is Chris, Marc and Steve just after we returned from an evening stroll in the pinon-juniper forest where Marc and Joan live.

And below I’ll leave you with this gorgeous meadow filled with Indian Paintbrush, Penstemons, Artemisia and so many other wildflowers. It is breathtaking!

So, I’ll also leave you with this thought…maybe if each of us focus’ on doing things that help us create a peaceful personal and community environment, perhaps we can influence the greater whole, and that includes our foolish current government.  If we enjoy the company of good friends, family and neighbors, and honor them, along with all of nature around us. Oh… and if we could each plant some kind of food garden (even a single pot of lettuce  or a basil plant counts) however small or large. If we try to make sure all our actions and thoughts are first and foremost kind and truthful, and if we hold respect for all living things – then my belief is that things will turn out positive and good. I will be holding onto that feeling I had when I was standing in front of the Peace Monument.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

We’ve had another busy week, but that seems to be normal around this farm. I had intended to write last week, but time got away from me, so I hope you will find this post interesting. The first thing I want to let you know about is my upcoming presentation in Washington D.C.

   On August 19th I will be speaking at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington D.C.  This is a Ariel photo of the gardens and below is the listing from their website about my presentation. Here is the link to their website  Lecture: Cattail Moonshine and Milkweed Medicine | United States Botanic Garden  If you can join us for this event, that would be wonderful, but remember that you must pre-register to attend this presentation. Here are the details…

Lecture: Cattail Moonshine and Milkweed Medicine

Event Date:
Sat, Aug 19, 2017

Tammi Hartung, Herbalist, Organic Farmer, Author and International Speaker
Tammi will share insights and stories about many North American plants, and how people have used them since early times into the future. Cholla cactus as tattoo needles, cattails for biofuel and cleaning waterways, hickory bark as delicious syrup, and Echinacea for medicine or to comb your hair! Join Tammi as she tells you how milkweed can clean up an oil spill disaster or keep you warm on a snowy day and more about all the plants we use in our daily lives.

DATE: Saturday, August 19
TIME: 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
LOCATION: Conservatory Classroom
FREE: Pre-registration required

In addition, East City Bookshop in Washington D.C. will be selling copies of my book Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine. If you are interested in buying a copy either before or after the presentation (they have them in stock now), this is the place to go to do that. Here is their website link  East City Bookshop . East City Bookshop has been very kind to offer to sell my books, since the Botanic Garden doesn’t allow anything to be sold from the property, including my books (or anything else for that matter) at the U.S. Botanic Garden itself, so I won’t have books available to buy at the presentation itself.
Desert Reef Hot Springs Garden Room Project
We also had an interesting morning recently putting a new greenhouse skin (that’s what we call the double layer of plastic covering) on the Garden Room greenhouse at the Desert Reef Hot Springs. This was a big project, but we had fun, and here are a sequel of photos to show you how the project went. Oh, and this hot springs is amazing, so if you are interested in checking it out, here is the link Home | Desert Reef Hot Spring . Chris and I enjoy soaking there. It is one of our great relaxation joys.
Here we are putting on the top layer of plastic and Chris is on top of the greenhouse hooking the plastic into the wiggle wire track that will hold the plastic in place securely.
Sean is holding onto Chris’ ankles as Chris makes an adjustment to the plastic before we put the shade cloth covering on next. Good thing Chris isn’t bothered by heights, aye!
The shade cloth is over the greenhouse now and it is all hands on deck to hold it in place so that it can be screwed on to secure it. This allows the greenhouse to stay cooler during the hot months of the year.
All finished! The new plastic is in place and the shade cloth secured on top. Many thanks to Lizz, Gina, and Sean for helping Chris and I work on this. Ro is thrilled with the end results and we know that LJ is smiling about it too.
Gina, Sean and Shrek are harvesting the Calamentha ‘White Cloud Strain’ seed. Now is the time of year when every day there is seed to be harvested.
Chris harvests the Pennisetum grass using a flower harvesting rack to comb off the seed heads when they are ripe. He makes it look easy here, but make no mistake, this task takes strong shoulders and back, and strength in your hands and wrists. Our planting beds are 4′ x 100′ and there are three beds of Pennisetum to comb, so it is a pretty big task to do. He will comb these beds several days in a row for each of two harvesting cycles.
One thing we have been noticing a lot of this summer are the praying mantis, which is a beneficial predator insect that hunts pest insects. In the flower seed field, they have been thick in the ornamental grass crops and they are hunting and eating grasshoppers!! Yippee!! We are so happy to have them here helping to manage the grasshoppers. Grasshoppers not only eat the foliage of plants, but they love to eat the seed too, so they are simply not welcome. Last year we had a much worse grasshopper problem, but this year there are still a lot more grasshoppers then we would like. Since the praying mantis are eating the grasshoppers, we haven’t needed to address this pest problem in other ways…the praying mantis are simply handling the problem for us.
And this is happening in the greenhouses too, where grasshoppers can get in through the open shutters and doors when the greenhouses are being cooled. In the Hygge House Greenhouse this very large and brown praying mantis has been roaming about and eating grasshoppers for weeks now. He has made his color brown so that he blends in to the color of the pots when he hides while he is waiting for his prey (in this case grasshoppers) to come by and then he catches them and has them for either breakfast, lunch or dinner! He is about 6″ long and he comes up on top of the hens & chicks succulent plants and watches me as I’m watering each day.
 In the Basil Greenhouse there is a green praying mantis living in the iceplants. He has made himself green so that he blends into the foliage of the iceplants as camouflage while he is hunting. Praying mantis have the ability to change their colors according to the habitat they are in so that they are not too easy to spot. They are pretty social insects and they seem interested in watching us as we move about in the greenhouses, the field and gardens. They are totally harmless to people, and indeed, if you find one in your garden you can very gently stroke it’s back and they seem to enjoy this. They don’t bite or sting, so don’t worry. Instead, make them welcome, because they are great hunters of pest insects and an ally to organic gardeners and farmers. Your kids will love them, but teach your kids to show respect. These creatures belong to Mother Nature and humans should show them honor.
I’ve been helping my parents with their gardens too. With all the wonderful rain we’ve gotten in July the gardens are beautiful and the weeds are growing of course too. I’ve been helping mom and dad keep their gardens up this summer. Recently, I was there weeding and they were keeping me company on the porch, visiting as I worked. It was a pleasant way to spend my morning.
It’s August now and in truth, my summer feels like it has pasted me by. A lot has been happening and a lot of things to keep us busy here. I hope you are enjoying your gardens and your summer. Consider spending some time helping your parents or grandparents, older neighbors or friends that are enjoying their elder years. They will appreciate your helping hands and you will surely gain the benefit of some wisdom they have to share with you while you are there.
Cheers!

It’s been a very busy week around here. We had plant people visiting us to check out the farm  from Germany and New Zealand on two different days. It has rained, rained, rained every afternoon and evening and so far for the month of July we’ve received nearly 10.5 inches! Since our annual average is usually around 15 inches, you can only imagine how surprised we are to have so much moisture this month. Everything is very green and the weeds are growing like crazy!

The food garden is starting to give us fresh produce now, both inside and outdoors. The raspberries are starting to kick in, which makes me smile A LOT, since I absolutely adore raspberries.

Below is a picture of my fig plant, which is getting little figs now. The pomegranate, lime tree, tumeric and ginger are also getting fruit and rhizomes.

Above is a baby fig and below is my tumeric plant.

I’ve been picking a lot of variety of peppers lately too. These are Jimmy Nardello Sweet Fry peppers – one of our favorites.

The Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries are also starting to come on in mass. I’m picking squash, little fingers eggplants, butterhead salad lettuce, strawberries and more. I love the harvest season and having fresh produce is the best thing ever.

As I’m writing this blog, I’m looking out my office window at 2 little fawns eating fallen pears under the pear tree. They are about a foot away from me, but of course the window glass is between us. They are precious, still with spots, and feeling frisky.

The picture below is of three fawns last night getting soaked in the rain. We have so far counted 9 fawns in the deer herd that visits the farm twice a day. They treat the farm like a giant playground and they are a great deal of fun to watch. They are welcome on this farm. We have tricks up our sleeves for protecting plants they may like to eat, but for the most part the herd of 44 plus (counting this year’s crop of fawns) doesn’t cause us too much trouble. It’s all about co-existing in a peaceful way that allows them to be here and us to earn our living on this small farm. It can be done, for those of you that are skeptical, and it can be done in a positive way. If you are interesting in learning more about wildlife-friendly gardening, check out my book The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener by Storey Publishing.

Last night we went for a walk up at The Banks, which is BLM land near our farm. Below are a few of the native plants we enjoyed as we went on our stroll.

Mentzelia

Cleome

Native Clematis

And this is the stretching routine that Chris and Shrek do every morning. Each morning Chris begins to stretch before going to work and Shrek thinks he has to do the same.

Sometimes Pal the cat participates too, but not this morning. That gets really interesting when Chris has Shrek stretching on one side of him and Pal stretching on the other side. All in the name of avoiding stiff and aching muscles, aye!

Cheers!

Another hot and busy week here at Desert Canyon Farm and our homeplace! Starting tomorrow it is supposed to get a bit cooler and we are really looking forward to that. We have been getting some lovely monsoon rains each late afternoon or evening and that truly makes all the difference this time of the year for the seed crops, orchard and other trees, and the gardens.

We had some young visitors this week and Shrek was absolutely delighted…Chris and I were too. Lyli and Gabe picked currants, played with Shrek, saw frogs and grass carp in the pond, and had a tasty milk shake while they were here. It was a fun day for all of us.

As for farm work, it is always on-going.

We are currently planting up fresh stock plants, as with the mint mother plants above, transplanting plants into bigger pots for next spring’s Farm Stand sales, harvesting seeds from the gardens to plant later this year and in the early months of 2018, taking cuttings and root divisions, and all manner of other greenhouse work. Believe me, Lizz and I have been very busy. Lizz is taking a well-earned vacation this week, but when she gets back it will be more of the same.

Chris, Gina and Sean have been keeping up with the flower field and starting to harvest a lot of seed crops now. With all this glorious rain we’ve been getting the weeds will soon be growing on a mission to overtake our farm world, and it will be interesting to see if we can hold our own against the weed community. Sean and Gina have already been digging up thistle and queen ann’s lace from the yerba mansa crop to make sure these invasive weeds don’t start getting a foot-hold here on the farm. That would never do!

I’ve finally been getting some tiny amounts of time in my gardens – a little bit in some of the evenings to weed and to start planting all the plants I’ve set aside for my personal gardens. Above there is still a large portion of a greenhouse bench-full of plants waiting for me to find them a new home in my gardens. So, I still have plenty to do in that regard.

On Sunday, I’ll be speaking at the Perennial Plant Association’s 35th Annual Symposium. Here’s the link if you want to check it out  http://ppadenver.com/sessions/perennial-inspiration-star-showcase-perennial-experts/ . My talks is Perennial Herbs to Attract or Deter Wildlife and it will be at 1:00pm this Sunday.

Chris and I have been spending some time this summer with our parents. This time always makes us realize just how special these four people are in our lives!

I hope you will have time to spend with people who are special in your lives too, whether they are family, friends or neighbors.  Our families and extended community is so important to a rich life I think, so make the most of it if you can.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi