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This week Chris and I, along with Shrek, spent time in Cedar Mesa, Utah. We camped, hiked, and enjoyed the plant community and a bit of archeology.

We usually make this trip in mid-late November and that is a better time to go. This time of the year the plants are mostly dormant and although the days were pleasantly sunny and in the mid 40 degree range (good hiking temperature), the nights were brutally cold! Our little pop-up camper doesn’t have a proper heater, so we were relying on a hunter’s blind small propane heater and our cook stove to try to keep from turning into human and canine blocks of ice. The low was around 0-3 degrees each night and although the tiny heater helped, we still woke up each morning to a 1/4″ of ice on the inside of the camper windows. Still, we had a blast on our trip and beyond the cold at night it was really good!

Here are a few of the plants we enjoyed when hiking in the canyons. Above is Shepherdia rotundifolia, also called Silver Buffaloberry. This is a favorite of both mine and Chris’. We have this shrub growing in our desert garden here at the farm and with a bit of luck we will have a few plants of Sherpherdia for sale next spring in our Farm Stand store.

Below is a Ephedra nevedensis, which is a blue-green colored Ephedra, sometimes called Morman Tea. There are other Ephedra species that have that common name too, including a bright green species, Ephedra viridis, which we also saw in the canyons. I really think the blue Ephedra is so attractive. All the Ephedra species have medicinal value, mainly for the respiratory tract. We will have several species of Ephedra for sale next spring here at the farm.

One of the dominant species is Tall Sagebrush (often called sage, but it isn’t a true Sage species). This is Artemisia tridentata. It is pictured below. There are few plants that smell as good and the fragrance of this plant instantly brings the deserts of the southwest to mind. I add this to wreaths and make it into smudge bundles. It is considered a sacred plant and a strong medicine plant by tribal peoples. We have quite a few of these planted here in our gardens and some of them are starting to get some good size to them now. If you are interested in growing this variety of Artemisia, plant it in a sunny place that doesn’t get too much water and it will probably be very happy. We will have these for sale as well.

There were some very sweet and small Townsendia plants loaded up with seeds, so we picked a bit of seed so that we can get this little plant established here in our trough gardens. Then we will have an on-site farm supply of seed for the future. We still have to double-check the species of this Townsendia. It is a little different from the species that grows on wild lands near our farm. Sometimes these plants are called Easter Daisy.

We so enjoy looking at all the plants that grow in this habitat, but we go to this area each year also to enjoy looking at the Indian ruins that have been in these canyons for hundreds of years and still they are there preserved by the harsh arid desert climate. This ruin was in Fish Canyon. We hiked for three days and everywhere we hiked we were able to see ruins and rock art. The ground is covered with pottery shards and tool chips, petrified little corns, and there are grinding stones still in place. The cardinal rules are treat these places with the utmost respect and honor and don’t take anything from where you find it. In this way, you can enjoy experiencing it without harming anything. We think about how life must have been for these indigenous people who lived here all those years ago.

Below is some rock art that was in the back of one alcove we visited.

The cottonwoods that live in the bottoms of each canyon and the dry washes are quite old and have experienced a very harsh life, but still there they are surviving, and providing homes for wildlife, preventing erosion and even providing a bit of appreciated shade for hikers like ourselves.

When you live in this kind of place, in a southwestern desert environment, life is not easy and the trees of all kinds show you this. They are gnarly, twisted and rugged. Their branches and trunks are massive, but they only have the branches and leaves they need to support a good life, rather than supporting anything extra. This is true for the cottonwoods certainly, but we also noticed it in the piñon pines and the junipers.

For me, these trees are great teachers of what it means to stay grounded and strong, but also to remain flexible for whatever life brings your way both good and challenging. Trees surely must have some of the greatest patience ever, at least in my view. They live such a long time. Just imagine all that they have seen and experienced in their lifetimes.

We returned home to the farm last night and today we unpacked our camping gear and put everything away until next fall. We feel invigorated and relaxed from this time spent away from people, electronics, laundry and such, and farm chores. Now we begin to settle back into our normal routine. Last night we slept warm and cozy for the first time in a week…ahhh!

Tonight, Chris went off to play a gig. Shrek and I and the cats are about to light a woodstove fire to warm up the house. We’re thinking about some popcorn, apples and cheese for supper and then time with my needlework.

Sometimes life feels overly full! It can be filled with so much good and sometimes it is challenging and difficult. Each day brings its new agenda. This has been a very nice week for Chris and I, and life feels simple, joyful and good. We are in gratitude for all the gifts and blessings our lives are filled with. May it be the same for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Thanksgiving holiday is past and we enjoyed it with our Nebraska family. We had such great fun visiting with everyone and watching all the youngsters playing with their cousins. It was a good trip and we always have plenty to share with each other on the long drive home as we catch one another up on all our family conversations we each had during the course of our visit.

Several weeks back we began to increase our beneficial insect pest management program for the winter months. We use beneficial insects in our greenhouses to control any problems we might have with pest insects like aphids. We use some beneficials year-round, but in the fall, winter and early spring we seriously increase our beneficial program. It’s not that we have more problems during these seasons, but rather we are increasing the amount of planting we are doing now in a big way and we want to make sure we prevent problems from happening.

So, one type of beneficial we use are tiny mites that live in these little paper sachet on sticks ↑. You can see them stuck in the seedling plug flats above. They look like small white  rectangular packets stuck in the flat near the plant labels. These mites eat thrips, which is a pest insect that can damage the way foliage and flowers look on plants. So, if the mites are on patrol and eating any thrips that they might come upon, then we don’t end up having any thrip damage on our plants. Perfect!

Another predator beneficial insect that we use is an Aphidius wasp that stings aphids and turns their bodies into little mummies. These wasps are so tiny you can barely see them. They come in the bottle above and you can tell from the picture below how small they are. There are 500 wasps in this little 3″ tall bottle that I’m holding in my fingers. These wasps do not sting people or animals, only insects like aphids, so no one has to worry about them being in the greenhouses or on the plants.

When we rely on beneficial predator insects to take care of our pest management here at the farm, then we do not have to use organic pesticides on our plants. Full disclosure is that we do sometimes use organic OMRI pesticides like soap sprays or neem oil extract. There is a spray we use that contains rosemary oil and another one that works by contacting the soft-bodied insect like an aphid with cinnamon oil. There is a place in our organic production for these types of organic pesticides, but we prefer to let beneficial predator insects do most of this management work for us. We use all types of beneficial insects…several types of tiny mites, lady bugs, lacewings, nematodes, praying mantid (these just show up on their own and we are always happy to have them around eating grasshoppers, crickets and such), and others.

We finished boxing up the seed crops and sent them off to Jelitto Perennial Seed Company in Germany!

The shipper picked up the seeds yesterday and we were smiling as we waved the driver off to take the seed shipment to the airport for their long journey to the other side of the world!

Lizz has been busy propagating for next spring. She is seeding a lot and also working on cuttings like this Vietnamese coriander. She finished the first crops of all the specialty lavenders, sages, oreganos and thymes. She got the Jerusalem artichokes (also called Sunchokes) divided into 1 gallon pots too.

Here’s a taste of some of the perennial flowers she seeded recently. Just think how beautiful all our gardens will be next summer with some of these planted! Here is a Desert Bird of Paradise ⇓. Hummingbirds really love this plant.

Mojave Sage ⇓ Smells good and also attracts many kinds of pollinators.

Several different types of Milkweeds ⇓ Great for butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.

Some munstead lavender ⇓ There are endless ways you can use lavender, plus bumblebees love the purple-blue color!

The greenhouses are starting to fill up with baby plants now. It may be December, but inside our greenhouses it’s beginning to feel a lot like spring.

Meanwhile, M’lissa is working on plant signs for all the new varieties of plants we will have for sale in our Farm Stand store next spring. The process of creating a beautiful and informative sign for every variety of the 1500 different types of plants we grow takes a lot of time. She has been working on the signs since early in the fall and hopefully she will have them all created by the end of December. Then we’ll print the signs and laminate them and they will be ready when we stock the Farm Stand store with plants just before we open in mid-April.

As a FYI: In January I will be updating the information on this blog about our Open Farm Days and the free workshops we will be hosting next spring.

I think that is all the news for now. I’ll be back in touch the end of next week.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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November 21, 2017 Happy Thanksgiving!

Last Saturday, Lizz, James and myself got up in time for a 3:00am departure to make the drive to Truchas, New Mexico and Tooley’s Tree Farm. The purpose of this insanity was to attend a Holistic Orchard workshop given by Michael Phillips. Lizz drove us in 4 wheel drive over icy roads on La Veta Pass and through the San Luis Valley. We arrived to a freezing, but sunny, morning and a great day of learning how to care for heirloom fruit trees in a holistic and organic fashion, paying attention to the fungal community in the soil that fosters the tree’s good health, and how to identify diseases and pests and deal with them in a holistic fashion without having to rely on toxic chemicals. We learned about supplying nutrition to the trees via a 3 season spray protocol using fish, seaweed and other organic nutritious ingredients. There was a bit of talk about pruning and root stocks and all manner of good information that was presented on a very practical level.

Michael is considered one of the nation’s best authorities on heirloom fruit trees, especially apples and pears. He cares for his orchards in a way that fosters a thriving tree community that can resist diseases and pests and yield great crops. You can visit his website at http://www.GrowOrganicApples.com . Consider adding one of his books to your plant library. You’ll find them incredibly useful!

Gordon Tooley and Margaret Yancey hosted this amazing day at their farm, Tooley’s Trees. They are considered some of the greatest heirloom tree authorities in east of the Mississippi river, so they had plenty of great insights to share with us too. Gordon spoke about controlling ground squirrels, voles, moles and gophers in an orchard. He shared how he is  making their own compost. He gave us an overveiw of Keyline Plowing, which is a permaculture type of approach to restoring healthy soils in difficult situations. He and Margaret have been at this for many decades and they seriously have one of the best heirloom tree nurseries you can ever imagine!

Now, I got an extra treat while attending this workshop because Michael’s wife, Nancy, is an herbalist friend of mine and since they live in New Hampshire, she and I rarely get to see one another. Nancy was traveling with Michael on this trip, so we were able to have a small visit before the workshop really got going. A day filled with wonderful gifts. And we were exhausted by the time we got back home at 9:00pm Saturday night.

The other thing that is happening in a big big way is mating season for the mule deer here at the farm. All the big boys are hanging around trying to get their chance to breed the does. This year’s crop of young fawns seem to be baffled by the whole situation, and are clearly trying to figure out why all these bucks are chasing and pestering their moms.

Yesterday, I got to snap this picture of one of the bucks laying in the helichrysum planting in the flower seed crop field. They are so majestic! Most of these bucks and does we have known since they were fawns themselves. They are comfortable here and we appreciate having them nearby. For those of you that are skeptical, it is possible to co-exist with a herd of 35+ deer on a working farm and still be able to earn a living. If you are wondering how to co-exist with wildlife, even big wildlife like deer, check out my book The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener.

You can find information on this blog on how to mail-order my books directly from me, if you would like, on this blog website. There is Homegrown Herbs at $20.00, The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener at $17.00, and Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine at $20.00 plus shipping and handling costs. They are also easily available at good bookstores and online. They might be the perfect solstice gift for someone on your gifting list. Sadly, my first book Growing 101 Herbs That Heal is now out of print, but you might stumble across it at a used bookstore ;-}

I thought you might enjoy seeing the woodstove sheriffs at our house. Pal is the long-haired gray cat in the back of the woodstove and his brother Willow is the short-haired black kitty in the front. They are just over a year old now and let me tell you…they do keep this house lively with all their antics! Below is Sadie inspecting the firewood I just brought in, making sure it will do to keep us warm. These cats love being near the warm fire on cold days. When the fire is in need of being refueled, Willow finds me to let me know it is time to put in another log.

This week is Thanksgiving, and as a friend said to me yesterday, it is one of the best holidays because it is just about being in gratitude for your family and friends and whatever else makes your life nice. I’ll leave you with my gratitude for taking some time out of your day to read this blog…I really do appreciate that very much. Thank you for all the happiness and love from all of you that have been the best of friends and family to us. To our community near and far, which has made Chris and I welcome here for the last 22 years and for the support and nurturing of our farm and business. You have helped this small organic farm exist and made it possible for Chris and I and our farm crew family to live and work here earning a living. We hope that we have given back to you something that has made your life richer for being a part of our lives and this farm experience. Enjoy your holiday week and may it be the best ever!

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There have been plenty of things to keep life busy here, but that seems to be old news.

I did finally get my garlic planted. These were the biggest bulbs from this summer’s harvest and they were super nice. So these were the bulbs that I saved out of the harvest to plant for next year’s crop.

They are all nicely planted in one of the raised beds in my food garden, and next summer I expect we will have another wonderful garlic harvest.

And as far as the harvest goes, this was lunch this week and it included the last of the summer squash, our onions and garlic, carrots and some of the peas were ours. The rest of the peas, celery and the cashews came from the market. It was a delicious lunch served on top of udon noodles.

We’ve been planting for next spring and this is next spring’s comfrey crop.

And next spring we plan to have scented geraniums for sale in the Farm Stand store. Here they are as newly transplanted babies in their new clay pot homes. By spring they will be amazing!

We have two seed crops left to harvest in the field; muhley grass and yerba mansa. All the rest of the seed crops are picked now and waiting in huge paper sacks. This week we hope that the last two crops will finish out and Chris can pick them, but even if that doesn’t happen until next Thanksgiving week, he is going to start boxing up the seeds that are already harvested in preparation to ship them to Germany after Thanksgiving.

This is a sackful of Kniphofia triangularis seed. Boxing the seed up is a massive job. Each seed variety is put into huge cloth sacks, tied closed and labeled with the appropriate information required by German customs and the EU organic officials. Each sack must be weighed and then every box weighed and all that information is put into documentation. Once we have all the seed boxed and ready, then the Colorado Dept of Agriculture, on behalf of USDA, must give us a Certificate of Inspection with all the individual seed information listed to prove that the seed was grown here certified organic. After we are given the Certificate of Inspection, then the seed can be picked up by the shipper and off it will go on its way to Jelitto Perennial Seed Company in Germany. Once all this takes place, then we can finally say that the field season is officially over for this year and put the field to bed for winter.

Even as the seed crops are finishing ripening in the field and being boxed to ship to Germany, Lizz and I are growing the new seed crops for next spring’s field planting. Here are some of them starting to sprout in the greenhouse. We have 86 flats of 72 count cells of new seed crops sprouting as we speak. Chris and the field crew next spring will have their work cut out for them with all these new perennial seed crops to plant.

This week I also put all the potted greenhouse perennials to bed that we are wintering over for next spring’s sales. These are perennial varieties that are growing in 4″, 6″, 1 gallon and 2 gallon size pots. This process of wintering them over under frost blanket in an unheated greenhouse is called vernalization. In February I’ll uncover the plants, fertilize them and start to warm them up and by spring they will be nice in size and many will be flowering when we open the Farm Stand store in April for Open Farm Days and retail sales.

So, there has been a lot of plant work going on around this farm, but also we have been busy doing house maintenance work too. All the log work on our house must be given an annual coat of a wax-oil mixture that protects the wood and keeps it looking great. Chris has that all done now, but it was several days worth of work to apply the mixture with a paintbrush over every log – we have a lot of logs on this house now!!

I worked on sealing the foundation and the porch (Chris helped too). This was something we have been meaning to do since we redid the outside of the house three years ago, but we had never gotten around to getting the job done. Now it is done and the cement porches and the foundation of the house are all sealed up and protected from moisture. Yahoo!

We try to keep Sundays as our hiking day, so today we went for a hike to the Cowboy Cabin. On every single hike we take, Shrek does his “bone work”. He always finds at least one wildlife bone, and today he must have found close to a dozen of them. Thankfully, he doesn’t eat the bones, but he is quite serious about the work of finding a particular spot to bury them.

Not just any old spot will do for the bone burial. He carries the bone with him on the trail until he is satisfied that he has found the proper place and then he buries it with his nose, using his nose as both the shovel and the taper to settle the bone into its final resting place. Today he had a lot of “bone work” to do!

And then there was the game, with Chris, of pine cone tag. When we got to the cowboy cabin, they ran all around the surrounding meadow with Shrek playing keep-away with a pine cone in his mouth.

So, this is an old homestead cabin not too far from our farm on BLM land. It still has the old furniture inside and until half a dozen years ago it was clean enough inside for hunters to use the cabin for overnight stays. Then about 6 years ago, more or less, the cabin was taken over by wildlife critters and although it probably could be cleaned up enough to used again, it’s pretty dirty inside with a lot of wildlife scat. The cabin, remarkably, is in really good shape otherwise, and the trail that leads to it is a gorgeous gentle day hike. I especially like going there in the fall, as there is a lot of autumn color along the trail to enjoy.

I guess that is most of the news around here for this week. I’m hoping to finish up with my greenhouse seed orders (for seed we don’t grow ourselves in the gardens here) and get them turned in. Our plant labels are supposed to be arriving this week, and there are plenty of other things that will be on our list of tasks to do. Lizz is on vacation this week, but Beki will be here finishing up the new coat of paint on the greenhouse end walls and the new purple painted doors that I love so much. Next Saturday, Lizz, James and I will be attending a wholistic orchardists workshop, while Chris and Shrek take care of the farm. That is…if Shrek will stop cuddling his teddy bear long enough to go to work :-}

 

 

 

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Greetings All,

Chris and I are hoping that you are enjoying this autumn season, even as we move towards December and the arrival of winter.

Here are the dates for November and December when Chris will be playing Jazz Music at  Ito’s Steakhouse & Sushi Restaurant in Florence, CO. Depending on the date, he will be playing guitar duos with either Guy Madden or Justin Allison, both excellent musicians  and singers. The schedule is below… Please come out and join us for an evening of great music and delicious food!!

Ito’s recommends reservations for Friday and Saturday nights – call 719-784-7556. The restaurant address is 114 W. Main Street in Florence, CO
November 3, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Friday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
November 10, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Friday)
Chris Hartung & Justin Allison
November 11, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Saturday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
November 17, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Friday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
December 1, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Friday)
Chris Hartung & Justin Allsion
December 9, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Saturday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
December 15, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Friday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
December 30, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm (Saturday)
Chris Hartung & Guy Madden
​Chris Hartung
​Guy Madden

Justin Allison

In addition to the Friday and Saturday nights that Chris, Guy and Justin will be playing, here is the schedule for other nights of great Jazz planned at Ito’s. These nights also run from 5:30-8:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays:

November 4, 2017     Dwanye Zanotelli & Bill Finch (trombone/sax duo)

November 18, 2017     Tricia Parish (guitar/vocals)

November 24, 2017     To be announced

November 25, 2017     Richard Clark & Kimberly Sewell (piano/vocals duo)

December 2, 2017     Skip Moore (piano/vocals)

December 8, 2017      Carlos Crull & John Fujishiro (sax/piano/vocals duo)

December 16, 2017     Trisha Parish (guitar/vocals)

December 22, 2017     To be announced

December 23, 2017     To be announced

December 29, 2017     Carlos Crull & John Fujishiro (sax/pinao/vocals duo)

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Yesterday, Chris and I took a drive to Truchas, New Mexico to pick up our order of baby heirloom apple trees which we buy each year from Gordon and Margaret of Tooley’s Trees.  These trees were grafted in spring March 2017 from their permanent orchard trees of hundreds of varieties of heirloom trees. They specialize in apples, but also do pears, plums, cherries, stone fruits like apricots and such, plus berries like currants, and then some really fantastic rose shrubs and other types of shrubs. Above is Gordon loading our little trees into our truck for the 5 hour drive home.

Meet Garrett and Kelsey, who are apprentices with Margaret and Gordon this growing season to expand their experience and knowledge in holistic orchard-keeping.

These are a few, and only a few, of the great many permanent fruit trees that live in orchards on the Tooley’s Trees farm.

This is a young apricot section of their orchards. I love apricots to the max, so I’m always thinking about apricot trees. We have several here on our farm too.

A few of the new varieties of apples we bought from Tooley’s to offer next spring include Northern Spy, Winter Redflesh and Scott’s Winter. We’ll have a really nice selection of fruit trees next spring for sale in our Farm Stand store that includes a great many other varieties of heirloom apples, peaches, apricots, and plums.

In case you can’t wait for next spring to shop at our Farm Stand store during Open Farm Days, well, Tooley’s Trees is open for this weekend and the next and then they will close until next spring too. They are open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Here is their website link Tooley’s Trees apple apricot cherry pear plum other trees P.O.Box 392 Truchas, New Mexico 87578 (505) 689-2400 .  You can still plant fruit trees this fall, so if your up for a 10 hour round trip drive to Truchas, New Mexico, consider going this weekend to buy a great fruit tree from Gordon and Margaret. The autumn colors on the drive there and back yesterday were amazing and beautiful and the trip was worth doing just to enjoy the fall colors, but heirloom fruit trees are really great and they have plenty of them! We will too next spring if you would rather plant your heirloom fruit tree in the spring next year.

Have a great weekend coming up and I’ll be back in touch next week. With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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October 22, 2017 Just a Quick Hello

Hello from Kansas! We just finished the Mother Earth News Fair, so time to write a quick post to say thank you to everyone who attended my workshops this weekend and also to those who purchased my books at the Fair Bookstore. Thank you each and everyone!

I had a lot of fun at the Fair talking to others who share similar interests and thoughts. I enjoyed shopping at the bookstore myself and picked up a couple of titles that will be great additions to our home/business library. And I purchased a luxury item that I’m thrilled with…a new alpaca sweater!

I’m going to keep this post short, as my friend Rosemary and I are about to head out to find some good Thai food for dinner. Speaking of dinner, this was this week’s harvest in the greenhouse from plants I keep during cold months so that I can continue to have fresh produce to eat. I picked the last of the lettuce crop, there was 1 lime ready to pick and then there was the weekly harvest of purple beauty bell peppers and red robin tomatoes. I harvest about this many of each of those every week, sometimes more often if they are producing a lot.

Since my lettuce crop is eaten now, I’ve got a new crop coming up and some dwarf scotch kale and french paris carrots planted too. All of those should have been planted a couple of weeks ago, but life has been busy -too busy in fact- of late, so their planting was delayed a little bit. That means I’ll have a gap between this last harvest of salad greens and the next, but that’s ok. There are plenty of wild greens I can pick out in the garden like dandelion, mallow and such to make into salads in the meantime.

The fall color is amazing right now at home and here in Kansas too. This is a bigtooth maple tree that is growing in one of our hedgerows on the north side of our house and alongside of a row of wine grapes. It is finally coming into it’s own as it grows older and this year the color is just wonderful!

This was a grafted tree that Chris started about 23 or so years ago when he worked at Chatfield Farms at Denver Botanic Garden, then called Chatfield Arboretum. He gather the bud wood and grafted onto rootstock. These were grafted for good fall color and suitability to growing in the Colorado front range. As you can see the color has turned out to be stunning!

Well, this is short and sweet tonight. I’ll write more this next week. Until then, enjoy the fall color at your home.

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