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Last Saturday, April 14th, began our Open Farm Days at Desert Canyon Farm. We opened the Farm Stand store and started our series of free workshops for the spring season. We are still stocking in more plant varieties to the Farm Stand, and we will be doing that for the next couple of weeks, as plants get big enough for sale. That said, there are plenty of choices to begin the Open Farm Days season as you can see in the picture above.

We have cool season veggie patio containers, ginger, morning glories and pumpkin spice hanging baskets. There are loads of different herbs and perennials, lots of native plants this year, including 11 different species of Penstemons. This week we are working to get the rest of the tomato varieties ready and some of the squash, cucumbers and pumpkins will start showing up on  our benches, along with a number of additional herbs and annual flowers.

This is one of two fairy gardens that we will be raffling off during our Open Farm Days. Raffle tickets are $1.00 each and the money raised we use to buy fresh produce to donate to our local food bank after the Farm Stand store closes in June.

So, there is a lot of fun and good things happening these days at Desert Canyon Farm. That said, today was not one of our best days. We have had strong winds for several days now, but last night they were unreasonably strong and today they have easily hit the 60mph plus range all day long! When we went out this morning we found that part of the roof on the Hygge House was torn off by the wind. This is one of the pieces that was twisted and off of the greenhouse. We had a doozy of a time trying to make an emergency repair that would hold up to the sustained winds until tomorrow when the winds should be much calmer and Chris can begin the process of making proper and long-lasting repairs.

The day has been nerve-wreaking for all of us..Chris, myself and the farm crew. All in all, we had 4 greenhouses that sustained pretty big damage and lots of other things around the farm that are askew from the wind. Hopefully, everything will hold up thru the night and tomorrow we can begin the process of putting things right around this farm. Wish us luck.

All for now, Tammi

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We have had another crazy busy week with wholesale business and preparing for our Open Farm Days and Farm Stand Plant Sale. We will be opening in one week on Saturday, April 14th and we have a boat-load of things to accomplish between now and then in order to be ready for our farm visitors.

This was the open floor area around our work table in the Plant Barn greenhouse last Sunday. It was filled with flats of plants to process for wholesale orders that Chris delivered this week.

It wasn’t just the floor that was filled up…nearly every cart we own was filled with flats of plants for orders. We are in deep gratitude for these orders! That said, what a chaotic place the work space was as Lizz tried to get all the orders ready for delivery.

While Lizz worked on orders, Beki and Susan were transplanting like crazy women, and Farm Stand Liz and Stephanie were busy at work in the Farm Stand store putting labels into pots of plants, staking the morning glories, runner beans and hops so that they have something to climb up as they are growing.

Meanwhile, I spent nearly every moment I could moving plants from one place to the other trying to get things in the right places and to make more room for newly transplanted plants to have a warm bench to live on. We are so far out of room it’s scary! I have plants lined out outdoors everywhere because the greenhouses are full to bursting.

The night-time temperatures haven’t been very helpful either. Every day the night temps have been predicted to be in the 30’s, but every night except once this week, the low temps have been in the low to mid 20’s! That’s testing the limits of some of our plants and keeping me from getting everything I need to put into place in the outdoor nursery area of the Farm Stand store. Tonight was supposed to be raining and 33 degrees, but it’s snowing and in the mid 20’s already and it’s only 8pm.

So, life feels pretty challenging right now. We want everything to look nice, tidy and well-placed when we open on April 14th. It feels like the to-do lists are way longer than is even possible to accomplish, and we all have these lists with our selective tasks to do. However, we are all still smiling. I have a big stock of chai tea on hand, which is my preference to coffee, and plenty of chocolate, which is always necessary at these extra busy times. We are working as hard and fast this week to get everything done for Open Farm Days and to service our wholesale customers. Chris has put the field work on hold temporarily, as he has his own very long list of things to get done before Open Farm Days. He is also driving several days a week now making deliveries to our wholesale customers in Colorado and New Mexico. Shrek is bummed because there is not nearly the usual amount of time for doggie walks as he thinks are required.

But… this is how farming is, and in this type of farming, this is the time of the year when we stretch to our absolute limits. Plus, we like what we do for our livelihood, we just wish it was a tiny bit more sane in the spring than it is. And, since this is our livelihood, we have to make this happen or we will be up a creek with no paddle as the saying goes. Now I’m done whining. Thanks for listening with patience and a smile. I appreciate that and sometimes it just feels better to get said and then return to getting things done.

In our preparation for Open Farm Days, the farm visitor ambassadors have arrived this week. This couple is hanging out near the Farm Store entrance to direct anyone they see to go inside to look at all our lovely plants.

This fellow is all about peace and happiness and will surely have you smiling when you come across him in the Farm Stand nursery area.

This gal likes to sit a spell and have a chat. If you find her when you visit, be sure to tell her hello.

The only problem I have with our farm visitor ambassadors is that they haven’t learned how to help us move plants around yet. Every time I see them, they are just sitting around looking happy and cheerful. I guess that counts, because they are making us grin when we pass them by as we push cart-loads of plants to their spots in the Farm Stand store.

The Red Robin 8″ tomatoes are always very popular and we have a nice crop of them ready.

Our basil crop includes MANY different varieties of basil. These basils should be the perfect size on opening day.

I think that is about all my news for this week.  Tonight, I still have to write my article for the Daily Record newspaper for next week. Chris is playing jazz at Ito’s tonight with Guy Madden. The cats, Shrek and I have a quiet house to work in. Well, sort of…

Pal has been chasing around a paper ball all evening and now he has batted it into the water bowl. He seems a little bit puzzled about how to get it out again. I’ll close for now and lend him a hand.

Cheers!

Today, Carrie Canterbury wrote a great article about us that appeared in the Daily Record newspaper. This is our local Canon City newspaper. It’s a fun article, so I’ve copied it into this post for you to read. I hope you will enjoy it.

Chris and Tammi Hartung, owners and operators of Desert Canyon Farm, stand next to their farm stand store at 1270 Field Ave. Carie Canterbury/Daily Record

By Carie Canterbury
The Daily Record
Desert Canyon Farm
invites the community to visit
their farm and gardens,
shop for plants and take part
in free weekly workshops
when their spring season
kicks off April 14.
The 2018 Spring Open
Farm Days & Plant Sale
runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Saturdays through Thursdays,
April 14 to June 10.
The farm is closed on Fridays.
Owners and operators
Chris and Tammi Hartung,
both organic growers,
moved to Canon City and
started their farm 22 years
ago. Chris formerly was a
manager at Denver Botanic
Gardens at Chatfield. Tammi,
also an herbalist,
worked at a wholesale nursery
and as a lab manager for
an extract company in Boulder.
The couple is heading into
their fourth year of transitioning
into offering more
retail products at their farm
stand, and less wholesale.
The Farm Stand Store has
expanded again this year.
Desert Canyon Farm offers
more than 1,400 varieties of
plants for sale, all grown on
site. Nearly 500 of those
include heritage and heirloom
varieties of fruit and
vegetable plants. The farm
offers 34 kinds of heirloom
pepper plants and nearly 60
varieties of tomatoes.
Desert Canyon Farm also
offers heirloom fruit trees,
edible flowers, container
gardens, hanging baskets
and more. The plants are
USDA Certified Organic and
all are grown on-site at the
farm.
Tammi Hartung said their
plants are unique and the
old-fashioned variety.
“The things people find
other places, they won’t find
here,” she said. “And they
probably won’t find anything
that we are growing — outside
of things like basil and
chives— anywhere else.”
The farm also has added a
number of new free workshops
to its slate this year,
going from offering two
each weekend to four.
The Saturday workshops
will be from 10-11 a.m. and
1-2 p.m., and Sunday workshops
will be from 1-2 p.m.
and 2:30-3:30 p.m. They are
presented by the Hartungs,
their farm crew and other
guest teachers.
The farm’s opening weekend
will feature a workshop
for children, who will plant
their own windowsill herb
garden. The fee for this
class is $5 per child, but
there is no charge for other
classes held throughout the
season.
Some of the topics include
herbal relief for the allergy
season, attracting butterflies
to gardens, making jams
and jellies, home brewing
beer with your own hops,
beekeeping, using weeds as
food and medicine and
using plants to dye fiber.
On April 28, Kris Isom will
travel from southern New
Mexico to present the workshop,
“Introduction to Permaculture.”
Permaculture is ancient,
but has become very popular
the last couple of years
where people are looking at
how they can blend the
chickens providing the fertilizer
and eating the weeds
in their gardens,” Hartung
said, “and they can situate
shade trees around the buildings
to provide shade
in the summer but then they
lose their leaves to get more
solar benefit in the winter
— it’s a whole integrated
system of plants and animals
and locations of things and
how to use your water wisely.”
Another new class Hartung
said attendees particularly
will enjoy is a photography
class on how to take
photos of plants and flowers,
which will be taught by
James Krumm.
Dr. Roselia Conrad, the
owner of Desert Reef Hot
Springs, will present a foot
soak extravaganza.
“We will have tubs and
herbs and flowers that people
can choose from to steep
in their water and they will
get to soak their feet in
it,” Hartung said. “They love
that, especially the ladies.”
Pre-registration is not
required for any of the workshops.
Attendees may simply
show up. They are
encouraged to bring a pen
and paper and something to
drink, and to be prepared
for any weather condition.
They also may bring a lawn
chair or a lap blanket if it’s
cold outside. Some of the
workshops require walking
during the workshop, rather
than sitting.
The farm does not allow
pets. When making a purchase,
Desert Canyon Farm
accepts cash, checks and
debit or credit cards.
Desert Canyon Farm is
located at 1270 Field Ave.
For more information, or to
view workshop topics and
times, visit their website at
DesertCanyonFarm.
wordpress.com.

Chris and Tammi Hartung, owners and operators of Desert Canyon Farm, look at plants in their farm stand store at 1270 Field Ave. Carie Canterbury/Daily Record

There are only two weeks left before we open our Farm for Open Farm Days on April 14th. So much to get done between now and then. We are excited to have you visit when we open!

For now, I’ll keep this post short. I’m wore out from moving plants all day placing them in the Farm Stand store and nursery area. It’s time for a glass of leche and then to bed. Talk to you soon. Tammi

 

This week is spring break for the kids in Canon City and it has become a tradition for farm crew kids to come to work for part of a day and help out. Thursday was our spring break farm crew’s day to come and visit and do some work projects here at the farm. Arianna and Abraham are friends of ours and Shrek’s and they joined us for the rock painting project.

Beki’s girls, Keyana and Zia, come to help each year.

Painting rocks wasn’t just for the kids. Beki, Lizz, Lesley, Chris and myself all got involved in the project.

These rocks will be tucked into places around the Farm Stand store and the gardens during Open Farm Days. If you visit and you find a painted rock, we ask you to tuck it into a different location in the Farm Stand store or the gardens for another farm visitor to discover. I suppose this could be called a musical painted rock event. We have friends, Diana and Merrilee, who own Perennial Favorites in Rye Colorado and they have been doing this in their nursery for a while during their Open Days and they made it sound like such fun, I decided we should enjoy it too.

By the way, Perennial Favorites will open their nursery doors in May and you should check it out. Their nursery is as fun and beautiful as can be. Of course, we want you to visit our farm and Farm Stand store during Open Farm Days here too, but if you are like we are, there is always time to visit another plant nursery, and you’ll find some fun and beautiful plants at both our Desert Canyon Farm and Perennial Favorites.

Below are the finished painted rocks that we will be tucking around in the Farm Stand and the Gardens this spring for you to find and re-locate for other visitors to discover!

After the rock painting task, it was time to fill F32 flats for planting. The girls were happy to help out with filling flats.

Zia was learning how to mix the organic fertilizer and the Rootshield granules into the soil mix. Zia is interested in applying for a farm greenhouse crew position when she turns 14 in a few years. She thinks it would be a great part-time job.

Leslie and Lizz were planting rhubarb, goji berries, and tea trees while the girls were working with Beki to fill planting flats

The girls also took time to get the Fairy Garden here at the Farm looking good so that it will be ready to be explored by farm visitors during Open Farm Days, which begin April 14th and go thru June 10th, 2018. We’ll be open every day (except closed on Fridays) during that window of time. Our open hours are 9am to 4pm.

I’m noticing so many things beginning to bloom now in the gardens and around the farm. The bulbs are blooming like these cheerful daffodils. Our apricot and almond trees are blooming and the peach and nectarine trees will be blooming soon.

Everywhere you look there are sweet violets and naturalized violas (called Heartsease or Johnny Jump-ups) blooming. These are wonderfully fragrant!

The oregon grape has been blooming a little bit for a while now, but this week it really started to bloom abundantly! The bees are enjoying the flowers. We have a lot of dandelions around and the bees are delighted to visit and pollinate those flowers!

Please do not spray any chemicals in your landscapes, and especially not where flowers are blooming. These chemicals, whether they are pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers, are poisonous to wild critters and pets, not to mention people, and including our important pollinators. Your gardens can thrive without them, and you can use organic growing methods instead and get wonderful results!

I also wanted to give you a significant update about Hannah and Gretel (formally called Hansel and Gretel). We have learned the ducks are two hens rather than a mated pair, hence the name change. They are enjoying life here on the farm and are foraging bugs, worms and newly sprouting green grass near the pond. Today, Chris and I made them a house for night-time use. If you visit during our Open Farm Days, you’ll be able to visit with Hannah and Gretel if you like, but remember, please do not feed them while you are here. Part of their job on the farm is to do bug patrol work and the more bugs they eat, the better our gardens and crops will be. Do enjoy your visit with them, but leave them to do their work when you are here.

That’s all for now. We are hard at work getting the Farm Stand store stocked with great plants, getting gardens tended, and making sure we have things ready for the free workshops on the weekends during Open Farm Days. One task is finished and that is the painted rocks are ready to be found when you visit.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

Shrek and Chris began the field work this week in the perennial flower seed crop production field. It is a production field, but I like to call it the production garden because the flower seed crops are so beautiful when they are all blooming it looks like a giant garden!

Anyway, there are several crops that are being removed because Jelitto, the seed company we contract grow these plants for, doesn’t need any more seed from those varieties for a while. We have loads of new seed crops waiting in the greenhouse to be field planted starting in early April once the field prep work is finished.

These massive roots Chris is digging are Callirhoe involucrata tenuissima. They must be removed before we plant the new crop of traditional Callirhoe involucrata (commonly called Poppy Wine Cups). This is important so that cross-pollination doesn’t occur between the two varieties.

The women planted the bare root heirloom stone varieties of fruit trees this week. Stone fruits are fruits like peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums and so on that have a pit in the center which houses the actual seed. These trees will be grown on our farm now for a full year before we sell them next spring in our Farm Stand store. The heirloom fruit trees that we planted last spring will be available in the Farm Stand store this spring. Lizz and I started organizing them in the nursery on Wednesday and there are a lot of them!

The trees above will be our 2019 spring heirloom fruit trees to sell.

I spent half of my day today transplanting the first tiny tomato crop into 2.5″ pots. These will be the first tomato plants ready when our Farm Stand store opens on April 14th and also for our wholesale customers who are eager to start getting a few varieties of tomatoes in stock. The main tomato crop will be sown next week so that it will be ready at the end of April and first part of May. Tomatoes grow fast, so we don’t have to give them as much lead time as we do for herbs, perennials and many of the other varieties we grow.

I got half of them planted today and tomorrow after I finish watering the greenhouses (which takes half a day now to complete EVERY SINGLE DAY – thank goodness for good music and a set of headphones!), I’ll finish planting the rest of this tomato crop.

Chris and I eat fruit, yogurt, nuts and of course a sprinkling of bitter chocolate chips nearly every morning for breakfast. If I run out of fresh fruit we use the frozen fruit I picked in the garden last summer. We’ve nearly used up all our frozen fruit supply, but there are still a few bags left in the freezer. Today, we had frozen sunberries and raspberries from the garden last year. Sunberries are incredible! They are tiny and blue and taste a lot like blueberries when used in cobblers, pies or in yogurt breakfasts! Raspberries continue to be my most favorite fruit in the whole world and so I can never have too many raspberries!

You should grow some sunberries in your garden or in a container pot this summer. They produce a big harvest and I know you will love them!!

Now that we are working 12-15 hour farm days, it is all the more important that we start each day out by stretching and getting limbered up for all the physical work that is required each day. As you can see…Shrek takes this very seriously and never misses a stretching session!

Talk to you next week!!

 

 

 

What a crazy week we are having this week! Plenty going on, to say the least.

Meet Lesley. Lesley will be working as part of our greenhouse spring crew and we are delighted to have her company and her help. Lesley is an herbalist, master gardener and has done a lot of different plant related work, so we are pleased to have her working with us this spring. On Monday, she and Beki were planting up little trees and shrubs. They planted Manchurian apricots, mulberries, two different kinds of oaks and several other varieties.

We have more than filled up our greenhouses now, like the woodstove house above, which is filled to the brim with cool season veggies waiting to go out on wholesale orders.

Our strawberry crop, which is growing quickly now. It has been in this house since early February, rooting in and now growing tops under frost blanket and with no supplemental heat. We uncovered everything a week ago and now that they are getting more sunshine, they are realizing that it is springtime and time to get busy and grow lots of leaves, flowers and berries. These will be for sale in our Farm Stand store this spring.

The hops are starting to sprout from the roots now too. We will have seed-grown traditional hops and 5 varieties of brewers hops for sale this spring. Now that they have sprouted they will be on a mission to grow fast. That’s fine with us!

We had friends stop in to cut some extra tall basil for cooking. This is Marc in the hat and his intern, Andrew, with his wife Maria. We really enjoyed their visit on Saturday.

Another project was our retail Farm Stand store expansion of the nursery yard. We have too many plants growing, that will be available in our Farm Stand store this spring, and they won’t all fit in the existing space, so we’ve enlarged the outside area.

Shrek and Chris are working on this all week, so that next week we can start placing plants on benches, getting them cleaned and labeled and ready for our April 14th Opening Day.

This is the new area. Yesterday we placed the pallet benches on cinderblocks and started putting the lattice up that holds our plant information signs. Pretty exciting for us.

Tomorrow, we deliver wholesale orders, including a large order of plants going up to Spencer’s Lawn and Garden Center in Fountain, CO for their Garden Show event this weekend. It starts on Friday morning and runs thru Sunday afternoon. If you visit the “Classes & Events” page of this blog, you will find the details of my workshops that I will be giving on Friday and Saturday. Workshops are free to Garden Show visitors and the show itself is beautiful, inspiring and fun! Hope we’ll see you there.

 

 

It has been so cold this week during the days! We did get some snow early in the week that gave us 4/10″ of moisture, which was a grand gift, however, when the days are lingering in the teens and twenties, it does make our work here challenging. Lizz and Beki were transplanting herbs and perennials and the newly transplanted flats needed to go in a different greenhouse, which means a journey outdoors to get there. The gals had to drape each cart-load with frost blanket in order to move it outdoors and not have the plants get frozen. Extra work! They were wonderful about taking good care of the plants and every flat made it to its next bench home safely. They also transplanted the first crop of pepper plugs into flats and planted the next round of seeds. These women are amazing and every day I’m in gratitude that I work with such amazing women each day!!

I spent most of my time this week moving plants around to free up space for the newly planted flats on the benches. It is always a game of musical flats in the spring as we try to keep finding more room so that everything gets planted on schedule. It will be the same every week now through the spring season. There are loads of seedling plugs waiting their turn to be moved up into bigger pots.

I’m also working every day in preparation for our Open Farm Days. This week I was able to arrange all our advertising and continue my work on making and printing up plant signs for each variety we will have for sale in the Farm Stand store. M’lissa did a great deal of the work on these signs, but now I’m going through all the ones she created and doing a final edit. Once they are all printed, it will be time for a big laminating party event. Sometimes, my parents take on this tasks, which is very helpful, especially as my time is needed more and more in the greenhouses.

Last weekend it was my turn to do the seeding project. I had 166 salad boxes to plant of various types of lettuce and greens, but also carrots, onions and leeks. I had 26 plug flats of Gaillardia seeds to sow for a new seed crop we will be growing for Jelitto and so those also got sown. Today, I noticed that they are already beginning to germinate less than a week later. Cool Beans!

 

I’ll leave you with this taste of the upcoming spring Open Farm Days season. It’s going to be here before we know it and I can’t wait!!