Farm update: April 8

QF Purple Flowers 01 sml

The hills are alive…with weeds! But we call them “wildflowers.”

The snow is finally gone at this elevation, even though plenty can still be seen on the mesa. Our pasture is coming back with a vengeance, and we spend our days walking the land, looking at what plants are coming up and trying to decide whether they’re helpful or harmful to us. Since we bought Quiet Farm at the end of a blistering summer in the midst of a hundred-year drought, pretty much everything was crispy and dormant. We hadn’t yet determined what bushes and trees might survive, and what would need to be removed. We’re giving everything a generous opportunity to stage a spring comeback before we tear it out.

Milkweed 01 sml

In the category of “challenging plants,” we present to you Western whorled milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata). While many beneficial insects, including the Monarch butterfly, feast on milkweed, it is considered an invasive weed in Colorado and is highly toxic to livestock. If we choose to graze animals on our land, it is our responsibility to be aware of everything growing here, because it will be our problem if they get sick from eating things they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, milkweed is typically treated with horrific poisons like glyphosate and 2,4-D, which we have zero intention of ever using, so it looks like we’ll be pulling these out by hand. Please, feel free to come over and help. We’ll cook you dinner.

Seedlings Mushrooms 01 sml

What grows together goes together!

I’m starting just about everything from seed this year, and learning how to manage indoor irrigation is a challenge, to say the least. I tend to want to drown my plants with love and with water, and I’m trying to back off from that inclination – and when mushrooms show up in your pepper starts it’s a pretty good indication of overwatering. Every single day is a new learning opportunity, especially when it comes to growing food!

Aphids 01 sml

And speaking of things appearing where you don’t want them, please observe these uninvited guests on our new wax plant (Hoya carnosa). To the naked eye these are merely tiny yellow specks, but with N’s brilliant photography skills you can see that THEY’RE ALIVE! The wax plant has been moved outside for the moment, but I’ll be making a mild insecticide from soap and warm water to hopefully eradicate the aphid problem entirely.

Seeds 02 sml

And finally, I’m teaching Seed Saving for Beginners this week at the Cedaredge Public Library. Please come say hello!

Have a lovely week!

11 thoughts on “Farm update: April 8

  1. I will be keeping you in mind as spring and planting season arrive. Bob’s greenhouse is filled to bursting. He has new varieties of tomatoes to try. He found seed at a farm market on Kauai in November. Looks like all the milkweed has dropped its seed in your photo. A project indeed!! I am selling a lot of beneficial insect and organic controls at work. More and more requests. Looking forward to the next update on your progress. My best to you both!

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    • Thanks, Nancy! So glad to hear you’re doing well and would love to hear more about these Hawaiian tomatoes! If you have any specific recommendations for organic controls, we’re very open to suggestions. Sending you and yours lots of love!

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  2. Good morning Elizabeth, I was sorry to hear about the toxic aspect of the Western whorled milkweed, especially since they are such a beneficial plant for the monarch butterflies. We would love to join your milkweed pulling party…..but sadly we are not in Cedaredge yet. We should be up there in June (if not earlier) and will be glad to help then!

    I also wanted to mention that a good hard spray of water can blow off some or all of the aphids. But if this method or the insecticidal soap solution does not work, there is a garlic spray that you can make and use. I’ll send you the recipe if you decide you want to try it. It was devised by the Henry Doubleday Research Association in England.

    You are on a wonderful adventure with Quiet Farm, and we wish you all the best with it!

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    • Thanks, Kathy! I did read about a garlic spray and will certainly try that if my treatment doesn’t work. I love learning about all of the ways I can deal with insect attacks without resorting to poisons. We can’t wait to see you back here!

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  3. I’m sure the aphids came with the plant, sorry about that! You think you have them under control, then like overnight they’re back, since they are born pregnant they multiply very fast. If the water spray doesn’t work, I use Payola from Gardens Alive. Works well.

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    • Jim, I doubt the aphids came from you but even if they did – your generous and ongoing sponsorship of Quiet Farm would cancel out any negative feelings we might have about these unwanted guests! Plus, I need to get better about recognizing plant problems and not just think, “Oh, those little yellow spots are so pretty!”

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  4. How about Ladybugs?? One eats 40+ aphids/day. The first thing their offspring do is eat aphids. You can keep them in the fridge. Planetnatural.com search for ‘Ladybugs and Aphids’.

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