Located at the base of Buckhorn Mountain at 6700' elevation, Buckhorn Gardens is a small, organic vegetable farm 13mi. south of Montrose, Colorado. Our farm is an active part of a 12,000 acre ranch; however, we only manage 3 acres with intensive vegetable gardening.

Friday, January 18, 2013

We know it has been awhile since we last posted an update about what all has been going on here at Buckhorn gardens. No excuses, though, we have been busy planning, planting, prepping, posting, and postulating. We trust that you have enjoyed the holidays, and hope that you’ve been warmed by your family, friends and fires. I think -14°F was the lowest temperature we experienced these past few weeks; and it wasn’t just one night that was that cold. Yes, you know. I know you folks in Ridgway know how cold it has been because you’ve produced some exquisite facial expressions in telling me how much colder it is down by the river in Ridgway. I heard the temperature dropped below -30°F in some places for multiple nights. Congrats for toughing it out! Winter isn’t over yet. More snow, please?
I think you’ll be as stoked as we are to know that our northern high tunnel (Polaris) loaded with kales, salads, lettuces, carrots, mustards, chards, and radishes is still growing! Some of the greens planted in the rows   by the inside walls of the high tunnel did experience some hard frosting the last couple of weeks. We farmers and those of you who support our adventures in agriculture understand that some loss is to be expected. Instead of focusing on these losses, we take stock in the winter roots and shoots which have gained a sweet flavor that no other season but winter can provide.

We don’t pretend to know exactly how the winter chilled soils add a sweeter flavor to vegetables than warm summer soils. Nevertheless, we do understand that a myriad of earthly flavors and all the necessary nutrients can be coaxed out of our soils and expressed in the form of vegetables. By constantly cultivating our soils, we coax complex flavor profiles out of our soils and into our veggies. Brilliant, right?! Check this out. For the past two months, give or take, we have basically handed over the duty of soil cultivation to our chickens! What are we thinking?! Well, first we started 50 pullets in our grow dome this past September. The chicks grew ridiculously fast and basically “pushed the reset button” on all the vegetation in the dome by scratching and pecking at every square inch accessible to their four-toed feet.

As they finished up the last bits in the dome, we busted open bags of leaves we scavenged from the front and back-yards of Montrose into the beds of the middle high tunnel (Mars). Then we transferred the chickens from the dome to the Mars high tunnel to allow them to scratch around and spread out all the leaves. We are gradually moving the chicken roost around the high tunnel to evenly apply the manure the chickens drop at night. You should come visit us and see this. I highly doubt we could have spread out the bags of leaves as evenly as these chickens have!
After the chickens finish their soil cultivation and weather begins to warm up, we will move them outdoors with the anticipation that the hens will be ready to lay their first eggs this summer. Cross your fingers! Those eggs will be super nutrient-dense, for sure. It’s fascinating to think about the nutrients that cycle from the soil > vegetation > chicken > egg > human > soil (depending on where you flush). Right now it appears to be: soil > vegetation/seeds > chicken > soil. We also have a sprinkler system in the Mars high tunnel that occasionally cycles in the moisture component needed to catalyze the assimilation and distribution of nutrients back into the soil. Finally, we will shake out a light layer of hay onto the beds then lightly till in all this “mulch”. We plan to repeat this holistic management in the other two high tunnels (Scorpio and Polaris) next winter.
In other news, we have a newly re-designed website/blog, if you haven’t already noticed. We hope to keep it better updated this year so we can better engage your web-surfing interests…and so you can show us off to all your lovely internet friends ;-) Any and all feedback is much appreciated.
In addition to our website posting, soil prepping, and postulating about eggs, we have been busy planning all the numerous varieties of veggies we will be planting this year. With the persistent help of our lovely friend and new crew-member, Laura Parker, the grow dome has been cover-crop seeded and the outdoor veggie seed varieties planned and ordered. She’ll be around at Buckhorn Gardens a lot more this year. This summer Laura will also be running the market booth for Parker Pastures like she did last year. Please drop by and meet her if you haven’t already. Look for her bio and entries soon to be posted to this blog.
Check back frequently to our blog for new posts and pictures. The next update should contain some information from the Western Slope Food Forum that we attended January 10th, with a summary of some of the workshop lecture topics and a little about the speakers involved.
We’re having another on-farm veggie pickup soon. Please contact us at gardens@buckhornmountain.com if you would like to be added to our email list to receive updates about on-farm pickups, the upcoming spring/summer CSA, or to trade anything—yes, literally anything.                                                                                                                                                                              -JAK


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