This video is one we can really relate to, because the Painted Desert is one of the dinosaur capitals of the world. Everywhere you go there are fossils and museums. You can find dinosaur fossils and footprints just spread around on the ground sometimes.
We also happen to think The Petersons are hilarious!
The carrots we have harvested were dark purple, nearly black at the root crown, with white centers. The taste is somewhat milder than an average supermarket sweet carrot, holding a similar level of sweetness, but more complex and layered flavor with a hint of celery to it, and no taste of bitterness or spicy bite. We especially like them for dipping into a bowl of ranch dressing. Can’t wait to try them roasted or in stews.
The blunt and twisted shape of this carrot is because it was grown in heavy clay-based soil with only a small amount of compost double-dug into the plot, which was new at the time of this planting. For a longer, more slender carrot, the soil needs to be more fluffy and full of organic material, or heavily amended sand.
Pick up a packet or two of these vigorous, unusual and tasty carrots while they’re still around. You’re not likely to see anything like them in your friends’ gardens anytime soon. Make ’em jealous and… paint the desert!
After selling out of our popular Chocolate Cherry Tomato for 2016 just a week ago, we are proud to announce that the Chocolate Cherry is BACK!! Our schedule cut it pretty close, but we did manage a nearly seamless transition from 2016 stock to 2017 stock with none carrying over.
Fresh from processing and testing, out of the fields and into your gardens for 2017. Thanks to all of you for your support and your enthusiasm for our offbeat varieties!
Michael and Bettie Bailey
The Titan Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) is a truly fun and astounding plant. Capable of 12-plus feet in height and a flower of up to two feet across, the Titan certainly lives up to its name. Deep yellow color and old-fashioned appearance make for a striking border, fence cover or backdrop.
The Titan seeds we harvested in the fall have now been dried, slow-cured and germination tested. Finally, they’re ready to bring another generation into the world.
Our plants handled the heat well and didn’t require a lot of water, which is actually not surprising when you consider that the sunflower is indigenous to the Southwest deserts and mountains of southern New Mexico, Arizona and northern Mexico. Southwest growers will experience as close to a trouble-free grow as you can hope for, given the harsh conditions of these hot, cold and arid regions.
Sunflowers tend to attract a lot of aphids. While this characteristic has its obvious drawbacks, it also makes the plants useful as a sacrificial barrier or decoy to keep aphids off the main garden. Secondarily, a bonus of aphids can help to draw ladybugs, or serve as a food source to establish ladybugs. Our growing region tends to have a lot of wild ladybugs that seem to be naturally attracted to carrots, sorghum and okra, at least in our gardens.
Most casual gardeners will achieve 8-10 feet tall and one to 1.5 foot blossom diameter. Well-fed, cultivated, groomed and isolated specimen plants can reach over 12 feet tall with 2-foot blossoms.
The Executive Gardener YouTube Channel has a lot of good information for busy gardeners, but a little expensive for our taste. Here on our homestead, we do just about everything by scratch, because money can be hard to come by while paying off the land. But Executive Gardener is great for grasping the basics. Then we simply adapt ideas from wherever we find them, and create the technology ourselves that will best implement those concepts for our particular situation.
In this episode, Executive Gardener Jeff steps through his methods for vermiculture composting, or using worms to create compost for the garden.
We grow and stock Heritage Quality, Heirloom, Open-Pollinated seeds ONLY.
Our goal is to do our part in securing regional food supplies, through diversity, hardiness, and selection for desired traits, such as flavor, color, drought tolerance and productivity. We want to provide seeds that grow beautiful, tasty and productive plants, that also happen to be tough as nails when it comes to surviving harsh conditions.
Arizona’s unique geography allows for two separate climates in which to grow: the Southern and Western Deserts (Mohave, Yucca and Sonoran) with three full seasons, and the Northern/Eastern, Alpine Life Zone at 6000+ feet of elevation, which lies alongside the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest of about 5000 feet elevation.
In both cases, drought and poor soil conditions are just the toppers to the harsh weather all over the West. Our location also provides us with access to some of the most ancient seed lines in North America, through the native people who were among the first to domesticate and develop some of today’s most productive foods, including corn, sunflower, beans, peppers and tomatoes.
Michael and Bettie Bailey, our son and a few local friends benefit from the fact that seed farming, for us, is a much-smaller scale operation than traditional row cropping on huge acreage. It only takes a few people to operate a layout which we designed as interlocking permaculture-based gardens, rather than vast fields of commercial cropland.
We sell only Open-Pollinated, Non-Hybrid seeds, that are grown only with natural input, both for nutrients and pest control. Extensive use of compost and soil building with mulch and crop remains are standard practice.
If we have the need to import either soil or amendments, such as worm castings or potting soil, we insist that it be sterile before it comes through our gates. It will be inoculated with the soil organisms in our operation ONLY. We are determined that nothing that comes through our gates will contaminate our natural local conditions.
This is what our children eat. The cleaner, the healthier our children’s food, the better for the world as a whole. Well-nourished and healthy leaders make better decisions, all else being equal, and the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. Clean, healthy food is, therefore, a solid investment in the future that all of us share.
We constantly select for traits that thrive in our bio-region. Since our operation is located in Arizona, we emphasize ancient and adapted Heirloom Seed varieties for the Southwest Desert US, Southwest mountains, the West Coast, the Intermountain West and the Big Sky Redoubt.
We select for family subsistence, based on landrace traits when possible, for easier regional adaptation. We also undertake ongoing trials to determine the suitability of heirloom varieties from around the globe that might take well to our regional conditions.
For instance, we have found a Russian melon that thrives in the poor soil, 120-degree heat and drought of a Southern Arizona summer. Who would have thought any plant from Russia could survive, let alone prosper in such conditions? And its Northern European heritage means this same melon also does well in the standard, four-season Intermountain West.
We come from farming families, and we are life-long residents of our State. We are well aware of the needs of the people who grow heirloom seeds in our part of the world. We ARE those people, and they are our neighbors.
One of the most famous farming methods utilized by the indigenous tribal peoples of North America is called The Sisters. Three Sisters Planting refers to corn, providing support for pole beans, which in turn provide nitrogen fixing into the soil for the corn, and ground covering vines such as squash or melons to preserve moisture and provide cooling for the roots of the beans and corn. In the Southwest deserts, another, Fourth Sister joins the Three Sisters: Sunflowers also provide shade and cover from wind, as well as further support for beans and vines. Learn more about Gardening with The Three Sisters here: