Colorful fall leaves on red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea)
With autumn weather (rain!) and colors upon us it’s good to take some time to look back at the season that is winding down. It is gratifying to see loads of plants leaving the nursery; the plants we’ve grown from seeds and cuttings and nurtured for one, two or more years are heading back to wild lands. They are also no longer my responsibility, and now we can get paid!
It has been the busiest growing season ever at Derby Canyon Natives. We have grown more plants and lined up more growing contracts than any previous year (and I’ve written fewer blog posts!) This extra work has led to us taking out another half acre of orchard to make room for more growing area.
New hoop house and growing area
We are in the midst of another building project this month, working with Roger Rumann, a local builder and friend, to put up a storage building/office with a real greenhouse attached at the south end. I’ve been thinking about and planning for this structure for two years and it’s great to see it being realized.
The storage and office areas will be convenient and meet some of the needs of our growing business. What gets me most excited is the greenhouse, the ability to start plants earlier, root cuttings over the winter and do other operations not possible now. There will be no added heating system in this greenhouse. Instead, it will store the heat that accumulates during sunny days in the ground below the greenhouse and bring it up at night, by circulating air through two perforated pipe manifolds installed at two and four feet deep. The south wall and roof will be covered with triple wall polycarbonate, while the west, north and east walls will be solid. We should be able to keep the inside temperature no lower than 50-55F all winter with this GAHT (Ground-Air-Heat-Transfer) system; we’ll know soon enough this winter!
The GAHT tubing laid out at the two foot level prior to backfilling
On a sadder note, our exceedingly friendly shop cat, Ozzie, disappeared this summer, probably done in by the coyotes that patrol the area. He made it almost three years, and had previous close calls with those predators. Last month I got two semi-feral cats from the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society to help with rodent control. After over three weeks in my shop, Cat One and Cat Two will soon be free to explore the outdoors, hopefully discouraging voles, avoiding coyotes and returning for meals of the tasty canned food they have been devouring.
I enjoy all the seasons of the year, and I do look forward to spring at the nursery and in the surrounding mountains when the great diversity and beauty of wildflowers appears again. I close with one of the best, one I photograph every year, Tweedy’s lewisia (Cistanthe tweedyi, or Lewisiopsis tweedyi, depending upon which authority you refer to).