Low rainfall, a short growing season, and limited soil
nutrients result in slow-growing plants (all kinds, including trees).
Our garden allows us to examine how these factors inter-relate and
how they can be manipulated.
Experimentation has shown us that soil nutrition is
the first limiting factor here. The importance of good genetic
selections under these conditions cannot be overstressed. Most of the
vegetables we grow are the result of long-term variety trials. We
refine the genetics further by growing our own seed, and selecting
for local adaptation with each generation. This teaches us that we
must be very careful with our tree selection in our forestry, and
even more careful with our fragile soils.
A plentiful year round supply of vegetables
allows us to eat very well with minimal cash expenditure, reducing
the cash-flow pressure on our forestry. Our home-grown produce
actually provides much of the energy that powers us in our work!
As average monthly temperatures climb,
precipitation drops, and vice versa.
An important step towards restoring our land to an old
growth quality ponderosa pine ecosystem, is knowing where we are and
where we are headed. Jennifer has done one of the most complete
botanical surveys anywhere: over 200 trees, shrubs, grasses, forbs,
and lichens have been identified on our 40 acres. See our complete plantlist
as well as birds,
mammals, reptiles and amphibians seen at Morning Hill.
We collect data and maps covering plants, wildlife,
insects and diseases, weather, and historical information. Our
mountain valley has a cold/dry climate, with weather which is either
too cold or too dry for much growth and there is a short growing
season when it is both temperate and moist. Slow growth produces the
finest ponderosa pine wood in the world, and trees live to a great
age and grow very large.
Many of the plants and wildlife that live here are
unique to the Blue Mountains. Non-native species are not well-adapted
so weeds are not an insurmountable problem, as most do not do well
here. It also means that we must take the best care we can of our
native species. The wide variety of native species is an important
part of the diversity that lends stability. Some of the interesting
species our land is home to are: