Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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Carolee’s May E-Newsletter 09

May Queen Shastas in the Moonlight Garden 

It’s the merry month of May!  May always seems like such a special month to me, a magical time of flowering trees, soft breezes, make-a-wish flowers, and the return of the hummingbirds.  Everything is carpeted in fresh green, and seed-sowing begins outdoors.  After weeks of rain, planting time finally arrived so we’ve been able to move out hundreds of plants.  Now, we have room in the greenhouse to pot hundreds more, so come see what’s new in the plant sales areas.   We’ve added dozens of varieties of perennials in quarts and gallons, along with some clematis in larger pots, and we’ve been able to restock many herb varieties.  We’re also getting the gardens planted, so the season is off to a good start.   What a great month! 

Flowering Shrub Day—Saturday, May 30th.  Our Indiana shrub grower will be bringing even more beautiful varieties for this special day.  And, he’ll be on hand to answer questions.  Look for more barberrys with colorful foliage, tidy hardy boxwoods,  clethra “Hummingbird”, burning bushes for great fall color,  gorgeous deer-resistant viburnums that provide lovely fall berries,  climbing “false” hydrangea, and much more.  And, we’ll be re-stocking those varieties that have sold out at the farm, so if you were disappointed to miss the wonderful dwarf forsythia or dwarf, fragrant lilacs you’re in luck!   In the Culinary area, find yummy blueberry, gooseberry, grapes, blackberry and black raspberry shrubs as well as big, healthy rhubarb and horseradish plants.  All shrubs will be 10% off.  Look for them in the new display between the greenhouses, in the butterfly plant display, in the hummingbird plant display, and in the deer resistant display.

Herb Study in German Kindergartens!!!
My daughter called me last week to tell me the new project topic at my grandson’s kindergarten.  They are doing a unit on the good herbs!  During the project, the children will be going to woods, fields, and gardens to collect wild herbs.  Then they will learn to use them in various healing ointments, teas, salves, etc.  They will learn which plants are safe, and not to experiment with plants on their own.
     I can’t tell you how excited I was to hear that herbs are given their rightful place in education!  Too bad it isn’t something that is incorporated in U.S. curriculums.
     Evan will bring his folder and notebook when they come to visit in July.  I can’t wait to see which plants are included, but I’m willing to bet calendula, mint, chamomile and feverfew will be among them.

In the Big Barn Shop
A new shipment of fairy arches and furniture arrived, and  a new supply of herbal placemats and flexible cutting boards should be here any day now.  We are thrilled that they have proved to be so popular!   We also just reprinted our original herbal T-shirts, and will have them in sizes S, M, L, XL, 2X.  This time they are in a softer green.  Also look for our brand new T-shirt with a lavender design, which should be here by June 10.  We hope to add it to our on-line store soon, so those of you who live far away can get them.  Also, our 3rd order of bottle trees is here, but they are selling fast, so don’t delay.

Mark your Calendar—Lavender Daze, July 11 & 12.   The Lavender Field is looking good.  In fact, the Croxton’s Wild is already budding!  We’ll have a full schedule of talks and demos using lavender.  You won’t want to miss it, so bring your camera and a friend!  Details coming on the website and in the June E-newsletter.  If you are interested in being a vendor, contact us soon. 

IN THE GARDEN—May is a busy, busy month!
1) Plant sweet alyssum close to seating areas now to enjoy its fragrance, and let it self-seed, so you can enjoy it again later.
2) Keep pansies deadheaded to prolong bloom, and remember they are heavy feeders, so fertilize when you water.  Move containers of pansies into partial afternoon shade when the days get hot.
3) Dead head daffodils and other spring bulbs, but allow the foliage to ripen and turn brown before you remove it.  Fertilize finished bulbs, so they have lots of nourishment to produce bigger bulbs and flowers next spring.  Mark clumps that will need to be divided the end of August.
5) Feed emerging lilies with a bloom booster fertilizer (big middle number) or stick in “flowering houseplant” fertilizer sticks.
6) Prune spring flowering shrubs right after they bloom
7) The first feeding for the lawn needs to be done around Memorial Day
8) Enjoy the Dames Rocket, Columbines, May Queen Shastas, Lungworts, Forget-Me-Nots, Hellebores, Bleeding Hearts, Tiarellas, and all the other bloomers that are filling the garden with color after the bulbs.
9) Plant some containers with annuals in your favorite colors to pop into the garden areas close to patios and decks, if nothing is blooming there.  You can move them around as needed, or collect them into a grouping for parties.
10) Continue to scissor mums and asters every three weeks, so they will get really bushy and sturdy.  I usually clip off an inch or two each time.   Stop trimming July 4th.  You can also trim sedums, phlox, or monarda to promote more blooms, or to stagger bloom time.
11) Check lilies, peonies, delphiniums and other tall perennials for staking needs—it could be a windy
12) Keep an eye on hollyhocks for those nasty little worms that skeletonize their leaves.  Spray with
insecticidal soap, being sure to get the undersides of the leaves where the insect eggs will be hatching.
13) Those little beetles that make the brown spots on mint leaves will arrive soon, or they may already be where you live….trim off those leaves and spray the rest of the plant with insecticidal soap.  The mint will quickly grow fresh new leaves.
14) Stock up on Japanese beetle traps.  They’ll be here before we know it!  Trapping beetles is the only way to keep them from multiplying since  they have no natural predators here.  However, hanging a trap a few inches over a fish-filled pond (without the bag!) will keep the fish well-fed and happy all summer!
15) Plant extra parsley, dill, and fennel just for the butterflies!

The Gardens
     The Fairy Gardens are beautiful right now, and the perennials in the Cottage Garden are lovely, too.  The Purple Garden is pretty with its purple columbines and alliums.  The Folklore Garden has not been planted with annuals yet, but the perennials are filling in nicely.  The Shade Garden has lots of Sweet Woodruff, coral bells, tiarella and hosta for interest.  The Butterfly Garden has been planted, so the annuals will be taking off soon.  Already, the Dame’s Rocket is drawing lots of butterflies.  The Hummingbirds have found the columbines and are buzzing around their favorite annuals.  The lilies in the Sunrise Garden are about to pop, but the annuals we planted there are already adding lots of color.  We hope to plant statice and other interesting plants in the Crafter’s Garden this week, if it dries out enough to till.  The Summer Perennials Garden has iris that will soon be open.  The May Queen Shastas are fully open and Snow in Summer is blooming in the Moonlight Garden.  The Dye Garden is taking longer than I’d hoped….the goldenrod spread all winter, and everything in there self-seeded into the paths as well, but I hope to have it looking good by the end of this week!   The Cook’s Garden is popping as lettuce, turnips, radishes, garlic, purple beans, and lots of herbs are emerging.  So, come visit the gardens.  You’ll get lots of planting ideas!

We’ve made some changes in the upcoming workshop schedule, so be sure to check the website.   Don’t hesitate to register for those topics that interest you, as I will be dropping a few workshops soon.  The Lavender Wreath workshop is filled.

And the winner is………
Last month’s E-newsletter survey question was “What is your favorite culinary herb, and what is your favorite way to use it?”  The results were very interesting.   43% of respondents sited rosemary as their favorite.  Basil came in at a close second at 42%.  Mint was third with 8%, dill gained 4%, and the  final 3% was a mixture of sage, thyme, savory, parsley, lemon balm, tarragon and chives.  I have to say I was surprised that parsley and chives didn’t get more votes, since I used them in so many recipes.   A number of respondents failed to answer the second part of the question, so their names were not put in the hat for the drawing!  The winner of the $10 gift certificate this month is Susie Weir, Casey, IL!  Congratulations, Susie.  When you come to the farm, look for your name on the list and claim your discount!

The mint is thriving after all the rain we’ve had.  If you have abundant mint (preferably a nice spearmint such as “Cook’s Choice” or “Lebanese Spearmint”) try this easy recipe.  By the way, growing mint in hanging baskets is an easy way to keep them under control.  I put them in a sunny spot in spring, so they’ll grow quickly, but when the days start to get hotter, I move them to partial shade.  Hanging them near the deck reminds me to use them in teas and lemonade often, to keep the new growth coming.  If you want them to be productive, give them fertilizer water at least twice a month.
Minty Potato Salad:
Cook 1 lb. of new potatoes (you can boil, bake or microwave) just until tender, and then cool.   Peel and slice 1 cucumber in half longwise and remove seeds.  Grate the cucumber, pressing out excess juice.
Mix together:  3/4 c. plain yoghurt, 2 T. finely chopped mint, 2 garlic cloves minced, 2 T. lovage or finely chopped celery,  freshly ground pepper and the drained cucumber.  Toss with potatoes.   Serves 4.

The May Survey Question:
       Like everyone else, I’ve been thinking a lot about budget cuts and the economy.  I love our state historical sites and state parks, but I fear some of them may be on the “cutting block” if budget problems persist.  I’ve heard that those with the least visitors will be first to go.  So, this month’s survey question is “What is your favorite historical site in Indiana, and why do you like it best?”  I plan to try to visit more sites this summer, and hope you will, too!

*************Carolee’s e-coupon for May**************
 20% off  pepper plants….choose sweet banana, jalapena, cayenne, or variegated varieties! Valid through June 16, 2009 or while they last!

***********Carolee’s e-coupon for May*****************
20% off one perennial plant of your choice!  Choose from hundreds!  Valid through June 16th, 2009.

*************Carolee’s Barn Gift Shop coupon***************
10% off one of our new T-shirts!  Choose either the herb or lavender design!  One coupon per customer.  Valid through June 16th, 2009.

***********Carolee’s Cottage coupon***************
20% off any wood item in our herbal Cottage.  Valid through June 16th, 2009

That’s it for May!  We will start having a cart of “free” plants this week, as a thank-you for our customers.  We’ll begin with cabbage and broccoli plants, and add other things as I begin to sort out the greenhouse and finish planting the gardens. 
     Remember to take a few moments this Memorial Day weekend to remember your ancestors and departed family members.  I took one day off last week to put flowers on family graves, clean grave sites, and visit with other family members.  It’s important to remember your roots.   Happy planting….it should be a great week! 

Hugs, Carolee