Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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June Newsletter Print E-mail

 Carolee’s June E-Newsletter    

It seems impossible that it is mid-June already!  How do the weeks fly past so quickly?  Although the frequent rains have kept us behind in planting and mulching the gardens this year, the plants themselves are blooming a bit ahead of normal.  The bellflowers, rose campion, hardy geraniums, wine cups, lambs ears, silver veronica, lythrum, coreopsis and lilies are gorgeous right now, and that is just a tiny part of the “now-in-bloom” list that I could make.  The hummingbirds are devouring the coral bell, penstemon, and comfrey nectar, as well as the many other plants they adore, so they are barely even visiting the feeder.  We’ve already seen several swallowtails and enjoyed dozens of salads from the Cook’s garden, so the gardening season is truly underway.

U-Pick Lavender
The lavenders are already beginning to bloom!  We’ve already started cutting Folgate,  Melissa, Tucker’s Early, Baby Blue, and several others.  We’ll begin picking in earnest and making wreaths this coming week.  U-pick lavender will be available while blooms last.  We have garden clubs that pick and dry lavender for their plant sales, brides that pick for wedding decorations, groups that pick to take small bouquets into nursing homes, and Red Hat groups that just love purple!  Some ladies pick bunches to make into lavender wands for Christmas gifts, wedding favors, or gifts for secret pals. 

Lavender Daze
     Mark your calendar for July 11 and 12.  Lavender Daze at the farm is always a special event.  We have a special guest speaker coming this year, and several new varieties of lavender that will be available in small quantities on those days only.
   We’ll have lavender wand-making classes on both days and a lavender basket class on Sunday afternoon (see workshop schedule in your newsletter, or on the website to reserve a space.)  Enjoy complimentary Lavender Tea or Lavender Lemonade and Lavender goodies in the barn (check the schedule for seating times and pick up your ticket upon arrival) and see my new lavender-themed T-shirts, mugs, tote bags and lavender jelly!   We’ve also restocked bottle trees (which double as squirrel or bird feeders in winter!) our famous lavender socks and a large selection of sachet bags.
     All remaining annuals will be 50% OFF that weekend only.  Check the website in a couple of weeks for each day’s schedule.  There are also some vendors coming, so be sure to check out their booths.  And, artists are always welcome to come paint the blooming field or other gardens.
     You’ll want to visit the Cottage to see the new items.  We call it “Herbal Country.”  The inventory and furnishings are entirely different from what we normally carry in the barn…..much more primitive country in feel and tone.  It’s so cozy you’ll want to move in!

 New Plants!
We’ve added lots of new perennials to the sales area in the past two weeks, so look for them.  Two new miniature hostas joined the fairy area, “Dixie Chickadee” and “Little Jay.”  The new “Joyful Elf” daylily just began blooming, and it is a darling. 
     Speaking of daylilies, we’ll have lots of new daylilies available on Saturday, July 25th for our Daylily Day.   Look for a lovely rose one that is highly fragrant, a fragrant nearly pure white, several rebloomers dramatic contrasting eyes and picotee edges, and daylilies with outstanding colors.  And, I know you may be tired of hearing it, but the hellebores STILL look gorgeous in the Enchanted Forest.  They began blooming in early March and it is now mid-June.  What perennial can you name that does better?

Garden Tidbits
June is a lovely time in the garden, picking bouquets and strawberries, gooseberries and blueberries and enjoying lettuces, radishes, turnips and the first purple beans.  However, to keep things happy you may want to:
1.  Hang Japanese Beetle traps…it’s time for these destructive pests to hatch.
2,  If you haven’t trimmed your iris foliage, do it NOW.  If you see small round spots on the leaves, the dreaded iris borer has laid eggs there.  When the little larvae hatch, they will eat their way leaving a streak or trail down the leaf and into the corm, where they will eat and grow into an ugly 1” long worm almost as big around as a pencil.  They will happily munch the corms all fall, destroying your beautiful irises. 
3.  Dead-head coral bells, coreopsis and other perennials to encourage the plant to produce more blooms.
4.  Continue to keep a keen eye on hollyhocks and roses.  There is a tiny, tiny worm that will skeletonize the leaves overnight.  Spraying with insecticidal soap after each rain (being sure to get the undersides of leaves) will keep them at bay.
5.  Check tall lilies (the Asiatic and Oriental types) to see if they need staking before their heavy flower heads open.
6.  Dead-head lambs ears soon, or they will self-seed everywhere!
7.  Cut the flower buds off garlic plants now…..they are a gourmet delicacy, raw in salads or lightly sautéed as a side dish or in stir-fry.  If you don’t cut them off, the plant will use up loads of energy trying to make flowers and seeds rather than making a nice big bulb!
8.  Cut off lemon balm and put it in a sun tea jar, by itself or with other herbs and mints to make a delicious tea.  It will soon grow a new batch of foliage.  This will keep it from self-seeding everywhere.
9.  Now that it’s getting hot, move containers of nasturtiums, mint, violas and pansies into semi-shade to protect them from the hottest midday sun.
10.  If you used a 3 month time-released fertilizer when you planted containers in April you’ll need to start using a liquid fertilizer now.  With all the rain we’ve had, much of the fertilizer has just washed out of containers and hanging baskets.

And the winner is…….
The winner of the Knock-Out rose on Flowering shrub was Doreen DeLisle, Stryker Ohio.  Congratulations!

      It was often written in old herbals and cookbooks that there were few more useful plants than sorrel.  Rumex acetosa is the common, large leaved garden sorrel.  It pokes through the ground in early spring, just as the snow melts.  The sharp, lemony flavor of the leaves is best eaten fresh when young.  Later, the arrow-shaped leaves will grow to 10” long, become stronger in flavor and are best cooked in soups and sauces.  Sorrel soup is a favorite dish in both France and Russia.  The large leaves were also used to wrap meat before cooking, to make it more tender, and sorrel was used as a rennet to sour milk for cheese-making.  The acidic, lemon flavor of the leaves gave it the folkname “sourgrass.”  It was especially popular with the common folk, since a salad containing the acidic leaves did not require vinegar to dress it.  Many cooks would not consider making a salad without it
     In medieval times a puree made of sorrel was used as a flavoring for more bland vegetables or meats.   It was cooked, pounded into a paste that was then mixed with butter, salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar.  This sauce was so popular on cold meats that the plant gained another folkname, which is “greensauce.”
      French cooks stuffed sorrel leaves inside whole fish before baking or grilling.  It was also considered the perfect companion for eggs, and there are many recipes to be found combining poached eggs with lightly cooked sorrel, served with melted butter and toasted bread or chopped into omelettes.  Another popular dish was to dip sorrel leaves in egg, and then into batter and fried.
     Sorrel leaves were  commonly used to remove rust stains from linens and to bleach stains from hands before attending church or special functions.  The leaves can be used to produce a greenish-yellow dye.
     Medicinally, sorrel was thought to be good for jaundice, liver and kidney complaints, stings, toothaches, and skin disorders.  It was also one of the ingredients in “Plague Water”, placed in barrels with many other herbs in the basement to steep for nine days, then strained and sprinkled or drunk to prevent plague.  A tea made of sorrel was used to gargle for sore throats.
     Sorrel is easily grown in ordinary soil, in full sun or light shade.  Adequate moisture will help ensure a steady supply of tender leaves.  Dividing the plants in early autumn every three years will aid in keeping growth young and succulent.  Removing the tall seed stalks when they appears will also help.  The 3’ stalk holds a spire of tiny flowers which later become rusty-colored seedheads.  These are loved by goldfinches, so I always leave some for the birds.  Since it grew so abundantly, sorrel was sometimes more commonly found in the vegetable garden than in the herb garden.
     French Sorrel (Rumex scutatus) has an improved flavor, but much smaller leaves, reaching only 3” or so in length.  It was introduced into England in 1596, but was slower to cross the Atlantic.
     When I visited England, I saw a beautiful little silver-leaved French Sorrel called “Silver Buckler” and brought seeds home.  It is not as hardy as Garden Sorrel, but is certainly worth growing.  Later, I found “Buckler Sorrel” which has the small pretty leaves, but are green rather than silver.  It seems to be more hardy than the silver selection.
      Neither French Sorrel or Garden Sorrel should be confused with Wood Sorrel, which has clover-like leaves and is a rampant spreader.  Although this little plant does have the acidic flavor, and was commonly used in medieval times, it is now considered a weed.

 Recipe for June
Here’s an easy recipe for a “green sauce” that features sorrel.  Last Easter, a customer from Ohio called looking for catnip to make “green sauce” for the traditional Easter dinner at his church.  A couple of weeks later, another customer came looking for sorrel to make the “green sauce” he’d grown to love while living in Germany.  A few more requests soon had me researching this interesting sauce.  Advocates begin making this nutritious dish early in spring, as soon as enough greens are available.  Some purists insist that only herbs are used, while others incorporate salad greens such as lettuce, kale, mustard or spinach.  Whatever is chosen, traditionally there should be seven green items because seven is a lucky number.  Sorrel, chicory, catnip, horehound, parsley, dandelion, and salad burnet are the common components in some areas, while sorrel, chicory, borage, purslane, chives, lovage, and nasturtium leaves are used in others.  The sauce is used over meats, cooked vegetables, as a salad dressing, a spread on sandwiches, or as a dip with crackers or raw vegetables.
     I made mine with sorrel, chives, parsley, lovage, nasturtium, dill and sage.  Feel free to try savory, thyme, garlic chives, lemon balm, mint, chervil, or tarragon.  In olden days the seven greens were ground to a paste in a mortar and pestle, but now we use a food processor.  Here’s the recipe I’ve developed:  Choose 2 heaping cups of greens/herbs and place in food processor with 6 oz. plain yogurt.  Process till smooth.  Add freshly ground pepper, ½ c. sour cream and 2 T. lemon juice.  (If you choose lemon balm, you may want to reduce the lemon juice.)  Makes about 1 ½ c. sauce.

**********************Carolee’s Plant E-Coupon***************************
Buy one-get one free on all vegetable plants.  Choose from heirloom tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, okra, lettuces, onions, and more.  Cannot be combined with other discouts. Valid through July 10th, 2009

**************************Carolee’s Barn E-Coupon************************
20% off any “Time & Again” for the gardener.  Choose hand therapy cream, nail & cuticle cream, shea butter, or salt scrub.  Cannot be combined with other discounts. Valid through July 10th, 2009

***********************Carolee’s Cottage E-Coupon*************************
10% off any framed artwork in the Cottage.  Cannot be combined with other discounts.  Valid through July 10th, 2009.