Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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Home News Newsletters November 2019 Newsletter
November 2019 Newsletter Print E-mail


 November E-Newsletter 2019

November has been filled with blessings, especially that of good weather for most of the month.  November is the month for giving thanks…to our veterans for our freedoms, thanks for the changing of the seasons, for our families, for the bounty of the harvest.  November is a busy month for me in the gardens, planting bulbs, trimming frozen stalks, digging dahlias, storing away statuary and summer furniture, and removing all weeds that have dared to show themselves.  All of the braids of garlic, onions, and shallots have been moved from the Lady Cottage, where they might freeze, to the allium rack in the garage.  All of the gardens have been tidied and over 900 bulbs were planted.  I moved the potager trellises to the north-south paths for next season to ensure crop rotation for climbing cucurbits and planted rows of garlic, so it’s all ready for spring.  Tender plants have been moved indoors and all the pots and flats have been stored away for the winter.  The first seed catalogs have arrived about the same time as the first snow flakes, so some comfy time has been spent studying the new offerings and making lists for next year’s gardens while enjoying the beginning of basketball season.  Some fun time was spent hauling out the snowmen and decorating the potager for Christmas, although since the autumn decorations are some of my favorites, it’s a bit sad to put them away.

Upcoming Events:
     Valparaiso Garden Show:  Jan. 25, 8 a.m.-4p.m. One of Indiana’s largest garden shows.  Held at the Porter Co. Expo Center, tickets $10.  This show features speakers, Seed and Bulb Exchange, Garden Shed, garden photo contest, speakers, over 100 exhibitors and vendors of gardening products and more!

    Indiana Hort Congress:  Feb. 11-13.  This is a super show for anyone involved in farm markets or commercial crop production, wine, agri-tourism, food safety and organic or greenhouse growing.  Attend the entire conference, or go for 1 day.  The trade show is worth seeing for packaging, production machinery, wholesale seeds, irrigation equipment, etc.   Schedule and registration available at  Held at Indy Marriott East, 7202 East 21st St.

     Philadelphia Flower Show:  February 29-March 8, 2020.  Established in 1829, this amazing show quickly became the largest indoor display in the world, covering 10 acres with gardens and garden-related displays.  This year’s theme “Riviera Holiday,” beckons you to embrace your inner romantic and create a Mediterranean inspired garden of your own. Ornate pottery and patterned tiles, a well-placed pergola and abundant clusters of scented flowers, ornamental fountains and herb parterres provide irresistible appeal along with sustainable lower maintenance, water-wise options that are both responsive to and reflective of temperate conditions. Tickets can be purchased on-site, but book your hotel room now to get one within walking distance.

     Indiana Flower & Patio Show:  March 14-22, 2020 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  Lots of interesting speakers this year, including Chris Lambton from “Yard Crashers.”  Check the show website for lots more info.

     Kentuckiana Spring Herb Symposium:  Saturday, March 28.  Always a great event.  Mark your calendar now!

     HSCI Herb Symposium:  Saturday, April 11.  Fabulous event!  Mark your calendar now.  More info upcoming in future newsletters.

Autumn Travels: Part 2
     Two days after we returned from northern Ohio (see the October E-newsletter) I flew over the ocean to join my two daughters for a fabulous holiday in London!  I’m not fond of big cities, but if I were forced to choose one, I’d definitely choose London.  Visually, it’s just so interesting and there is SO much to see and do, plus it’s easy to get about.  Each of us chose two major things we wanted to do.  My two choices were RHS Wisley and Blenheim Palace.  Andrea chose a day in Bath (of Jane Austen fame and Roman times) and an Early Egyptian exhibit at the British Museum.  Alicia chose tea at Fortnum & Mason and a play at the famous Globe Theatre.  Once the logistics for those were set, lots of other things were fitted in so it was a packed adventure.
     My flight arrived fairly close to Andrea’s, so we met at the airport and took the Express Train to Paddington Station, which was close to our AirBnB apartment.  Alicia met us there, and a brisk walk took us to a barbershop, which surprisingly doubles as luggage storage, so we were able to go to lunch and begin our fun without the encumbrance of suitcases.

     Lunch was at an excellent local pub, The Victoria.  Don’t you just love all the flowers?  We ate in one of the upstairs rooms, the Library.  One thing that has definitely changed in England since our very first visit is the food, which is terrific now.  I still remember the first time we ordered “salad” in London, and were served a bowl of mushy peas with mayonnaise on the side.  There were no leafy greens or anything we’d generally call salad!  Now, there are nearly as many delicious salads there as here.  However, I chose yummy cod cakes with leeks, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce and it was terrific, along with a local cider on tap!

     Later we collected our luggage and walked a short distance to our AirBnB, which was in a “mews,” a narrow lane that once contained stables and shelters for carriages, with rooms for grooms and drivers above.  Now nearly all of the stables have been converted into modern apartments.  There were a few stables left at the far end of Bathhurst Mews, which were home to a riding school.  Every afternoon we saw people coming to saddle up to ride through Hyde Park, or grooming the horses after a ride.  The lane itself was cobblestone, and lined with olive trees in huge tubs (some were a hundred years old) and container gardens of all sorts.  It was very picturesque and ideal for us because it was so close to Paddington Station, where we could catch the underground or trains, and was close to several good restaurants.
     As is often the case, Trafalgar Square was filled with protesters, many of whom were camping out in tents.  This protest was against “Killing the Earth” with all aspects:  global warming, animal rights, plastics, etc.  There were speakers on soap boxes and people passing out pamphlets just as there have been for centuries, all surrounding the extremely tall Nelson’s Column.  Our destination was Foley’s, a five-story bookstore where one could easily spend a week (and a fortune!)  We took a break for tea in one of their cafes, followed by a stroll to just enjoy the fact that we were together in one of the world’s great cities.  
     Close to our apartment, we stopped for a glass of wine and a cheeseboard, where I had the yummy pumpkin crostini (see October newsletter for recipe) before the jet lag caught up, and we headed to bed, anticipating an early train the next morn.
     The train to Oxford went through some lovely, typical English countryside.  Once there, we caught a bus to the quaint village of Woodstock and walked a country lane to Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill.  It can be called a palace, even though royalty does not reside there, because it was once a royal hunting ground.  As long as the Churchill family presents the Queen with a symbolic banner each year, the family can maintain ownership.


  The grounds were designed by Capability Brown, with his famous “open and closed window” scheme. 

The 110 acre lake shown in the picture was hand-dug by workers!

  The stone bridge actually contains 33 rooms (a ballroom, reception room, living quarters, etc.) and is three stories high.

     I took my time photographing the Formal Terrace Gardens, then we took a “buggy” ride tour of the grounds (I was disappointed that it turned out to be a golf cart, not horse-drawn!) which were originally 200,000 acres of royal hunting grounds.  The views were lovely, but I can't imagine growing up here.

  Unfortunately, decades after the palace was built much of the acreage was sold to help maintain the palace, so it’s now only 2,000 acres.  Outside the official parkland around the palace, there are pastures for 1700 adult sheep and 3,000 lambs…until the lambs go to the “happy Easter pasture.”

     Blenheim itself has 133 rooms and is built of the local gold-colored stone.  We took the self-paced audio tour, which included lots of info and items from Winston Churchill’s life and times.


The home is more like an opulent museum, filled with cabinets of rare porcelain, silver and such, tapestries, portraits and rare furniture.

Here is the room where Winston Churchill was born  It is in the wing now devoted to his life, memorabilia, accomplishments, and the history of his times.  Most of the paintings shown above are his work.  After he left public life, he became an avid painter.

  I’m sure there are more comfy rooms unseen by the public.  We could have had lunch at the “Orangery” or one of the other eateries on the Blenheim grounds, but we chose to walk back to Woodstock to do a bit of shopping and have lunch at a local pub, the Woodstock Arms. This time I did have a delicious chicory, walnut, and pickled pear salad (see recipe below); a lamb chop with pumpkin cous-cous and autumn salsa, and a local cider, of course!
     That’s part 1, but the saga will continue in upcoming newsletters!

Herb To Know: Ladies Mantle
     A British favorite, and also one of mine, Ladies Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) is a reliable perennial for sunny or lightly shaded areas.   It is a versatile plant, easily grown, and good to grow under trees as long as it receives some sunlight.  Most varieties grow about 12” tall, taller when in bloom.
     Its two claims for fame are the pretty, slightly pleated leaves with a serrated edge that hold the dew drops.  The leaves are often lightly rounded, about hand-sized, growing in a low, tidy clump.   The standard A. mollis generally has medium green or gray-green leaves.   In late spring bloom stalks shoot upward, with tiny bright, chartreuse green or yellow blooms in tight clusters.  Some varieties have longer stems, which are wonderful for cutting and long-lasting in a bouquet.
     I grew Ladies Mantle in my “Maiden Fair” herbal cosmetic garden at the old farm, where it made a nice, uniform edging to contain other more ungainly plants.   Herbal lore claims that the dew drops gathered from the Ladies Mantle leaves are magical for the skin, and help prevent wrinkles.  Medieval ladies sent their servants out at dawn to collect the dew drops with a straw.
     The miniature Ladies Mantle (Alchemilla alpina) resided in the Fairy Garden, where it formed tiny 4-6” clumps, with yellow blooms.  Some folks say the fairies use the leaves as umbrellas or capes when it rains.  This one has deep green foliage.
     Alchemilla erythropoda is between A. mollis and A. alpina in height, growing to about 8”.  The interesting red stems are a big departure from the other Alchemillas, it blooms a bit earlier than A. mollis, and it is excellent in containers.  The usual variety available “Alma.”
     There are several varieties of A. mollis available, such as “Robustica,” which grows to 20” and is often the one chosen by florists.  “Thriller” is 18” with brighter green foliage than standard A. mollis and is also excellent for cut flower work.  The variety I’m growing this year is “Irish Silk,” 18” with longer bloom stems of chartreuse, and green-gold leaves.  I can’t wait to add them to some of my perennial borders, and a few at the north end of the Cutting Garden.

1.  Keep collecting leaves and mulch to apply to beds once the ground has frozen.
2.  Several varieties of rosemary are currently in bloom.  I love to tuck rosemary sprigs into napkin rings to make the dining area smell delicious.  And, I always make cranberry-rosemary muffins for the holidays.    
3.  Harvest a lot of parsley to dry for winter use before the snows come.  I use the microwave to dry parsley, because it stays so nice and green.  If you need instructions, visit the website and click on the article “Harvesting & Storing Herbs for Winter.”
4.  There are sorrel, arugula, salad burnet, chard, chives, radicchio and young chicory leaves still in the garden that I can combine to make a great green salad.  (See recipe below!) If I give them a cover to protect them, (floating row cover or old windows on a layer of cement blocks) I’ll be able to harvest them until the temperatures fall into single digits.
5.  Many stores have amaryllis bulbs for sale for the holidays.  I like to pick up a few and start them now to enjoy once the Christmas decorations are put away.  
6.  Clip sprigs of horehound, thyme, rosemary, lavender, and bedstraw for embellishing the crèche scene.  Simply place them in flattened balls of clay to form small bushes and put sprigs in the manger.
7.  Mix sprigs of rosemary with holiday greens around candle bases or in wreaths to add an extra heavenly scent.

A Local Treat!
     As you know by now, David & I love traveling in Italy, not only for the gorgeous scenery, history, and beautiful weather but especially for the delicious food.  When we heard of a local business that was making and serving fresh Italian food, we had to try it out.  Golfo di Napoli is largely a cheese factory, using Italian cheesemakers and organic Indiana milk!  I’m thrilled that they choose to support local dairy farmers who make the effort to farm organically.  Right now, they are making mozzarella, ricotta, stracciatella and provolone cheeses.  The provolone is outstanding!

     Golfo di Napoli is in a new, modern facility just off I69 at Exit 278, near Warren, IN.  The café area has two large “green” walls, air plants growing in some of the overhead light fixtures, and large windows overlooking the cheesemakers at work.
     The menu is fairly extensive, focusing on breakfast and lunch, but includes appetizers, salads, one-bowl meals, and paninis. 


David and I shared this delicious “Angelino” panini, which included fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, and cotto ham on a crunchy bread, served with a baby arugula and grape tomato salad.  Their wine list is small, selected to pair with their charcuterie boards, which are large for sharing.  We chose the “Salumi and Cheese Board,” which was more than ample for two, and as an appetizer would serve four.  It included 4 cheeses, 3 salamis imported from Italy, greens, dried fruit, fresh strawberries &  blueberries, specialty mustard and marmalade, along with a basket of excellent bread.

     Desserts include their homemade gelato (3 scoops for $3); cannoli; affogato, or ricotta with fresh berries.  I chose the lemon gelato, which didn’t quite measure up to what I’ve had in Europe, or in Muncie at Osteria32.   However, the ladies beside us had the cannoli and were very happy.
     The drink list includes the basic soft drinks, iced tea, wines, Italian beer, flavored Italian sparkling waters, espresso, cappuccino, coffee, and (Hurrah!) Hugo and Aperol cocktails!  There is a small area for sales of excellent olive oil, pasta, truffles, and more Italian goodies.  They also do holiday gift baskets and take-out.



    If you’d like a taste of Italy, visit Golfo di Napoli at 7716 S. Warren Rd.  Open Mon-Thursday 7am-8pm; Fri and Sat 7am-10 pm; and Sundays 10am-7pm.  Some evenings they have live music.  Call 260-355-5975 for more info.

Recipe: Pickled Pear Salad
     Pickled pears seemed to pop up everywhere in London.  My first experience was in this tasty salad, perfect for the holidays since pears are in season, but they appeared on cheese platters and spiced up a ham & cheese sandwich!  Now I’m addicted!
     Early in the day combine 1 ½ c. water; ¾ c. red wine vinegar (or cider vinegar); 2 t. honey; 1 T brown sugar; 3 whole cloves; a stick of cinnamon; 3 whole allspice; 5 black peppercorns, and a small bay leaf in a large saucepan.  Stir.
     Halve and core 3 firm pears (Red, Anjou or Bosc work best).  Place the core parts in the saucepan.  Dip each pear half in the liquid quickly to prevent browning, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
    Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes.  Slice the pears into 1/2” strips and drop into the liquid.  Place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, stirring gently occasionally to be sure pear slices are all pickled.
    Prepare a mixture of dark greens.  Radicchio, chicory, dandelion, baby spinach, baby arugula, tender kale, and baby beet greens work especially well (better than lettuce!)  You’ll need about 6 c.  Coarsely chop 1 c. walnuts.
     Just before serving, divide greens onto 6 salad plates.  Cut pear slices into bite-sized pieces and place on greens, topping with walnuts.
     Make a dressing by first straining the pickling liquid.  Press the cooked pear cores and any small pieces that might have broken off through the strainer into a jar or small bowl.  Add ¼ c. salad oil; ¾ c. of the pickling liquid; 1 tsp. Dijon mustard; 2 tsp. honey, a dash of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Shake or whisk briskly until dressing is well mixed.  Pour over salad.  Top with a few curls of a good Parmesan cheese (or the Provolone from Golfo di Napoli!)  Serves 6, possibly with a few pear slices leftover for a turkey sandwich to reward the cook!

December is fast-approaching, and once again, I wonder where the year has gone!  Take time to enjoy these last few autumn days as you prepare for another holiday.  And throw a little extra mulch over your favorite plants once the ground freezes.  My instincts (and the extraordinary black walnut crop) tell me it’s going to be a hard, bitter winter.  Hope your Thanksgiving is extra special.  We all have so very much, so many blessings, so GIVE THANKS every day!  
Herbal blessings, Carolee