Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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June 2019 E-Newsletter Print E-mail


 June E-Newsletter 2019

The year is half over!  My goodness, it’s gone fast!  Why does June always seem like such a short month?  Especially to gardeners, who are busy planting, watching for harmful bugs and bunnies, and beginning to harvest the bounty of lettuces, spinach, strawberries, peas and snow peas, broccoli and other blessings from the garden, June just whizzes by.  We admire the opening roses, the first of the lavenders, and these days, even the daylilies (which used to be a July-blooming perennial!)  Along with others, we attend graduations, weddings, anniversary parties and other traditional June events that include picnics and barbeques.  June is a busy, busy month…a  month to be savored, but there just doesn’t seem to be time!
     Our June was made even busier with two MG rallies, one with the Ohio chapter up near Toledo, and the “London-Brighton Run” along the Ohio River in southern Indiana.  And while driving through scenic countryside in lovely weather is a blessing, why did those perfect days for gardening seem to be the only rain-free days of the month?
     It’s nearly the end of June and I’m STILL planting and have not finished mulching!!!!!  Squeezing work between the raindrops, I’ve been doing both those tasks, weeding, deadheading, and battling raccoons who dig out everything I plant so I get to do it all over.  I try to harvest so that while it rains I can make lots of elderflower syrup and dry elderflowers and chamomile for teas, freeze peas, snow peas, broccoli, and strawberries.  I made one batch of strawberry jam before the raccoons found the patch.  This week, I’ll harvest calendula petals for teas and ointments.  The lavenders are ready to harvest, and beans need picking, cabbage is ready to become freezer slaw.  June is definitely a busy, busy month, but I think it’s one of my favorites.  I love the way the potager looks, with its round cabbage heads, fences filled with lovely peas, climbing cucumber vines and the colorful snapdragons, Asiatic lilies, dainty cilantro blossoms, colorful borage blooms, arty dill heads and calendula flowers filling the interior borders.  Everything looks so green and fresh with the abundant rains!  

Upcoming Events:
Herb Society of Central Indiana:  Monday, July 1 “Native Herbs: Not Your Mother's Marjoram!”   Sue Arnold of the HSCI will discuss herbs native to Indiana. Come learn why it’s important to add these plants to our landscape, and why they are considered herbs. (Hint: trees, shrubs, vines and more are considered herbs!)  Good information that you can take home and implement, refreshments, and great fellowship!  6:30 p.m., Clay Township Center, 10701 N College Avenue, Indianapolis.  For more information, go to

Wabash Herb Fest:  Saturday, Aug. 17.  Plants, garden décor, fairy items, lots of herbal products and more (over 50 vendors!)  Free admission.  Food on site.  Speakers throughout the day.  Paradise Spring Park, 9-3:00.  Wabash, IN.

Schedel Arboretum & Gardens
     During our June MG trip to Ohio, I squeezed in a visit to the beautiful Schedel Arboretum & Gardens in Elmore (17 miles from Toledo.)  

Built around a stately 1887 Victorian home overlooking a river, the gardens are the dream of Joseph & Marie Schedel, who traveled the world for inspiration.  They envisioned the establishment of the Midwest’s most unusual and lovely garden estates. 

In addition to a wide selection of unusual trees and shrubs, there are beautiful gardens to visit on this 17 acre estate. 


The most impressive during my visit was the Japanese Garden with Torii, pagodas, lanterns, waterfall and reflecting pool surrounded by delicate Japanese maples, a grove of Dawn Redwood and the rare Bristlecone pines. 

There were areas that were absolutely breath-taking.  There is also a large and excellent collection of bonsai.

     My visit was early in the month, and it was comforting to see that even professional gardeners were struggling with this disagreeable weather. 

While the iris and peony gardens were blooming, they weren’t up to their usual standards. 

The rose garden was definitely behind schedule, as were the 15,000 annuals (many waiting to get into the ground, as were mine at home!) 

Some of the perennials were slowly adjusting to their soaked conditions, which these two didn’t seem to mind at all!

     While the raised beds of the edible plant area were producing green growth,

the famous kitchen garden was still totally empty, although workers were unloading tools and plants there as I departed. This garden is definitely worth a trip, especially combined with the nearby Toledo Botanic Gardens.  For more info visit

Garden Tidbits
June is a lovely time in the garden, picking bouquets and strawberries, enjoying lettuces, radishes, peas, turnips and the first purple beans, kohlrabi, and cucumbers.  However, to keep things happy you may want to:
1.  Spray Bt to prevent cabbage worms on all cole crops, now that it isn’t raining daily.  I’ve seen a few cabbage butterflies (small white flitters with tiny black dots on the wing bottoms) and found a few tiny caterpillars this week.
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, phlox, Shasta daisies, 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 NOW, or they will self-seed everywhere!
7.  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.  Adding a leaf or two of stevia will sweeten it nicely.   The plants will soon grow a new batch of foliage.  This will keep balm from self-seeding everywhere.  You can also dry it for therapeutic baths.
8.  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.
9.  Harvest garlic scapes, so the plants will put their energy into making larger bulbs.  Those scapes are considered a delicacy in many cultures.  See this month’s recipe below!

June is National Dairy Month, National Rose Month, National Candy Month, National Fudge Month, and National Turkey Month.  The lavender begins to bloom in June, along with a myriad of other perennials.  Basil is abundant, along with parsley, dill, and many other herbs, and strawberries, gooseberries, and black raspberries abound along with a variety of vegetables.  The flowering annuals planted in May are really hitting their stride.  It’s a lovely, lovely month to be a gardener!

Herb to Know: Comfrey
     Comfrey is an herb that has grown out of favor over the past few years, but if you were a medieval wife or a pioneer woman, you’d definitely be growing it.  I wouldn’t be without it!  Traditionally called “bone-knit” this herb has amazing powers to heal cracked bones and other wounds.  The leaves were often steeped as a strong tea for compresses to use on burns. It is an enduring perennial, growing in most conditions except swamps and dense shade.  It spreads underground to form dense clumps and can be harvested at any stage.  Reaching a height of 3’, its large 1’ hairy leaves were commonly fed to livestock to provide good health.  I often fed it to my dairy goats in spring when they would get upset stomachs from too much fresh grass after a winter of hay.  It was also fed to young rabbits intended for the kitchen to grow more quickly.
     The roots of leaves of the comfrey plant contain chemical substances called allantoin and rosmarinic acid.  Allantoin boosts the growth of new skin cells, while rosmarinic acid helps relieve pain and inflammation.   However, studies in the 80’s revealed that comfrey contains compounds that can harm the liver. It may also be carcinogenic if taken in large quantities.  As a result, some countries have banned the sale of oral comfrey preparations. Some experts also advise against using topical comfrey on open wounds.
      Comfrey (Symphytum ) is a flowering plant in the borage family, Boraginaceae.  There are up to 35 species, some species and hybrids, particularly S. officinale and S. × uplandicum

The most commonly grown is Russian comfrey (S. uplandicum) but during a recent trip to the Toledo Botanical Garden I found this beautiful “Hidcote Blue” comfrey growing in the herb garden there. 

If you haven’t been to this well-done, interesting garden, do go.  The dedicated Herb Society ladies there do a wonderful job maintaining it.  (I especially love their espaliered trees.)  At my old farm, I had the lovely “Raspberry” comfrey with its gorgeous deep red blossoms, and now wish I had brought it with me to my new gardens.  I once had a lovely variegated comfrey, but it did not retain its lovely gold color over the years.
     I rarely use comfrey medicinally any longer, but I do steep its leaves in buckets of water to make a nutritious fertilizer for plants, especially to help avoid transplanting shock.  And, I grow it for the bees, who love to visit its abundant flowers.  It grows easily in difficult spaces, like slopes and woodland edges, and really takes no care at all!

Recipe:  Pork Roast with Lemon, Capers & Garlic Scapes
     This recipe was adapted from a more complicated recipe using veal.  I’ll definitely be making it again, especially the mayonnaise, which we found delicious on a variety of meats and sandwiches!
Zest 3 lemons and set aside.
Dry a 2-3 lb. pork loin roast with paper towels and place in a roasting pan.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
     In a food processor, place 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 2 tsp. Dijon mustard, the juice of 1 of the zested lemons and all of the grated lemon zest.  Process briefly to combine.  With the processor running, SLOWLY add 1 c. olive oil in a tiny, steady stream.  Continue to process until it becomes a thick mayonnaise.
     Add 1 ½ T. drained capers, 1 tsp. dried oregano (or 1 T. fresh oregano) freshly ground pepper, and a pinch of salt.  Process another 10 seconds.  This makes about 2 c. of mayonnaise.
     Remove 1 c. of mayonnaise and refrigerate.  Pour the second cup of mayonnaise over the top of the pork.  Return container to processor (you don’t need to rinse it out) and add ½ c. dry white wine and the tender part of 4 garlic scapes (or 3 cloves of garlic.)  Process until “fairly” smooth (it will still be lumpy.)   Spoon about half of this mixture gently on top of the mayonnaise on the pork.
     Roast the pork for about 2 hours, or until the temperature reaches 165 degrees, basting often with the remaining wine mixture and the pan juices.  Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.  Serve with reserved mayonnaise.  6-8 servings.  (We also found this delicious sliced and served cold as a sandwich with the remaining mayo!)

June has been hectic, and I am looking forward to a more leisurely July….except that our family from Germany is coming for a visit and the harvest from the potager will take increasing hours to preserve.  I know you are busy, too, but take time to enjoy the beauty of these days.  The summer is whizzing by, so be sure to take time to observe the uniqueness of plants, harvest the beneficial, fragrant herbs, be dazzled by the bounty of flowers in your garden.  Life is short; make the most of it!  
Herbal blessings, Carolee