Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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


 September E-Newsletter 2019

     It’s been a wonderful beginning to the autumn season, although it’s still felt more like summer.  I finally took time to take down the spring (yes, spring!) décor on my kitchen shelf and put up the fall leaves, my brown tea pot collection, and the colorful wooden pumpkins my dad made for me years ago.
     Although we continue to have some very warm days, there’s no doubt about it…..autumn has arrived.  The lawn is littered with fallen black walnuts, the morning air has a bit of chill, and the jeweled colors of the annuals have intensified to attract the last of the pollinators.  Grasses are dropping seeds and goldenrod exploded with color.
     It’s time to complete the harvest from the herb garden.  The cupboards are filling with jars of dried herbs, herb blends, and tea mixtures that will be savored throughout the cold months ahead.  They will provide inspiration for dozens of new recipes and flavor combinations, cold remedies and fragrant baths, all conjuring up memories of summer that will make winter bearable.

Upcoming Events:
HSCI Education Night-Monday, Oct.  7th   The Herb Society of Central Indiana will host its annual Education Night at 6:30p.m. on Monday night, October 7th at the Clay Township Hall (corner of College Ave and 106th St.) in Carmel.  It’s “Unusual Ways to Use Herbs” night!  Several HSCI members will give brief presentations on using herbs for pets, bed bug prevention when traveling and more.  See some demonstrations, do a make-and take projects, and enjoy a buffet of delicious herbal refreshments.  This event is open to the public, and it’s FREE!

September was BUSY!
     In addition to all the garden work, the preserving of the bounty (tomato juice, diced tomatoes, 12 kinds of jellies & jams, pickled beets and various peppers, salsa, freezing broccoli, peas, peppers) we hosted our annual neighborhood party. 

A few days later, I held my first (and probably only!) Garden Party featuring my friend and fellow horticulturalist, Chuck Voigt who sang officially in my potager as part of his “100 Songs to Celebrate” defeating throat cancer and then gave a small concert to a group of our friends.  I intended to take lots of photos of the food served, attendees, etc., but of course, I forgot until after the buffet table was a mess!  However, I will post some garden photos on the blog.  (Just click on “Garden Journal” in the banner under this website photo to go to the blog,)  Two days later, I drove to southern Ohio to attend the 2019 International Herb Association conference.  What a delight to reconnect with old friends, enjoy various herbal events, and gather lots of new, exciting information!


The event was held in beautiful Burr Oak Lodge, which takes two Indian scouts and a guide dog to find, travelling roads a snake must have laid out.  However, once there, the views were gorgeous, and the lodge itself was impressive and serene.
     The first day we traveled back over the snake roads an hour to Rutland, Ohio to visit the United Plant Savers Sanctuary.  Such a beautiful place, with people doing important work.  We took a guided herb walk through fields and forest with experts pointing out sometimes elusive medicinal herbs. 

When our guide found a lovely scarlet stem of Jack in the Pulpit seeds, we were lucky that story-teller/musician/naturalist/herbalist Doug Elliott was in our group to tell us lots of useful and sometimes hilarious tidbits about that plant.

     After a tasty box lunch, we attended a celebration of the new “Center for Medicinal Plant Conservation” dedicated to long-time IHA member, author, and herb expert James Duke.  I was fortunate to spend time with Dr. Duke years ago and still remember most of his wise words.

  His book, “The Green Pharmacy” is a go-to remedy and herbal advice book, a must-have for any herbal-minded person.


     A skit with music by the “Thousand Faces Mask Theatre Group” was thought-provoking, and sometimes fun as it showed the forces plants must deal with to survive in today’s complex world.
     There were presentations by internationally known herbalists Stephen Foster and Rosemary Gladstar as well, so it was a full day.
     The next two days were dedicated to increasing IHA members’ herbal knowledge with presentations on heirloom herbs, the 2020 Herb of the Year: Rubus; cooking and healing with cannabis; using various herbal roots; creating a personalized staycation space; and more.  There was lots of time to network with stars of the herb world, an ending banquet with awards, and a fun silent auction.  The conference next year will be held in New Hampshire during the Summer Solstice in June!
     Hurried home to catch up on the potager harvesting and preserving, attend meetings, fix food for a club picnic, and dessert for our gourmet group later, and suddenly September was OVER!

Did you know….
*A university researcher has successfully grown over 30 vaccines in the cells of lettuce!  This enables the vaccine to be dried and put into capsules, making it available in places where refrigeration and hypodermics aren’t available.  The process could result in less expensive vaccines for everything from malaria to diabetes once it is put into production.
*The Crest toothpaste tube warns that if you swallow excess toothpaste you should call poison control immediately!
*British researchers found that ladybugs can fly up to 74 miles in one journey, and take to flight more as a result of temperature than to search for aphids.  The altitude, up to ¾ mile above ground, that ladybugs flew were also a surprise to researchers.


Herb To Know:  Goldenrod
     Who hasn’t seen the brilliant flower heads of the goldenrod plant decorating the landscape in September?  But, did you know it is an herb?  Often used as “filler” in autumn bouquets, such as this arrangement for my potager’s front gate, or dried for winter wreaths, goldenrod is often taken for granted.  All reliable, spreading perennials, there are many species of goldenrod (Solidago) native to North America, one native to Great Britain, a few to Europe, Asia, and South America.  The Solidagos are members of the daisy family, although one must look closely at the tiny individual flowers to recognize that.  It is commonly found in wayside places, along roadsides, hedgerows, creek banks, and other sunny locations.  Most varieties are 3-6’ tall, but there are more compact ones, like “Golden Baby” that remain only 2’ and are a bit more compact for smaller garden situations.
     Goldenrod has tidy foliage, slender spear-shaped leaves on erect stems.  The Latin name actually translates to “to make whole” which is a reference to its ability to heal wounds.  This was common knowledge in both Chinese and American Indian cultures.  The leaves have been used as a tea for centuries by Native Americans.  During the American Revolution, goldenrod tea was a common replacement by patriots for the highly taxed black tea.  Although Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora) was preferred, any goldenrod leaves can be used for tea (as long as they have not been sprayed or grown in highly polluted areas.)  Sweet Goldenrod has a slight anise-flavor and was sometimes called “Blue Mountain Tea.”  The other goldenrods have a more bitter, stronger flavor and were used by Indians as a gargle for sore throats.
     Most research has been done on the European goldenrod, Solidago virgaurea) which is touted as a praiseworthy diuretic and antiseptic.   According the Dr. James Duke, it contains leiocarposide, “a potent diuretic that helps the body flush excess water.”  He states that (he has) “seen good clinical evidence that goldenrod is effective in treating chronic kidney inflammation (nephritis)” so he was “not surprised that the Commission E endorsed goldenrod for preventing and treating kidney stones.” There is evidence that it is an effective herb for treating kidney inflammations, bladder infections, and the prevention of gallstones.  This same variety also contains ester saponins that are active against candida organisms.
     Often used as a dye plant, with various mordants,  goldenrod will yield yellow, gold, tan, avocado green, olive green, brown, khaki or bronze.
     Goldenrod is often falsely accused of causing autumn allergies.  However, it is insect-pollinated so the pollen does not travel.  Generally it is wind-pollinated plants that are the allergy culprits!

What I’m doing in the garden in September:
 1)   I pulled up the last of the purple beans and other tired crops to make room to plant six varieties of hardneck garlic.
 2)  Pruned old canes out of blackberries & tied up sprawling new canes so they are horizontal. They’ll produce more blooms and thus more berries.
 3)  Planted spinach for overwintering.   Choose the wrinkled (savoy) types that thrive in the cold better than smooth-leaf varieties.   You might as well plant any leftover spinach seed now, because it generally will not germinate well in the second year.
 4)  Took lavender cuttings, scented geranium cuttings, lemon verbena and stevia cuttings, et al, et al!
 5) Deadheaded the garlic chives so they won’t self-seed everywhere!
 6) Deadheaded perennials like Joe Pye, black-eyed-susans, sages, coneflowers, etc.
 7) Weeded, weeded, weeded so the weeds won’t drop seeds in the gardens
 8) Divided and moved some daylilies and spring bulb clumps that I’d marked earlier
 9) Early in the month I seeded some lettuces so we’ll have salads thru the early frosts
10) Seed-collecting!
11) Planted 5 new shrubs in the Front Garden.  Now is a great time to plant trees and shrubs, as long as you keep them watered.
13) Filled the drying screens with leaves pinched from cuttings, that will become teas, herbal salts, herbal sugars, potpourris, bath salts, and much more!

Recipe:  Lemon Basil Italian Cream Cake
The chef at Burr Oak Lodge made an Italian Cream Cake garnished with Lemon Basil for our banquet, which inspired me to come home and create my own version that contains lots more lemon basil than just a garnish!  As soon as it frosts, the basils will disappear, so enjoy it now! Make this cake early in the day, so the flavors have time to meld, and for the frosting and filling to firm up in the refrigerator.
Bring an 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese & 2 sticks butter to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour three  9” layer pans.
Make “buttermilk” by stirring 1 T. lemon juice into 1 c. milk and allow to thicken.  
Separate 5 eggs, reserving yolks.  Beat whites until very stiff.  Set aside.
For the cake:  Cream together thoroughly 2 c. sugar, 1 stick butter, 1/2c. Crisco shortening, 2 T. limoncello.   Add reserved yolks, beating very well.
Mix together in a separate bowl:  2 c. flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. salt.  Add half of thickened milk to sugar mixture, mixing well.  Add half of flour mixture, mixing well.  Repeat. Gently fold egg whites into batter until incorporated, but try not to overmix.
Divide batter evenly into three pans.  Bake about 20 minutes, just until lightly browned and a tester stuck into center comes out clean.
Cool pans on a rack for 10-15 minutes, and then remove layers from their pans to cool completely.  Place one layer on serving platter and spread with half the filling below:
For the filling:  Whip ¾ c. heavy whipping cream with 1 T. limoncello and ¼ c. sugar until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold in 2-3 T. finely chopped lemon basil.  Top the bottom layer carefully with the second layer and spread remaining filling evenly.  Top with final layer.   Place in refrigerator.
For the frosting:  Cream together the 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 stick butter, 2 T. limoncello and a box of powdered sugar (about 3 c. or so.)  The frosting should hold its shape when a spatula is drawn through the surface.  If not, add more powdered sugar.  Frost the entire cake and return to refrigerator for at least one hour.  Garnish with fresh lemon basil leaves.  Enjoy!

Enjoy also these last few pre-frost days in the garden.  The flowers are brilliant now, in an attempt to attract the last of the pollinators, and soon it will be time for trips to apple orchards and pumpkin patches.  I’ll be doing some interesting trips soon, so expect more garden reports in the next issue.  Until next month,

Herbal blessings, Carolee