Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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March E-Newsletter 2012
     Sometimes I feel as if March is the most hectic month of my year!  The weather constantly changes and the job list grows exponentially.  It is the month that marks lots of garden shows and presentations, so I am constantly loading and unloading the truck, packing and unpacking boxes, and reviewing speech notes.  New shop inventory is arriving almost daily, requiring lots of work to unpack, price, check for damages, and preparing the packaging materials for recycling.  Seedlings grow at a rapid rate so the transplanting load increases, as well as running labels and making new signs.  The Barn and Cottage both require a thorough cleaning, windows need washing; paths need raking.  The cold frame needs lots more attention as the days grow longer and plants awake.
     Amid it all, I really want to spend time admiring newly opened crocuses and gorgeous hellebores, studying emerging shoots, and searching the woods for witch hazel blooms. There’s precious little time to collect delicious spring greens such as dandelions, sorrel, cilantro, and chicory for salads and quiches.  Young chive shoots beg to be stirred into cream cheese or sauces, or sprinkled onto potatoes for quick meals, and the first arugula leaves are ready to mix with green onions.  The Cook’s garden is already bountiful! 
     And, as a born and bred Hoosier, I’d love to be watching basketball! It’s an exciting month both indoors and out as Spring arrives and both Nature & the NCAA put on amazing shows!

Updated Website!
We just updated the website with new plant articles, the 2012 schedule, and the list of workshops we’ll be offering.  Be sure to check it out and register for workshops before they fill.  Mark the special events on your calendar & invite a friend to come with you.  You won’t want to miss our annual Easter Egg Sale, Fairy Days, and other special events and sales.  We have some very special entertainment planned for Lavender Daze, so make your calendar!

Opening Day-Tuesday, April 3rd
Join us on Opening Day for our 20th anniversary celebration!  It doesn’t seem possible that we opened here in Blackford County twenty years ago!  Time flies when you’re having fun, and we certainly do that here at the farm!   On Opening Day, look for specials on selected shop items as you enjoy complimentary refreshments.  You might win a door prize!  At 11:00 and 1:00, watch “Playing with Pansies!” and learn to enjoy these delightful spring bloomers in everything from containers to cookies!
     Hopefully, my new book, Herbal Passions will be available, and I’ll be happy to sign your copy!

Fairy Days-April 14 & 15
Our Annual Fairy Days will be held Saturday, April 14 (10-4) and Sunday, April 15 (1-4).  Bring your little winged fairies and elves to celebrate the wee folk.  We’ll have fairy tales, fairy crafts, fairy tea & goodies, a fairy parade, the fairy hunt and more.  The daffodils and crocuses may already be finished, but there will still be spring blooms to enjoy.  The Fairy Godmother requests that you do call or email to make a reservation so there will be enough craft materials and refreshments for all the little fairies.  It will be a magical day!
Florida in February
     We made our annual excursion to St. Petersburg, Florida for my daughter’s birthday.  Although we are only there a short time, we pack lots into each day.  Spring was further along there, too, as they’ve experienced an exceptionally mild winter.  The days were all sunny and generally in the upper 70’s.

In nearby Tampa, the USF Botanical Garden had recently held a Fairy Day, so we ventured over to view their Fairy Garden and to see what they had in the way of fairy inventory.  It was a little disappointing, but we managed to do a little grooming and moving of décor items to take a couple of good photos.  Unfortunately, the former herb garden is being redone and divided into a new medicinal herbs garden, shown here,


and maybe eventually a re-do of the culinary herb area.  They both needed help, so I did a little weeding and tending.

     There were lots of plants blooming in the Butterfly Garden, although the paths were in sad shape and the bench was too dirty to sit on.  It’s obvious that they are short-handed and under-financed.  As much as I love sports, it’s sad that the Univ. of South Florida (which is NOT is the southern part of the state at all!) is spending a fortune on its basketball and football programs, and allowing a lovely old garden to disintegrate.
     On another beautiful afternoon, we visited the beautiful grounds of the Dali Museum.  Although there were no traditional herbs, the plantings were lovely and exquisitely maintained.  We enjoyed the museum and the large gift shop, laughed at the huge rendition of Dali’s famous moustache, and sipped a delicious glass of wine on the terrace.  Even if you aren’t fond of Dali’s somewhat disturbing art, the museum is worth a visit just for the gardens and the setting.

We visited several garden centers, where the plant material was at its peak.  There were luscious kangaroo paws in full bloom, huge tropical hibiscus, citrus trees, foliage plants, and happily, lots of herb plants!  I didn’t buy any, but it was heavenly to just browse and rub fragrant leaves.
     We took walks along the beach, through parks and interesting shopping areas, visiting gelato shops and a great spice store, where I bought a jar of honey powder.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it yet, but since I can no longer keep bees, I’m currently just enjoying its aroma and contemplating how I will use it in recipes.

 My daughter has an absolutely huge oregano plant.  I’ve never seen one so large.  It grows in a raised bed on her patio, along with mint, rosemary, sage and parsley, which we used in cooking some fabulous meals while we were there. 

We also visited Mazarro’s, our favorite Italian grocery, which makes us feel just like we were back in Italy.  The array of Italian foods, baked goods, cheeses, and wines is just amazing.  If it’s an Italian product you can eat or drink, they have it!
     We visited Haslam’s, a huge local bookstore that stocks both new and unusual used books as well as unique gift items.  After filling our bags with literary goodies, we were ready for afternoon tea, and luckily “A Corner of England” tea room was just down Central Avenue.  All of their food is made from scratch on-site, and most of their tea offerings are blended there according to their own recipes.  I chose a garden blend which was delightful, containing roses, lavender, chamomile, and mint.  My freshly-baked scone was butterscotch with real clotted cream.  

A few area restaurants lured us, and I enjoyed this salad with a Honey-Lavender Viniagrette dressing.  As soon as I have some free time, I’ll try to duplicate the delicate flavor. 

HSCI Symposium-April 21st
The annual symposium hosted by the Herb Society of Central Indiana will be held at the Ritz Charles in Carmel, IN on April 21s,  9a.m-3p.m.  The $40 registration fee includes morning treats, three presentations and a scrumptious lunch.  Vendors, a silent auction and a raffle add to the fun.  I’ll be there with a booth filled with herbal treasures, and hopefully, my new book.  Registration deadline is April 13.  Call Connie at 317—251-6986, or print out a registration form on the HSCI website.

And the winner is!
The winner of the February Question, “What’s the main reason you come to Carolee’s Herb Farm?  What’s most important to you?” was Becky Smith, Louisville, KY!  The top response was to find unusual herbs.  Second was visiting the gardens.  Your responses help us delegate resources.  Congratulations, Becky!  Your box of goodies is in the mail!

March Question: The experts say that social media is the purchasing and marketing tool of the moment, and of the future.  So this month’s question has three parts:  1. “Do you have a Facebook page (if you use Linked In or another group instead, please let us know,)  2. How often do you check it or post on it?  3.  How many garden blogs do you read a week? 

LIKE Carolee’s Herb Farm on Facebook!
Help us avoid the fate of many other unique plant places.  We’re going to use the farm’s Facebook page for special announcements, discount offers, and contests, so if you haven’t “liked” our page yet, do so today.  Unfortunately, Facebook has totally messed up our farm page, so if you have trouble, be patient and try again later once the dust settles!   Meantime, just keep spreading the word and help keep us in business!  Bring friends to the farm, suggest our website!


Pineapple Sage, “Golden Delicious”
     One of the plants that looked very happy at the USF Botanical Garden was this Pineapple Sage.  “Golden Delicious” is the relatively new introduction of Salvia elegans, distinguished by golden leaves rather than green.  It’s a gorgeous plant for the herb garden, providing a bright contrast to more subtle grays and greens, as well as spectacular scarlet tubular blooms that taste like honey and attract both hummingbirds and butterflies. 
     Pineapple Sage is named for the sweet pineapple scent of its leaves, which are nice used fresh, but lose their flavor quickly when dried or cooked.  It’s a beautiful garnish for summer drinks, and I like to use the sweet flowers sprinkled on fruit salads or ice cream.
     The plant grows well in containers, or planted in the ground once the soil is warm (at least 70 degrees.)  With enough sunshine and water, it will grow quickly, eventually reaching two-three feet in height and that width.  It loves summer heat, but will collapse at the first hint of frost.  Indoors in winter, the leaves will be smaller and flowers will be few unless supplemental light is supplied, but it will stabilize until spring returns.  I generally cut it back by at least a third before bringing it indoors, and up-pot it with rich soil before returning it outdoors.
     Surprisingly, USF had this herb in the “Medicinal Plants” garden.   I’ve always thought of it as a nectar and fragrant plant.  I must admit I did not know of its beneficial use as a tea (1/4c. leaves per 1 c. boiling water) for digestion or heartburn until I did some research.  Some recommendations for use as a general tonic and to balance the nervous system were also found.
     We have a good supply of this patented plant.  It really brightens up a dark spot and supplies contrast, as well as fragrance in the garden and in beverages, salads, and other culinary treats.

Growing Your Own
 There’s nothing more “local” than growing your own, and if you have even a tiny plot of soil or space for containers you should give it a try.  Right now, I have large pots of lettuces growing that are ready for harvest, and the grafted tomato plant from Israel has produced ripe tomatoes (small, but tasty!) all winter long in a 48 degree greenhouse!  When I was given the plant at last fall’s Garden Writers’ of America conference, I doubted that any sane person would want to pay the additional cost for a grafted tomato.  It just sounded too weird for something we normally grow from seed that costs a penny or less.  Graft a tree, certainly!  Grafting a tomato plant seemed a little ridiculous, but I must admit, I’ve never had a tomato produce for as many months, or at such a low temperature before.  Now I wish I had saved the tag!
    The winter was so mild that the cilantro and arugula never really disappeared, and we’ve already been able to harvest several meals.  Recently, I planted additional large pots of arugula, spinach, and more lettuces to fill in until the snow peas, peas, and other spring greens that were planted in the Cook’s garden last week are big enough for harvest.  We’re salad eaters and greens are so easy to grow!  If you haven’t given it a try, do so!  It’s a good way to get children and grandchildren involved in gardening, because greens sprout so quickly and thinnings can be sprinkled on bread and butter for “afternoon tea.”  Help spread the joy of gardening, and grow your own!


White Lillet
One of the benefits of traveling is the period of time waiting at the airport that can be spent reading.  This time of year, reading is a luxury, but one that I value highly.  While waiting at the Indy airport, I read an old novel in which the heroine ordered a “White Lillet” before dinner.  I’d never heard of it, so once we arrived in Tampa, the search was on.  It turns out that Lillet Blanc is a French aperitif, made from a secret recipe that contains a variety of herbs!  Of course, I had to try it.  A quick internet search provided dozens of recipes, including one called “Vesper,” the name of a woman character in a James Bond movie (Casino Royale.)  However, I chose to keep it simple, just mixing Lillet with a bit of orange peel.  The bottle also suggests lime or lemon peel.  It is delicious, although I must admit I have not been able to figure out exactly what herbs it contains.  I guess I’ll just have to keep sampling!!!!!

Did you know?
*The U.S. has six times the retail space per person as the U.K.?
*Firefly larvae feast on slugs!
*Garden centers in the U.K., the long-recognized epitome of gardening love & skill, are closing, being bought out by investment groups, or eliminating large areas of display gardens, employees & plant material
*The shortage of peat moss throughout the horticultural industry is adding costs to growers’ products beyond increased shipping fees.
*In “olden days” (before Scott’s Weed & Feed!) grass seed actually contained a set percentage of white clover seed.  The clover grew and actively fixed nitrogen in the soil, which fed the grass, so no fertilization was required.

For those of you who enjoy making fragrant bath waters & body spritzes, here’s an old, old recipe that was used by many of the fabulous hotels for their wealthy guests.
Florida Water—combine in a jar or bottle that can be sealed tightly.  Protect from heat and light.  Use as a body splash, spritz, or pour a little into your bath.  It is refreshing!
2 c. distilled water          ¼ c. vodka
6 drops bergamot oil     6 drops lavender oil
2 drops clove oil


Tuna Salad with Caperberries
My daughter also made this salad for us, which they had enjoyed recently in Italy.  The key is good ingredients.  One of the ingredients is caperberries, which I had never eaten.  I often use capers, which are the pickled buds of the caper plant.  If the buds are left on the plant to become flowers (see the June 2011 E-newsletter for an article about capers and photo) and still longer, the large berries will form afterwards.  They are pickled in the same way the buds are, providing an interesting flavor and texture.

Divide 4c. mixed greens into two salad bowls.  Sprinkle 1 c. baked or grilled tuna, dividing evenly over greens.  (Lish substitutes 1 pkg. Bumblee Lemon Tuna).  Sprinkle  ½ c. sundried tomatoes (if packed in oil, rinse and pat dry) over tuna.  Add ¼ c. caperberries, divided evenly over each salad.  Squeeze half a lemon over each salad.  Drizzle with a good olive oil.  Makes 2 servings.

Now that the farm will soon be open, take advantage of special offers by bringing these coupons!  You must present the coupon to receive the discount.
Carolee’s Barn or Cottage Coupon
$5.00 off any single shop item priced at $25.00 or more!  Valid April 3-10, 2012.  Cannot be combined with any other coupon or offer.


Carolee’s Plant Sale Coupon
Buy three scented geraniums, get a 4th one free!  Valid April 3-15, 2012.  Cannot be combined with any other coupon or offer.


Carolee’s Plant Coupon

Buy three 4-packs of annual statice, get the fourth one Free!  Valid April 3-30, 2012.  Cannot be combined with other coupons or offers.

Carolee’s Plant Coupon
                     Buy 1 T-shirt, get the second at half-price!  Valid April 3-30, 2012.
Cannot be combined with other coupons or discounts.


Carolee’s Barn Coupon
Get 20% off the purchase price of any of our special handmade
Herbal Jackets!
Cannot be combined with other discounts, coupons, or offers.








Carolee's Barn Coupon--50% off these colorful garden markers.  Valid April 3-30, 2012. Cannot be combined with other discounts, coupons, or offers.