Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

NOTE: To use the advanced features of this site you need javascript turned on.

Home News Newsletters June E-newsletter
June E-newsletter Print E-mail

June 2013 E-Newsletter

     What a beautiful month June has been so far!  Perfect days filled with blue skies, bird songs and weather that was not too hot and not too cold but just right!  Add to that the heady sweet scents of honeysuckle and roses and gardens overflowing with a rainbow parade of color from coreopsis, gaillardia, linaria, wine cups, bellflowers, verbascums, foxgloves, penstemons, poker plants, clematis, and others.  The first daylilies are beginning to open and the annuals are beginning to fill in their allotted space.
     The Cook’s garden’s bounty is already at record pace with huge harvests of lettuces, radishes, onions, broccoli, gooseberries, alpine strawberries, rhubarb, and various herbs and salad greens.  The beans are blooming, the zucchini are growing over an inch a day, the cukes are climbing their trellis, and we’ve already harvested lovage and chamomile for drying.  What a glorious month!
     The gardens are welcoming, so come and enjoy them.  The mulching is almost finished, and except for the Moonlight Garden, things are fairly under control…for the moment.  I’m sure in another week; everything will need weeding and mowing again!  We’ve made lots of colorful planters, done a little painting here and there, added a bit of stone where needed.  Things are really shaping up, and I don’t know that I’ve ever had more fun.  The occasional rains have made pulling weeds easy, kept the grass nicely green, and compared to the time spent watering in 2012, 2013 has been a breeze!  Mother Nature has been kind, and I hope she continues to be so benevolent for the FINAL THREE WEEKS OF THE SEASON!  Yes, that’s correct!  Time is running out, so come show your support for the farm, enjoy our beautiful gardens, and find something special to take home.  Mark your calendar, or tweet your Outlook program and plan a visit!

LAVENDER DAZE:  Saturday, June 29 & Sunday, June 30th
     We hope you will join us for a celebration of that historical, aromatic, beautiful, and wonderfully useful herb, lavender!  Although we’re doing lots of renovation in the Lavender Field (part by choice, part by circumstances beyond our control) there should still be lavender for U-Pick, and over fifty varieties for viewing and photographing.  Many of the lavenders are showing bud color, but not yet “in bloom” and the lavandins are forming buds with great stem length due to the abundant rains.  Come see and smell our little bit of “Purple Heaven!”
     In the Big Barn Gift Shop, you’ll find a fantastic selection of lavender products, including beautiful, fragrant soaps from France, the best lavender essential oil, lavender wreaths & wands made here at the farm, linens and dishes with a lavender design, and lots more!  Our big tub of lavender flowers will be full, and we have a great selection of sachet bags.
     You are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy time in our gardens, listen to free presentations, go on guided garden tours, watch cooking demos, and enjoy a complimentary Lavender Tea.  Parking is free, too!  Workshops do require pre-registration and pre-payment.  (See website for complete description of each workshop.)  All lavender plants and products will be on sale.
     Here’s the schedule (same for both days except where noted):
10:00 Farm opens, stroll through the various gardens (self-guided tour brochures
are available in the barn), visit the Cottage and Big Barn Gift Shops, select
plants from hundreds of varieties in our plant sales areas.  Remember during Lavender Daze, all annuals are 50% off.  U-Pick Lavender.  Do a makeit/take it lavender craft.  Get a ticket for Lavender Tea.
            10:30:  “Growing Lavender Successfully in Indiana” in the Barn Classroom
            11:00:  “Lavender Wand” Workshop
                         Guided Tour of the Cook’s Garden
11:30   Listen/look for posting of ticket color for Lavender Tea seatings             12:00   “Woven Lavender Heart” Workshop
Guided Tour of the Butterfly/Hummingbird Garden
              1:00 “Cooking with Lavender” demo
              1:30 “Lavender Wand” Workshop (repeat)
              2:00   “The Allure & Lore of Lavender”
              2:30  “Painted Silk Scarf” Workshop (Saturday only!)
              3:00  “Growing Lavender Successfully in Indiana” (repeat)
              3:30  Guided Tour of the Fairy and Cottage Gardens
              5:00  Gates close.
     This will be a special event and we hope you can attend, but if not, at least help spread the word to your friends through Facebook, word of mouth, Twitter, or even an old-fashioned actual phone call! 

New Additions to the Farm 
     Thanks to my sweet friend, Gail Dick, owner of Critter Connection, the farm now has two new family members.  I’m holding Marjoram Busybody.  Gail is holding Ms. Pennyroyal.  Although they don’t follow me around the farm like Wicca always did, these two cuties are helping to fill the hole in my heart her passing created. 
     Hedgehogs are delightful pets, curious and cuddly.  They make cute little snuffly happy sound.  You can learn more about them by accessing Gail’s website,   Although Marjoram & Ms. Pennyroyal are friendly and enjoy visitors Lavender Daze will be too overwhelming for them, so they will not be attending.  Otherwise, they will be at the farm, although since they are nocturnal, they generally sleep most of the day.  I play with them in the evenings, when they are ready to be active.

It’s Official!  Gardening is a “Force for Wellness!”
     We’ve known this in our hearts for years, but now a survey concludes that gardening “strengthens concentration and memory, generates happiness, reduces community crime, improves energy and reduces stress!”
     So, don’t just sit there, get out there and plant something! 

     I’m loving the stately apricot-colored foxgloves in my Sunrise Garden this month.  The actual variety name is “Polka-dot Polly” and I think they are just stunning.  I also seeded “Silver Fox” so I’d have lots of pure white blooms for the Moonlight Garden.  However, like many seed-grown plants there have been lots of variations, with some pink, purple, and cream flowered individuals among the group.  They are all appealing, and I’ll find places for them in the Shade Garden and maybe in the Enchanted Forest.
    The name “foxglove” has always intrigued me.  The flowers do not resemble the paw of a fox to me, so why fox gloves?  Some experts say the “fox” is actually a corruption of “folks.”  Some say the “glove” stems from the old Anglo-Saxon word “gliew” for “bells.” The scientific name, digitalis also makes me ponder.  It does come from the Latin digitus, for fingers, but why?  The flowers don’t look like fingers to me either.  The plant has several folk names, two of which are “Fairy Fingers” and “Fairy Thimbles” because in olden days, children often did put the flowers on their fingers.
 Why that was encouraged is beyond me, because foxgloves are poisonous, being the source of digitalis, the heart medicine.  However, since the dosage between helping a heart and causing death is so minute only highly trained experts should ever administer this drug, so using the flowers as a puppet’s hat seems more than questionable.  Maybe in olden days children were more plant-knowledgeable, or at least more cautious.
     Most foxgloves are biennials, growing best in slightly acidic good garden soil.  They prefer a bit of shade during the hottest part of the day so that their large felty leaves don’t wilt. They generally self-seed if they are happy.  There are several types on the market, growing from 2-4’ in height, depending upon variety.  Some bloom the first year from seed, others are true biennials, and a few, like the yellow foxglove (D. ambigus) are true perennials.  The most common are Digitalis purpurea, the purple foxglove.  Most foxglove blooms have a striking smattering of spots inside the flower, which tradition says are each painted by busy fairies.  All foxgloves are gorgeous garden plants, but do remember that all parts of the plant are considered poisonous and should never be taken internally.

Daylily Dig --Sat., July 6 
     Remember our Daylily Dig, when we will actually dig starter plants ($2.00 each) from
our many daylily plantings is Saturday, July 6th.  Potted daylily plants will be on sale, too, and we’ll serve our famous Daylily Cheesecake.  Remember, too that this is the Final Day for Regular Business hours!  After July 6 we are only open the Second Saturdays of August, September and October, or by appointment only.

A Perfect Evening
     Just so you don’t think that all I do is weed, here is a photo taken at a recent outdoor concert by the Muncie Symphony Orchestra.  It was one of those perfect evenings this month, no wind, a perfect temperature, no bugs and we thoroughly enjoyed the wide selection of music performed by this extremely talented group.  There are other concerts coming up, so check their schedule.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

Harvesting Chamomile
     When the flowers of German chamomile are fully open, it’s time to harvest.  You can purchase a special “rake” specifically made for the job if you have a tremendously large patch, or palms up slightly spread your fingers between the stems, lift up and pop the flowers off into your hand.  Spread them on a screen and place them in an airy room, out of direct sunlight or high heat.  The flowers dry in three or four days.  Store them in an airtight tin in a cool, dry place.  Remember only the flowers are used for tea or cooking.
     Although there are two types of chamomile, generally the taller German variety is used for teas, etc. because it has abundant flowers.  It is an annual that reaches about 2’ in height, with a ripe-apple fragrance.  One of its folk names is “Scented Mayweed.”  The single white daisy flowers are about the size of a dime with a bright gold center.  It self-seeds well if the flowers are not all harvested.  It will grow well in any sunny location with average soil.
    The low-growing, mat-forming Roman chamomile has few flowers, and they have several rows of petals instead of just one row.  Although it is a perennial, I have not found it to be hardy in Zone 5.  In warmer climates, it is often used as a ground cover, or it makes a fragrant seating when planted on a bench.  Both types of chamomile have a long history of medicinal use, especially as a quieting tea that aids sleep, upset stomachs, painful menstruation, urinary infections, and as a mouth wash.  Externally, it has been used as a hair rinse for blondes, as a treatment for eczema, and an eye wash for tired eyes.
     The flowers are also distilled and the resulting essential oil is used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries.  It is quite expensive and is a lovely shade of blue due to the azulene found in the flowers.
     While I’m not a big fan of chamomile tea by itself, I like it blended with mints or lavender and recognize its calming effect.  I love chamomile tea bread and make it often.

Garden Tidbits
June is a lovely time in the garden, picking bouquets and strawberries, gooseberries 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, 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 the flower buds off garlic plants as soon as they form.  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.  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.
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.


Summer months mean lots of entertaining, and an easy recipe that pleases is high on the list.  My daughter sent me this yummy recipe for a Greek appetizer, Tirosalata, which can be made ahead of time or is an easy carry-in dish.  We like to make our own pita chips by cutting pita bread into triangles, splitting them open into two pieces, drizzle with olive oil and broil until lightly browned. (Lightly browned…..I got these in the photo just a bit overdone, but they were still tasty!)  You’ll want to use your best olive oil for this dish.
Tirosalata ala Alicia
     In a food processor:  1 T. fresh oregano; pinch of salt; a few grinds of black pepper; 2 small cloves of garlic, minced; 1 single-serving container of plain Greek yogurt.  Process
until oregano is well-blended.
    Add 4 oz. Feta cheese.  Process until there are only small lumps of cheese visible.  Place in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil, garnish with fresh oregano and serve with pita chips.  Makes 1 c.  Simple but delicious!

We’re working hard to make the final three weeks of the season extra special.  I hope you’ll come see the results, take a few moments to relax and enjoy our efforts, and show us that you care that we’re still here!  I’ll be heading out to the annual Herb Society of America conference in St. Louis this week, so watch for a report on it next month, along with more herb info, gardening tips, and gourmet recipes.  Till then, Herbal blessings, Carolee

**********************Carolee’s Plant E-Coupon***************************
20% off perennials in 3” pots.  We don’t have time to up-pot them, so take them home and plant them in your garden for years of enjoyment.  Cannot be combined with other discounts. Valid through July 6, 2013 or while supplies last

**************************Carolee’s Barn E-Coupon************************
20% off plates, cups, saucers, bowls in the kitchen area only.  Choose from various patterns.  Cannot be combined with other discounts. Valid through July 6, 2013

************************Carolee’s Barn E-Coupon**************************
20% off any umbrella, even our hand-painted herbal design!  Choose from our purple, yellow or orange display, too!  Cannot be combined with other discounts.  Valid through July 6, 2013.
***********************Carolee’s Cottage E-Coupon*************************
10% off any item for sale in the Cottage.  Cannot be combined with other discounts.  Valid through July 6, 2013.