Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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September E-Newsletter 2013


     The last day in August brought a downpour, so September began well.  An old weather lore says that “Whatever the weather on the first day of September, the rest of the month you’ll see!”  It was sunny and dry, and so far, that’s the way most of the month has been, beautiful autumn days with just enough rain to keep the plants happy!
     That final August rain freed up time that would have normally been spent dragging hoses, so I was able to complete my article for the IHA “Herb of the Year” book before the deadline, and even take a few photos to send along.  Watch for this information-packed book to come out around the first of the year.

Second Saturday, Oct. 12th
     This will be our final day to be open in 2013!  We have a busy day planned, and hope you will join us.  First of all, all perennials are 20% off.  And, there are some plants that I just won’t have room for over the winter, so they’ll be free to customers who make a purchase.
      I’ve decided to return the Cottage to a style I prefer, so all the non-herbal primitive inventory is 50% off, and there will be some sale items in the Big Barn Gift shop as well. And, we just received a new shipment of “Herbal Passions.”
     It’s that time of year to start thinking of moving plants indoors for the winter, and some of those scented geraniums are just too big for the windowsill.  Well, we’ll show you what to do with all those leaves and stems that need trimming in a talk at 11:00, “Using Those Great Scented Geraniums” in cooking & crafts.
     At 1:00 see “The Floriade & Keukenhof!” presentation.  Gorgeous photos from my trip to the once-every-ten-years world’s largest horticultural show, and the fabulous tulip festival held annually in Holland.
     Our make it/take it project for the day is “Herbal Incense!”  Of course, we’ll be serving some very special complimentary herbal refreshments.
     It’s your final opportunity to purchase items at the farm in 2013.   Get your holiday shopping done early and stock up on herbal supplies you’ll need this winter, like essential oils to make sniffy bags for those nasty head colds, hops to help you sleep when you’ve listened to too many news reports, and repellent pennyroyal for when the fleas decided to spend winter with you and your pet!  Hours are 10-4.

Facebook Friend Winner!
     Our Fb Friend for last month is Susan Hansen, Indianapolis.  If you haven’t become a farm friend, do it now, and you may be the winner of a garden goodies gift bag next month in a random drawing from all of our Facebook Friends.

Speaking of Facebook, did you know surveys show that 17% of the average person’s computer time is spent on that specific social networking site?

HSCI Education Night-Monday, Oct. 7th
     The Herb Society of Central Indiana will host its annual Education Night at 6:45p.m. on Monday night, October 7th at the Clay Township Hall (corner of College Ave and 106th St.) in Carmel.  It’s “Ask The Experts” night!  Several HSCI members will give brief presentations on using herbs, see some demonstrations, do some make-and take projects, and enjoy a buffet of delicious herbal refreshments.  This event is open to the public, and it’s FREE!  I’ll be doing a short presentation on “Herbs for Pets.”  It’s a great opportunity to learn about herbs and meet some wonderful people. Hope to see you there!

HSA District Gathering-Oct. 19th
     Our District delegate, Pat Greathead and the Executive Director of the Herb Society of America, Katrinka Morgan, will be joining other HSA members from 5 states for a fun-filled, educational session at Carolee’s Herb Farm.
     Those who drive in on Friday are invited to join us at 2:00 at the Minnetrista Cultural Center in Muncie, IN. for a presentation about the historical orchard that once belonged to the Ball mansion. ($5 fee for the above.)    After the talk, we’ll be touring the herb garden and other gardens at both Minnetrista and Oakhurst, and visiting the Orchard Shop. Then it’s a 2-block walk/drive to Amazing Joe’s for dinner (on your own.).
     On Saturday, we’ll meet at Carolee’s for herbal muffins, scones, and teas before beginning a jam-packed day of shopping, sharing, and three make-it/take-it crafts.  Presentations will be given on “Herbs Used in the Middle Ages” and “Quick Tricks & Treats with Herbs!”  We’ll have a box lunch and afternoon snacks.  There will also be a silent auction, door prizes, garden tours (if it hasn’t frosted!), and lots of herbal networking and idea-exchanging.  Cost for the entire day is only $30!  Registration and pre-payment is required, deadline is Oct. 5th.
     Sorry, this event is for HSA members only, so maybe it’s time for you to join this historical, energetic group!  For more information & registration forms, log on to the Herb Society of America website. 

Did you know….
     That our own Indiana-based Vera Bradley ranks 8th in retail’s highest sales per square foot.  Apple is # 1; Tiffany’s is #2; Lululemon is 3rd; Coach ranks 4th; Michael Kors is #5; Select Comfort beds is 6th; True Religion is 7th.
     That all the wooly worms I’ve seen this fall have been solid gold, despite the bleak winter forecast from the Farmers’ Almanac.  We’ll see who’s right as the months pass.
     That the most influential brand in the U.S. is Google, followed by Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Visa, Walmart, Yahoo, P&G, and Ebay. Brands were ranked on a variety of characteristics including engagement, trustworthiness, leading edge qualities, corporate citizenship and presence.
     That one of the hottest garden trends in Germany is Froschkoings.  I saw them everywhere, in all sizes, materials and colors.  Would you put one in your garden?


Recap:  August Minnetrista “Tea & Talk”
     I attended the August “Tea & Talk” program at Minnetrista Cultural Center, which included a choice of teas, tiny sandwiches and cookies.  After a welcome, the Center’s archivist, Susan Smith showed slides of the original mansion and its rose garden.  Then, we visited the current rose garden, which was lush with blooms and fragrance.  The gardener explained her methods of rose care and answered questions.  It was a lovely summer day, and I hope to be able to attend more of the “Tea & Talk” programs in the future.  The next one that is open to the public will be on the historic apple orchard, and will include cider tastings on October 23rd.  Reservations are encouraged.  Call Minnetrista for more information.



Recap:  2013 State MG Conference
     The weather was perfect for a drive north to Elkhart for the state’s Master Gardeners’ annual conference.  On the way, I stopped in Goshen to see some of the beautiful quilt gardens that dot the area, and visited some shops.  However, there wasn’t much spare time, so I hurried on to Elkhart.
     A lot of effort went into making this special event run as smoothly as it did.  While attendees went on a garden-filled bus tour, I unloaded my truck and set up the booth in one of 3 large rooms filled with vendors.  It was great to reconnect with a lot of old friends.  I had a lovely visit with author Felder Rushing, who always gives an intriguing program.  It was great to see fellow GWA members, author and TV personality Melinda Myers and CobraHead inventor, Noel Valdes.  I had such a good time that I’ve already committed to doing next year’s conference in Indy!

Recap:  Second Saturday, Sept. 14
     We had a fun day and beautiful weather for our 2nd Saturday Sale Day.  Visitors enjoyed the herbal scents released during the Make it/take it herbal salt project, and took home bags of flavorful, healthy salt-substitutes.  Culinary herbs were on sale, and basil plants were free!  There was good interaction and questions during the “Windowsill Herbs” talks and a variety of herbs were used in the wreath-making sessions.  Complimentary herbal refreshments included Blackberry Tea, Basil/Garlic Chive hummus and crackers, and luscious Rose Scented Geranium Jelly Rolls.  If you didn’t come, you missed a special day!

Visit Tori’s Garden
     If you come to Hartford City, take a few minutes to visit Tori’s Butterfly Garden on E. Conger St.  Tori was the daughter of my eye-doctor, and she often came to the farm to purchase plants for her very own butterfly garden.  She loved to garden and became quite knowledgeable, even at age 5.  Sadly, Tori died suddenly after a tonsillectomy.  Her family has established a foundation to support gardening education for children, and have planted a lovely garden that is open to all.  The foundation gave away 4,000 packets of veggie seeds to low-income families and children and supports various activities in Blackford County.  :You can see photos and learn more at

What I’m doing in the garden in September:
 1)   I pulled up the last of the purple beans and planted two 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 a row of four varieties of elderberries.  Still to be mulched….
 4)  Took nearly 2000 lavender cuttings, over 400 thyme cuttings, artemisia 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, 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) Enjoying the heavenly blue morning glories planted in the Children’s Garden
12) Harvested and hung lots of bunches of herbs for autumn and winter projects
13) Filled the drying screens with leaves pinched from cuttings,that will become
      teas, herbal salts, potpourris, bath salts, and much more!

An Herb to Know: Hops
     The baskets of hops drying in the classroom often inspire curiosity from visitors.  Many people are unfamiliar with the flower heads, which resemble miniature pineapples in form, but are a beautiful pale green when freshly dried.  When told they are hops, the usual response is “Like for beer?”
     Yes, for beer!  Hops have a long history as an ingredient in brewing.  What was once an additive just to make the beer more flavorful, and to help counteract the sometimes unsavory taste of the local water supply, hops have become a huge commercial crop.  Our tour through the Anheuser-Busch plant this summer (see the July 2013 E-newsletter) taught us about the many varieties of hops, and the importance of the growing location as a flavor factor.  On a visit to England, I photographed huge fields of the climbing vines, often reaching over twenty feet on carefully tended trellis poles. We also see fields of hops vines when we visit Germany.
     While brewing may be hops claim to fame, it has many other uses.  Although I have yet to try them, apparently the young shoots can be harvested and eaten like asparagus. Reportedly, they are quite tasty served hot with butter, or cold with French dressing.  I’d say they have to be very young, because the leaves have a tough, bristly texture that causes my skin to itch when I brush against the plant.
     The most valuable part of the hops plant is the flower head, which is the part used in brewing, and the part used for most other products.  Traditionally, the flower heads, simply called “hops,” are stuffed into small pillows to help one sleep.  Or, they are used in a tea (1 tsp. dried hops per cup of boiling water, steeped for 5-10 min. and sweetened with honey) for the same purpose, or steeped in sherry for a week to make a liqueur that is drunk at bedtime. In Germany, one can readily find many medicinal teas that contain hops, often partnered with mint or lemon balm.
     Hops also have many medicinal uses.  A bag of hops was often soaked in boiling water and then used as a poultice to ease rheumatism and sciatica.  Dip a clean cloth in an infusion made using equal parts hops and chamomile to two parts boiling water.  Wring the cloth out and apply as hot as can be tolerated to painful swelling or boils.  An infusion of hops (a handful steeped for 10 min. in 3 c. boiling water, then cooled and strained) was used as a general tonic to help improve the appetite in invalids, or to aid in digestion     Hops tea is often used internally to treat farm animals or pets who have digestive problems, fever or worms, and externally for eczema and other skin problems. 
     Despite the abundance of traditional medicinal use, the famous herbalist Hildegard de Bingen was not a fan.  She stated that, “It does not have much usefulness for a person because it makes the person’s melancholy increase, gives the person a sad mind, and makes his or her intestines heavy.  But, nevertheless, its bitterness prevents some spoilage in drinks so that they last much longer” so it has value.
     The scientific name for hops is Humulus lupulus.  I once won a prize at an herb conference as the first person who correctly answered the question, “What herb has a ‘u’ as every other letter?”  That’s my claim to fame!
     For all of its beneficial properties, the hops plant has one feature that is a definite drawback.  It’s an aggressive spreader, and that’s an understatement!  The hops vine is a hardy perennial that grows easily to fifteen or twenty feet, covering any structure quickly. The vines are quite strong, and have been often used for basket-making.  It sends out underground shoots and will also cover a neighboring structure quickly!  I once tried to dig up a hops vine and the roots were as large as my forearm.  The leaves are dark green with three or five lobes and saw-toothed edges.  It will grow in sun or light shade.  There is also a golden-leaved variety which in my experience is not as robust, growing in a little more genteel fashion, but perfectly winter-hardy in Zone 5.
     In early summer, the vine flowers with both male and female flowers.  The female flowers will enlarge to form the tiny pineapple shape, similar to a pine cone but much softer.  Inside the petals of the cones is a yellowy powder called lupulin.  When the hops are fresh and still green they have a bitter flavor and strong aroma that is valuable in brewing.  As they age, they turn beige but still have sleep-inducing properties.



In response to several requests, here is the recipe for the Basil-Garlic Chive hummus that we served Sept. 14th.
In a food processor:  a large handful of basil leaves, ½ c. coarsely snipped garlic chives, the juice of 1 lime, 2 T. olive oil, pinch of salt, several grinds of black pepper, dash of ground red pepper.  Process until the particles are the size of rice.
Drain and rinse a large can of chick peas (garbanzo beans). Add to herb mix and process, adding more olive oil if needed, until it is a nice texture and everything is blended.  Serve on pita crackers, pita bread triangles, crackers, or with veggies.  Makes 2 cups.  Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

Enjoy this beautiful autumn weather.  Spread love and joy.  Pray for peace and our country.  I’ll be doing some short trips soon, so expect more garden reports in the next issue. Till next month, Herbal blessings, Carolee