Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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October E-newsletter 2013

What a roller coaster ride October has been!  We were blessed with beautiful, sunny days for much of the early part, allowing me to do lots of gardening whenever I was home.  Because our normal (Oct. 5) frost did not arrive, I was able to continue propagating more plants than usual!  A bit of rain here and there was welcome, because it made weeding lots easier.  Farmers harvested long into the wee hours.  And then, Mother Nature must have glanced at the calendar and realized how late it was because she sent frost on October 21st,  snow on the 23rd  (photo above), and hail on the 24th!  Wicked winds plucked most of the leaves from our trees, and made me shiver as I moved plants indoors for their winter slumber.  Now it’s time to clear the gardens of frosted plants, do a final weeding, and hopefully put on a blanket of mulch once the ground has frozen.  Then, I can concentrate on seed orders and writing!



Mulberry Creek Herb Farm
     We combined a family gathering in Toledo, OH with a visit to one of my favorite places, Mulberry Creek Herb Farm.  Owners Mark & Karen Langan have a beautiful little farm that showcases a wide variety of plants, especially miniatures.  I’ve visited many times over the years and always find a few treasures to bring home.  This trip, I replaced some lavenders and acquired a dwarf tea tree and a “Moonlight” thyme.  Although the fall festival we’d hoped to attend had been cancelled, we were able to enjoy the gardens and have a good visit.  It’s always interesting to talk to another herb farm owner and compare notes.  This photo is of Mark, showing off his rich, black Ohio soil that turned small rosemary plants into a hedge practically overnight!


     If you’re interested in garden railroads, this is a fun place to visit because children are able to operate the engine.  Check out their website for a schedule of events.



MacQueen Orchards
     On our way from Mulberry Creek to Toledo, we made a stop in Holland, OH for some delicious apples.  MacQueen Orchards is an institution in the area, and although it was raining the parking lot was overflowing.  In addition to apples, visitors were picking pumpkins in the field, grabbing apple doughnuts and freshly baked pies, enjoying free cider samplings, and browsing the huge orchard shop.  I enjoyed strolling through the gardens around the quaint gift house, too!



Gene Stratton Porter House & Garden
     “On our way home” from Toledo (It wasn’t really, but we took a little side-jaunt!) we stopped at one of Indiana’s historical sites, the Gene Stratton Porter home in Rome City.  While I have often visited the author’s smaller home in Geneva, I’d never made the trip to Rome City even though I’ve heard the garden is lovely.  I took these photos of part of the “tame” garden, which was interesting even though it was late in the season.  In spring, there are lots of wildflowers and seasonal bulbs there and in the “wild” garden, and I’d like to return then.
     Gene Stratton Porter was an avid naturalist and early conservationist in addition to being a prolific and successful writer.  Some of her novels were made into motion pictures.  Her love of nature shines through all her writings.
     Set in the woodlands around a beautiful lake, her home is open for tours during specific hours, but the walking trails and gardens are open dawn to dusk.  In addition, there are many special events, such as “Owl-oween,” a holiday program that celebrates owls and other night-roaming creatures.  The formal Autumn Tea is Nov. 9th (reservations by Nov. 1st.)  The “Dream of Beauty” Christmas walk on Dec. 7th showcases Mrs. Porter’s cabin, decorated according to her description in 1917, holiday goodies, live entertainment, and wagon rides.  Check the website for details.

Scotts Miracle Grow in the News Again
     Just a year ago (See the Oct. 2012 E-Newsletter) I reported that Scotts Miracle Grow Co. was in the news.  Now they are in the news again, but on a much more positive note.  They have just announced they will be adding to their line of pest repellent products, since a recent survey by the National Gardening Association revealed that gardeners’ ranked “animal pests” as the 5th biggest deterrent to successful gardens.  Their repellent products, Deer B-Gon, Cat & Dog B-Gon, and other new B-Gons use various herbal essential oils as the active ingredient!


October Give-Away!
     We’re giving away our last 2014 Herbal Calendar, written and designed by talented speaker, author, photographer, and chef Susan Belsinger!  We’ll pick at random one of the farm’s Facebook Friends!  If you haven’t “friended” the farm yet, do so before Nov. 10th to be eligible for this contest!


And back to Ohio again!
     David’s MG club’s outing to the scenic Hocking Hills sent us back to Ohio, this time to the southeastern section.  This region is best known as one of the most biologically diverse areas in the U.S.!  It’s unglaciated hills and valleys are filled with rock formations and serene woodlands. 


Of course, I skipped out on some of the MG events in order to visit one of my favorite greenhouses, Wilson’s in Newark.  It’s right across the highway from the home office of Longaberger Baskets.  Can you believe that basket is actually a huge building?   I’ve been to Wilson’s several times over the years and each visit I find something new.  Twenty-eight greenhouses and a unique layout make plant shopping an experience.  They always have creative displays and interesting plants.  It didn’t take me long to fill an area in the back of the Tahoe with some new delospermums, succulents, and a variegated arabis.
     While we were in the area, we enjoyed several local restaurants and antique shops.  I skipped out another day to visit Companion Plants in nearby Athens, OH.  This is a plant place for the serious, Latin-names-speaking plant person.  You won’t find gallon pots of beautifully blooming perennials, Wave petunias, or other common-place varieties.  Wear your boots and get an Indian scout and a guide dog to get you through the winding, twisting roads.  It’s not easy to find.  My GPS announced “You have reached your destination” several times while I was still miles away!  I think she was as lost as I was!
     However, once I arrived, I filled the little remaining space in the Tahoe with some artemisias, a few medicinals, a new mint, a lemon tea tree, Aztec dream herb, and a few other goodies. 



HSA  District Gathering
     We were honored to host the Herb Society of America’s District Gathering in mid-October.  Visitors from Ohio, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky and Indiana filled the barn for an informative day and herbal sharing.  Janice Drake explained how medieval people relied on herbs, we made three herbal craft projects, and I presented “Quick Tricks and Treats from the Herb Garden.”  There were lots of door prizes, delicious herbal foods, and a silent auction.  Plans are already underway for next year’s gathering in another state, which hopefully be scheduled a little earlier in the year so the weather will be warmer!



Herb to Know:  Teasel
     We use teasels as part of our witch’s swag to decorate for Halloween, and others use them as part of autumn bouquets, but did you know teasel is an herb?  For generations, teasel (Dipsacus japonica) has been a staple in Chinese medicine, although it is just beginning to be recognized in western cultures.  The first-year root has long been used for toning the liver and kidneys, lower back pain, weak knees, thinning cartilage and joint pain.  Now many western herbalists are prescribing teasel for chronic arthritis, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease, injured tendons, and muscle inflammation.
     The common roadside plant (Dipsacus fullonum) is stately, often growing 5-10’!  Its large, prickly leaves are attached to the stem in a way that causes rainwater to gather.  In olden days, this special water was called “The Bath of Venus” because it was thought to promote beautiful skin and eyes, and was also believed to remove warts.
     The flower head is a large egg-shape made of dozens of pale lavender flowers.  This matures to a prickly seed head which gives rise to many folk-names such as gypsy comb, card weed, or barber’s brush.  Fuller’s teasel, (D. sativus) with its hooked spines, was used commercially to “tease” the nap of woven wool cloth.
     Teasel is a biennial that is native to Europe, but brought to America by early settlers.  It spreads rampantly in most sunny locations.    



October’s Recipe:  Apple Squares
     On a trip to England, I had wonderful apple cookies at tea.  Since I had a bag of apples from our trip to MacQueen’s (see above) it was time to recreate them with an herbal twist.  I’d just cut back several rose-scented geraniums as I moved them indoors, so that’s the herb I used, although cinnamon basil, tarragon, or anise-hyssop would also be good choices.  Here’s the recipe:
     Grease a 7” x 11” pan.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix together 1 1/3 c. flour, ¾ c. sugar, ½ tsp. baking powder, ¼ t. nutmeg, a pinch of salt.  Cut in 6 T. butter to “crumbs.”  Beat 1 egg with a fork and mix with 3 oz. milk.  Stir into flour mixture and beat until smooth.  Stir in 1 ½ c. finely chopped apples (skin on or off, as desired) and 3 T. finely chopped rose-scented geranium leaves.  Pour into pan.  Bake 35 min., until lightly browned and center is set.  Cool.  Frost with white icing with a little chopped rose-geranium leaf added.  Cut into squares.

Autumn always speeds by, with a killing frost bringing an end to the outdoor growing season.  I hope I’ve harvested enough herbs to get me through the seasons until the ground is warm and planting can begin again! I hope I’ve remembered to collect seeds and take cuttings from all the varieties available in my gardens. I’ve already mailed in my first seed order, because next month I’ll begin seeding pansies, violas, and perennials!  There’s little rest on an herb farm, as autumn propels everyone into the holidays whether we’re ready or not!  Till next month, herbal blessings, Carolee