Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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Home News Newsletters January E-Newsletter 2014
January E-Newsletter 2014 Print E-mail


January E-Newsletter 2014

We’ll remember this cold, snowy winter for years to come.  I love all four seasons, but a little more sunshine would be appreciated during the coldest months.  Now that I finished writing Herbal Blessings, my fourth book of herbal fiction, I’m refocusing on greenhouse work and the upcoming season.  We’ve already transplanted thousands of seedlings, and ordered boxes of special items for the shops.  I haven’t traveled as much as usual, since I spent so many weeks writing.  However, as you can see from this newsletter, I’ll be putting a lot of miles on the truck over the next few months, since there are numerous shows and speeches scheduled, so I’m hoping for good traveling weather.  We hope to see many of you at these great gardening and herb events, which always makes the winter seem a little shorter.  Being with other plant lovers lifts a gardener’s spirit as much as browsing through seed catalogs and the arrival of robins.

Madison Co. Advanced Master Gardener Training: Sat., Feb. 15
We’ll have a truckload of interesting products at this event in Alexandria, IN.  Registration includes continental breakfast, lunch, handouts, and five speakers for only $35! “Gardening with Mobile Apps,” “Zoo Horticulture,” Hydroponics,” “Exploring the Natural and Cultural History of Prairie Plants,” and “Life Cycle of Butterflies” are the topics.  8-3.  Contact Kathleen Sprouse, 765-641-9514 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for information.

Whitley County’s First Garden Symposium!
I’m honored to be speaking at “Garden Thyme” on Saturday, Feb. 22.  This all-day symposium will be held 8:30-3:30 at the 4H Center Bldg. in Columbia City, IN and includes three presentations, “Writing on the Earth with Fragrant Ink,” “Proven Winners for 2014,” and “The Cottage Garden Project.”  Vendors, lunch, and morning refreshments for $30.  Registrations must be made before 2/10. E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for information or Google “Whitley Co. IN Garden Thyme” for a registration form.

“Spring Tonic” Garden Symposium-March 1st
We had such a good time at “Spring Tonic” in Paoli last spring that I’m returning to speak for this year’s event on Saturday, March 1st. (note the date in last month’s e-newsletter was incorrect!) Speaker topics include “Covering Lots of Ground,” “Landscaping with Herbs,” “Grow Gourmet Mushrooms,” “2014 Weather & Climate,” and “Visual Tour of an Indiana Landscape.”  Vendors, good food, door prizes and great company.  These people know how to throw a party!  Registration includes breakfast and lunch, $35 if paid by 2/15, $40 thereafter. Master Gardeners receive 5 hrs. of education credit. Google “Spring Tonic Paoli” for a registration form.  Space is limited so don’t delay.

Michigan Herb Association Annual Conference
I’ll be giving the banquet keynote speech in Lansing, on the campus of Michigan State on Friday, March 7th and speaking again on Saturday, March 8th during the general sessions.  We’ll have a jam-packed booth filled with herbal goodies.  For conference information or to register on-line, go to  

Indy Flower & Patio Show
This annual show is scheduled for March 8-16, 2014, held as usual at the West Pavilion and Expo Hall at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  No booth for us at this show, since a 10’x10’ space is a whopping $1800!!! A 20’ x 20’ is over $5,000, so the exhibitors’ are spending considerable dollars to see you there.  So, if a garden center or shop you like is exhibiting, be sure to give them some business while you are there.  It’s always worth a visit, if only to cure the winter blues by seeing some blooming plants and interesting gardens.

Opening Day:  Tuesday, April 1st
     We’ll begin another season at Carolee’s Herb Farm at 10a.m. on Tuesday, April 1st.  We can’t wait to show you all the new items in the Big Barn Gift Shop, and the coldframe should be overflowing with plants.  There will be special refreshments, sale items, and door prizes as we kick off regular business hours, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10-5.  The full schedule should be posted on the website next month, but mark your calendar for Fairy Days, April 26 & 27.

“Ooh! La! La!... Artemisias!”
     The HSCI will host its annual symposium on Saturday, April 12 at the Hamilton Co. Fairgrounds.  It’s a full day, including breakfast treats, delicious herbal lunch, 3 terrific presentations ("Artemisias on the Rocks," "Cooking with French Herbs," and "Artemisias in Wildlands, Gardens & the Apothecary") door prizes, silent auction, and vendors.  The décor alone is usually worth the trip!  We’ll have a full booth, including lots of interesting plants and new shop items.  For more information, go to the Herb Society of Central Indiana website a to download a registration form.  Or call Connie Patsiner 317-251-6986.  Deadline April 6.  Cost $45.  



Herbal Blessings
Callie’s adventures continue through her fourth season at Joyful Heart Herbs.  There are joys and sorrows, burdens and blessings, as she struggles with new mysteries that threaten her business and those she loves.   The quirky Leaf Sisters are back, along with new employees and other residents of Heartland that form Callie’s circle of friends.  Morgan Wright launches a new career, Sandy struggles with motherhood, and romance is in the air when Cousin Eve comes to visit. This is the fourth and final book in the Callie Gardener series.  It includes over sixty original recipes for herbal desserts and other dishes, and as usual, it’s packed with gardening information and herbal lore.
     The arrival date is not yet known, but if you pre-purchase a copy at our booth at any of the upcoming shows, you’ll get free shipping, and we’ll send it out to you just as soon as the books arrive.  It’s a cure for the winter blues!

Did you know:
*A remote, such as a television remote, by definition is difficult to locate!
*Two-thirds of the world’s eggplants are grown in New Jersey!
*Fireflies are so rare in Tokyo that an individual firefly in a glass jar sells for $5!
* Men ages 18-35 spend $100 more than the national average on lawn and garden products 
*Research shows that eating violets helps prevent cancer, especially breast cancer.  If you pick them from lawns, be certain that they are chemical free.



Illinois Herb Day Recap
     Herb Day sponsored by the Univ. of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana is one of my favorite days of the year.  This year was especially fun, a blend of old friends and new faces.  I had a great time passing out samples of desserts I’ve been trialing for the new book.  Thanks to all who took time to give me feedback, and who visited our booth (a corner shown above left.)  It was so delightful to see everyone again.  Above right shows a few of the door prizes that were given away to lucky attendees.


    This year’s event was more special for me because I was able to meet exceptional herbalist, author Rosemary Gladstar (above.)  We have lots of mutual acquaintances, but we’ve never had the opportunity to meet before.  It was also a pleasure to reconnect with noted herb gardener Holly Shimizu, the first curator of the National Herb Garden. We all had a wonderful chance to visit over dinner Saturday night, along with event host, Chuck Voigt.  If you did not attend Herb Day, you missed something special.  Next year’s event is Saturday, January 17th, so mark your calendars now.  Chuck assures me it will be a day to remember.

Newest trends in gardening
As reported by the Garden Media Group, the top trends for gardens in 2014:
1.  Composting is rising, with “food scraps” being the “new recyclables,” used in worm composting and heat/energy production
2.  Growing “super foods,” those highest in nutrients and anti-oxidants, like blueberries, goji berries, kale and dandelions!
3.  Drink your garden…that’s growing plants that can be used for nutritional smoothies, teas, and cocktails
4.  Outdoor living spaces…still rising, with more emphasis on actually decorating the space
5.  “Bee-nificials”, growing plants to feed bees, which pollinate 85% of the Earth’s plants.
6.  “Cultur-vating”…embracing local diversity, people, food & plants
7.  “Think Gardens”…the use of indoor plants to inspire productivity, reduce stress, calm, and inspire.
8.  “Fingertip Gardening”…the use of technology for garden apps, how-to, cultural info and more
9.  “Tree-mendous Revival”…planting trees to benefit the landscape, aid wildlife, increase property values, reduce stress, noise, crime; reduce energy costs and just generally improving the quality of life.  And, if it’s a fruit or nut tree, there’s an added benefit of free food!
…..and I’d add #10  The Urban Homesteader…young families are interesting in growing more of their own food, keeping chickens and bees. That’s evident not only by the number of inquiries I get, but also by the increase in hobby farming and urban homesteading magazines and blogs.

An Herb to Know:  Ginger
     Ginger is a tropical plant, native to either China or India, or both, depending upon which source you trust.  There are writings by Confucius from about 500 B.C. and records of early Arab traders taking ginger root from the Orient to the Greeks and Romans.  Invading Roman soldiers carried to more northern parts of Europe.  Soon it traveled via the Portuguese and Spaniards to parts of Africa, Mexico, the West Indies and the Caribbean.  Ginger’s popularity grew and spread until by the 14th century, it was second only to pepper as the most-used spice.
     Its scientific name, Zingiber officinalis, is thought to originate from the Sanskrit term “singabera,” meaning “shaped like a horn.”  That may have evolved through the Greek word “zingiberi,” to the Latin “zingiber.” 
     Ginger has large spear-shaped leaves that grow upright.  The decorative leaves grow as high as three feet in ideal conditions, which is a hot, moist climate.  When mature, it produces yellow flowers that are tinged with purple. There, harvesting can begin as quickly as nine or ten months after planting a section of rhizome.  Most of the crop is dug, scrubbed, sun-dried, and ground to a powder.  Only a fraction of the crop is sold fresh. 
     Only the rhizomes, which have a complex aroma and flavor, are used in cooking.  The root should have a hint of lemon and a sharpness that is pleasant.  Most experts report the rhizomes grown in Jamaica have the best flavor.  Rhizomes grown in Kenya are darker and less flavorful.  Fresh ginger root is a common ingredient in many dishes, including stir-fry, curry, salads, pastas, and meat recipes, especially marinades.   The root is usually peeled and then it can be sliced, diced or finely grated.  When choosing fresh ginger root for cooking or planting, look for pale, smooth skin.  The root should be heavy.  Older ginger may be wrinkled and light, indicating that much of the essential oil has evaporated during storage.
     Dried ground ginger is essential for gingerbread, cookies, cakes, scones and pickles.  It is the flavor for traditional ginger ale, ginger beer, and many teas.     .
     Crystallized ginger is another useful product.  Fresh ginger is sliced and preserved in heavy sugar syrup, allowed to dry, and then rolled in sugar.  It can be nibbled fresh, chopped to be added to scones, biscuits, cookies, cakes and other desserts.


Recipe:  Sticky Pear Pudding
    In an English tea room, I had a wonderful Sticky Pudding.  I’ve worked on the recipe until it tastes the same…gingerbread spicy and filled with fruit.
Sticky Pear-Gingerbread Pudding
Lightly butter and flour a 2 qt. casserole dish.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a small saucepan, heat over medium heat just until mixture begins to bubble:  1 ¼ c. light corn syrup; 1 T. grated fresh ginger root.  Remove from heat.  Remove ¼ c. of mixture and set aside. 
     To sauce in pan, add:  1/3 c. sugar; 1 stick butter.  Stir and cook until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.
     Drain juice from a can of pear halves.  Measure juice, adding water if needed to make 1 c.  Drain pear halves and set aside.
    Mix together:  2 c. flour; ½ tsp. ground nutmeg; ½ tsp. ground cinnamon; ¼ tsp. ground cloves; 1 tsp. baking soda.
     To cooled butter mixture, whisk in 2 eggs until mixture is smooth.  Alternately add flour mixture and pear juice, folding just until all ingredients are moistened.  Pour into prepared dish.  Cut pears into long slices, about  ½” thick.  Arrange evenly over top. (Pears will sink to bottom as it bakes and appear on top when pudding is inverted onto platter.)  Bake 1 hour, or until a skewer in center comes out clean.
     While pudding bakes, prepare a sauce by bringing the reserved ¼ c. gingered syrup and 3/4c. heavy cream in a small saucepan just to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 1-2 min., just until slightly thickened.  Remove and allow to cool slowly until pudding is baked.
 Allow baked pudding to cool about 5 min., and then place serving platter on top and invert to turn out onto platter.  Add 1 T. brandy to sauce and pour over pudding.  Makes 10-12 rich servings. 

Until next month, stay warm and safe.  Use those herbs you’ve grown to make beneficial teas, soothing baths, and tasty soups and stews.  And, don’t forget to feed the birds. It’s been a very hard winter on wildlife, too. 

Herbal blessings, Carolee