Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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


March E-Newsletter 2014

As I write this, fat snowflakes are blowing horizontally, despite the fact that it was almost balmy yesterday.  Instead of tidying the gardens, I’m doing paperwork, paying bills, and catching up from being on the road so much recently.  David calls it my “marathon speaking tour.”  It does seem like I’m attached to a suitcase these days, but thankfully, it is almost at an end, so I can concentrate on Opening Day at the farm.
     It is hard to believe that this is the final newsletter before we open, especially since looking outside it appears more like January than March.  We just have not had weather that makes it feel like April is approaching.  I’ve yet to see the first bulb pushing up through the soil, when normally we have crocuses blooming by early to mid-February, and all kinds of flowers by late March.  Even the hellebores, which bloom in February, are waiting for better weather.  The plants in the coldframe have barely begun to wake up from their winter dormancy.  This is the first time in 22 years that we haven’t been able to move them outdoors before we opened.
     However, the pansies and violas are blooming in the greenhouse so we’ll get those moved over, along with lots of other pretty selections.  Boxes of new inventory have been opened and arranged into displays, bluebirds and robins have arrived so spring must be on the way.


Opening Day:  Tuesday, April 1st
     We’ll begin another season at Carolee’s Herb Farm at 10a.m. on Tuesday, April 1st, even if it is snowing!  We can’t wait to show you all the new items in the Big Barn Gift Shop.  The coldframe will be overflowing with plants:  culinary herbs, blooming annuals, tough perennials, berry bushes, miniature and fairy plants, fragrant plants, scented geraniums, plants for butterflies and hummingbirds and lots, lots more. There will be special refreshments, sale items, and door prizes as we kick off regular business hours (Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10-5.)  Celebrate with 20% off all sales this day!  Program on new plants and products at 11:00 and 1:00.   Do a free “Make It/Take It” project.  The full schedule for this season will be posted on the website.  Mark your calendar for Fairy Days, April 26 & 27, and register for workshops before they fill!

Primula Day & Book Signing Party!  Sat, April 5 
      “Herbal Blessings” will be available, and Carolee will sign books throughout the day.  Put your name in the basket before noon, and it might be drawn to win a free book.  All of Carolee’s books will be on sale, 20% off, this day only.  Talks and questions at 11:00 and 1:00.  Special refreshments.  Sale on all varieties of primulas.

“Oooh-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,  a delicious herbal lunch, 3 terrific presentations, door prizes, silent auction, and vendors.  One of our favorite people, Stephen Lee, will be speaking.  We’ll have a full booth, including lots of interesting plants.  Look for a variety of artemisias, especially our miniature “Tiny Green” (see article below.)  We’ll also be bringing lots of new herbal shop items.  For more information, or to download a registration form, visit the society’s website at  Or, call Connie at 317-51-6986.


“Container Herb Garden”
     We’re giving away a collection of seeds to grow a “Container Herb Garden” from Renee Shepherd’s Seeds to one of our Facebook friends, chosen at random on April 6.  If you have not yet become a farm friend on our Facebook page, please do so.  You’ll be eligible for prizes, special discounts, and other surprises throughout the year.

Did you know:
*Eating onions helps fight blood clots and reduces cholesterol.  Red and  yellow varieties have higher levels of the beneficial quercetin than  white onions.
*That it takes 600 cowhides to make the “Pigskins” just for the NFL?
*That all NFL stadiums are required to face north/south so no team has a
 sun-in-your-eyes advantage
*That some birds can migrate at night using the stars to navigate
*Eating one carrot a day can cut the rate of lung cancer in half
*The Latin term “microphylla” in a plant’s name means “with small leaves”
*The Latin term “parviflora” means “small-flowered”

Herb To Know:  Artemisia “Tiny Green”
     The Herb of the Year 2014 is “Artemisia.”  Since there are so many interesting members of this diverse family, I’ve decided to introduce a few of my favorites, beginning with the smallest artemisia that I’m aware of, Artemisia viridis “Tiny Green.”  This miniature plant features the feathery, finely-cut leaves like its cousin, southernwood, and for such a small plant it packs lots of fragrance.   While many artemisias can reach six to ten feet in height, this little fellow grows only about 3” tall and it is a perfect candidate for any miniature, fairy, or railroad garden.  It prefers a sunny location and excellent drainage.  In less than full sun, it may stretch a bit taller, perhaps 5”.  When happy, it will spread to 8” in width.  In the garden, it grows in Zones 4-8, but if planted in a pot, it should probably winter indoors in Zones 6 or lower.
     Like most other artemisias, “Tiny Green’s” fragrance, provided by essential oils in its leaves, repels insects.  However, I find the scent very pleasing, and I can easily imagine a fairy sleeping on its soft foliage, or collecting its small leaves for a woodsy potpourri or moth repellent.  If space is at a premium, or if you enjoy miniature plants, grow Artemisia “Tiny Green.”


Recap: “Spring Tonic” Garden Symposium-March 1st
     We had such a good time at “Spring Tonic” in Paoli.  I always enjoy returning to “hill country” and the drive south was especially fun because we saw hundreds, maybe thousands, of sand hill cranes in the recently flooded corn fields.   We also saw lots of familiar faces, including some from Kentucky.  I enjoyed sharing lots of new photos and insights during my newly-revised “Landscaping with Herbs” presentation, and hearing the other speakers.  There were more vendors than last year and abundant good food for the morning snack and tasty lunch.  I especially enjoyed seeing all the home-baked desserts, and finally selected one of the luscious flower cupcakes shown above.  Nearly everyone was a winner with the huge table of door prizes shown above, and great company and networking abounded.  These people know how to throw a party!   


Recap: Michigan Herb Association Annual Conference
     What fun we had on the campus of Michigan State, attending the MHA conference!  Being around so many fellow herb lovers is always a treat, but the Michigan Beekeepers Assoc. and the Michigan Barn Restoration Group were also holding their conferences there, so the place was abuzz with interesting people. 
     I have to say, I’ve never seen so many herbal treats, which filled the tables (see above right) outside the auditorium from the moment the conference opened until the tables were stacked at the very end.  There must have been a hundred different breads, cookies, dips, cheese balls, and other delicious snacks, many containing tarragon, since it is an artemisia (the 2014 Herb of the Year.)  It’s worth joining this organization just to get those recipes, which will be published in their newsletter!
     I was honored to give the keynote speech, “Myths, Mugs, Worms, and the Green Fairy!” at their banquet Friday evening, and to open the Saturday session with “Hot Trends in Herbs and Herb Gardening.”  All the volunteers had the pretty “green fairy” pin shown above left, and I got one as well.  This conference was a delight to attend, and I came away with lots of new thoughts, recipes, plants, and ideas.


Martinsville GardenFest Recap
     This was our first time at this event, which was held in a spacious new location outside of town.  The Morgan County Master Gardeners were highly organized and helpful, and the hundreds of attendees were all cheerful as they selected pansies from the plant-packed stage area.  Dozens of vendors filled two areas, and a variety of speakers entertained and informed throughout both days.  There was no admission, and the menu at the Master Gardener Café was both yummy and CHEAP!!!  Definitely worth the drive just to see all the garden-related crafts and products.


Cattledriver Casserole
     A hearty, easy recipe for this annoying cold weather, which seems determined to stay.  This one features savory, the 2015 herb of the year.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Have a 2 qt. casserole dish ready.
Brown in a large skillet:  ½ lb. ground beef; 1 medium onion, chopped, pinch of salt.
Add to skillet:  1 can mild chili beans
Drain and add: 1 can lima beans; 1 can kidney beans.
Add:  1 c. Velveeta cut into ½” cubes; ½ c. barbeque sauce, dash of hot sauce, 1 tsp. coarsely ground savory.  Stir.  Pour into casserole dish.  Sprinkle top with ½ c. grated cheddar cheese.  Bake until bubbly and cheese begins to brown, about 35 min.  Serve with crunchy bread or corn muffins!  Serves 6.

As March comes to an end, we nervously wait to see if April comes in “like a lamb, or like a lion.”  As much as I would love some good weather, I’m hoping for “lion,” so we’ll have good “lamb” weather later in the month.  I just hate it when all the pretty spring blooms get zapped.  We’ll be busily moving plants from the greenhouse to the coldframe this week, putting the final touches on displays, and preparing to greet you all with welcoming smiles and hugs as another season begins. 

Herbal blessings, Carolee