Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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


 April E-Newsletter 2014

     Finally, spring has arrived!  There have been a lot of cold, cold days since we opened April 1st, but this week we’ve been able to move plants outdoors.  That allowed us to move hundreds of plants from the greenhouse to the coldframe, which created some space so we can resume seeding and transplanting!  Hurrah!  And such pretty days lured us outside to begin tidying gardens and enjoying all the spring bulbs.  Maybe next week we’ll find time to do some planting!


Fairy Days:  Saturday, April 26 and Sunday, April 27, 10-4
     Once again, it is time for a bit of magic, as we welcome the spring fairies and thank them for all their hard work in bringing the plants and bulbs to life, waking the shrubs and trees so they will leaf out, and painting the faces on pansies and violas.  They’ve had a very hard start to their season, and we’re sure they are ready to party!  For a full schedule of each day’s events and activities, go to our home page, click on “Articles,” scroll down to “Special Events” and select Fairy Day Saturday (Sunday is a repeat of Saturday’s schedule.)
     There are lots of new fairy treasures in the Big Barn Gift Shop, so be sure to take a close look.  Fairyland shop items are 10% OFF!  We’ve added some new fairy plants in the coldframe, too, and there will be some new fairy crafts and refreshments.  Please make a reservation, so there will be plenty of craft supplies and tea cakes for all.

May Day Celebration! Sat., May 3
Make a purchase, and get a ticket to our Make-It/Take It craft room, where you can make and take a  variety of herbal crafts and projects.  Our gift to loyal  customers!  Don’t want to make a purchase?  You can still participate for a $10 fee.  The May Pole is available for  dancing, May Day Punch and special refreshments.

Herb of the Year Celebration, “Artemisia”-Sat., May 17 
Light-hearted PowerPoint presentation on Artemisias at 11 and 1:00.  Sale
on all artemisia plants, and we have many different members of this special,
useful family!  Enjoy Special refreshments featuring French Tarragon, a
member of the Artemisia family. See our indoor and outdoor Herb of the
Year displays!

Wabash Valley Herb Faire-May 10th
     Look for our booth at this event in Fairbanks Park in Terre Haute, IN.  We’re bringing a full truck load of herbal goodies, books, lavender, and more.   It’s a one-day show, and we look forward to seeing lots of friends from southern Indiana.

Herb Society District Gathering:  Friday, Aug. 22- Saturday, Aug. 23
     Plans are underway for a really special herb gathering in Champaign, IL.  Mark your calendar and plan to attend.  There will be gardens to visit, speakers, vendors, herbal treats and continental breakfast provided by the local herb group, silent auction, door prizes, and lots of herbal information and networking.  I’m making some special herbal desserts, and we’ll have a couple of make-it/take-it crafts.  So, plan to come “Pop Some Corks in Champaign!”  You do not have to be a HSA member to attend.  More details in next month’s newsletter, but mark your calendar now.

Winner of “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 10th.  The winner is:  Kimberly Moore.  Kimberly, send your address and we’ll pop it in the post.  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.


 Herb to Know:  Wormwood
Continuing our introduction to some of the Artemisias, the 2014 Herb of the Year, here is Wormwood (A. absinthium) which has an ancient history of use. One of its chief uses was actually to eliminate worms from the digestive tract.  Now, this is not a big problem for most Americans today, but in olden days, before refrigeration, window screens, and the recognition for the need for sanitation during food preparation, intestinal worms of many varieties were a very common problem.  If they weren’t expelled on a regular basis, they could cause grave illness and even death.  So, worming was part of the ritual of spring, and usually again before winter.  Wormwood was one of the common remedies.  In olden days it was often called an “all heal” herb because it was able to relieve many common illnesses of the day.  The famous herbalist, and first woman to write an herbal, Hildegard de Bingen, wrote much about wormwood, declaring it was a principal remedy for all ailments.  Although she was born in 1098, when most women were not educated to read or write, Hildegard’s herbal and her methods of using medicinal herbs was so effective that it is still being taught and put into practice today!  Hildegard believe that wormwood was an essential herb for treating most ailments.
     Wormwood was thought to be effective against another prevalent pest besides worms.  Sixteenth century poet/farmer Thomas Tusser wrote:
       “While wormwood hath seed get a bundle or twain
         To save against March, to make flea to refrain.
        Where Chamber is swept and wormwood is strewn,
         No flea for his life dare abide to be known.”
     Wormwood was also included in travelers’ charms, but its specific use was protection from snakes, a common problem when a journey was often done on foot and people slept on the ground at night.  It was also planted to keep snakes out of the garden.  Snakes have no power against artemisias.
     Many used the tea as a mild anti-depressant.  In fact its ancient name Wermod, literally translated means “guard mind.”  It was often given to the mentally ill.  Cloths soaked in wormwood tea were wrapped around swollen joints to relieve inflammation, or mixed it with honey as a plaster for sprains and bruises.  It was also commonly used for jaundice and kidney troubles.  There are records that the Romans used wormwood as a culinary herb, and it was a common tea herb.  I brewed a cup this winter, and found it exceedingly bitter, but in many cultures “bitter” is much-appreciated, and helpful in good digestion.
     Wormwood was included in many recipes used to ward off plague, such as the famous Four Thieves Vinegar and in Plague Water during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  One of the common recipes said to put a handful each of the leaves of wormwood, mugwort, tarragon, rosemary, lemon balm, borage, angelica, celandine, pennyroyal, feverfew, agrimony, sage, sorrel, and elecampane roots into a small barrel.  Cover with a gallon of white wine, seal and place in the cellar for nine days, and then distill it.  Sprinkle the water liberally over the clothes, on a cloth to be held over the face or to cover infants whenever plague was in the area.         
     Another old custom was to rub the juice of wormwood on a baby’s hands before it was twelve weeks old.  If this was done, the child would never suffer from extremes of heat or cold during its life.
    Wormwood is also included in Biblical gardens, since it is mentioned in the Bible several times.  Nearly everyone has heard of “the wormwood and the gall” from Lamentations 3:19, but it is also mentioned in Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and Jeremiah.  This is one of the best Biblical Gardens I’ve ever seen, located in Warsaw, IN.  If you have any interest in Biblical plants, it is definitely worth a visit.
     It is also included in Shakespeare Gardens for many believe the juice Oberon puts on Queen Titania’s eyes to restore them to normal in A Midsummer Night’s Dream  was indeed wormwood juice.
     I remember the first time I saw “Powis Castle” artemisia actually growing next to the famous bricked castle walls in Wales.  It is a selection of wormwood that is more refined, bushier, and more compact.  I knew I had to have it for my own gardens, even though it is not reliably hardy, for its finely cut, silvery foliage and large, mounded form.  I still treasure it today. 
     Wormwood is a hardy perennial that, like most artemisias, prefers a sunny, well-drained location, reaching about 3’ in height and 2’ in width.  Its silvery foliage adds a nice contrast to borders and gardens, and unlike its cousin, Silver King, it does not travel and spread by underground roots.  It will self-seed, but not rampantly.  It is used in companion planting to repel rabbits, deer and other critters.

“Oooh-la-la! Artemisias!”
     The HSCI held its annual symposium on Saturday, April 12 at the Hamilton Co. Fairgrounds, and as always, it was a terrific event.  It’s a full day, including breakfast treats, a delicious herbal lunch, 3 informative presentations, silent auction, and vendors.  The décor was beautiful, the “treat” bags and information was outstanding.  If you missed it, you should be sad, and vow to attend next year’s event on Saturday, April 11, 2015.  Mark your calendars now.

It’s Hummingbird Time!
     Get out the feeders!   I’ve already spotted our first hummingbird!  Last year, there were already coral bells, red honeysuckle, American columbine, and other hummingbird favorites blooming in our gardens, but this year, the pickings are pretty slim, so it’s important to get those feeders cleaned and filled.


 Recipe:  Vegetarian Mini Quiche
     Now that spring has finally arrived, there are arugula, chives, and spinach in abundance.  That means I can make one of my favorite appetizers, if made in cupcake tins, or it’s a great luncheon or brunch dish if made in standard-sized baking pans.
     Thaw a box of frozen chopped spinach in a colander.  Squeeze out as much water as possible.
     Combine in a food processor:  2 c. flour; 1 stick butter or margarine, melted; 1 tsp. salt; 1/2 tsp. ground red cayenne pepper.
Add 4 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese, processing until it forms a well-blended dough and no loose flour remains.  Roll dough into 36 equal balls (about the size of a large marshmallow.)  Spray 36 cupcake or tart tins lightly with non-stick spray.  Place a ball into each cup, pressing evenly on bottom and sides to form a shell.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
     In large mixing bowl combine:  1 1/2 c. finely chopped arugula; 1 ½ c. thawed spinach (water squeezed out) or use 2 c. finely chopped fresh spinach; ½ c. finely chopped chives (or garlic chives) 5 eggs, slightly beaten; 1 c. milk.  Stir until well blended.  Divide evenly into shells. 
     Bake 20-25 min., until centers are set.  Remove from oven and place on rack for 5 min. to cool slightly, and then remove shells from pans.  Garnish each tart with a bit of shredded carrot and a snip of chives.  Serve warm. Makes 36 appetizers or 2 8” quiches.

 Take time to enjoy the spring flowers….they are so fleeting.  Look for the May E-newsletter mid-month, because I’ll be traveling again to exciting places after the 20th.  Be sure to check out the website for workshops and special events.  And, Facebook Friends, watch for a special message this month that could mean big savings! 

Herbal blessings, Carolee