Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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Home News Newsletters February E-Newsletter 2015
February E-Newsletter 2015 Print E-mail


February E-Newsletter 2015

     For being a “short” month, February sure seems to be filled to the brim.  The first holiday I celebrated was “National Hedgehog Day” on February 2nd which to me is more important than watching a silly Groundhog who’s rarely correct in his weather predictions.  Mrs. Pennyroyal and Marjoram Busybody had big party plans for that night. 
     The Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, the Chinese New Year, and Flag Day compete for attention.  I can’t celebrate them all, so there are a few holidays I plan to just skip.  Although February is national “Adopt a Rabbit” month, I already have a surplus of plant-munching bunnies, thank you very much, so I won’t be participating.  It’s the Cricket World Cup, and although I’m a diehard sports fan, I won’t be watching.   
     I will be observing “National Library Lovers” and “National Bird Feeders” month.   I selected my CD’s for “National Opera Day” on February 8th and counted the days until “National Drink Wine Day” on February 18th.
     For foodies, it’s national “Barley,” “Grapefruit,” and “Cherry” month.  There are also “National Jell-O” and “National Pancake” weeks.  I squeezed in “National Crepe Day” on the 2nd and “National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day” on the 7th.   “National Almond Day” arrived on the 16th, and “National Chocolate Mint Day” on the 19th.  I celebrate chocolate mint plants, of course, although I suspect a few of you may have indulged in those little York patties.  “National Chili” and “National Bacon” days are on the 26th, so that day’s menu is practically a given.
    In addition to holidays, there are more gardening shows to do (see below), a visit from our “Italian kids,” lots of family birthdays, our annual employee luncheon, and major transplanting in the greenhouse.  Whenever the weather is decent, I’ll be wandering around the gardens, searching for the first blooms of the year.  And, I should be doing prep for the upcoming season, like sorting pots, making plant signs, running labels, tidying up garden beds, cleaning the barn, pricing new inventory, and planning events.  There are just not enough days in February!

Opening Day:  Wednesday, April 1st :
We’ll be celebrating “National Frog Month!”  Carolee’s Herb Farm will open at 10a.m. on Wednesday, April 1st.  There will be new items in the Big Barn Gift Shop, and the coldframe will be overflowing with plants.  Enjoy 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 soon, but mark your calendar for Fairy Days, April 18 & 19.

Closing Day: Saturday, May 30th
Yes, we are closing our doors and do not plan to reopen.  Hopefully, you received our announcement earlier, so this doesn’t come as a major surprise.   If you or your group plan to visit, please do between April 1 and May 30, but be aware that we will not be open for anyone, for ANY purpose after May 30, so don’t even ask.  I will continue to speak, write, and do a few shows, but the farm will not be open to the public or functioning as a garden or herb business.

Michigan Herb Association Annual Conference:  March 13-14
We’ll have a jam-packed booth filled with herbal goodies and garden treasures.   The keynote speaker is author Rosalind Creasy, famous for her books and articles on the edible landscape.  If you’ve never seen her photographs, your mouth will be watering, and your fingers itching to redesign your garden!  There are two full days of programming, with an amazing array of herbal goodies to savor.  Come for one day, or both.   For conference information or to register on-line, go to  

GardenFest Pansy Sale: March 20 & 21
The Morgan Co. Master Gardeners will again host their huge pansy sale and GardenFest, at the Hoosier Harvest Church in Martinsville, IN.  Hours are 1-8p.m. on Friday, 9-4 on Sat.  There will be dozens of vendors.  We’re taking a lot of new items, so if you attend, be sure to stop by our booth to say “hello!”

Kentuckiana Herb Symposium:  March 28
“Herbs Past and Present” is the title of the 23rd Annual Spring Education Day hosted by the Kentuckiana Unit of the Herb Society of America.  The 9:30 morning tea starts the day.  Two presentations, Bill Handel’s “Herbs Past and Present” and Chef Nancy Russman’s “Herbal Blends” will be the education portion.  A luncheon buffet and door prizes are included in the $35.00 registration fee.  We’ll be taking a full truckload of herbal delights.  Deadline is March 14.  Contact Jeff Rose at (812)590-4604 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Did you know:
*Breeders have developed a new plant that produces both tomatoes and potatoes on one
plant, aptly named “Ketchup and Fries!”
*Americans consume a whopping 140 lbs. of potatoes PER  PERSON per year!
*The world’s largest rooftop garden (75,000 sq. ft.) will be constructed atop Method’s Products
in Chicago, and operated by Gotham Greens, a Brooklyn-based urban agriculture company. The company produced over 300 tons of veggies and herbs annually at their 35,000 sq. ft. Brooklyn site.
*Research shows that zinnias help repel both deer and rabbits.
*Styles of the 70’s are making a comeback, including a surge in houseplants!
*The black vine weevil, whose favorite foods are azaleas, begonias, epimedium, hostas,
heuchera, geraniums, bergenia, rhododendron and yew is quickly spreading throughout the northern U.S.  Females are pathonogenetic, meaning they do not have to mate to reproduce.  In fact, no black vine weevil males have been found!
*By flying in a “V” formation, geese increase their flying efficiency by over 70%.  Pretty good for
something with a brain the size of a pea.  And, they never leave one of their fellow flock members alone.  If a goose is having a problem flying or keeping up, another goose will escort him/her to the ground and stay with him until he is ready to continue.
Whitley Co. Master Gardeners “Garden Thyme” recap
     It’s difficult to believe that this was only the second annual garden day sponsored by this talented group, because it was so well done.   From the breakfast buffet, which included the super-delicious cinnamon rolls, to the adorable miniature garden centerpieces shown above, the entire event was well-planned and executed.  Five entertaining and informative speakers filled the day, with time for shopping at a variety of garden-related vendors’ booths.  Lots of attendees won door prizes and everyone enjoyed the lunch, which included a table packed with homemade desserts.  If you missed it this year, watch for it next March and plan to attend.

Herb to Know: Sweet Woodruff
     Famous as a groundcover in shady areas, sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) is also a fairy plant, often called “Fairy Parasols.”  All of the members of the Galium family are noted for their pointed leaves that form a “ruff” around the stem, rather like an umbrella.  Sweet woodruff has dainty, star-shaped white blooms in spring.  It is a hardy perennial growing only 5” in height in my experience, although some sources report it reaches 8”.  If happy, it will form a pretty mat.  In Germany, where conditions are often to its liking is it called Waldmeister, or “master of the forest,” because it can carpet large areas in shaded, good soil.
     Sweet woodruff is included in potpourris and potpourri gardens, for when dried, the leaves have a sweet scent of newly-morn hay due to the coumarin it contains.  It was often used as a mattress stuffing, or placed in linen closets.  It is valuable, for a bowl of dried sweet woodruff placed in a stuffy, enclosed location, like a neglected camper or cabin can refresh the air.
     I chose to write about it now, because you’ll need to plant it as soon as we open in April, so it will be available as a major ingredient to add to flavor May Wine.  Either the fresh or dried leaves and flowers can be steeped in a white Rhine wine for at least a week, two is better.  Strain and serve chilled with Alpine strawberries (or sliced regular strawberries) and float edible flowers (pansies, violas, violets) in the punch bowl.
     Note:  At one time there was concern that the coumarin contained in some plants, like the galiums, was a carcinogenic.  However, further studies do not seem to concur.  In his excellent book, The Big Herb Book, Dr. Art Tucker recommends using not more than 4 oz. woodruff to a gallon of white wine, for the best flavor and just to be on the cautious side.


Recipe:  Savory, Saltless Salmon Patties
     I developed this recipe for our employee luncheon.  The 2015 Herb of the Year, savory, is a great salt-substitute.  And using garbanzo beans instead of crackers, flour, or bread crumbs makes them much healthier.  Serve them with traditional tartar sauce, or as I did, with a lemony aioli sauce.
     Drain two cans of pink salmon, reserving liquid.  Break the salmon piece in half lengthwise, and remove the backbone vertebrae.  Remove any excess skin, if required.
     Drain one can garbanzo beans.  Place the beans in a large mixing bowl.  Using a pastry blender, cut up the beans until they are all at least cut in half or small.  Some of them will be mashed, and that is fine.  Add 2 tsp. dried savory (I used winter savory, but summer works just as well.) and a few grinds of black pepper.  Stir lightly.
     Add 1/3 c. diced bell peppers (any color but I used a mixture of orange and green and it was very pretty) a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (1-2 tsp.) and two eggs, without stirring.  Add chunks of salmon.  Using a fork, mix gently until eggs are incorporated evenly.  If mixture seems dry, add a bit of the reserved salmon juice.  Refrigerate until ready to cook, or form into patties about 3” in diameter and 1” thick.
     Heat 3 T. vegetable oil and 2 T. unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  When oil is hot, add patties, leaving space around them so they do not touch.  Fry until golden brown, and then turn them.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until they are golden brown.  Makes 16 patties.

That’s all I have to share for this busy, busy month of February.  Watch for the March newsletter, and the website for this season’s brief schedule.  Till then, think Spring! 

Herbal blessings, Carolee