Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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


March E-Newsletter 2015

March came in like a lamb….a quiet, very fluffy white lamb.  It was by far the prettiest snowfall of the winter.  We were scheduled for shows every weekend this month, plus I tried to do prep work for Opening Day which will be here before I’m ready since there is more to do than usual.  My search for early signs of spring growth in the gardens was futile until March 15th, when I finally found a few green crocus tips pushing through the ground.  Fortunately, the autumn-seeded pansies and violas began to bloom in the greenhouse with some very interesting new colors that helped relieve my winter doldrums.  And two of the grandchildren came to spend their spring break mid-month, which involved lots of cookie-baking, puzzles, games, and rides on the golf cart.  They were good help opening boxes, carried inventory to and fro, and aided in creating frog crafts and décor.  Squeezed in here and there were some exciting hours of listening and sometimes viewing NCAA basketball.  It’s hard for me to believe my favorite sports season is nearly ending.  Thank goodness, the gardening season will soon begin, even though currently the ground is again snow-covered and forecasts are for the low teens later this week!  It has delayed our moving plants into the sales areas, but hopefully it will warm again soon.

Opening Day:  Wednesday, April 1st:
We’ll be celebrating “National Frog Month!”  when we open at 10a.m. on Wednesday, April 1st.  There will be new items in the Big Barn Gift Shop, and weather permitting the cold frame will be filled with plants.  Enjoy special “frog” 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 by the time you read this.  Remember, we’ll be closing our doors forever on May 30th, so plan your visit before that date.

HSCI Herb Symposium:  Saturday, April 11th
Enjoy “Sweet and Savory” beginning at 9 a.m. with a continental breakfast at the Hamilton Co. fairgrounds, Noblesville.  Topics for the day are “Exploring Medicinal Herbs,” “The World of Savory,” “Bees and Herbal Infused Honey,” and “Healthy Cooking with Essential Oils.”  In addition, a luncheon by the Juniper Spoon, a large silent auction, and a great group of vendors (including our herbal and gardening treasures) will add to the day.  Find registration information at  Fee is $50, deadline April 5th.

Fairy Days: April 18 & 19th, 10:00-4:00
     Celebrate our final Fairy Day at the farm with fairy crafts, a fairy hunt, fairy tales, and a fairy tea.  Learn to make fairy gardens and about fairy lore and fairy plants.  Wear your wings and join the fairy parade and May Pole dancing (weather permitting.)  There is no fee for this special day, but please be considerate and email or call to make a reservation, so there will be ample fairy treats and craft materials for every fairy that attends.

Recap:  Michigan Herb Association Annual Conference: March 13-14
We always have a great time at this two-day event.  We had a jam-packed booth filled with herbal goodies and garden treasures which kept me busy, but I had a few moments to chat with the keynote speaker, Rosalind Creasy, (below left) who is the “mother” of the edible landscape, and an expert on heirloom veggies and flowers.  Beulah Hargrave, (below right) owner of Grand Oak Herb Farm was also a speaker.  Many of you traveled on our bus trip years ago to visit her farm.


 I also reconnected with Renata, of Etc. Designs.  I’ve purchased her unique, fun jewelry at past shows and you’ll be happy to know I’ve made arrangements to carry a small selection of her earrings at the farm this spring.


 There are many herb units and clubs in Michigan, and many of them provide educational displays, such as those shown above.  I always learn something new and am impressed at the work they put into gathering historical items for each topic. 


If you’ve never attended this event, mark your calendar for March 11& 12, 2016 in East Lansing.     

Did you know:
*Home Depot now requires all of its growers to put a special tag on any plant treated with neonicotinoids (a chemical strongly suspected of causing massive honeybee and other pollinator destruction.)  Be sure to avoid any plants grown with this commonly used commercial nursery and greenhouse chemical.
*The largest tomato grown (on record) was 7.7 lbs. and grew up in Oklahoma
*Americans eat 88 pounds of tomatoes per person annually
*The world’s largest dairy exporter is New Zealand

Spring Feedings & Tips
      It’s time to begin fertilizing houseplants!  I usually get stocked up on organic fertilizers to begin on March 15.   Check for insects, and pinch the tips or trim back sprawling growth.  The plants will respond to the nourishment, and to the longer, sunnier days with new growth and a perky attitude!
      It’s also a good idea to spread a little fertilizer or compost on bulbs, such as crocuses, dwarf iris, tulips, etc. as soon as they finish blooming.  I like to do it on a rainy day, so it is automatically “watered in”.  That feeds the bulbs as they ripen their foliage, and builds up the bulbs so they will bloom even bigger and better next spring.  I try to fertilize each clump as they finish, and stick a colored toothpick there, so I know it’s done.  Otherwise I forget where they were, or if I did them or not.   A warning, if you use granular chemical fertilizers and put it on foliage, it will burn the plants, often killing them.  Use organic fertilizer, or you can use a diluted liquid fertilizer mixed with water.
     If you want cannas & dahlias to bloom earlier in the season, now is a good time to pot them and get them started indoors.  They’ll bloom almost a month earlier than if planted directly outdoors after the soil is warm.  You will need to harden them off gradually and don’t plant them into cold soil.   
Herb To Know:  Mexican Bush Oregano
     While this highly-scented plant (Poliomintha longiflora) is not a true oregano, its spicy flavor and abundant growth allows it to be used in many of the same recipes traditionally calling for oregano.  Even if oregano is not a flavoring often used, many gardeners grow bush oregano for its showy, long, pink trumpet-shaped blooms that cover the plant all summer and its tidy green foliage.  I love it in combination planters designed for sunny spots.
     As the name suggests, bush oregano is a native of Mexico, so it needs to come indoors before frost.  It prefers well-drained average soil in full sun, and can tolerate moderate drought.  Eventually, it can reach 36 inches in height.  It is easily propagated from new-growth cuttings.


Recipe:  Drunken Chicken with Winter Vegetables
This has quickly become a family favorite. Don’t worry, the alcohol cooks out, but leaves a rich flavor.
     In a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat, cook 4 slices bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon.
     While bacon cooks, combine in a plastic bag:  1/3 c. flour, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper, ½ tsp. paprika.  Add 8 chicken legs or thighs and shake to coat evenly.  After bacon is removed, add 2 T. butter and 1 T. oil to skillet.  Add chicken and brown evenly on all sides.
     While chicken browns, scrub and quarter 4 potatoes.  Remove top and root from 3 turnips.  Slice each one in half, and then each half into four slices.  When chicken is browned, remove it from skillet.  Begin to preheat oven to 300 degrees.
     Add potatoes to skillet and cook about 4 min., turning to brown evenly.  Add turnips and 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, cooking about 3 more min. to lightly brown turnips.
     Add 6 carrots, cut in 1” pieces and 1 c. coarsely chopped onion.  Stir vegetables.  Add 3-4T. Benedictine carefully (it may flare.)  Add a chicken bouillon cube and 1 c. water (or 1 c. chicken broth.)  Cook about 3 min.  Remove skillet from heat.  Add 1 c. white wine, 1/3 c. chopped parsley.  Stir.  Place chicken pieces on top.  Bake in oven 45 min., until chicken is fully cooked and tender.   Remove from oven, and sprinkle with just a little more chopped parsley before serving.  4 servings.  Note:  I usually check it after about 30 min. to make sure there is still enough liquid to cover the bottom of the skillet.  If not, add a bit more broth or wine.

We’ll be heading south to the Kentuckiana Herb Symposium this Friday.  The event, entitled “Herbs Past and Present” is Saturday,   March 28 (prior registration required.)  We’ll be taking a full truckload of herbal delights, and looking forward to seeing lots of good friends there.  Then we’ll be scrambling to be ready to greet our first visitors of our final season.  We hope to see you at the farm soon. 

Herbal blessings, Carolee