Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

NOTE: To use the advanced features of this site you need javascript turned on.

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


October E-Newsletter 2015

It’s been a beautiful, busy October; one that makes me happy to live in the Midwest where savoring the seasons’ change is a major blessing.  Having just returned from Tucson, AZ where it looks basically the same (beige) all the time, I was delighted to see the brilliant autumn colors and bright green combines crawling through the fields here at home.  And, planting bulbs makes me dream of spring, another, very different, but just as beautiful season.  Of course, I’m jumping ahead, right over winter, as most gardeners do, but on those snowy, gorgeous days I’ll think of all my plants taking a long winter’s nap, and smile.

                          Great Big Garage Sale!  October 23, 24, 25! 9-5 daily
Well, actually it’s being held in the Greenhouse at my old farm, (3305 S. 100 West, Hartford City, IN) not the garage, although I’m sure it will spill out into the parking lot as well.  LOTS of garden décor, some furniture, books, cement blocks, used landscape timbers, roofing slates, dishes, teapots, teacups, candles, craft items, children’s clothing, gardening supplies, a tiller, and an edger.  ots of things I thought I wanted to save for myself, but have decided I just don’t have the room or the need for them, plus lots of items the new owners have decided to sell.  Also, more things from my basement and pole barn, and succulent plants and leftover perennials.

A Quick Trip to Tucson
     It was our grandson’s fall break, so we flew to Tucson to spend some quality time with our family.  In addition to lots of cooking, game-playing, dog-walking, and talking, we drove to Wilcox, AZ to visit one of my favorite places out West, Annie’s Apples.  In previous years, we were too late to pick apples or Asian pears, or to see the huge fields of U-Pick sunflowers and vegetables, but this year the timing was just right.

     The U-pick sunflowers were right next to the parking area, so it was very tempting to cut a bouquet to take home.  There were also fields of pumpkins of every size and color, with wheelbarrows or wagons to move the really big ones. 

     The rows of peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, tomatillo and more veggies were clearly marked with variety signs and lots of people were picking bucketfuls.  Or, if it was too hot for you (it was 94 degrees all week) there was a beautiful array of already picked veggies and fruits inside the pavilion.  We even bought a dozen ears of freshly picked sweet corn ($5.99 for 13, but remember it has to be irrigated there) and it was pretty good for non-Hoosier corn.
     The bakery was filled with pies, cobblers, breads, jams, jellies, apple butter, flavored oils and vinegars, syrups, and more.  Sadly, we were too late for the pumpkin bread.  The table was empty except for the sign.

     There were also a cider donut stand, an apple pie with homemade ice cream stand, a burger shack (the burgers were grilled over apple wood) and a jam-packed gift shop featuring anything with apples or pumpkins on it.  It was a fun day.


     I didn’t make it to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, with its beautiful herb garden, but I did go to my favorite garden center, Mesquite Valley Growers.  They’ve expanded since I was there last year, with even more garden décor and plants.  I’ve written about this award-winning garden center before, but I’m always impressed with the extensive offerings and the quality of their plants.  I loved the miniature truck all decked out for autumn.  It seems so odd that they are just gearing up for the growing season, while our garden centers here at home are winding down.  The color and selection were amazing.  (Notice the mountains in the background.)While Jen and I were at Mesquite Valley Growers, the guys went to the Pima Air Museum, one of the largest in the country, and had a great time. It's always interesting to see the plant material in a different climate, like this garden (below right) near a parking lot.


What I’ve been doing this month!
     Fall is a good time to plant, so I put in two long rows of berry bushes:  thornless blackberries, black raspberries, and a few red raspberries, plus some gooseberry and elderberry bushes.
     Ten varieties of hardneck garlic were planted in the new Potager garden.
     I reclaimed a neglected garden and began planting a new fairy garden.  I placed the houses just so I could see where I wanted to install perennials and plant miniature bulbs.  Once the planting is finished, I’ll store the houses in the Lady Cottage for the winter.
     Speaking of the Lady Cottage, I stained the floor and exterior stain and trim is finished.  As I unpacked the trailer and sales shed for the Great Big Garage Sale, I moved selected items of furniture and décor inside.  I love it and look forward to spending many hours on balmy days this winter just reading or sipping tea.
     I moved benching into the new hobby greenhouse, and put a few plants inside when frost threatened.
    I shoveled and wheelbarrowed over 22 TONS of garden soil into the raised beds of the new Potager garden.
     I planted over 800 bulbs in the new garden areas and seeded 10 lbs. of grass seed over the disturbed areas resulting from the Potager garden construction.
    I built 10 raised bed planters for my mother’s (she's 90 next month!) new garden area. 
    All of the newly planted areas received a cosmetic layer of mulch.
    And I watched LOTS of college football!  Loving this retirement gig!

Seed Collecting
If you grow non-hybrid varieties of herbs or flowers, now is the time to collect seeds for spring planting.  Try to collect them on a dry day.  I put each variety in a standard envelope, writing the name, color, date, and in which garden they grew.  I bring the envelopes indoors and spread them on a table for a few days, to make sure they are completely dry.  Then I store them alphabetically in plastic shoe boxes, sorted by “Early Annuals”, “Early Perennials”, “Midseason”, “Late”, etc.  When spring comes, they are easy to find, and I don’t have to sort through every envelope to find what needs to be planted first.   Adding a tablespoon of powdered milk wrapped in a bit of tissue and fastened with a staple or tape in each box helps keep the seeds dry.   A change in temperature can cause condensation within the box.  The milk will absorb any moisture.  Discard the packets next summer.
    Keep in mind that if you grow more than one variety of a plant within bee-traveling distance, then probably cross-pollination has occurred and the plants may not come “true” from your collected seed.  So, if you grew cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes near one another, you may get something that doesn’t resemble either!  Seeds collected from flowers may result in different colors than either parent, but if you don’t care, it can be lots of fun seeing what you get next summer.
     Seeds collected from flowering perennials usually are more reliable in terms of being true to form, because they generally bloom for a shorter period than annuals or vegetables. 

Garden chores:
*Remove any weeds—they’re trying to seed, and growing great root systems!
*Collect mulch, shred leaves, etc., but don’t put mulch on plants until after the ground freezes, or you’ll be inviting rodents and insects to live in your garden all winter!
*Dig dahlias, cannas, caladiums, glads, begonias, and other tender bulbs after frost.  I love to plant fall bulbs (crocus, scillas, guinea flowers, species tulips, etc.) in the holes as I dig.  It makes the chore serve double duty!
*By the way, traditionally when planting fall bulbs, one should repeat the following charm, once while placing them in the hole and again after covering them with soil to ensure good blooms in spring: “Seasons change—the Wheel turns round;
Bulbs, I plant thee in the ground.  Death-like bulbs, you’ll gain new life,
And in the Spring, will sprout and thrive.”
*Move any tender plants indoors before frost, giving each plant a good sloshing in a bucket of sudsy water (use insecticidal soap) to remove insects and insect eggs.  Do not up-pot plants unless absolutely necessary, unless they are houseplants that were just vacationing outside.
*Map your garden, taking measurements and locating each plant on your diagram.  This will be so helpful during winter planning/dreaming sessions.
*It’s a good time to check plant labels for faded writing, missing tags, etc. so you won’t mistakenly dig up someone next spring.

Orange—the color for vitality and energy….that’s why we love orange pumpkins, orange daylilies, and all the fall leaves.

VISIT MY NEW BLOG:  I've written about planting garlic and bulbs, building my new potager, problems with wildlife, and more.  I’ll introduce you to passionate local farmers and suppliers whenever and wherever I find them, and good gardens as I visit them.  So, check it out….and if you enjoy it, spread the word, and share the link.

Pumpkin Salsa
I’ve had requests to repeat my recipe for this holiday treat, so here it is.  It’s yummy and easy!
Cut a 6-7” diameter pumpkin in half.  Remove seeds and scrape inside to remove “strings.”  Place cut side down in baking dish with 1” water.   Bake at 350 degrees until fork tender.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Peel and dice into ½” cubes (about 4-5c.)  Add 1-2 tomatoes; diced, 1 medium onion, diced; 1 green bell pepper, diced; 2 jalapeno peppers, finely diced; 1 can yellow corn, drained; ½ tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 T. sugar, 3 T. cider vinegar, ½ c. chopped cilantro.  Mix gently.  Serve immediately, or chill.  Makes 5-6c. 

We've had one of the mildest, driest Octobes I can recall, but it's been great for the harvest.  The late frost meant we could enjoy our flowers longer than some years and get more outdoor chores done.  Now it's time for some travel, so next month's newsletter will have lots to say!  Happy Halloween and all Herbal Blessings, Carolee