Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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April 2016 Newsletter Print E-mail

April E-Newsletter 2016

     Whew!  And hasn’t April just been fun, with snow and temperatures well below normal at the beginning, and the soaring to the upper 70’s by mid-month.  Early on it was too wet to mow and fields were muddy, but every day I gave thanks for my lovely raised beds, which allowed me to plant, plant, plant throughout the month!  I’ve even risked planting some of my favorite beans, Royal Burgundy, which can tolerate cooler, moist soils in case Mother Nature turns it cool again.The tulips and daffodils are especially lovely this year.  I look at them and think of all the beautiful children who attended our Fairy Days over the years and picked daffodils at the farm.  I no longer have Fairy Days, but I do have a new Fairy Garden getting underway so all the fairies and I will still have a place to play.  April wasn’t all play, though, as I attended several shows and events, and loading and unloading that truck is getting to be less and less fun!  Only 3 shows to go and by mid-June, setting up booths will only be a memory.

Upcoming Events:
Garden Expo, Tippecanoe Co. Master Gardeners:  Sat., April 23, 9-3
     Over 1000 people generally attend this popular event, partially because it is FREE, and partially because of the great plant sale and the garden bargains in their Garden Shed.  In addition, two speakers will give programs:  Karen Mitchell, “Pesticides and Other Options,” and Laura Ingwell, “Garden Insects.”  Located at the Tippecanoe Co. Fairgrounds, Lafayette, IN.  Look for our booth, as well as lots of other quality

Spring Garden Bazaar & Plant Sale:  Sat., May 14, 9-1
Join the Madison Co. Master Gardeners for this fun event.  Shop for plants, garden décor, garden gloves and more.  Bring small hand tools for free sharpening (limit 2 per person) and get gardening questions answered.  We’ll have a big booth of great stuff, so come see us!  Madison Co., 4-H Building, Beulah Park, Alexandria, IN on Route 9, north of Anderson.

Trowel & Error Garden Club Plant Sale:  Sat, May 21, 8-1
Join my local garden club for its annual plant sale, held at the Historical Museum in Hartford City (corner of Kickapoo &          )  Not a huge sale, but you’ll find some interesting houseplants, lots of tomato & pepper plants, reliable perennials, gently used garden goodies, and more.

Garden Tips
     Deadhead daffodils and tulips as soon as flowers have faded so the plant will put its energy into making more bulbs rather than trying to produce seeds.  Also remember that these plants must retain their leaves until they are totally brown and dried up, so don’t mow them or pluck off yellowing leaves.
     Don’t prune spring flowering shrubs until right after they bloom.
     Shear thymes and savory to keep them from getting too leggy.  I generally cut back to wherever there is sign of green.
     Clipping asters, mums, and sedums when they are about 6” tall to about 3” will make them more dense, and less likely to flop later in the season.  It will also produce lots more blooms!   You can also do this with monarda, phlox and many other perennials. 
      Putting a pinch of “Soil-Moist” in the planting hole of water loving annuals (like begonias, impatiens, petunias, etc.) and mixing it in well before setting in the plant in the ground will greatly reduce watering later in the summer.  This is the same product we use in all our containers and hanging baskets, so we don’t have to water them as often.  Saves time and money!  Also works for veggies!

Your suggestion?
     Now that I have closed my farm, and Kim’s “Garden Thyme” has also closed, we need suggestions for good, reliable places to buy chemical-free herbs… big box stores, please, and we want beyond just the standard chives, parsley, sage, etc.  Please e-mail your response.

Recap:  Kentuckiana Herb Spring Education Day

     Three hundred happy herb lovers gathered April 9th to celebrate “Herbs Past and Present.”  A lot of effort went into making this event a success, including the creative centerpieces shown above and the huge array of herbal baked goods and treats for sale.


  The setting, at the Huber Winery Plantation House, was elegant.  Two excellent speakers provided ample education, but allowed lots of time for shopping at the various vendors.  It was great to see an array of beautiful plants from Peggy Thieneman’s new greenhouse After the event, I took time to visit the Huber Farm Market and the Cheese Shop which were both a very short walk away.  It was southern Indiana hospitality at its best and the drive through hill country with all the daffodils (when there were none here at home!) was delightful, not to mention a field of buffalo!

Recap:  Van Wert Blooms with P. Allen Smith
     This had to be one of the very best events I have attended in a long time.  Through the efforts of Louise Hartwig and her committees, the décor was lovely with fresh flowers and little vignettes throughout the building.  The morning breakfast was delicious, and the swag bag was bountiful.

After we’d heard the amazing P. Allen Smith &musical Barbara Wise, even before we’d had the scrumptious lunch, we all felt as though we’d already received far more than the $45 ticket price!  But the hilarious Amanda Thomsen, entertaining Irvin Etienne, and informative Pam Bennet and Maria Zampini would have been worth another $45, besides the dozens and dozens of door prizes handed out (gift certificates, Haven tea, floral arrangements, seeds, leave blowers, weed eaters and more)….and wonder of wonder, my ticket was the first one drawn!  It was a perfect day, and everyone who attended hopes it is the first of many more.

Did you know:
     *Soaking hard-coated seeds like okra or sweet peas in milk overnight makes them germinate quickly.  The lactic acid scarifies the shell.
     *Lightning bolts strike the Earth on average 100 times every second!
     *Americans consume 250 lbs. of potatoes per person per year.
     *Quercetin is a chemical that helps reduce cholesterol and aids in preventing blood clots.  It is found in red and yellow onions, but NOT in white onions or garlic!
     *Tulips are edible.

Herb to Know:  Violets
     Many people are surprised to learn that violets are an herb.  Everyone enjoys their delicate fragrance, their sweet modesty, their symbol of faithfulness.  Native to North Africa, Europe and Asia, violets have escaped to grow abundantly throughout most of North America.  They are hardy perennials, growing even in poorest soils, but happiest in decent soil and partial shade with a bit of moisture.  They spread by underground runners called stolons, but also have pods that shoot out seeds several feet.  While the blue violet is most common, yellow and white violets are also widely grown.
     Violets have been used medicinally since ancient times.  The Greeks recommended a poultice of violet leaves for inflamed eyes.  The Romans used them to make wine, and as a remedy for headaches and insomnia.  Later a syrup of violet flowers was helpful for bronchitis and asthma.  Most recently it was discovered that eating violet flowers significantly reduced the recurrence of breast cancer!
     The blue dye in many violets acts as a litmus paper, turning red when exposed to acid and yellow when alkali.
     The fragrance of violets has been a prized perfume, with violet oil being one of the most expensive of all floral oils.
     As stated earlier, violets are a symbol of faithfulness.  When combined with a single red rose, the resulting small bouquet declares “never-ending love.”
     The flowers of violets have often been candied, or made into jams and jellies.   In the Middle Ages, a broth was made with violets, fennel and savory.  In the 15th century, violets were often used in soups and sauces.  The Duchess of Kent, mother of Queen Victoria, adored violet tea (1 tsp. of dried violets in 1 c. boiling water.  Steep 5 min.)  In specialty tea shops, a blend of violet and chamomile can sometimes be found (or make your own!)  A 1909 Scottish cookbook offers a recipe for violet mousse.  Violet syrup was very popular, added to cake batter, poured over fresh fruit, baked cakes or puddings, or added to tea.  It can also be used to make violet sorbet.  Violet vinegar has been made for centuries, both as a medicinal and as a delicious dressing for salads, especially those that include violet leaves, or in potato salad that also includes a few violet flowers sprinkled on top.  Violet butter is delightful on scones, or used in cookies, custards, or cakes.

Recipe:  Spring Violet Salad
Note:  Be safe! Do not use flowers or greens from lawns that have received any type of chemical  treatment!
     In a small bowl, combine:  1 c. lettuce (I use thinnings from too-thickly planted rows in my potager, but any will do.); 1 c. dandelion leaves, snipped 1/2” wide; 40 violet flowers; 40 violet leaves; 1 T. finely snipped chives; 1 T. finely snipped sorrel leaves (thick center rib removed.)  Pick a couple extra violet leaves and flowers for garnish.
     In a small jar:  1 T. salad oil; 1 tsp. vinegar (violet or white wine or apple cider); ½ tsp. sugar; dash of salt; grind of fresh black pepper.  Shake well until sugar dissolves.  Dress salad.  Garnish with reserved leaves and flowers.  Serves 2.
Get outside and enjoy the spring flowers!  No matter the weather, Spring is fleeting, and is over much, much too soon.

Herbal Blessings, Carolee