Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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Home News Newsletters May 2016 E-Newsletter
May 2016 E-Newsletter Print E-mail


 May E-Newsletter 2016

May whizzed along at an alarming rate!  Maybe because the entire first half felt more like March than May, but I won’t complain because the cool, wet weather has made the early spring crops in the potager very happy, and all the warm-weather lovers were content to remain in the little greenhouse until the soils warmed significantly.  We’ve had all the radishes, lettuces, pakchoi, various salad greens and green onions we can eat, and given lots away.  Now the first strawberries are ripe, the fava beans and peas are blooming, and the beets and spinach will soon be ready to harvest.  I’ve removed sod and made a new flowering shrub border in the front lawn, (shown above) and planted two more rows of berries (summer bearing and fall bearing red raspberries) behind the potager, besides the normal weeding, mulching, and doing shows.  I’m having a ball; still amazed at the miracle of seeds germinating and watching things grow.

Upcoming Events:
State Master Gardener Conference:  June 16-18
If you plan to attend this conference, “Cultivating Our Legacy” in West Lafayette be sure to look for our booth.  This is most likely the last show I will do, so there will be some great bargains.

SonShine Greenhouse
You may recall that in a recent newsletter, I asked for your suggestions for greenhouses to visit to find well-grown plants, especially herbs.  Several people responded with SonShine Greenhouse, in North Manchester, IN.  Operated by Mennonites, this beautiful, state-of-the-art greenhouse complex is a delight to visit.  The plant material is gorgeous, especially if you are looking for hanging baskets and colorful annuals like those shown below. 

Their selection of Proven Winners is extensive, too.  I was disappointed in the small section of herbs, but admittedly I am slightly jaded.  They do have the basic culinary herbs. Located on Hwy 114, just west of Hwy 13, it is worth a visit.  I’m still looking for more suggestions, so send them on!

Recap of recent events:

Garden Expo, Tippecanoe Co. Master Gardeners
     Over 1000 people attended this free event, and it was easy to see why.  I don’t know the number of plants offered, but it was probably 10,000 or more and the selection was amazing.  Specialty growers had dozens of varieties of air plants, succulents, Japanese maples, natives, and herbs.  There were lily and dahlia bulbs not often available at normal outlets.  The huge array of bargains in their Garden Shed disappeared quickly.  If you’ve never been, this might be one you should put on your list for next April!  At the end of the day, all the Master Gardeners’ leftover plants were FREE! Located at the Tippecanoe Co. Fairgrounds, Lafayette, IN.

Madison Co. MG Spring Garden Bazaar & Plant Sale
While not as large as the Tippecanoe show above, this one was more fun.  Not only is there great background music that makes you smile and remember your glory years, but there’s free coffee and Boy Scouts to help get your boxes of plants to your vehicle. The plant categories are nicely arranged for easy shopping, and lots of Master Gardeners roam around to answer questions on possible purchases.  Their informative tags made shopping easy, too.  Lots of great items in their “garden garage sale,” including inexpensive raised beds they’d made. The free tool sharpening booth was busy all day.  Great bargains, including big hostas for $3, and berry-laden strawberry plants for 50 cents!Put this one on your May calendar for next year.

Did you know?
*Opossums can have as many as 19 babies at one time, and all of the newborns will fit in a teaspoon at once!

Smallage/Cutting Celery
     This time of year, I especially appreciate smallage, a celery-flavored biennial that looks very much like parsley in its early stages.  It will be months before I can harvest “true” celery, but the smallage is ready almost as early as the chives.  The bright green leaves are delicious in salads, soups, and sauces.  Sprinkle them on deviled eggs, potato salad, or peanut butter sandwiches!  Pioneer women carried smallage seeds across the plains, and if you purchase celery seed at the grocery, it is most likely actually smallage seeds!  Harvest it often by simply snipping off the outer leaves, which accounts for its common name, cutting celery.  Planted in average soil in a sunny or lightly shaded site, it will continue to grow until hard freeze, sleep over the winter, and emerge the following spring to provide another crop of leaves.  Eventually small white flowers will appear on 2’ stalks, similar to Queen Anne’s lace but smaller, which will be followed by clusters of brown celery-flavored seeds.  Gather them, but be sure to allow a few to drop for a new crop.  If you’ve never tried it, I have a few give-away plants for the first 6 people who contact me!

Garden Frittata
Frittatas are one of my favorite dishes, because they are so versatile.  They are delicious hot or cold, for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even a casual supper.  They can utilize leftovers in a creative way, and combine random items of garden produce when there is only a little of this and a little of that into a delicious dish.  And, they are SO EASY!  Make them with or without meat.  Serve them with a variety of toppings (my choice is pesto, but sour cream, grated cheese, snipped chives, chopped tomatoes, salsa, crumbled bacon….or a combination of these things or other herbs are wonderful.  Experiment!)  This recipe serves 8-10, but can be divided easily.  I generally use 1 potato per person and go from there!
In a large oven-proof skillet, cook 1 lb. bacon until crisp.  Remove bacon to cool and crumble.  “Bake” 8 potatoes in the microwave (or use leftover baked or boiled potatoes.)  Cool a bit and slice ¼” thick.
Remove all but 2 T. bacon drippings, but reserve the rest.  (Leftover pork or chicken or sausage can also be used.) Return skillet to medium heat.  Add 2 medium onions, chopped; 1 green pepper, chopped and cook just until almost tender.  Add 1 sliced zucchini; 8 oz. sliced mushrooms (or 3 c. of any leftover cooked veggies you might have in the fridge, or from the garden---carrots, celery, broccoli, green beans, peas???)  Add a tsp. of your favorite dried herb, or a handful of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, savory, lovage, smallage, chives or whatever needs harvesting in your culinary herb section.  Cook just until mushrooms have shrunk and most of the moisture has evaporated.  Pour the vegetables into a bowl. (If using leftover veggies or meat, warm them well before using so eggs will cook evenly.)
     Spray the skillet with non-stick spray.  Add 2 T. reserved bacon drippings.  Arrange half of the potato slices in the skillet.  Top with the veggies.  Sprinkle liberally with grated cheese.  Sprinkle with 3 T. chopped parsley, or chives, or other favorite herb.Add second half of potatoes, spreading to form an even layer.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk together 8 eggs, 3/4 tsp. salt, freshly ground pepper, 1 c. cream.  Pour over frittata.  Sprinkle crumbled bacon over top.  Arrange slices of cheese on the top (I use Garlic & Herb Jack, but Swiss or Provolone also work well.)  Bake until center is set and edges are lightly browned, about 20-30 min.

That’s it for May, but be sure to watch for the June E-newsletter because I am visiting a famous author and lots of beautiful gardens soon.  And, keep in touch through my blog: for updates on my new gardens, new crops, and crazy thoughts.  Some of the latest posts:  “Could It be Fairies?,” “What a Difference a Day Makes,” and “Beet Comparison.”

Until next time,

Herbal Blessings, Carolee