Wednesday, February 29, 2012

3,777 Comments, My 1,000th Post and an Extra Day!

This has just been a crazy winter.  One day looks like this and the next day like this literally.
Well, on to the real message here.  I can't believe I have been blogging almost four years and have almost 3,800 comments and it's because of you my dear readers that I keep going.  So thank you so much for reading this mucky herbal mess.  You inspire me each and every day to keep writing.  Oh, BTW, at some point in the next few months, I'll be doing a big giveaway.  I'll just leave it at that.
This was picked last night from the garden.  It is salad burnet (very evergreen even for us) and mache.  Mache is very hardy in a winter garden with protection.  We have had 30 inches of snow, but sporadically.  Haven't needed much protection because of the moderate temperatures for the most part.
We are going to be close to 60 again today with thunderstorms.  A wild and wacky extra last day of February.

I'm getting The Herbal Husband ready to go to his homeland of Peru or maybe he's getting me ready.  He runs the ship here.  I'm truly along for the ride most days!  I've got to get my notebook dusted off and take notes for the feeding of birds and the watering of the indoor plants.  Start saying prayers that I don't kill anything!  It's tough to take over when one person does the watering.  As I have said we water differently!  Just keep those digits crossed that I can keep them alive!

I'm trying to get my herb lists done for you and it has taken longer than expected.  It may be next week (after the departure of THH) before I start posting them.  I want to make sure they are complete and correct as possible.  So thanks for your support and comments.  Here's hoping for another 1,000 posts!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mowing Them Down!

We started the day with this and ended it with this

and this!

Yippee!  I'll get back to herb choices next post.  Hope you are having a great day!  Getting colder and windy and maybe snow later today.  It is February after all!  Talk to you later.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Taking a Slight Pause!

Today is such a beautiful day and semi-warm and sunny that we are going to mow down the grasses before The Herbal Husband goes south of the border.  I think he was startled that I was going to mow down the grasses by myself while he was gone.  We got the sticks and strings out (They are an obligatory part of our garden.) and we will take a tea break or recliner (TCM break) and then start the process.  Will get back on track tomorrow.  Talk to you later or tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Some Resources to Help with Your Herb Garden Planning!

This is an early copy of my herb garden.  Remember I live with an architect so he is a big help with some the planning aspects.  You don't have to live with an architect though.  I have found that The Herb Companion has a terrific Herb Garden Planner that you can try out free for 30 days.  I have not taken advantage of mine, but I'm going to redesign and rework my plants this season with the help of Herb Garden Planner.  I also wrote a post for getting started with your herb garden last April called Lots of Good Basic Herb Gardening Information.  Here then are some resources to help you get local information.  A couple of national websites to give you master gardener information, one from the American Horticultural Society that gives you a map to click on for master gardener information by state and if you scroll down into Canada there are links for their programs.  If the master gardener links are stale which sometimes they are, here is also a link to the county extension websites that are available.  They usually have master gardeners or extension agents available to answer your questions for your local area.  I love extension and it is an important asset that you should be using.  The USDA just came out with a new zone map.  That will give you a ballpark of what you might be able to grow.  Then because I'm answering a question about what perennial herbs a reader in northern Michigan can grow. I will give you a couple of book resources to consider.
This is a series from Lone Pine books called Herb Gardening for the Midwest by Debra Knapke and Laura Peters.  Again to give you a ballpark of growing, harvesting, propagating, etc.  It now has an old zone map!  Can't win.  It is a good basic book.  If you live a little south and east in the Cleveland area, this book will be helpful.  Susan McClure passed away a few years ago but she wrote a book called The Herb Gardener:  A Guide for All Seasons.  Good information, good photos of plants.  Ideas for crafts and cooking as well.  Each of them has good color photos of the herbs.  They both have herbs that I haven't even grown!

I also thought you should see the first book on herbs I bought.  I may have talked about this in a previous post, but here it is Herbs How to Select, Grow and Enjoy, an HP Book by Norma Jean Lathrop.  I think this one may be available as a used book.  It's a good one.  It gave me a great foundation.

Well, I think I have given you some food for thought.  Tomorrow I will start discussing strategy and herbs to consider.  Going to walk before it rains!  Can't believe the weather.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Going to Get Down to Herbal Business!

Well, I can't believe where the time has gone.  We are about a month from spring.  That's the good news.  The bad news is I'm no closer to coming up with a new design for my herb garden.  I'm thinking of doing small vignettes around the established lavenders.  Have I said that already?  It feels like I'm repeating myself.  Since I wrote about Shakespeare's herbs and flowers, I may add a few more of those herbs and flowers in.  The front bed that has sage may be redesigned once again to try once again to make a small knot garden.  I'm a perennial optimist about it!

The Herbal Husband will be off to Peru at the beginning of March and so I will have a bit of time to try to remove some of the hangers on herbally and otherwise speaking.  My two prime targets are the garlic chives right by St. Fiacre (some times fiasco) and a couple of clumps of ornamental grasses.  I also have to mow down the ornamental grasses before they really start growing.  Well, wherever you may be if you have planning of any kind, you should be working on it because the next month will go fast!  We'll be behind before you know it!  Seems some years I'm always trying to catch up!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Just Wanted You to Know!

Act Two of Shakespeare's Herbs is on The Herb Companion website.  It is called A Reader's Request:  The Herbs of Shakespeare, Act Two.  Hope you enjoy it.  Thanks for the suggestion, Tomato Lady.

Tea Around Town

I have tea on the brain at the moment.  I plan to get downstairs to work on some new tea blends.  So in the meantime, I found this article about tea in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today called Drink Your Tea... and eat it, too!

I remember when I was President of a local herb club, I invited a local British woman to talk about tea and using it in cooking.  She said to me that she did not like or drink tea, but she would be glad to talk about it!  I'm sure there are others who are British who like coffee better.  In fact I know one, my British Herbal Companion!  The Post-Gazette article mentions a whole bunch of websites and you don't even have to live in the 'Burgh to go to them.  It also gives you a few recipes using tea.  I have my favorite tearoom ladies links on the right side of my blog.  Check those out as well.  It is a rainy and somewhat warm day today.  It is either really cold or semi-cold.  I really miss the snow and now it is gone again.  I'm going to go do my exercise.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

This is a small wooden heart from Nancy Thomas a terrific folk artist from the Yorktown, Virginia area that I gave to The Herbal Husband a number of years ago.  I regive it to him every so often to remind him how much I love him.  I have collected several pieces from her over the years.  Here is the inside.

As I have been working on my post of The Herb Companion about Shakespeare's herbs.  I will leave you with some origins of Valentine's Day from a booklet by Adelma Simmons called The Book of Valentine Remembrances.

St. Valentines is past.  Begin these woodbirds but to couple now?
Act IV, Scene 1 of A Midsummer Night's Dream where Theseus comes across the four lovers who have been put under a spell by the fairies.

"From early Roman days, it was thought that the birds began to pair on February 14th thus the emphasis on love and its messages.

A custom of medieval times that persisted into the 15th and 16th centuries -- A person of the opposite sex was chosen by lot on St. Valentine's Day to be the friend or lover for the coming year.

A folded paper which contained the name of the year's partner was given the name Valentine, and became the forerunner of our elaborate Victorian fancies.

The first person of the opposite sex that one met was to be wooed with the word 'Good Morrow 'tis Valentine's Day.'  The first to chant these words was to receive a token of love.

Samuel Pepys is credited with recording the first account of sending the modern paper Valentine.  This went to his wife whom he addressed as "Most courteous and most fair."

Well, I hope you got a Valentine from your favorite today.  If you didn't, this is my Valentine to you for reading this blog and sharing my wacky life with me and The Herbal Husband.  Has started to snow, but it is going to turn to rain later.  Hope you are having a great day wherever you may be. Talk to you later.

Monday, February 13, 2012

This Made Me Cry!

I have always loved Whitney Houston and tragically she has passed on to the great concert in Heaven.  I wanted to share the Jennifer Hudson tribute at the Grammys last night of I Will Always Love You through Perez  It might just make you cry.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

One Word, Brrrrr!

I'm going to heat up a cup of ginger tea and start working on some different tea blends.  I think I said that about ten posts ago!  I'm easily distracted.  We did have a snow event yesterday.  It didn't produce a lot of snow, but just enough whiteouts that it reminded me of New England snows.  It was good to be inside.  I just ran out long enough to take a new banner photo.  So I will get busy here and share things as I come up with them.  I also have to get busy on a new scheme for my herb garden.  Same excuses, garlic chives, ornamental grasses and the garden has just run amok because I wasn't around enough last summer.  Oh, I have to share some more adventures with you as well.  Lots to talk about.   Hope you are staying warm or cool wherever you may.  Talk to you later.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Herbs of Shakespeare Continued

I never know if I have enough space on my blog at The Herb Companion.  I wanted to give you more photos to this one quote.  So here it is as it should be:

Lavender, Mint, Savory, Marjoram and Marigolds – The Winter’s Tale (Act 4, Scene 4)

“Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram,
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ th’ sun
And with him rises weeping.  These are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.”

Perdita is talking with Polixenes about breeding flowers and talks of the marigold (pot marigold or calendula) that closes its petals with the sun.  Marigolds are sometimes called Mary-buds after the Virgin Mary.  Hot lavender refers to the taste of the flower being spicy and the flowers were used to perfume cupboards where linens were stored.  Mint was long used to perfume the air, to season food and to clear the head.   Grow orange mint for good appearance and spicy fragrance, pineapple mint for variegated leaves, peppermint or spearmint for tea and apple mint for its wooly leaves.  Marjoram was using as a strewing herb and they needed a lot of it to keep their houses smell fresh.  Savory came with the Romans to England.  They used it in spicy sauces.  Today it is known as the bean herb and can be a substitute for pepper.  Summer savory is an annual and is easily grown from seed and has a little pink or purple flower.  Winter savory is a hardy perennial with white flowers. 

'Munstead' Lavender Blooming in July!  Can't Wait!


Summer Savory in Bloom

Calendulas Still Blooming in the Fall
Thanks to my Texas readers and one in particular who gave me the request and inspiration.  Please go over to The Herb Companion and enjoy my Valentine's Day present called A Reader's Request:  The Herbs of Shakespeare, Act One.  You know there must be an Act Two to come.  Stay Tuned!  Getting snow tomorrow.  Of course going to Ohio.  Hope it won't be too bad!  Talk to you later!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Well, I Spoke Too Soon! Typical!

You know how I was whining the other day that we didn't have snow!  Well, here it is.  Not much to call snow, but I was getting worried that February was going to come and go without snow!  Gosh this "winter" is flying by!  I'm trying to get my latest post for The Herb Companion ready so I need to run.  I need to work on some tea blends.  Still a lot to do!  Hope you are having a great day or evening wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Few More of My Favorite Catalogs This Time of Year!

Here is the latest catalog from The Thyme Garden in Oregon.  It does cost $2 but they do have some very good choices in the herb seed category.  I already have my seeds ordered and received!  I can't even say I can't wait to plant them after the snow is gone.  The snow is definitely gone, gone, gone.  We have been in the 40's for quite a while now.  It may be in the 20's over the weekend, but the winter is very strange.  I'm hoping that it doesn't mean we will have worse insect and disease problems this coming growing season.  We'll just take one problem at a time.  The catalog on the right is Seeds from Italy.  I ordered from this catalog a while back and had very good results.  I was reminded by my blogging buddy, Carla who does a blog called Thyme in a Bottle about this catalog.  Thanks, Carla!

This one just arrived in this afternoon's mail and was mentioned by a Facebook comment I received on The Herb Companion Facebook page.  It is from High Mowing Organic Seeds from Vermont.  It looked like I had already been paging through it.  I have one piece of mail that looks like it has been eaten by a postal machine and tossed out.  I love my mail, but don't always like what the post office does to it!

Please if you are trying to find a new variety maybe try these choices and the others I have posted in January of this year.  As I mentioned, winter has been pretty mild, considering what February, 2010 was like.  Remember this!

Remember this is not this year!  This is 2010!  We usually get about 40 inches of snow in a season and this year, we have had 15 total.  Not complaining, not complaining.  I do think it is a bit funny that I have to go on my friend, Jekka's blog to see snow!  Now that's funny!  OK, hope you are having a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Harvest Time in June-uary!!

Hard to imagine that we harvested some vegetables on the last day of January 2012!  We dug a few purple and gold potatoes, a couple of beets and some cress.  Pretty good for January.  We also got some perennials cut down and the epasote that has seeded around.  Some of the plants are looking good like the 'Berggarten' sage and the 'Provence' lavenders.

And look what we found starting to bloom.  A dandelion!
Saw the 14 day forecast and we aren't cold through mid February!  It's a little scary.  Really need a break during the winter to recharge the gardening battery!  Got my walk in. That's the good news don't have to battle snow and ice to stay fit.  Always enjoy being out with nature.  Hope you are having a great day or evening wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.