Carolee's Herb Farm

Carolee's Herb Farm

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Home News Newsletters August 2019 E-Newsletter
August 2019 E-Newsletter Print E-mail


 August E-Newsletter 2019
     August….when leaves begin to dry and fall from the limbs, the school buses again rumble down the road and birds begin to gather in flocks to fill the trees or line the power lines.  There’s football games to listen to on the radio on perfect Saturday afternoons as I’m out collecting seeds, taking cuttings, weeding, or storing away as much of the garden’s harvest as I can.   It won’t be long till frost, as the cicada’s song reminds us, so we must enjoy every flower and fragrance while we can.  
      The photo of the potager was taken one morning last week, when the misty air made everything look magical.  I can’t recall the grass ever remaining so very green all summer.  Usually by August it has turned beige and doesn’t require mowing often, but this summer its required weekly cuts.  The cooler than normal temperatures are great for the flowers, because they aren’t fading as quickly as they do in the heat.  All in all, it’s been the best growing season for the potager yet, thanks to the raised beds.  I’ve spent very little time dragging hoses, but still it’s been a scramble to get every bit of the bounty harvested, consumed or preserved.  It seems every day there are cucumbers or peppers to be pickled, tomatoes to be canned in some form, and beans to be picked.  The melons have been especially prolific and sweet this year, and we’ve enjoyed five different varieties and given several away to friends and neighbors!  On rainy days, I’ve made over 80 jars of jams and jellies!  The shelves and freezer are full!  Still, I’m not nearly ready for it to end, and dread the coming of frost.  How time has flown again this summer!

Upcoming Events:
Indiana Garden School:  Sept 7.  Hosted by the Madison Co. Master Gardeners.  A full day of sessions, including worms & composting, invasive insects, orchid basics, and autumn lawn care.  8-4p.m.  Register by Aug. 30.  $45 includes lunch and more!  Madison Co. Fairgrounds.  For registration go to

There is still time before frost to visit the outstanding “Quilt Garden Tour” in northern Indiana.  Go to

International Herb Association Annual Conference:  Sept. 22 & 23.  Pre-conference tour of United Plant Savers on Sept. 21.  A full day of internationally known speakers on Sept. 22, with a craft & hike day on the 23rd.  More info and registration forms at  Site is Burr Oak Conference Center, Gloucester, Ohio.
Herb to Know:  Bronze Fennel

     With all the interest in planting for pollinators, I don’t quite understand why the lovely bronze fennel doesn’t get more press!  Its mahogany, dill-like foliage provides not only a lovely contrast in the garden, but is a wonderful source of food for both butterflies and caterpillars.  Swallowtails especially enjoy this plant, so I always plant extra so I’ll have plenty of its pretty foliage to use in autumn bouquets.  It goes especially well with zinnias, mums and sunflowers.
     Bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare “Rubrum”) is a more colorful form of perennial fennel.  Both are easy to grow in sunny locations, self-seed easily if not deadheaded, and have that luscious licorice scent.  Their extremely thin, airy foliage adds lightness to the garden to offset heavier, clumpy leaves.  Growing to 2-3’ in height, it eventually forms an “umbrella” flower head of tiny yellow blooms, which are visited by butterflies and beneficial bees and wasps.  Afterwards, football-shaped seeds are formed.  These are traditionally gathered to use in Italian sausage recipes.  The foliage is often grilled with meats or seafood to add a light, sweet flavor.  Do put this herb on your list for next year’s garden!


The Lily Patch
I have a few very late-blooming daylilies, like the one shown here, which I crossed between the old heirloom “Frans Hall” with its alternating dark and light blooms, and a tall night-blooming pale yellow daylily I moved from the old farm.   However, I’ve been wanting to expand my daylily season with more late-bloomers, so I contacted The Lily Patch near Rochester, IN.  They responded quickly to my inquiry and sent photos of those lilies still blooming in my color request, so I could choose those I wanted.  We had another commitment in Rochester, so meeting up for delivery wasn’t a problem.  The plants were a generous 2-fan division with a large soil ball of healthy roots for only $4 each.  There was no sign at all of daylily rust, which has been a problem for most growers this season.  I was thrilled with my 4 selections (6 plants in all) and planted them immediately.  Next August, there will be lots more late blooming daylilies to color my gardens.  Now is a good time to fall plant daylily divisions, so if you need more Google them or like them on Facebook.

What I’m doing in my gardens:
1.  Deadhead     I’ve been wanting to expand my daylily season ding daylilies and removing dead foliage
2.  Checking irises corms for borers.  Those rascals are nearly 2” long and voracious!
3.  Taking cuttings of scented geraniums, thymes, lemon verbena, lavenders, and dozens more.  Doing them now gives me an opportunity to do more if the first batch doesn’t root!
4.  Ordering bulbs, especially for the potager…tulips are edible, and many of last year’s bulbs have rotted in the excessive rains this year!
5.  Weeding each garden and tidying the edges.  Lots of weeds are trying to drop seed now!
6.  Collecting seeds…I put them into envelopes, label them, and put them on a table to finish drying.  Later, when I have time, I’ll alphabetize them into seeding categories (Early perennials; Early annuals; Mid-season perennials, late annuals, etc.) and store them in plastic bins.
7.  Cutting bunches of herbs for drying:  mountain mint, feverfew, tansy, annual statice, mints, thyme, sage, etc.  I’ll be blending some teas, bath herbs, and culinary blends on mornings as I wait for the heavy dew to dry.
8.  Deadheading perennials that have finished blooming and those, such as garden phlox that will keep blooming if I clip off faded flowers.
9.  Planting, planting, planting!  I just don’t have time in spring, so August is the month I do most of my perennial planting.  As long as I keep them watered this is a great time.  They’ll be well-rooted before winter comes.
10.  Pruning old canes from the blackberries and tying up new canes to a horizontal route so they will be more productive.
11.  Enjoying hibiscus, both perennial and tropical.  Aren’t those flowers amazing?
12.  Planted a new crop of green beans, summer squash, Wando peas & carrots in early August, and now planting various lettuces, radishes, turnips, greens, etc. for fall crops.
13.  Prepping a bed to plant spinach for overwintering in a polytunnel the end of the first week in Sept.  
14.  Removing the early tomatoes and prepping the space for hardneck garlic, which will be planted the end of September.

For more gardening information, or just to see photos of my potager, visit the blog at

Recipe:  Summer Sunshine Salad
This colorful salad is a bowlful of sunshine.
     Make the dressing by combining the following in a jar, and then shake:  4 T. olive oil, the zest and juice of a lemon, 1 T. vinegar, ½ tsp. salt and a generous grinding of pepper.  Set aside.
     In a large bowl, combine:  1-2 yellow summer squash, diced; 1 yellow bell pepper, diced; 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained; 1 can yellow corn, drained; 1 c. yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved; ½ c. finely chopped fresh parsley; ¼ c. finely diced white onion.  Mix lightly and refrigerate until serving time.
     Just before serving, add ½ c. shredded cheddar cheese, ¼ c. sunflower seeds (roasted and salted) and the dressing.  Toss to blend.  Adjust salt and pepper, if needed.  4-6 servings.

Autumn is just around the corner, so enjoy those gardens and the beautiful weather while good days remain.  Take some notes so next year’s garden will be even better, and plant more herbs!  

Herbal blessings, Carolee