Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Open House

Our holiday open house is coming up on Dec. 5&6 from 9 to 5. We'll serve herbal refreshments, have door prize drawing and run some specials only during open house. Packages of herbal teas, in a variety of flavors, will be buy 3, get 1 free. Packaged herb blends are buy 1, get second half off. Handmade soaps are priced at 3 for $8.75 and 6 for $17.45. Buying 3 soaps will save you -'f off one bar, and buying 6 equals a free bar!

With all the economic uncertainties, everyone will be cautious with their holiday spending. We're offering organically plants and natural herbal products. Almost, everything in our shop is handmade and about 90% is from local susuppliers, including our farm. People in this area really support small local businesses. It helps boost our local economy and provides customers with personal service and careful control of products.

We have a selection of basic culinary herbs and herbal topiaries in the greenhouse. We have a tree with natural and folksy ornaments in the shop and loads of fragrant body products, essential oils, organic candles, potpourri, books, notecards and gift items in the shop. Lots to see and enjoy!

We're coming up on the anniversary of adopting our dog, Lucy. If you're considering a pet for Christmas, or anytime, please consider adopting a pet from the Humane League or a rescue group. They have wonderful dogs (and cats) that desperately need a home. We've always had a dog, and Lucy is right at the top of the list. She has a sweet disposition and was house broken when we got her. She's a mutt, which is a perfect breed to me, but purebred dogs are available, too. I don't know if animals can be grateful, but she is a happy dog and her behavior reflects that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Great Fall Soup

I come from a family of soup lovers. This one is delicious and fairly inexpensive. Oven roasting gives the vegetables great flavor. If you're using dried thyme, cut the amount in half. Thyme is a good herb in many soups.

1 medium butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes
1 T. olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 T. butter
5 C. chicken stock
1 T. fresh thyme
1/8 t. fresh nutmeg
1/2 C. light cream
salt & pepper

Cut squash in half, remove seeds, then cut into wedges. Scrub potatoes. Brush squash and potatoes with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated 350 oven till very soft, about 1 hour & 15 minutes. Cool until vegetables can be handled. Scoop flesh into bowl and mash slightly. Saute carrots and onion in butter about 5 minutes. Add stock, thyme,nutmeg and simmer 10 minutes until carrots are soft. Add squash mash and simmer 10 minutes. Cool. Puree soup in batches in blender. Return soup to medium heat, stir in cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped chives.

Lucy loves to dawdle on her walks. Actually, she likes to smell every square inch that she covers, especially in the morning when she enjoys all the leftover smells from the animal excursions of the night before. She watched squirrels running in the trees for about 5 minutes one day. She smelled the neighbor's alpacas (Cloverleaf Alpacas) and thought they were interesting. She always looks up when geese fly over.

You're always working ahead in the greenhouse biz. I've already ordered little starter plants for next spring. Next up are seed orders. In just a couple months, I'll start seeds for the spring season.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fall at Cloverleaf

It's been a pretty fall season - some crisp, sunny days and finally some rain. We only have trees in the back corner of our yard and along the fenceline. The maples have turned red and orangey-yellow and the witch hazel is a pretty clear yellow. Viburnum was crimson red although it's dropping leaves now. I thought the snapdragons were finally done with a heavy frost, but they thawed out and look as good as ever. the rosemarys, which over-wintered last year, are full of blue flowers. There are a couple late roses hanging on and plants in protected spots still blooming jupiter's beard, catmint, lavender, calendula and hyssop. That's a lot of enjoyment for November.

Look for your fall newsletter soon. Info on our holiday open house on Dec. 5&6, plus details on what's in the shop and green-house for the holidays, a recipe and a peek ahead to spring.

Lucy is doing great. She's a sweet, happy dog. Not the bravest dog ever. On windy days, when bags or paper blow through the yard, she runs away. So we were surprised one windy day when she picked up a plastic milk jug that had blown into the yard and ran around with it for 20 minutes. She ran from the gardens to the fence line at full speed over and over: It was a great game because we didn't have to do anything but stand there and watch her. I think she has some kind of running dog in her, because she loves to run and she is fast.

Fall garden clean-up- remove annuals when the frost gets them. Cut back herbaceous perennials after a hard freeze, although I leave seedheads, like coneflower, that the birds will enjoy. Dig out non-hardy, summer blooming bulbs. Leave woody-stemmed herbs: rosemary, thyme, lavender, santolina, sage-alone. The foliage helps protect the crown of the plant over the winter. Wait till spring to trim these back.For mulching woody-stemmed plants, use pine branches or burlap, which allow air to circulate. Don't use leaves which will mat down when wet, preventing air circulation.