Friday, January 30, 2009

New First Farmer?

Apparently, it is cool to farm now. Really, we thought it was cool many years ago, but now the new First Family is planning on digging up some of the south lawn and planting veggies and fruit trees. Check out this link for more info, and then check back here later to see what we're going to do with our backyard.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Rosemary Trees ....wailing and lamentations

Ah yes, the Rosemary tree. Admit it. You bought one or even more than one this holiday season? It's okay to admit it. You aren't alone. The big box stores and many nurseries were selling them like hotcakes. Well, okay, more like mini-pancakes that you pop in the microwave to warm up. It is after all, an economic crisis, so many of you who looked at them might have put them back on the shelf. But those of you who bought them have all come to the same fork in the road. And you're calling or emailing me during your travels.

Why? Simple. The Rosemary tree is dying. Oh my gosh! Dying! How could that be? I paid good money for this plant! I am loving it, watering it, talking to it and it is ....oh gasp....dying!

Okay, first...Rosemary is not a TREE! It is an herbaceous perennial. Meaning it is classified as an herb (which gives me the ability to talk about it with some knowledge...convenient isn't it?), it hails from the Mediterranean portion of the world meaning it likes hot sunny days in rocky soil with minimal amount of moisture. I know what you're doing right now. You're looking at that gallon container thinking to yourself...hmm, that's not rocky soil. Nope, it's not. Not even close. Most of the sculpted (more on that in a minute, bear with me) Rosemary trees are grown in a very warm climate or in a greenhouse in a very warm climate so they can grow large enough to pot up for holiday sales. Usually nurseries in California handle this type of product. Here's the trick though. If you will gently separate your Rosemary tree in the middle you will find not one but likely three stems or trunks depending upon how large the tree is by now. What the growers of these trees do is scrunch at least three smaller Rosemary and then once it grows a little larger, sculpts the scrunched together Rosemary into its tree-like shape. They then feed and spray the Rosemary with pesticide to ensure that bugs don't hide down inside the thick foliage. They are then shipped all over the U.S.

So, why are the Rosemary trees dying? They do not like their environment for the most part. Living inside the house in a smallish pot does not make them happy. They like being outside in a garden or in a really, really large pot. They have been scrunched together for months at a time and portions of the plant have never seen sunlight. That portion is going to die. And last but not least, they are probably being over watered because you all are loving and kind hearted people who want to help the plant live by giving what it doesn't want...water.

If your Rosemary tree is not dead or starting to die yet then I suggest taking the Rosemary out of the pot and gently pry the plants apart. Trim each of the plants that you pull out of the pot and plant them in individual pots that are much larger. They'll look scraggly and funny for awhile. Come spring when the ground warms plant them in a well draining area in full sun.

OR...throw the whole mess out and order some healthy and naturally grown Rosemary from your favorite herb farm. :) Shipping begins in March weather permitting.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Year's Ramblings

It's the first Sunday of the New Year and I am already missing the Market. It's been about a month since we all packed up our wares, gave out goodies and hugs, and headed for home. Totes, bags and containers are still packed. The holidays and the boys on vacation have sapped a little of the energy level, but there is always tomorrow. There isn't alot left over from the Holiday Market so it is really all about taking a quick inventory, washing out the big display jars and finding a spot to put it all in. The Holiday Market is always festive and fun and this year was no different. However, I can't wait to start rolling the carts back in at the end of April, 2009, loaded with herbs, vegetables and perennials. The greenhouses are already full and I am at that stage again that I come to every winter of wondering where the next potted up tray of rosemary, sage, thyme or stevia is going to go. But, where there is a will there is always a way. For those of you that are sitting and drooling over the plant catalogs that are falling out of your mailbox, circle your choices, plan your gardens and then wait a few months. April will be here before we know it. You know if you order plants right now this very minute they will be tiny and frostbitten when they hit your mailbox. Wait for the lush, healthy herbs and veggies you have come to know us for. Now is a really good time to draw out your gardens and plan for what you want to grow for your family. Come down to the Chattanooga Market on April 26, 2009 from 12:00-5:00. We have asked Chris and Paul for a little bit bigger of a spot so we can bring as much as possible. Maybe they can squeeze another two feet into the floor plan. :)

The holidays were great this year. Very low key and almost stress-free. Many of the gifts we gave our family and friends were thoughtful and useful and were well received. We also connected with some family and friends we hadn't seen in awhile. The weather has been a little inconvenient with nine inches of rain in December alone, but oh, do we need it. We actually finished up the year being only a few inches down according to the local weather dudes. Here at the farm, the pond is still full, the grass is still soggy and leaves are permanently glued into the goopy mud. I think we have had plenty. More is coming later this week.
New Year's Eve was a lot of fun this year. Mom turned a spectacular age this year so we all went to our favorite hometown restaurant, Flavors of Italy. Located in Soddy Daisy (where everybody is somebody), Flavors of Italy is owned and operated by a true Italian family. The restaurant was decorated for the holidays with noisemakers and champagne for all the adults. If you are ever in Soddy, Flavors of Italy is open Tuesday thru Sunday. Mamma Mia!

This week the kids head back to school and I am heading back to the greenhouses full time. Much of the vacation was spent keeping the plants either warm or cool depending on their needs. Seed starting all of the annuals is on the agenda this week. That's right! Basil, dill, cilantro, and other flavorful annuals will be seeded this week and ready for purchase in late March. As many of you know we do not publish a plant catalog anymore. With 90% of households hooked up to the internet we made it easy to visit our website and choose your plants from there. Shipping will begin in March weather permitting.

The phone has been ringing with the all important questions about the Rosemary trees that everyone purchased over the Christmas season. The "what happened to my....., it is dying!...and how can I keep it until spring" questions will all be answered in the next blog. Until then....