Rosemary For Remembrance- And A Whole Lot More!

trailing rosemary

When folks think of herbs, Rosemary is always one that comes to mind.  We have sold a lot of rosemary which always surprises me given the fact that once Rosemary is established it grows quickly and makes a rather large shrub.  It would seem that one plant would be all a person needed in a decade.  But, with its lovely evergreen foliage, fabulous scent, and many uses Rosemary is one that people just can’t pass up.

But, I have confession to make about Rosemary.  I don’t really like the taste of it in my food.  Yes, there you have it, an herb farmer that doesn’t like to cook with Rosemary.  The flavor is growing on me as I have been experimenting with different flavor combinations.  I am also finding that with Rosemary being such a strong scented/flavored herb that you only need just a dash of it in a dish.  That may be part of the reason that my first excursions into the world of cooking with Rosemary were disappointing- I treated it like thyme or parsley and used way too much.  I am finding that just a smattering of dried Rosemary on oven roasted sweet potato fries or home-fries made with regular spuds it very tasty.  Most have eaten rosemary in some form and the culinary uses are the uses most thought of in considering this lovely shrub.

Rosemary is a great plant for landscaping- it can be used as a hedge. .  But for the herbal medicine cabinet, Rosemary is an essential herb to grow.  Thankfully, in most areas of Texas, Rosemary thrives as our winters are mild and drought and poor soil are not of much concern to an established plant.

Health Benefits of Rosemary:

A rich source of calcium, Iron and dietary fiber, Rosemary is a powerful addition to the diet.

Rosemary is used to stimulate the mind and in stimulating the brain, clarity is achieved.  This benefit of Rosemary is what lead the ancient cultures to believe that Rosemary was for remembrance and those in higher learning would wear wreaths of rosemary on their heads to help them remember all the information they were learning. Now wearing the sprigs on your head my not have helped (except for the aromatherapy) but studies have now proven that the oils from rosemary do stimulate the brain.

Medical New Today reports these attributes concerning rosemary:

Rich source of antioxidants – laboratory studies have shown rosemary to be rich in antioxidants, which play an important tole in neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals.

Improving digestion – In Europe rosemary is often used to help treat indigestion – Germany’s Commission E has approved it for the treatment of dyspepsia. However, it should be noted that there is currently no meaningful scientific evidence to support this claim.

Enhancing memory and concentration – blood levels of a rosemary oil component correlate with improved cognitive performance, according to research in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, published by SAGE.

Neurological protection – scientists have found that rosemary is also good for your brain.Rosemary contains an ingredient, carnosic acid, that fights off free radical damage in the brain.

Carnosic acid can protect the brain from stroke and neurodegeneration. The findings were published in The Journal of Neurochemistry and Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Prevent brain aging – Kyoto University researchers in Japan revealed that rosemary may significantly help prevent brain aging.

Cancer – Research published in Oncolocy Reports found that “crude ethanolic rosemary extract (RO) has differential anti-proliferative effects on human leukemia and breast carcinoma cells.”

Another study, published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, concluded thatrosemary can be considered an herbal anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent.

In addition, a report published in the Journal of Food Science revealed that adding rosemary extract to ground beef reduces the formation of cancer-causing agents that can develop during cooking.

 

Protection against macular degeneration – a study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, led by Stuart A. Lipton, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, revealed that a major component of rosemary, carnosic acid, can significantly promote eye health.

The rosemary plant that I take most of my cuttings from was planted the summer before the record drought of 2011.  During that drought I could not water all my property and the bed containing the rosemary was one that received no extra water for two months.  To my amazement, that plant doubled in size- despite temps that never came out of the 100’s, no rain, and winds that felt so hot you would have thought that they were blowing straight from the pit of hell.  Rosemary moved up my list of plants I love just because of that summer.  Then I began to learn of all the benefits Rosemary has and I would never have an herb garden without at least one plant.

A couple of weeks ago I pruned the plant pretty heavy needing cuttings for propagation.  From the cuttings, I filled 10 flats containing 20 cups each- that is 200 new plants, provided all the cuttings root and prosper.  I am pretty confident they will, Rosemary roots like a dream.  Rosemary officinallis is the strain of this rosemary- just the original “plain Jane”.  I know there are a lot of more fancy cultivars out there, but this one has proven itself in our climate unlike several other varieties that I have planted. Therefore, this is my go-to plant.  I want folks to succeed when they take plants home from Hollyberry Herb Farm so I am sticking to what works.  I do have an “Arp” variety that is so far doing well and we will see, if it is still going strong next summer I will add that to my favorites list.

Jonathan and the rosemary.  What a great, tough plant
Jonathan and the rosemary. What a great, tough plant

So, if you haven’t already, plant some rosemary!  You will be glad you did.

Do you cook with rosemary?  If so , how do you use it?

Chickens Again and Rose Pruning Goats

Luffa gourds to go with the herbal body scrubs.
Luffa gourds to go with the herbal body scrubs.

Each morning I wake up with a very full to-do list.  Everyday I go to bed with a lot scratched off the list and yet at the end of the week there is so much yet to be done.  As I write tonight, I can feel the slight sting on the back of my neck left by the sun.  We reached 90′ today, but the breeze was so cool and the sun was so pleasant that I didn’t even notice while I was working at my table.  Often, I am in the herb gardens in the morning when neighbors head off to work.  I wonder as they pass by if they realize that I am in my office?  Probably not, I know what I do looks much like a hobby to lookers on.  However, if you could see my to-do list you would know that it is definitely not a hobby.

Whenever family or friends ask what I have been up to, I usually say “more of the same” .  By that I mean more harvesting, drying, and processing of herbs.  More planting, propagating, and watering of herbs.  More retrieving the escape artist goat, planning for the breeding of animals, more feeding of what we have and so on.  But really, no day is ever the same.

We learn new things every day, too.  Like today, I learned how to unhook a fuel line on the riding lawnmower and how to drain the gas tank.  Why would I do this?  Well, because diesel doesn’t work will in a gasoline engine.  It seems that, according to my husband, the label on the can with diesel came off.  He was at work or he would have known better than to use that can in the lawnmower, but I was ignorant of the fact that the gas can did not in fact contain gasoline.  Yes, I know many of you rule followers are appalled to hear that we used a gasoline can to hold diesel, but if you knew my husband you would not be surprised.  Anyway, I am still a bit suspicious as to whether the can was ever marked properly- I do know my husband.  But, I noticed that the lawn mower did not run quite right and parked it immediately.  When Tony called to check in he was just so thrilled with the news.  Never fear, I know my way around an engine well enough to manage.  The tank is drained and we will refill with the right fuel and see how it goes.  Once before, I added the wrong fuel (not diesel) to the push mower.  When we took the mower to the shop, the old fellow said that it wouldn’t matter much, no worries.  I like that sort of answer and will proceed forward as if this is no big deal until proven otherwise.  The can in question with the push mower was also not marked properly- I should know better by now, right- so I still don’t think I am to blame.

Thankfully, the vast majority of the farm got mowed before the refueling incident.  I am relieved due to the fact that we are looking at rain for the better part of the coming week.  If I hadn’t gotten the mowing done we could have lost a small child in the grass by the time mowing was again possible.  I am hoping to get more seeds into beds before the rain begins.  I love fall gardening!  We have many types of  lettuce growing along with spinach, kale, radishes, beets, and greens.  All the herbs are growing like mad and I am harvesting heavy each week.  Buds are appearing all over the rose bushes, those that were not pinched back by the heat were “pruned” by the goats when they got out while we were in Galveston.  I can’t even begin to communicate what went through my mind when I received the text that said “Are the goats supposed to be in the front yard?”  Mercifully, they hadn’t done much damage when my older daughters found them.  Seriously, though, I have only pruned my own roses a few times the goats have always seen to that chore for me.

The new chickens bedded down for the night.
The new chickens bedded down for the night.

Speaking of goats, my two bred does are building udders and I am excited.  There is nothing cuter than baby goats- except maybe baby pigs.  Raw goats milk will soon by back on the menu in the Ross household, oh happy day!  The farm is expanding and the business is growing.  New chickens have arrived, 6 Dominique hens and 1 Black Wyandotte Rooster.  The rabbits have been moved to their new home.  The chickens and the rabbits will be housed in a new building we are building.  So far, the rabbits are in their side and the chickens are in a tractor for the time being.  Of course, the birds free range in the day.  Propagation has begun in earnest, time to get Spring 2014 under way.  Lavender, mint, & rosemary are in such demand that I have to begin now for next year.  However, I am selling all that I root just as soon as it is ready but I am certain that I will get ahead of the demand sooner or later.  Not that I mind, selling the herbs is the name of the game.

I hope you all had a wonderful day!

 

The freshly tilled garden patch, soon to be seeded with hairy vetch.
The freshly tilled garden patch, soon to be seeded with hairy vetch.

So, What Have You Been Up To?

I waited and waited for the spring selling season to get here, I potted herbs and started seed and dreamed about how busy and fun it would be.  Well, so far I have not been disappointed, we are busy and it is fun!  However, I am so busy that I am not even sure what my name is.

You may have noticed I have not been blogging much and what I have done is to re-post things that I really liked. Also, I have not had much time to read the blogs I follow and feel so disconnected.  So, today I am going to give you an overview of what an April on an herb farm in Texas looks like, just in case you ever thought of having one yourself…

We took farm animals to New Tech High in Coppell, Texas, about an hour and a half drive from us, to show them where their food come from and to make them aware of how animals who produce our food should be treated.  That was great fun!  The rabbits were the biggest hit.  As a matter of fact, two high school boys were so smitten that they each bought one of our babies and took them home.  I must say, I was a bit surprised by the fact that it was the males that went on and on about how cute and sweet a bunny is and had to buy one.  Those boys probably have strong drives to be fathers as well.  I know because I have one of those kinds of males living in my home.  Jonathan just has to hold any baby in the room- even if it is screaming its head off!  That event was for Earth day.

The next day, Sierra and I loaded up Big Red (our 4X4 suburban) and headed off to the Wood County Master Gardeners class where I had the great privilege of teaching a class on composting and container gardening.  I absolutely love those folks, they are so kind, fun, and encouraging.  Not to mention that they bought a lot of herbs which really helps the bottom line at Hollyberry Herb Farm!  While we were at the class, Tony stayed home to work on trimming trees, cutting down dead ones, and getting the greenhouse up an running.

Every Saturday since the first one in March we have headed out in the dark at 5:30 am to the White Rock Local Market.  That has been an excellent business move for us.  Lots of great people looking to support family farms and delighted to have organic herbs available are to be found at that market.  Savannah will be taking over that market for me as we look to sell at other markets around us.  Cheyenne will be selling herbs at the Athens Farmers Market just as soon as I get the paper work filled out.

Last weekend, Tony and I found ourselves in Jenks, Oklahoma at the Jenks Herb & Plant Festival.  Wow, what a great festival that was and Tony & I enjoyed three full days with just us grown-ups.

And of course, in the midst of all this we have been planting new gardens, tilling ground for veggie patches, adding container gardens and seeding more herbs and veggies into the flats in the green house.  I am happy to say that the permanent herb gardens are just about finished.  We will be mulching, weed eating, and planting the last few plants.  This will be just in time as we are having Master Gardeners from 3 counties out to visit on Thursday as well as a visit from the White Rock Farmer’s market manager.  I am so looking forward to that visit.  It is great to have company it is good motivation to get things cleaned up and ready to go.

beginning of the herb gardenThis what the permanent herb gardens started out like in February.

herb gardenThis is it today, most of the green plants are herbs, there is still plenty of green to be removed from the paths.  Within 24 hours all these will be mulched and full of herbs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERApink parosol irisPink Parasol bearded iris, such beauty.

How is your spring going?

Shop Local, Shop The Rock

One sweet lady shopping the rock!
One sweet lady shopping the rock!

I don’t know what the words “Farmer’s Market” mean to you, but for me the words bring back many wonderful memories of going to market with my great-grandparents and aunts and uncles.  The words also bring to mind the smells of dill and fresh washed greens- the smell of fresh washed greens, man that takes me back.  As a preschooler, my family lived in one of three houses located on my grand parents farm.  The big house belonged to my grand parents, the two smaller houses were rent houses belonging to my great-grandfather and all the adult children at one point or another lived in those houses.

Fortunately for me, I lived that close to my grand parents most of my life.  In spring and summer, greens were a large part of the produce grown on the five acres behind my house.  All the family helped with weeding, gathering, washing and growing.  Under the shed was a huge tank that would be filled with water, all the greens from the harvest would be washed in this tank.  As

My grandfather working in the fields.
My grandfather working in the fields.

the greens went in, the smell of fresh greens, well water, and soil all mingled together.  I love that smell to this day.  I say the tank was huge, but I really am not sure how big it was.  I can remember standing on my tip-toes with my nose just above the rim.  I was only about 4 years old, so I guess it may not have been THAT huge.  I had run of the fields.  My earliest and first memories are of farming and burying my bare feet in the soft sandy loam.  Perhaps that is why, to this day, I say life is better bare foot!

And now, here I am taking my own produce to market.  This spring began our first experience being vendors at the White Rock Local Market.  What fun it has been!  This is a great market run by fantastic people.  They have been so professional and organized.  Not to mention getting great publicity and advertisement.  I have had great “neighbors” set up next to me and have made friends with many folks.  Not only do I have a great place to sell my herbs, but I get to do my grocery shopping for the week with great local farmers.

The variety at the market is awesome.  You can purchase local mushrooms, olive oil, granola, bread, meat of all sorts, eggs, and worms!  Yes, worms.  Texas Worm Ranch brings out worm castings (great fertilizer), worm wine (liquid fertilizer) and the worms themselves.  If you are looking to start a vermicomposting projects, these are the folks to get you started.

Where you can find us:

Locations

White Rock Local Market @ Lakeside
1st and 3rd Saturdays
Lakeside Baptist Church
9150 Garland Rd
Dallas 75218
View Larger Map

White Rock Local Market @ Green Spot
2nd and 4th Saturdays
Green Spot
702 N. Buckner Blvd
Dallas 75218

Our First Wholesale Customer!

Spring is such a busy time around any farm.  With all the clearing and planting that needs to be done it can be crazy.  When your business is one that involves selling the plants to the folks who are busy planting, spring business can take on a whole new dimension.  One of the goals of Hollyberry Herb Farm is to eventually be a wholesale dealer of organic herbs.  So, I am proud to announce that we have our fist wholesale customer!

green grocer

This is a great grocery store offering local produce, pastured meats and poultry as well as household items such as soaps and such. The owners are a wonderful couple who are committed to providing “real” food.   They are great to work with and really do support the “little guy”.  Definitely a unique place to shop and a wonderful way to support small business and small farmers.  If you are ever in Dallas, stop by and check it out- You will be glad you did!

Monday- Surprise, Surpise, Surprise!

Not that it is ever easy to get out of bed on a Monday when the alarm goes off, but today was really tough.  For one thing, it was just so dark so it couldn’t be time to get up.  When I did pull myself out of the bed to let the dog out, I saw why- there was snow and sleet everywhere!  The cloud cover kept the sun from shinning to tell us to get up!  What a surprise, the weather forecast had no mention of the white stuff.

Sierra hates the cold.  Jonathan likes it, so Sierra made him a sweet deal and he did her chores for her.  That left her to put her fleece PJ’s back on and help me with breakfast.  This kind of morning calls for a farmhouse breakfast- fresh eggs, bacon, hash-browns, homemade biscuits, and gravy.  Yum, Yum, that is my kind of food!  Tony came in from unloading hay and we all had a good breakfast together.  Homeschooling & a home-based business let us have fun in the morning.

The first bloom in the greenhouse- Calendula Pacific saying "Hello"
The first bloom in the greenhouse- Calendula Pacific saying “Hello”

I had hoped to fill all the trays with compost, but that will have to wait for a bit better weather.  So, I made myself busy in the greenhouse.  Once the sun came up the temps in the greenhouse were quite comfortable.  All the Calendula Pacific in four inch cups were bumped to 1 gallon pots.  It feels good to get those done.  Now, there is more room for the seedlings coming up.  Dill and Mullein sprouted almost overnight and are already in the greenhouse working on their real leaves.  As soon those real leaves are present, they will move up to 4 inch cups.

This was the first Monday to be a “regular” Monday since before the holidays.  It was nice to get up and finish laundry, do our homeschooling, and farm work.

How was your Monday?

Old Man Winter is Knocking At Our Door

Here in Texas we have been having some very nice weather with highs in the upper 70’s and lower 80’s, however a cold front has been moving through.  Now the daytime highs are not such a big deal, the big deal for me and every other gardener is the overnight low.  If it drops below 32′, much of our growing season is done.  So, with the weathermen telling us that a freeze was on the way we were busy little ants getting all the harvest in that we could.

What a beautiful sight! I am so proud when I pick organic veggies from our own garden.

Peppers and Eggplants and Tomatoes and all the other veggies in the garden will continue to produce in the cool weather as long as there is not a freeze.  Once the freeze hits they are done.  The Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans have been growing on my garden fence all spring, summer, and now fall.  I was beginning to wonder if I was going to get any beans because they never bloomed.  Then about a month ago, blossoms came and now beans.  I did get a nice harvest on Sunday and those lovely beans are now shelled and in my fridge waiting to be cooked up with a little ham and bacon drippings- ohh so good!  Even though I did get a lot of beans there are still so many baby beans out there that I am hoping for old man winter to stay away another few weeks.  It is not uncommon for us in East Texas to not have a freeze until December.  During the heat of the summer when it is 95′ in May and June then hitting 100’s for weeks I always ask myself “Why do I live here?”  Then the weather cools down and I can pretty much garden all winter long because our ground never freezes and then I think “I love this climate!”

The Fish Pepper Plants (2) really produced all summer even in the heat and have given me a beautiful bounty of hot peppers.
Citronella is one herb that dies out in the winter. This plant is huge and I had to harvest it before the frost killed it.
This is the plant after. It looks so sad. However, this herb will be dried and I will make lots of wonderful mosquito repellant.

Not only did we need to harvest all the herbs that would not make it through a freeze- and there are only just a few that

will not over-winter- but all the potted plants such as Aloe Vera, Geraniums, and Bouganvilla had to be moved into the greenhouse.  All the work was worth it.  Even though as I write this, it looks like we have been spared a few more weeks.  Nothing outside looks bit by a freeze.  I am so grateful.

Chicken Noodle Soup

The last thing I think that anyone wants to be is sick.  The only worst thing about being sick is being away from home- sick.  I guess that is part of what makes a house a home- what you can expect when you are sick.  In our house, certain foods are expected and thought to make everything better.  These are true comfort foods.  Of course, in our home you can also expect to  be given some nasty tasting herbal concoctions along with some not so nasty herbal teas with honey.  I do not believe that medicine should  be sugared up to taste good.  Basically there is one good reason for not having the medicine taste good- the kids only tell me they are sick when they really are!  Added to that is the fact that if they go in the kitchen and get it out without being told- then I know we are really dealing with an illness.  But more on the medicine latter.

When Cheyenne was sick, her favorite thing was Potato Soup.  These other three cuties like Chicken Noodle Soup.    This past week, all of the children still living in our home and myself had a bout with some germ that made us run a low fever, cough, sneeze, and have a runny nose while at the same time being unable to breath due to congestion- I still don’t know how this is possible.  Anyway, it is a rare occasion for us all to go down but from what I have heard, our family has not been alone with the battle of the sickness.  So given that fact that this is the time of the year for folks to battle illness, I thought it would be a good time to post this recipe for chicken noodle soup.  It is super easy and very healthy.  Now, this soup is good anytime not just when you are sick.

Chicken Noodle Soup- guaranteed to make you feel better!

Chicken Noodle Soup

3- 14 oz cans of chicken broth *

2- carrots coarsely chopped

1- celery stalk coarsely chopped

1-small onion finely chopped

1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms (optional)

5- cloves of garlic minced

salt and pepper to taste

1- tablespoon of chopped sage**

1-tablespoon of thyme**

1- tablespoon of parsley**

1-tablespoon of real butter

1- cup of chopped chicken or turkey***

80z of egg noodles (you can use other pasta if you want to.)

 

*-broth made at home from boiling a chicken and reserving the broth will be healthier and better for you.  But, canned is fine.

**- fresh herbs from your garden are the best, dried is good, especially if you dried them yourself.

***- you can boil a chicken or turkey pull the meat from the bone and freeze the chopped meat in smaller portions for a quick meal.  Then, freeze the broth for your own chicken broth.

In a large dutch oven or medium stock pot, melt butter over medium heat and add onion, carrots, & celery.  Cook until onion is clear and just starting to caramelize.  About 10 minutes.

Add broth and 2 cans worth of water, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, salt and pepper, and chicken or turkey

Bring to a boil, cover and boil for about 20 minutes until the carrots are tender.

Add egg noodles and boil until noodles are tender.  Done.

Enjoy!

 

What are the foods that your family like when they are sick?