Spring Time is Planting Time...

But first things first. The time is now if a garden - especially an herb garden - is on your list of things to do. Today is the day to start.

Herbs are easy to grow, but, just as there are requirements for growing vegetables and flowers, there are specific needs for the maintenance of herbs.

Where you live will dictate whether an herb can be grown as an annual or a perennial.

Sage, mint, thyme, oregano and chives are almost indestructible in the southeast and many parts of colder climates.

Most herb seeds germinate readily, and mature plants can withstand drying conditions; however, they do need watering during prolonged drought.

Water deep and always from the bottom of the plants, then wait until they have dried out to water again. Herbs do not like wet feet. Root rot is the major cause of many gardeners failure.

Maintaining a small herb garden takes a little work. Friable, fertile soil (good compost) and good drainage (raised beds) are essential, and a sunny location is preferable (at least 6 hours of sun every day). The garden need not be large: a few short rows incorporated into the vegetable garden, border plantings for your flower garden, or just a patch beside the kitchen door. A few plants of each desired species will be sufficient for the average sized family's needs. Remember, herbs have strong aromas and flavors -- a little goes a long way.

When planning an herb garden, consider the mature growth habits of the selected species (tall or short, spreading or upright), and the growing season length of each. Some herbs die with the first touch of frost (basil) while others survive freezing temps.

Before preparing your garden, have the soil tested for acidity and fertilizing requirements. In general, a pH reading of 6.2 to 6.7 favors good growth of garden plants, but herbs prefer more alkalinity, growing well in soil with pH readings of 7.0 to 7.2. Lime is used to adjust a low pH upward. Acidity rating: 7.0 is neutral, any reading below that is an acid reaction; any reading higher than 7.0 is alkaline. Applying lime in the fall allows for the use of Agricultural (hydrated) lime, which reacts in the soil more rapidly than ground limestone but is more expensive. Agricultural lime will burn plants if carelessly applied during the growing season. Ground limestone may be used either in spring or fall, is slowly available to plants and soil, and will not burn.

Manures may be used for feeding herbs; a dried cow manure product is recommended over other manures. Opt for manure of cows that have not been treated with hormone growth and little if any antibiotic use. Most dairy cows at some point have to have antibiotics when they are sick but, keeping those out of the herd until the drug has passed from the system is a practice any health concerned dairy will follow...and a requirement of an organic dairy. Add organic material, such as peat or humus, along with the lime and compost; turn in thoroughly, and with a spade, dig deep into the soil.

Plan your garden on paper, keeping in mind the growth habits of the herbs you want to grow, and keep a written journal of your entire project, this will allow you to look back, make adjustments, and perhaps make the next step a bit easier. And will always bring smiles!

If you are transplanting seedlings or young plants, put them in late afternoon, early evening, or on a cloudy day because they wilt readily after transplanting under hot sun. To prevent disturbing the roots of these seedlings, include a ball of soil with each little plant. Place the plants in watered, drained holes which have been dug deep enough to accommodate the root and soil ball. Fill the hole with soil to the same level on the plant's stem as it was in the flat before transplanting. Keep the garden moist for the next few days to help establish the roots. Try not to handle by the stem, but rather by the ball of dirt at the base or by the leaves, young stems are easily damaged which will be the death of the whole plant.

Herbs grow quickly and must be kept pinched back from the top or many will bolt (flower and go to seed) early in the season.

Pinching back also encourages spreading and gives you a stronger plant. Never harvest more than 1/3 of any herb at one time. Doing so will shock the plant ad most likely it will die.

Now...time to start gardening~


A Few Terms That Are Good To Know:

Antioxidant Substances, like vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene, which protect your body from the damage of oxidation caused by free radicals.

Free Radicals An atom or molecule with at least one unpaired electron, making it unstable and reactive. When free radicals react with certain chemicals in the body, they may interfere with the ability of cells to function normally. Antioxidants can stabilize free radicals.

Micronutrients The name given to vitamins and minerals because your body needs them in small amounts. Micronutrients are vital to your body's ability to process the "macronutrients:" fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Examples are chromium, zinc, and selenium.

Minerals Nutrients found in the earth or water and absorbed by plants and animals for proper nutrition. Minerals are the main component of teeth and bones, and help build cells and support nerve impulses, among other things. One example is calcium.

Fat Soluble Fat-soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E, and K, are absorbed by the body with dietary fats. Your body stores excess fat-soluble vitamins in your liver and body fat, then uses them as needed. Ingesting more fat-soluble vitamins than you need can be toxic, causing side-effects like nausea, vomiting, and liver and heart problems.


Do You Know?

Fact - Ginkgo Biloba is the world’s oldest living species of tree. Also – did you know that ginkgo biloba may help to support mental sharpness and helps to support blood flow to the brain and extremities? These are just a few of the benefits found in ginkgo biloba.

Have you ever wondered why you should take Milk thistle? Well, milk thistle supplies the active ingredient, silymarin, to help support healthy liver function. Also, milk thistle comes in a variety of delivery methods including liquids and capsules.

Green tea provides antioxidant support and may help protect cellular membranes against the injurious effects of excessive free radicals. As you might know, green tea contains caffeine which is problematic for some consumes. Do not fret; decaffeinated green teas will not lose their antioxidants as they will still contain the polyphenols.


If you need help understanding the new Health Care reform happening, this site can be a tool to educate us on some of the questions we all have. http://healthreform.gov

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Are you looking for a networking place with all the bells & whistles, a place with many options, and a pay it forward concept?

Look no further, instead follow this link and get on board now~
http://crememagnolia.net

Creme Magnolia, founded by Karen Mager, is celebrating her 1st year of life during April. Lots of exciting businesses, in the know leaders and participants. Ask and ye shall receive.....whatever you need.


People and Places We Know and Love~

www.guardyourselfnow.com A great website, and Dona Biasi- educated in her field of providing safety/protective tools for anyone desiring that security.

http://www.distinctinspirations.vpweb.com Glenda Pitts- Working to educate and promote one of the best "green" products (Malaleuca) in our market today. Visit Glenda and know that these products are something good for your self/your home/your family.


Sage Hill Farms is available for all your culinary herbal needs and wants. Seasonings for the best spring/summer foods, cold tea blends that will refresh and leave something healthy in your system. Check us out and ask if you need help. April orders will receive one free product of our choice. Offer ends April 30th...so shop now~ www.sagehillfarmsadvintagestore.com

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A reminder - Earth Day is April, 22nd... please, do just one thing that will continue to pay it forward in goodness to our Mother Earth.

Plant a tree, a garden, a natural habitat for insect control...bird feeders, bat houses, butterfly bushes, stop the use of chemicals on your lawn or garden, install a rain barrel for preserving rain-water (use this on your gardens/lawns.) Recycle, re-use, re-pay....then repeat, repeat, repeat.

Keep in mind this slogan: NO Farms NO Food ...if you would like a free bumper sticker of this go to: www.farmland.org
or call....1-800-431-1499

Wishing you each a beautiful and blessed Spring-time...in the garden or wherever you spend time.~

Bea Kunz