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It is always a great pleasure-and surprise-when you happen on just the perfect place in which to plant some special treasure..

~ Margery Fish ~
 






























From the GTG Garden and Greenhouse

I hope this newsletter finds all of our readers in good health. I wish I could tell you about the awesome new plants we saw at the January trade shows. Unfortunately, all members of the GTG team were down with the flu and we had to cancel our travel plans.

I do want to tell you about one new plant: Campanula 'Mulberry Rose'. It is spectacular, I believe this will be one of the best new varieties we are bringing to your garden this year. It's already setting buds in the greenhouse and the outside plants are laughing at the cold and rainy weather.
We're expecting the new coneflowers (Supreme Cantaloupe, Elegance, and Flamingo, etc) to arrive here next week and I'll give you an echie-update in next month.
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Have a lovely Valentine's Day, Belle
Green Thumbs Galore LLC


Taste + Scent = Herbs

by Dava Stewart

Winter inspires me to do two things: cook and drink hot tea. (It also makes me want to sleep, but that doesn’t really have anything to do with growing herbs, which is the topic of this particular article.) I’ve been cooking quite a few vegan recipes this winter, and also enjoying a pot of herbal tea most nights. One lesson learned from both activities is that I need a good window sill herb garden for the winter. Another is that I should plant more chamomile next year.

If you have been subscribed to this newsletter for any length of time, you know that I am not a top-notch gardener. I kill almost as many plants as I manage to grow, which is one reason I love growing herbs.

There are lots of herbs that would be, have been, or even still are, considered weeds by some gardeners. And, like weeds, most herbs are resilient and can stand up to the neglect of a bad gardener. Some herbs have beautiful flowers (hello, coneflower!), and many have amazing, wonderful scents (not you, cilantro!).

Besides being tough enough to thrive (despite me), being beautiful, and mostly smelling nice, herbs make for better cooking. Have you ever had pesto made with fresh basil? Or used rosemary stems as skewers on the grill? I’ve always grown dill because it is pretty, but now that I know how to make tzatziki sauce, I have another reason.

Most articles and experts will suggest that you begin growing herbs with parsley, basil, and thyme, and while those are excellent choices, I will offer different advice: Grow what you like. If you love to cook with sage, grow some sage. If you prefer the tang of oregano, plant yourself some oregano. When I started growing herbs, I always planted them in pots, and had one thyme plant that I brought inside winter after winter for several years. (Eventually I forgot to water it and it died in the middle of a summer drought.)

In addition to being a bad gardener, I am also notoriously cheap frugal. Spices are expensive at the grocery store. Being able to step outside and snip some rosemary instead of paying $5 or more for a bottle at the store makes my wallet and my mouth happy.

And the tea! The difference in a cup of mint tea made with a tea bag and a cup of mint tea made from mint out of the back yard is hard to describe. One thing that surprised me was that fresh herbs often make weaker tea. Sometimes it is necessary to simmer the herbs, rather than just steeping them.

Last summer, I decided that I would regularly trim my herbs and dry the trimmings. My plan was to buy pretty little bottles at the craft store and give them away as Christmas gifts. While I didn’t end up with enough to do that, I did learn how easy it is. Just take a bunch of trimmings, loosely tie the stems together and put them in a paper bag. I used inexpensive brown paper lunch bags. Tape the end of the bag closed and cut a vent hole or two.

The important part I forgot to do was label the bags. That makes it easy when you are ready to use the dried herbs later. Once you have everything bagged up and labeled, just stick the bags in a dry, dark place like the top shelf of a closet. Leave the bags alone for a month or two, then enjoy using your dried herbs for cooking, or tea.

Most of my herbs are growing in a small kitchen garden right outside my door. Next year, I’m going to try making a small, one-pot garden that would be easy to bring inside when it gets cold. I’m also going to give lavender another try. I’ve never gotten it to grow successfully despite planting it almost every year.

If I ever do get the lavender to grow, I’m going to dry it with some wild rose blooms and lemon verbena and make little sachets to go in my dresser drawers. The idea of having the scent of summer clinging to my clothes in February is appealing.

This year, I am going to try to grow some ginger, a bay tree, and maybe some cinnamon. All of those will have to be in pots, so they can be brought in during the winter. I’m also going to work more on preserving the herbs I grow next year, just in case the window sill garden doesn’t do well.

Sometimes, I see gorgeous rose bushes, or fabulous dahlias and think about creating a fabulous cutting garden and filling my house with fresh flowers. Then, I look out the window and get a glimpse of my currently overgrown, super messy “garden” and realize I’m not exactly skilled enough to take care of garden divas. My rosemary and oregano are monsters, though!



Start marking your calendars: Our Spring Driveway Sale is scheduled for the weekend of May 4th, 2013. Call or check our web site for directions.

 

New coneflowers for 2013:

 

E. Big Kahuna

E. Meteor Red

E. Supreme Cantaloupe

E. Supreme Elegance