Thursday, February 27, 2014

The something or others of March!

Welcome back to another wintery edition of Lost In the Farmer’s Market. Now as you know these episodes are posted a few days early of the normal Saturday posting date because of our involvement in the Fayetteville farmer’s Market. Today’s episode is the first one of March 2014. Due to some questions about plants we are selling at the Farmer’s Market, this episode is dedicated to providing details on the herbs currently available at ye olde booth.  So let’s get to the topic shall we? This year I decided to do something different with the plant selection, I phased in more perennial herbs and more food substitutes and switched out a lot of the annual plants. Now to be fair a number of plants are considered annuals but in truth are nothing of the sort but are grown that way.  But I think a discussion of what the term ‘technical annual’ means is a discussion for another day.

Angelica – Angelica archangelica (Biennial, Partial Shade)

Angelica is a member of the carrot or parsley family Apiaceae. As such it has a lot of the same features, a fleshy tap root, and finely dissected leaves and is the favored food of a number of butterfly species. For the average gardener it can serve as an ornamental as its foliage is quite nice as is its bloom. The seed is used as a seasoning, the foliage can be eaten, and the root dug up sliced and cooked as one might do with a celeriac. More so, this plant is a biennial which means when you see flowers you should do your best to save the seed.

Bloody Sorrel – Rumex Sanguineum (Perennial, Partial shade)

The sorrel family as a whole is edible but the wild cousins such as sheep, yellow and red sorrel often have side effects if eaten regularly and or in quantity. However if foraging between digestive upset and starvation the choice is quite clear. Now bloody sorrel or bloody dock as it sometimes is called is often sold as an ornamental perennial. Never mind that it is edible, and it’s general use is the same as spinach. The advantage is that green sorrel and bloody sorrel are both perennial unlike spinach which is a annual. There are some care differences such as the fact sorrels need regular water and some protection from southern sun.

Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare (Tough Perennial, full sun- morning shade)

Fennel is a common seasoning herb in true Italian seasoning blends and foods. Unlike dill it is a tough perennial and much like most members of the parsley/carrot family can be a host to swallowtail butterfly larva. The two types of Fennel, green and or black/bronze fennel taste identical and literally only look different. Both are tough xeriscaping and permaculture plants and both can be added to salads, and any other cooked dish. Both types are edible from root to seed and neither has a poisonous lookalike. All and all you can’t hope for a better behaved garden perennial with more uses.

Lamb’s Ear - Stachys byzantine (Perennial, Shade- Afternoon shade)

Lamb’s Ear is a classy sort of cottage garden plant that has more or less a nostalgic use in the garden and a minor medical use. In the medieval ages the plant was called woundwort because the fuzzy leaves were used as bandages, and this tradition reportedly persisted up through the American Revolution. As a whole the plant is somewhat mound forming, may need a little shade and benefits from a rich soil or regular fertilization.

Lovage – Levisticum officinale (Perennial, Partial Shade)

Lovage is another rarely seen Carrot/Parsley family member who does not get the kind of press it deserves. In general use the leaves and stems are used as a replacement for celery, where as it has reputed medical use in treating indigestion, kidney stones, colic and cystitis. The hollow stems on mature specimens can be used as ‘green’ drinking straws with vegetable or tomato juice. I might also add unlike celery Lovage is a true perennial, but it does need partial shade to do its best.

Lavender Cotton – Santolina virens (Tough Perennial, Full Sun)

Lavender Cotton is typically a name reserved for the gray form of Santolina, which is S. chamaecyparissus for note. We are carrying the green version because it comparatively grows faster but has all the same trademark durability and can also be used medically for poor digestion, worms and jaundice, while in crafts it’s aromatic properties aid in repelling insects. Overall the plant is most often used as an ornamental in knot gardens because of its low maintenance habits.

Rosemary – Rosemarinus officinalis (Tough Perennial, Full Sun)

Ah, rosemary, the herb everyone loves. Seriously rosemary is one of the most desired aromatic herbs, and probably the toughest herb for our region. As a garden plant rosemary is drought immune once established and can get incredibly huge over time despite being a very slow grower. As some of you may already know rosemary is used mainly in culinary dishes for scent and or seasoning and it’s most common use is in concert with tomatoes or potatoes.

Tansy – Tanacetum vulgare (Perennial, Part Shade to Full sun)

Tansy is one of the other great insect repelling herbs; its foliage is also used to make a green-gold dye base that can be used in a variety of crafts. As a garden plant it is a perennial that can get to a height of three feet, and bears finely dissected foliage and in summer is covered in small daisy flowers that attract pollinators.

I believe that covers at least the herb section of this discussion, now we will have more herbs later on so check back to see what has changed. As you may know I will be at the Fayetteville farmer’s market this weekend armed with a shipment of super-delicious plants to fill your garden with so you can get your organic plant fix. The market is a 365 day a year event that occurs on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I’m there on Saturdays between 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM and the market is located on 325 Franklin Street in the parking lot of the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. But enough of the plugging let’s get to the plant and material list for this weekend.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the eastern coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed.

Black Magic Fertilizer
That’s right you’ve heard about it in trials all summer. This specially formulated liquid fertilizer was made and tested at the test gardens using natural ingredients and no chemicals. The result explosive growth, great harvests and of course no environmental side effects! We’re making batches of this stuff to order, at $6.00 per gallon of fertilizer. You can either order it at the market and pick it up the next week or have it delivered to your home in the Fayetteville area for a delivery charge of an additional $2.00.

House Plants
4x Holiday Cactus ($3.00)
2x Desert Privet ($3.00)
2x Rotary Privet ($3.00)
3x Dancing Bones Cactus ($3.00)

Garden Plants
1x Savoy Cabbage Plant 0.5 gal pot ($3.00)
8x Dinosaur Kale, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

2x Green Fennel, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Black Fennel, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Bloody Sorrel, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Lamb’s Ear, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Green Lavender-Cotton, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
4x Tansy, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
3x Angelica, 3.5” pot ($3.00)
2x Rosemary, 3.5” pot ($3.00)

Coming Soon:
Ozard Beauty Strawberry
Martha Washington Asparagus
Dark Red Norland Potato

So, with all that said we enter into March hoping the weather will improve but considering our options should it not. With any luck we’ve seen the last of bad weather and can well ‘Get on with it’ in regards to spring.

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