Greetings fellow gardener!
First off let me just take a moment to say once more a sincere and heartfelt thanks for shopping with us :)
In this age when the disconnected billionaires who own controlling interest in wall street would love nothing more than to suck the last vestiges of life out of main street it brightens my spirit and gives me hope to know that there are those such as yourself who appreciate what main street has to offer.
Rest assured that Funke's will always do it's level best to bring you nothing short of real value and make it worth your while to support small business.
Thank you for doing so :)
If you're getting as tired of winter as I you might appreciate some of the things we've got going for you here right now to add a little touch of spring to your kitchen and your heart to tide us over until the weather breaks. :)
If you like the taste of fresh herbs in your cooking we've got some nice little starters ripe for picking now and planting later.
Since we do not use noxious chemicals on any of our edible plants you can use them right away without having to wait.
I did a little leaf nibbling yesterday while taking the pix for this e-mail and I have to admit it was a welcome taste of spring indeed!
Flat leaved parsley ripe for the picking!
Even though I had to use bottled salsa it was nice to have some fresh cilantro leaf in the bowl, yummy!
Here's a few fun facts about the popular culinary herb Cilantro from a feature I wrote several years ago..
Cilantro/Coriander - Coriandrum sativum
Basically two herbs in one. The leaves are Cilantro that is
used in salsa and the seeds are Coriander.
The nomenclature as cilantro is relatively modern but this plant has a deep and long history of cultivation as Coriander that goes back at least 3000 years. It is mentioned in ancient Sanskrit texts, Egyptian papyri, in the Tales of the Arabian nights, and in the Bible as well. The ancient Romans brought Coriander north with them as they expanded the empire into Europe. They used it as a preservative by mixing it with cumin and vinegar and rubbing it into meat. The ancient Chinese associated it with immortality while Europeans of the middle ages used it in love potions :) Oh my darling, you have given me Coriander and I shall love you forever! Hehe :) Medicinally the plant has been used as a digestive tonic and mild sedative as a tea and essential oil for soothing rheumatic joints.
This herb is also rather easy to grow given rich light soil and sun. It does well in containers using any good potting mix. It also bolts to flower quickly so if you use the leaves in salsa watch for the shooting stalk that is inevitable with this plant and get your leaves before they yellow and drop! Better still, if you want foliage pick any flower stalks as they begin to emerge which will keep the plant vegetative far longer. I practice this technique with basil and keep thick foliage all summer long allowing it to flower into seed just before frost so I can harvest seed for next year's crop.
An interesting note I ran across while researching Coriander
was a note that said not to plant it near fennel.
That Fennel seems to suffer from exposure to Coriander and that Anise benefits from it..
The root is also edible and can be cooked as vegetable.
Here's some fun info about parsley from another feature of the same time frame..
Yes, that little sprig of green stuff restaurants put on the plate that most people just ignore is incredibly edible and tasty! The reason it's there is that parsley was often chewed as a breath freshener long before the days of Certs and Tic-Tacs. It also contains properties that promote healthy skin and can be infused as a tea to aid digestion. It's digestive properties probably contributed to it's presence on the plate as well.
There are two common forms of this plant grown for culinary use, Curly parsley and Italian or flat leaved parsley. There is also a third and less known variety called Hamburg parsley that forms a large tuberous root that can be cooked as a vegetable.
Historically the ancient Greeks used parsley as a medicinal herb and ceremonially to crown the winners of the Isthmian games and to decorate tombs. Their warriors are said to have fed it to their horses to make them strong and healthy. The ancient Romans ate tons of the stuff and made garlands for their banquet guests to discourage drunkenness and cut down on foul odors. Hey Thadius maximus! You're drunk and you stink! Eat some parsley doggone it! lol!
Growing parsley is pretty simple given a half day of sun or better and any good rich garden soil with good drainage. A spot where you've worked the soil to at least a foot deep will help the plants prosper since they do tend to be deep rooted especially if growing Hamburg parsley for a root crop.
Some other uses for parsley besides the basic soup, salads, potatoes and sauces
Parsley the rose bush helper! Parsley has been used planted next to rose bushes to keep them healthy and improve their fragrance.
Parsley the hair tonic! Infused in water it's been used as a conditioning rinse.
Parsley the hand lotion! Parsley has been added to facial steams and lotions to soothe dry skin and minimize freckles. Hmmmm may have to try that :) nahhhh, I like my freckles! :)
It's rich content of vitamins and minerals have also seen it used as an infusion to soothe tired eyes as an eyebath.
Well, with all that good stuff from this tasty herb I'll not go sparsely when planting parsley!
Last issue I talked about Mullein and some of the great properties both as an herb and as an ornamental of this easy to grow adapted native. For those who have asked if we'll have starter plants that you can add to your perennial garden here's a thousand words in the form of a picture. :)
The picture was snapped yesterday :) Yes, they're a healthy looking bunch aren't they? :) We've been growing them all winter and although we've got great stock right now it takes almost 4 months from seed to get plants this nice so when they're gone it'll be awhile before we have more.
There's another batch of medical plants starting to break dormancy a couple of tables away from these Mullein that would make a superb addition to the woodland shade garden.
Ginseng! (Panax quinquefolius)
Without going into too much depth on this popular medicinal whose properties are often more myth than legend. Recent reading on the species indicates that mass marketing hype of energy drinks and other stimulants currently being marketed contain subclinical doses so much so that any potential effectiveness of the ginseng component is useless in the body. Scientific findings of various studies conducted on the species are also somewhat ambiguous as to effectiveness as an adaptogen, however the longstanding use in Asian herbal medicine remains nonetheless.
Personally I find the depletion of wild ginseng from our local forests by profiteering morons that completely eradicate the plant disgusting. I am sure with a little thought drawn from the spirit of my native ancestors I could come up with a suitable punishment for those who do such dastardly deeds. Perhaps buried to the neck in close proximity to an anthill, preferably fire ants, would get the message across that such activity should not be undertaken. :)
What we as gardeners can do as loyal stewards of Mother Earth is to replant the species into our woodland gardens retsoring the balance our evil cousins have disrupted.
In return over time the Ginseng will multiply and with selective harvesting yield us more than our fair share of precious root for our tea. :)
I found an interesting paragraph in the wikipedia article about Ginseng that reads as follows:
Wild ginseng is ginseng that has not been planted and cultivated domestically, rather it is that which grows naturally and is harvested from wherever it is found to be growing. It is considered to be superior to field farmed ginseng by various authorities, and it has been shown to contain higher levels of ginsenoside. Wild ginseng is relatively rare and even increasingly endangered, due in large part to high demand for the product in recent years, which has led to the wild plants being sought out and harvested faster than new ones can grow (it requires years for a ginseng root to reach maturity). Wild ginseng can be either Asian or American and can be processed to be red ginseng.
There are woods grown American ginseng programs in Maine, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina.  and United Plant Savers has been encouraging the woods planting of ginseng both to restore natural habitats and to remove pressure from any remaining wild ginseng, and they offer both advice and sources of rootlets. Woods grown plants have comparable value to wild grown ginseng of similar age."
The full article is located at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginseng and is well worth the read for any would be Ginseng enthusiasts :)
I'll be adding some to the wooded slope on the farm out near Oxford as soon as the weather breaks. Here again our quantities are somewhat limited since I ordered 500 starter roots and only received about 200.
I know it's a little early to be thinking about pesky summer mosquitos but we have a plant you can add to your landscape that will actually repel the pesky buggers.
Unlike the "citronella" scented geraniums often marketed as "mosquito plant" this one actually contains citronella oil and is one of the varieties used for commercial harvest of the natural oil. In tropical climates it will grow to be a 60' tall tree. Commercial harvesting invloves tapping the sap in a similar fashion to harvesting the sap our native maples for syrup production.
There are also several medicinal uses for this plant as well and it's oils can be found in many mouthwash products, cough drops, liniments, and inhalants. It is also used as an ingredient of flavorings, fragrances of soaps, detergents and toiletries, and cosmetics.
One source I encountered during some reading on the plant said that it is used in traditional aboriginal medicine.
The article went on to say "The oil can be used externally, applied to cuts, skin infections etc, it can also be inhaled for treating blocked nasal passages, it can be gargled for sore throat and can also be taken internally for a wide range of complaints. Some caution is advised, however, because like all essential oils, it can have a deleterious effect on the body in larger doses. "
The full article is located at http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Eucalyptus+citriodora
Since I also found buy/sell offers for large quantities of the raw oil for sale in bulk drums to the household and pharmaceutical industries the science behind the use of this plant is well known and widely accepted.
It's been a few years since we've had this plant for sale. It's not easy to find and for many years I kept a stock plant of it that got lost during what I often call the "hell years" of rain in may of '01-03 followed by cicadaphobia in '04.
It's finally back for spring of '08 :)
Perhaps one of my best test case scenarios for use of this plant as a patio/deck mosquito repellant was one I gave to Tim Morehouse who kept the plant for a full summer in a big pot on his patio and reported back to me that fall that it had indeed kept the pests away from his evening sitting area.
If you prefer not use products like "off" you could substitute rubbing the leaves on your skin for a similar effect. As always since everbody's body chemistry is different I would wholeheartedly suggest trying a small spot first to make sure you don't have an adverse reaction. The leaves are quite oily and have a lemon scent.
Need a dash of just plain pretty to perk you up?
These are just a few samples of the flowering plants available now that can be planted outside when the weather breaks. :)
The Dianthus and violas will often naturalize for years and years of continued enjoyment!
Our current hours are 8:30 to 5 Mon. through Sat. and 11:30 to 5 on Sundays. If you have any questions just call the shop at 513-541-8170.
Well, that's about it for this issue. :)
Hopefully it's gotten your garden juices flowing a little. It won't be long and the sap will start it's annual migration up the stems and into the tops.
"Grow the roots the tops will follow, grow the soul or the body is hollow!"
'til next time,
Your garden pal,