February 2014
The Herb Farm

Month of the Groundhog

 
  De Kay’s snake or brown snake (Storeria dekayi) is the first snake of the season here.

As I promised, I have started keeping a journal of my activities. Oh, it’s much better than when I worked in an office more than 30 years ago.

Back then, I kept my planner up to date. At the end of the week, I filled in what I did. HA! Seriously.

I like to journal. There are two kinds of journaling I do now. The first is a written journal where I write down my daily experiences in the garden such as weather, what’s popping up, bugs and desirable insects or spiders, wildlife in general and also what kind of work I performed. The other journal is a digital one where I document all of the previous, along with any photo references and cool shots. The whole process doesn’t usually take more than an hour and I do it daily. Beats the heck out of watching television and it is productive.

Back in November, I was up in Birmingham attending a Dia de los Muertos costume party and visiting some friends whom I hadn’t seen in a good long while. There, I ran across an acquaintance who is a professor at Samford University. Dr. Larry Davenport told me he had published a book that I somehow overlooked. I told him I would order a copy as soon as I got back home, and I did.

 
Left to right, Biology Professor and author Dr. Larry Davenport at last year’s Dia de los Muertos costume party. Dr. Larry Davenport’s stories and details of his adventures as a field biologist make his book “Nature Journal,” a must have for folks who love our natural world.

Larry is a great storyteller and a great biologist with the utmost respect for nature. His book "Nature Journal" is the big reason why I have begun journaling religiously.

Go and buy some copies for your friends. It makes a great Groundhog Day gift.

Speaking of Groundhog Day: This year it is on a Sunday. How appropriate for Groundhog Day to kickoff the beginning of the spring-growing season on the first day of the work week?

 
  Left to right, What am I? We’re halfway through winter now. The emerging Knockout Rose is a sign of good things to come.

I’ll spend my holiday in the heated greenhouse, potting plugs I started back in December, planting seeds for chili peppers, and smelling the soils and fertilizers. (That always gets me going this time of year.)

How will you spend your Groundhog Day? Email and tell me.

 
  Broiled salmon, basmati rice, roasted Brussels sprouts and cranberry casserole

Last month, I posted a photo and asked you to guess what it was. So far, nobody has gotten it right. However, some of your emails are amusing. This month, I will give you a little clue. Look at the image labeled, "What am I?"

The recipe of the month for February is a wonderful, herby broiled salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts, along with a cranberry casserole and Basmati rice.

For the salmon:

Oil the 1.5 pound slab of fish with olive oil.

Melt a pat of butter and heat about a tablespoon of olive together in a 10" cast iron skillet (preferably Lodge).

Sauté chopped garlic cloves, coarse ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, fresh chopped thyme, dill weed and fresh chopped lemongrass basil stems in the skillet.

Thoroughly coat the salmon with the hot mixture of herbs and spices.

Place the slab of salmon into the hot skillet on the stovetop.

Spritz the top of the fish thoroughly with lemon juice.

Place the skillet into the preheated broiler until the first sign of browning garlic appears.

Remove and serve with a drizzle of hot butter and garlic.

Email me with tips on the rice and Brussels sprouts, and how to make a delicious cranberry casserole.

I’ll be back next month. You have been warned!

Until then, remember to watch your salt and sugar, drink plenty of pure water, and breathe in and out!

Happy Groundhog Day!

For more information, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Be sure to find me on Facebook at Herb Farmer-The Herb Farm.

As always, check with an expert, like your doctor, before using any herbal remedy.