January 2016
The Herb Farm

Living in Alabama Rocks!

  This calamondin orange tree has had blooms and/or fruit on it for nearly three straight years!

Happy New Year!

2016 promises to bring some excitement to the old Herb Farmer. I spent the last week of 2015 reviewing seed orders from holidays past and the successes and failures of what I planted then.

Remember, a few years ago I promised to start keeping a better journal so I could keep up with what works and what doesn’t work in the field. In the journal, I keep detailed data on weather information, both from NOAA and from my personal weather station. I also keep notes on who dropped by that day and a brief note on our main topic of conversation.

The journal has become a helpful tool for me. I write down the times I take which medicines, exactly what I eat and drink, how many miles that I walk, and my blood pressure and glucose numbers.

Back to the seeds: Some of the herbs and vegetables I grow here perform better than others, so it’s important to keep up with what I plant. I like to plant a variety of most crops.

Someone once asked me how many different kind of herbs I grew. I told him about 125. Sounds like a bunch until you count them. There were about 16 varieties of thyme, nine types of rosemary, six types of culinary salvia, six of lavender and at least six types of basil. Then there are at least 50 one-offs and about 20 or 30 two-offs that I grow. It really isn’t much when you add it all up.

I placed my early seed order about two weeks ago and have a secondary order ready to place now. In about three or four weeks, the plug trays will be filled with soil and most of the seeds will be sown on Groundhog Day next month.

The smell of the greenhouse really gets me going this time of year. There’s just nothing like it. It’s nice to go into the greenhouse and enjoy a cocktail in the evening when it’s 30 degrees outside. Or, in the morning with a cup of coffee and a scone is a fine way to start the day.

When the temperatures drop to below tropical tolerance, plants come into the greenhouse and into the main house. Large philodendrons and container citrus trees are placed into the greenhouse with the ferns. Other plants, like sansevierias, pipers, jades and kalanchoes move into the house. Oh! Let’s not forget the begonias!

Satsumas! Delicious!  

Some of the factors about fall and winter in Alabama that make the season tolerable are the citrus season, all the pretty plants jammed into suitable places and creating a pseudo-jungle, and also enjoying my cats’ company as we warm ourselves in the greenhouse. (They like to be in there with me.)

Fall and winter also means Alabama satsumas are in season! There’s nothing tastier than a sweet, succulent, nearly seedless Alabama satsuma. Yum! Don’t know what a satsuma is? Google it. It’s a mandarin orange and Alabama is the third largest producer in the United States of these delicious fruits.

A buddy of mine commutes to Fairhope almost weekly. When the satsumas are in season, he brings my orders directly from the farm (Harrison Farms). I usually buy several 10-pound bags each trip. They make great gifts for children and adults alike. Next time you go to a dinner party, don’t just take a bottle of wine. Take a sack of satsumas!

  Kalanchoes are budding out and getting ready for their winter display of beautiful orange/red tubular blooms.

Life’s full of little surprises and sometimes they are fun and exciting. It’s especially nice to see garden surprises this time of year. For example, back in the late summer, I misplaced my giant red mustard seeds. Right now there’s a huge patch of giant red mustard growing wild in a part of my back yard. I have no idea how it got there, but the crop is for sure the result of the lost bottle of mustard seeds. I guess I’ll have some going to seed before spring planting time.

I have two very large sasanquas (Camelia sasanqua) growing near the small tool shed. The other day while I was raking leaves, I noticed I have a bunch of young seedlings that look to be at least a year old. I don’t know how I missed them last year, but, this month, they are getting potted up. When they bloom, I’ll know what color they’ll be. Maybe there will be a new cultivar or two.

Okay folks; don’t sweat the cold because spring’s just around the corner!

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

Thanks for reading!

For more information, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I’ll answer your questions and I enjoy the emails!

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.