January 2017
The Herb Farm

Counting Flowers on the Wall

Well, if you’ve been following my column, you know I strongly dislike cold weather. These old bones just don’t want to move much during the winter months and I run out of things to do in the house.

Even the cats and dogs mostly stay curled up by the stove or the sunniest window in the house. The cats don’t move about much until the sun goes down and then they want to go out and watch me feed the raccoons. The dogs follow me outside whenever I go to the barn or workshop.

Sometimes, not often, I get bored. Rain falling on a cold January day keeps me inside the house. Since I don’t subscribe to a television provider, I can’t keep up with the soap operas or the fake news. I’m not much for talking on a telephone and neither are my friends. So that leaves me to my own devices more often than not.

This cleaver was made in 1942 by Briddell. That company made cutlery for the U.S. Armed Forces. This is my favorite vegetable cleaver.


Every piece of cutlery I own and all of my pocket knives have been thoroughly sharpened and deep cleaned. The computers have all been opened up, dusted and vacuumed. The house is clean except for a few traces of pet hair, referred to in this house as "a condiment." I think I have watched every single YouTube video on the principals and construction of rocket mass heaters.

I’m running out of interesting stuff to do!

There are some simple pleasures in life I take notice of and appreciate every time. For example, just now, I took a break from writing and prepared a roast to cook for supper tonight. Using my favorite kitchen tools (my vintage, recently sharpened cutlery), the 12-inch butcher knife and the Briddell 6-inch vegetable cleaver that was made in 1942, I cut off 2 pounds of rib roast from a 16 pounder I have been aging in the refrigerator and seasoned it with salt, pepper and minced garlic. Then I cut up some carrots, potatoes, butternut squash, onions and bell peppers to be slow roasted on the grill.

The simple pleasure is in using a couple of very old and very dependable knives. They have survived the test of time. Every time I use them, I am reminded of a song, "Stuff That Works," by the late, great Guy Clark.


One of the jade plants that is budded.

Everything’s ready to cook.

Last month started off fairly warm, so I left a lot of plants outside until the sixth or seventh before bringing them into the greenhouse and the house. The coldest it had been up until then was about 36 or so degrees. It’s a good thing because a lot of succulents need a chill down before they bloom. This year, the Sansevierias (in the asparagus family), Jade plants, kalanchoes and barrel cactuses all set buds. It’s always exciting to watch them bloom. I wonder if the night-blooming cereus will finally bloom this year?

Beefsteak Begonia ‘Erythrophylla’ is a beauty, even when not in bloom. It is one I cut and share each year.


I guess one other thing I can go ahead and get out of the way is start some more Beefsteak Begonia cuttings. Each year, I take cuttings and start small plants to give to friends and neighbors in the summer. Last year, I started about 30, but ended up with more because there’s always a leaf or a stem that breaks off. When that happens, I stick them into the nearest pot with room enough to share the soil.

This year I think I’ll take 50 cuttings. But not stems. I’ll take leaf sections and stick those. It takes up less room and, besides, each leaf section should yield at least five or six individual plants.

Yes, sir. It gets mighty boring around here in January. Oh, well. I guess I’ll have time to catch up on all the "Simply Southern TV" episodes I missed last year. They’re definitely worth watching. If they’re not in your market area yet, you can watch them online from their website. Go to simplysoutherntv.net or on Facebook at Simply Southern TV and see what they are up to.

Well, dang-gonnit! Nothing gets me going and puts me in a bad mood quicker than a broken water pipe in the greenhouse in January! Looks like I’ll have to stop playing solitaire and tend to this little inconvenience before my pump burns up.

No recipe this month. I’ll double up for February. Maybe I’ll be in a better frame of mind.

Get your Groundhog Day gift shopping done. It’s right around the corner! Stay warm, y’all.

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

Thanks for reading!

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