March 2018
The Herb Farm

“Corn, Corn, Corn! Nothing but Corn!”


Bay leaves come from a bay laurel tree. And, yes. They bloom.


One of my favorite movies is "Second Hand Lions." It is basically about two secretly wealthy, aging, bachelor brothers learning how to raise their young nephew who was abandoned by his mother.

Although there were many memorable scenes in the film, one that stands out to me is when they all got matching overalls and brimmed straw hats, and claimed to be farmers. They met a traveling seed salesman in town one day and bought a bunch of seeds.

When the seedlings emerged, they noticed each row of plants looked the same and not at all like the picture and description on the packet. It turned out the salesman sold them all corn in various packets.

Watch the movie. Or, at least watch the scene on YouTube, "Corn, corn, corn. Nothing but corn." I think you’ll enjoy it.

This brings me to my reason for the title of this column. Be certain to start your garden with fresh seeds. Buy them from a reputable dealer and not from the 39-cent pack rack at the big box store. Also, it’s a good idea to Google the seed images to make sure you know what you’re getting.

I’m sure you would recognize the mix-up if you opened a packet of bok choy seed and found corn in there. But, unless buying from reputable suppliers, you really don’t know about the freshness or how the seeds were handled in the packaging process.

This little brown jug (Hexastylis arifolia) is blooming early this year.


When buying seed, I prefer to shop at Quality Co-op stores or at least an independent retail garden center. That way, if you have any questions about the seed, there’s a knowledgeable person to help you.

When ordering online, I prefer to shop with Renee’s Garden or Johnny’s Selected Seeds. But I usually buy some from several other online and mail-order suppliers. All in all, I buy from over a dozen seed sources. Pepper Joe’s, Kitazawa Seed Co. and J.L. Hudson, Seedsman are just a few of my secondary seed suppliers. They are all reputable and have excellent customer service. Also, each seed company carries different selections. For example, I buy pepper seeds from about six different suppliers. Same goes for tomato seeds. While Kitazawa carries assorted Asian vegetables that I like, J.L. Hudson, Seedsman carries interesting flower varieties and unusual heirloom vegetable seeds.

If you start the seeds indoors, be sure they have ample direct light. A south- or southwest-facing window usually provides six to 10 hours of needed sunlight. LED lights placed near the top of your planting trays should also do the trick. Use the 5,000 Kelvin bulbs with at least 1,100 lumens per bulb.

If the cold frame is in a sunny location, this is a perfect time of year to start seed in small pots. Just make sure the seedlings don’t cook in the sun or get chilled at night.

Good cold frame starts include lettuce and other salad greens, spinach, parsley and kale. Nasturtiums, zinnias, sunflowers, summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers and basil also enjoy a cold-frame jump-start.


Spicy bush basil is a low-growing, mounding herb that makes a great border plant and tastes great on roasted tomatoes!

Carrots, radishes, beets and other root vegetables need to be started directly in the garden. Also, direct sow peas, beans, other legumes, onions and, of course, corn, corn, corn!

Transplanting the seedlings from indoors to outdoors requires some conditioning for the plants. It is best to place the starts in a protected area outside where they won’t get too much direct sun or too much wind and nighttime chill. Let them harden off for about three days before planting them in the garden.

Similarly, when you are growing plants in a cold frame, it is best to open the top a few inches each night for a few days before sending them out into the wild, wild world.

You know? One of my simple pleasures in life is watching seeds emerge from their soil bed and show their green for the first time. Between that, the smell of the greenhouse and a cup of Royal Cup coffee, it really gets me going.

Blue phlox (Phlox subulata) is a good pollinator flower for your garden.


No recipe today! I had bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheese tacos for breakfast and hotdogs for lunch.

I’ll give you two recipes in April!

Make it a point to plant some veggies and fruits this spring and start eating your yard. I eat mine.

Happy Vernal Equinox!

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.