Monday, March 31, 2008

Garden Tea Decor

It is fun for us to carry the tea theme into the outdoors in as many ways possible. These oversized tea pot and cups are filled with the edible flower pansies for the spring. We also have a series of tea pot wind chimes hanging in our tree. Another way that we decorate with our outdoor living space with the tea theme is with our teapot tree. All the tea pots with a crack or chip or who have lost their lid find a home on our pussy willow tree. We began this project about a year ago and it is our goal to fill this tree with once loved tea pots.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Nesting

With the arrival of Spring, during the early morning hours the melancholy coo of Mourning Doves can be heard intertwined with the cacophony of other resident birds. We have a host of Mourning Doves, and they have returned to their favorite nesting spots. These locations, all in various baskets on the side porch of The Rosemary House seem to provide the perfect spot for a somewhat protected nest. This first basket hangs on the porch and has provided a safe haven for nesting Doves for many years. The nest is very simple, a few twigs and tiny branches loosely placed in the basket provides just enough cushion to soften the basket and cradle the eggs. Typically, a nest will consist of 2 eggs that will incubate over 2 weeks. Mourning Doves form strong pair bonds, are prolific breeders, and will typically breed 5 or 6 times in a single year.
Last year, we noticed this basket tucked in a potting shed had become a home for a nesting Mourning Dove. You can see some of the twigs poking out of the basket. We think this must be one of the hatches from last year that fondly remembers growing up in a basket, so they found their own basket to convert into a nest.

My father astutely noticed the birds nesting in this basket this year. Tucked against the wall of the porch, mama bird is sitting on her eggs, protected from unfriendly others. The male will sit on the nest in the early morning thru late afternoon while the female will nest the remainder of the day thru the night.It will be a busy year as there will be Mourning Doves nesting in these baskets off and on throughout the spring and summer.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Garden Railroading

One of the more popular landscapes at the recent garden show was the Garden Railroad display. This wonderful hobby combines plantings with a rail line, offering many landscaping opportunities. The joy of watching the trains through the four seasons adds another dimension to your gardening and the entertainment it provides is countless.

Perennial low growing herbs such as thyme, corsican mint and camomile are a lovely addition to the train garden. While lavender and santolina can, with just a little extra care, be trimmed to resemble miniature shrubs and trees. Some of the annuals can't be beat for non stop color such as the dwarf marigolds. Wherever your imagination takes you, garden railroading can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment while playing with plants and trains! Absolute entertainment for young and old.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Litera-Tea Blog-a-Thon

Oh what fun! It feels like literary week here at Rosemary's Sampler. Yesterday we had a wonderful guest post by Susan Wittig Albert promoting her newest book in the China Bayles Mystery Series. Her series features a herb shop owner who solves mysteries. China and her business neighbor Ruby host tea parties as well. Is it any wonder why we love that series of books. The newest book in the series is named Nightshade, which is the family of plants that include tomatoes and peppers. Isn't that a great name for a mystery? Her post follows this one and focuses on the many ways she incorporates food and herbs in her books. You can also enter to win a copy of Nightshade through Friday at noon.

Now we would like to take a moment to mention a favorite Litera-tea book as part of the Gracious Hospitality Blog-a-thon. I can't begin to tell you how difficult a choice this was. When I finally made a decision on my favorite tea (and herbs!) books, they all turned out to be The Rosemary House publications. While these are indeed quality publications they are also quite sentimental to me as well.

When The Rosemary House opened in 1968 my mother and some of her friends would gather in the back room of the shop and the creative energy was so alive you could feel it. Between the energy of the shop and the joy of herb gardens, it was a most wonderful place to grow up. Sometimes the projects going on were to create new products such as a new seasoning or dip or working on the Mail a herb cards. Sometimes the creative juices were flowing to write a new publication.

One time, the gang was working on a little booklet called Herb Teas for Pleasure. This little 43 page booklet is crammed full of information including over 100 recipes. Herb butters, rose creams, easy herb jellies, herb tea blends - it's all in here -- and peppered with charming little line drawings and quotations. Mom once admitted "I put too much information in that one book". This little gem is still in print and available.

Another little gem that was created in the back room of The Rosemary House was this clever book Recipes for a Winning Political Party. Originally written in 1972 I find it still timely for this election year and many of the puns still current. Recipes for Inflationary Spirals and Political Punch just to name two. No matter what your political affliation this little book will make your party a success. We have just a few of these fun books left for our blog readers.

The other series of books is a compilation of work that took place in the back room of The Rosemary House and also with the lovely ladies of Penn Cumberland Garden Club. Penn Cumberland has an annual herb tea party. These are a most extravagant affair and every member attends this meeting! The herb tea party always has a theme. A Country Herb Tea, A Rose Herb Tea Party, A Feast of Flowers Herb Tea Party, An English High Herb Tea Party. The two shown here are A Shakespeare Tea and The Fairy Folk Tea Party. All the food feature lots of herbs and of course the beverage served is an herbal tisane. All the recipes from the Shakespeare Tea feature herbs/foods mentioned in the various plays of Shakespeare. For instance in King Henry VIII is this quote "These are the youths that thunder at the playhouse, and fight for bitten apples...." which leads to serving Apple Cake at the tea.

The Fairy Folk Tea party booklet has recipes for Puck's Pear Cardamon Bread and Magikal Meringue Mushrooms, Star Gazers Tarragon Butter and more. It also features fairy quotes some also from Shakespeare like this one. "Fairies, black, grey, green and white, you moonshine revellers, and shades of night."

Such a tough choice. There are so many books I turn to for inspiration, reference and fun and they all deserve a day on the blog.

Susan Wittig Albert presents "What's Cooking"

Thank you very much, Susanna and Nancy, for hosting me here at Rosemary’s Sampler! Before I get started, I want to say that I have long been a fan of The Rosemary House. I love visiting the store. And your wonderful mom, Bertha Reppert, generously included China Bayles in her book, Growing Your Herb Business (published back in 1994 and still in print). I’ve always been grateful.

Now let’s get down to business, as Bertha would say! Welcome to all you blog readers, and thanks for joining us today. This blog tour celebrates the launch of Nightshade, the sixteenth China Bayles mystery. China has traded her career as a criminal defense lawyer for a quieter life as the owner of an herb shop in Pecan Springs TX. Life in the garden is full of mystery, however, and China is often called on to solve them. But that’s what makes life fun, isn’t it? Mystery, gardens, and plenty of good food.

What’s Cooking? Food and Mysteries in the China Bayles Series

When I first started the China Bayles books, back in 1992, most authors didn’t include recipes in fiction. While China is always stirring up something with herbs (rosemary biscuits for breakfast, a tomato soup with basil for lunch, an herb-rich lasagna for dinner), it wasn’t until the fifth book, Love Lies Bleeding, that I included a recipe. This one was for Ruby Wilcox’s Hot Lips Cookie Crisps. The scene went like this:

Ruby handed me a plate of cookies. "Be careful," she warned as I took one. "They bite back.

"Oh, yeah?" The cookie was small, I was hungry, and I popped it, fast. It was nutty, sweet, and hot. Very, very hot.

"Wow!" I went for the milk. "Those are incendiary," I said, when my mouth was cool enough to get the words out. "What the devil is in them?"

Ruby grinned. "I thought that would warm you up a little. I'm calling them Hot Lips Cookie Crisps. Did I put in enough habenero powder?"

"They're soul-searing," I said. "Cookie monsters. My palate may never recover."

To this day, I get more requests for this cookie recipe than for any other recipe in the series. One lady told me that she baked the cookies for her husband as a joke—and he ate the whole batch and demanded more. Chile-heads love them!

The second most popular recipe in the series is for the herb quiche with thyme and lavender that China and Ruby serve in their tea room, Thyme for Tea. I always keep a couple of cans of condensed milk in my pantry just for this quiche—and of course, a supply of dried lavender blossoms, as well. Quiche is simple to bake and perfect for Sunday brunch or Saturday night supper. Garnished with lavender or chive blossoms, it’s a treat for the eyes, as well as the taste buds. No wonder people keep asking for the recipe!

Food in Fiction

Food plays an important role in most novels, and certainly in mysteries. In the first chapter of China’s new mystery, Nightshade, I use an eggplant dish to introduce China’s husband, McQuaid, and her stepson, Brian. (You can read the first chapter here.) Turns out that neither McQuaid nor Brian are eggplant lovers. Eggplant is a nightshade, so putting this dish on the table gives me a chance to introduce the nightshades, as well as a couple of major characters.

I love to set scenes in restaurants, like this scene in Spanish Dagger. China and McQuaid are having lunch at Miguel’s and discussing the death of Colin Fowler. Here’s what’s on the menu:

. . . chipotle enchiladas with spicy black beans and rice and another Dos Equis for McQuaid, an ensalada de nopalites and iced tea for me. Nopalites or nopales are the green pads of the prickly pear cactus, carefully stripped of their spines. They’re cubed, blanched, chilled, and tossed with thin-sliced red onions, corn, tomatoes, mild chile peppers, cilantro, feta cheese, and vinaigrette for a light, spicy salad.

Since this book is all about Southwestern herbs, prickly pear (which is both a traditional food and a medicine) certainly has a place on the table. Want to try making this salad yourself? You’ll find fresh nopales in the produce section of many large supermarkets, or canned nopales on the shelf in the Mexican food section. The recipe is here. And if you’d like more
information about nopales, the Gourmet Sleuth will help.

In many crime novels, deals are made over coffee, plots are hatched over tea and cookies, and mysteries are solved over dessert. But when I use a recipe in the China Bayles novels, you can bet it’s going to feature an herb—usually the “signature herb” for the book itself. So when you’re reading A Dilly of a Death, you can find out how to make “A Dilly of a Tomato Soup” (you’ll find the recipe here, at the bottom of the page). Or when you’re deep in Lavender Lies, you can enjoy some Lavender Muffins.
When China and Ruby opened their tea room, Thyme for Tea, they found out that things don’t always go right in the restaurant business. But I certainly had fun collecting recipes for their monthly tea parties. You can find them all by clicking on the “tea party” link on the Thyme for Tea website. April’s coming up, so why not check out China’s ideas for a “spring-thyme tea”? Please feel free to use their ideas for decorations and refreshments.

Food, cooking, and kitchens will always play an important role in this series. There are plenty of recipes on my website, and I’m always looking for more. Yes, I do test the recipes that appear in the book—that’s why they’re usually pretty simple. China and I don’t have time to stir up complicated dishes. If you have an idea for an herb-flavored favorite you’d like to see featured in a book, why don’t you leave a note here? We’ll see what China can cook up!

Well, that’s all for now. Thanks again, Susanna and Nancy, for hosting me. And
thanks to all you readers who’ve dropped in to read today’s post. I’ll be around today and tomorrow to answer your questions and read your recipe suggestions. Please don’t forget about the drawing. And do check the calendar to see where I’ll be blogging next. Hope to see you there!

About the book drawing and Susan’s blog tour

If you’d like to enter the drawing for a copy of
Nightshade go here to register. But you’d better hurry. The drawing for Rosemary’s Sampler closes at noon on March 28, 2008.

Want to read the other posts in Susan’s blog
tour? You’ll find a calendar and links here.

Monday, March 24, 2008


One of the treasures purchased at the recent garden show was Rhubarb. We used to have Rhubarb in the gardens but alas it died out. A herbaceous perennial, a member of the buckwheat family, this plant shows extraordinary tolerance for both cold and drought. It can adapt to warmer climates where the plants simply die back in the summer and resume growth in the fall. This rhubarb will last at least 20 years, so I will have to choose wisely where I plant it.

It probably originated in the desert region of Siberia around the Volga River Basin. The name rhubarb, comes from Rha, the name Muscovites gave to the river Volga, and barbarum, a reference to the barbarous people that lived in the region. Rhubarb is also known as "wild strawberry" and "pie Plant". In 1770, Benjamin Franklin who at the time was living in London shipped a crate of rhubarb to Philadelphia to his friend, John Bartram, the great botanist. It is generally agreed that 1770 was the year that rhubarb was introduced into the United States. It was not for another 60 years that the root gained popularity in the US. Some say this was because many folks associated the plant with "tincture of Rhubarb" a strong laxative that grandmother might have forced on them. This variety, Victoria, first appeared in American seed catalogs in 1828.

For a tasty yet unusual tea bread, try this interesting recipe.

Rhubarb Nut Bread

1-1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1 egg
1 c. sour milk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2-1/2 c. flour
1-1/2 c. raw rhubarb stalks, diced
1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. melted butter

In a bowl, combine brown sugar, oil and egg. In another bowl combine sour milk, baking soda, salt and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the sugar mixture alternately with the flour, beating well after each addition. Fold in the rhubarb and pecans. Pour the batter into 2 buttered and floured loaf pans, 8 x 4 x 3 inches. Sprinkle the loaves with the 1/3 c. sugar combined with the melted butter. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 min., or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove loaves to wire rack to cool.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Our traditional Easter dinner always includes:

Spring Dandelion Greens, Hard Boiled Eggs & Bacon
with Hot Bacon Dressing
Double Smoked Ham
Sweet Potatoes or Baked Potatoes
Freshly Steamed Asparagus
Coconut Frosted Bunny Cake

Wishing everyone a Joyous Easter.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Preparations are underway for our traditional family celebrations for Easter. This morning I hard boiled a large pot full of eggs to be decorated later this evening and I also boiled some with onion skins. We save onion skins all winter long to dye the Easter eggs. Simply place the eggs and onion skins in a large pot, cover with water and bring the eggs to a boil. Once a rollicking boil has been reached, cover the pot, turn off the burner, and allow the eggs to sit in the pan for about 25 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. You will have a lovely natural dyed mahogany brown egg.

We place the eggs in a wooden bowl nestled among natural straw. What a lovely sight. They will grace our Easter table in the morning as we carry on the family traditions.

These stuffed bunnies were stitched years ago and now provide an instant Easter decoration. With a little grass and jelly beans, they bring a smile to one and all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tea Cups - A Story

As part of the Gracious Hospitality Blog-a-Thonwe are sharing some pictures of our tea cup collection. The assignment for this week is to share your favorite tea cup, and its story. It is difficult to select a favorite tea cup, but I can do it! This first photograph is part of a collection of a children's tea set, made in Japan, that was given to me by my mother's sister when I was little. This children's set even includes a casserole, a platter, and salt and pepper shakers. I played with this set for many hours. As a little girl, I can remember having tea parties with my dollies and bears, getting hot water from the powder room, and pretending to take tea with friends. Eventually, when I transitioned from make-believe to actually owning a tea room, my Mother graciously gave me her tea cup collection. She was glad to have the new found space for her ever expanding collections. I was fortunate to have well over 40 tea cups for my then new adventure. My collection count now exceeds 100. . . each beautiful and with its own story.

These tea cup displays are in the tea room. The long skinny shelf holds a few of the tea cups I inherited from my Aunt, and this cupboard full of special tea cups are some of the cups my Mother gave to me. It is in a hidden corner in the tea room, and not many people notice it, but it is full of treasures.
Last year, while vacationing in London, I picked up this beautiful tea cup while at Windsor Castle. On the bottom it reads "The Royal Collection, English Fine Bone China". The card in the beautiful blue box states it was commissioned to celebrate the 80th birthday of H. M. Queen Elizabeth II, 21 April 2006. It is a fond remembrance of a very special trip. Although beautiful, it's not my absolute favorite.
If I had to choose, I would have to say that this lovely cup with swirling violets is my favorite. It was discovered while poking around in a now out-of-business second hand shop in downtown Mechanicsburg. Although priced at a much higher price than what I typically will pay for a tea cup, it 'spoke to me' when I saw it! (Buy me! Take me home!, things like that.) It is delicate and elegant. I love the violets, the fancy base of the tea cup, and the character of the plate. On the bottom, it is marked Mitterteich, Bavaria, Germany. This tea cup is not in service, but rather on display - too lovely to use, definitely a favorite!

Monday, March 17, 2008

~An Irish Blessing~

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain,
tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you,
those you love near you,
and all your heart might desire.
Wishing everyone a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sesame Seed Cracker Cookies

OK, although we've provided some great hints and tips on seed starting, some of you might not be interested in growing your own little seedlings... well, here's an alternative. These simple Sesame Seed Cracker Cookies are easy to make and were one of the original treats served in the early days of The Rosemary House when our Mother held tea parties in the garden in an effort to promote the business. Today we kicked-off the 40th Anniversary celebration of The Rosemary House with a tea party hosted at Sweet Remembrances. These little cracker cookies were one of the dessert items.
Sesame Seed Cracker Cookies
Keebler's Club Crackers or Waverly Wafer
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
sesame seeds (substitute poppy seeds, caraway, fennel, anise or lovage seeds)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and brown sugar. Spread on the crackers. Place crackers on a foil lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds. Bake for 8 minutes, or until brown and bubbly. Allow to cool before storing in an air tight tin.
Recipe from Mrs. Reppert's TwelveMonth Herbal, Remembrance Press, 1996

Saturday, March 15, 2008

We have babies!

From our seed starting adventures a couple of weeks ago, some of the seeds have sprouted!

"Now it behoves anyone who desires to be a skillful herbalist, to be present when the plants first shoot out of the earth, when they are fully grown, and when they begin to fade. For he who is only present at the budding of the herb, cannot know it when full grown, nor he who hath examined a full grown herb recognize it when it has only just appeared above the ground, owing to the changes in the shape of the leaves and the size of the stalks, and the flowers and of certain other known characteristics, a great mistake has been made by some who have not paid proper attention to them in this manner."

Dioscorides' Advice to Gardeners
over 2000 years ago

Friday, March 14, 2008

Willow Water for Rooting

One of my favorite things to do in the spring is to force some pussy willows to bud out inside my house. This is a little glass milk jar of pussy willows that will soon be offering green leaves. As the pussy willow, or any willow for that matter begins to force out in the spring it exudes a rooting compound which encourages any plant material in the vase of water with it to send out roots. Pictured here are some mint pieces which very quickly sent out roots. I also have some jars with Rosemary and Lavender. Those woody plants don't send out roots quite as quickly but I have never had this method of organic rooting fail me. Now, the roots that sprout in water are weaker roots because as water roots they have not had any resistance that roots sprouted in soil would have. So, when I plant these in little pots I have to make it a very loose soil, by adding lots of extra sand or vermiculite.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Seed Starting Tip

Either laminating or using self sealing laminate sheets on your seed packets will help protect them from the moisture so the colorful packets can be used as labels in your planters or in your garden.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Seed Starting Tip - Use Camomile

Camomile or sometimes spelled with an 'h", Chamomile is wonderful to water your seeds and seedlings with. "Damping Off" is a wilting disease that can often affect seedlings. Unfortunately, by the time you see the organism that is causing the wilting it is too late and the seedlings have succumbed. In order to prevent this we water with a strong batch of Camomile tea, the same herb they gave Peter Rabbit, that naughty bunny when he came in out of the cabbage patch. Boil 3 T of Camomile flowers in 1 quart of water for 10 minutes, strain and keep handy to water newly emerging seedings. It is a powerful fungicide.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

~Friends Helping Friends~

Whenever I'm working in the kitchen, one of my nephews favorite expressions is "I can help." He loves to help cook dinner or bake a cake and many learning opportunities take place while having fun in the kitchen. Here's an opportunity for all of us to help others in need. We're taking a break from our seed-planting series to ask for your help in supporting a friend and her simple request for a very worthy cause. Here is her request - please take a moment and sign in to support her cause. She provides the link below to do so.
I (Valerie Zagami)am a volunteer with the ARC of Northern Bristol County, a non-profit association serving individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. We have submitted a project to Hamburger Helper ( to help us with a new kitchen in our building. This would allow cooking classes and basic home skills to be taught and shared with others. Please take a moment to send in a comment to the link below.With a little help from our friends we may be chosen as part of this project. The site will be up until the end of March, when they pick 12 projects to fund. The competition is high, but we can try. The direct link to the site is submit a comment in support of this project and pass it on to others for their help as well. Thanks! Valerie Zagami on behalf of: The ARC of Northern Bristol County,141 Park Street, Attleboro, MA 02703

Monday, March 10, 2008

Seed starting tip - soak thick seeds

Some thick skinned seeds need to be soaked before sowing. The 24 hours in the water glass will soften the shell of the seed and promote faster germination. Recently, we soaked Sweet Pea and Castor Bean. Both favorites for our garden. The Sweet Pea is a vigorous climber that produces an abundance of bright, graceful and fragrant flowers from early summer on. It will climb up a string, a trellis, a light post or in our case up metal fire escape stairs. It is a lovely cut flower also.

The Castor bean grows into a huge plant and was frequently grown in the Victorian era because it is so large and showy in the garden. It has huge lush tropical leaves up to 3 feet across! It is an annual (one year) plant that is easy to grow and makes excellent temporary hedges or background plantings. Castor bean seeds are poisonous so it is best to keep away from curious toddlers. We have always taught our kids not to eat any herb until they ask first. An important lesson since our back yard is one big gardening adventure filled with plants that taste good, have interesting structure, really pretty flowers and fragrance.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Seed Tip - Herbs Easy from Seed

There are a number of herbs that start very easily by seed:
Anise, Basil (up in 3 days!), Borage, Calendula (herb of the year for 2008), Caraway, Dill, Chives, Coriander, Fennel, Nasturtium, Summer Savory. Most of these are annuals and they are all easy from seed. If you want to try your hand at starting seeds for the first time, choose from this list.

Seeds for the Adventurous: Mints, Lavender, Sweet Marjoram, Rosemary, Sage, Parsley, Thyme, Oregano, Hops, Lovage and Wormwood. These are all perennials or in the case of Rosemary, a tender perennial. Many of them we start by rootings, usually by taking a stalk of the Rosemary or Lavender and simply adding it to the willow water.

"Herbs leave their fragrance on the hand that nurtures them."

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Seed starting tip - jiffy pots

These little "jiffy pots" are a neat trick for starting seeds. You simply soak the round disc in a glass of water for a few hours or overnight. Then you loosen the soil at the top and sides by squeezing the soaked pot. Next plant your seeds inside the pot. We usually put two seeds in each pot and if both seeds germinate we will thin out the weaker of the two seedlings. What makes them especially nifty is that you can plant these little dirt pots directly in the soil without disturbing your new plant during transplanting.

When we start the pot we put them in a little "greenhouse" until they germinate. Our greenhouse is either a deli container or a salad container from a fast food restaurant. Angelica is holding a couple of our little greenhouses which we started the other night. I like them because they stack so nicely. The greenhouse will prevent us from eagerly over watering the seeds (and drowning the seeds) or from under watering the seeds (and then they perish from drought). Once the seedlings sprout, we will have to open the lid of the greenhouse and cautiously water when dry.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Seed Starting Adventures

Everyone enjoys the miracle of sprouting seeds. Besides it is the best way to grow the most plants the fastest and most economical way. It is an excellent method to start a family herb garden. If you need only a plant or two of a variety, you can certainly purchase the plants already established in little pots. We sell them at The Rosemary House and ship anywhere in the US in the spring. On a rainy evening we began some of our seeds for our garden. Some of the seeds we started take a while to germinate so we wanted to get a jump on growing them. We started with a Mesclun mix of salad greens, which is a cold weather crop, so in about 2 weeks and after they germinate the salad green planter will enjoy going out into the cool spring air and we will enjoy harvesting our fresh greens.

To start seeds: fill a container with any sterile medium such as vermiculite, perlite, ground spaghnam moss or organic sterilized potting soil. You can use a flower pot, a milk carton cut length wise or a seed flat. Dampen it thoroughly and allow it to drain completely. Sow your seeds. Scatter very small ones like chamomile and mint thinly on the top of the soil. Then pat them in. Other larger seeds should be covered with the soil to a depth of about 1/16 inch or 1/8 inch or roughly 1 1/2 times the size of the seed. Firm the soil in place and label your pot with the name and date. That's important!

Now pop the whole pot into a plastic baggie - or cover it with glass. For our large lettuce planter we used a dry cleaning bag. This will keep the moisture in where it belongs. Place in a warm spot 70-75 degrees, not necessarily in light which could cook the seedlings as they emerge under glass or plastic covering. Covering your seed bed ensures they will not dry out until germination takes place. That's important! If the little seedlings dry out at the moment of birth they will succumb. It is sure death. Each seed has one chance at life; it will not try again.

Once germinated, remove from plastic, gradually place in full sun and keep watered daily or as necessary. Turn the pots occasionally so they don't grow lop sided reaching for the sun. You can feed occasionally with any good water soluble plant food, we use Kelp. Last but not least watch them grow!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mystery author Susan Wittig Albert

At the end of the month, mystery author Susan Wittig Albert will be making a guest appearance on our blog. We are just so excited. It has always been fun to host Susan for booksignings and now we can host her in a blogosphere book tour! She is promoting Nightshade, the 16th book in the China Bayles mystery series. A kindred spirit of ours, China owns a herb shop in Texas and in between customers she solves mysteries. I especially love the books because of the herbal lore and recipes peppered through out the series. We have just begun reading Nightshade and already it is a book we can't put down.

I have shown the pre-publication copy of Nightshade here with Lavender Lies, book number 8 and our favorite in the series because mom, Bertha Reppert is one of the characters in the book. She's helping China prepare for her herbal wedding.

Check back. If you visit during Susan Wittig Albert's blog book tour you will have a chance to enter and win a copy of Nightshade!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Spring Treasures

Spring.... according to Webster... a)that season of the year following winter , in which plants begin to grow, b) any period of beginning. We are all anticipating spring and the abundant fresh green growth that accompanies its arrival. Just this morning I noticed some vibrant green sprouts poking thru the earth - daffodils, crocus, or tulips beginning their journey to blossoming. In the meantime, this little spring treasure leaped into my hands while strolling about a second hand shop recently; sweet and delicate bone china, made in England, it was smiling up at me, beckoning me to purchase it. It's a small two cup pot with a little sugar and creamer to complete the set, simply perfect for a spot of tea on the few remaining cold winter's nights as we wait in anticipation as the plants begin to grow.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


This morning we awoke to a coating of snow ~ not enough to keep everyone home today, but just enough to confirm that we are still in winter's season.
Thoughts of spring still abound as we enjoy the green scenes presented at the Garden Show. Snow plows and shovels will soon be replaced by trowels and garden hoes. The mere thought brings smiles to all.