Thursday, March 31, 2011

Herb Garden Basics~

The Basic Herb Garden~

Annuals (bloom one season and die) -- anise, basil, chervil, coriander, dill, summer savory.

Biennials (live two seasons, blooming second season only) -- caraway, parsley

Perennials (overwinter; bloom each season once established) -- chives, fennel, marjoram, mint, tarragon, thyme, winter savory and oregano.

Unless one is growing on a commercial basis, a kitchen garden can supply a home kitchen easily, with plenty to share. An area 20 by 4 feet with individual 12- by 18-inch plots within the area should be adequate for separate herbs. The more colorful and frequently used herbs, such as parsley and purple basil make perfect border plants for the kitchen garden. It is a good idea to keep annual and perennial herbs separate. A diagram of the area and labels for the plants also will help.

Drainage is the most important element in your herb garden. Herbs simply will not grow in soggy soil.

Preparing of the soil prior to planting is a must. Raised bed methods will expand the chances of perfect drainage, building the soil from compost and a good grade of garden soil, plus an addition of peat will clinch the chances of a near trouble free herb garden. When your soil is healthy it means less insect problems and fewer to no weed problems.

Nearly all herbs can be grown from seed, started in small flats in a greenhouse or a warm shelter at least 6 to 8 weeks before planting time in the garden.

A few herbs should be planted directly in the garden as they do not transplant well. Basil and Dill come to mind. Although with some care seed growing of both can be perfected.

Whatever your choices to grow, do your research prior to planting as to each ones special needs.

Once you have good size transplants and very warm weather ( both a must ) Transfer your seedlings from the flats to the garden and do not over-water. Herbs need far less water than other garden plants.

Once a week watering is usually plenty until well into the hottest days of summer.

Once herbs are growing and ready to harvest, pinch the leaves from the bottom up on a regular basis to keep the production up and to keep the plant from bolting. ( flowering ) once this happens the flavor changes and often times brings a bitter taste and renders the plant useless for the cook.

Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Companions For The Gardens-chickens love gardens.

Sage Hill is adding chickens to our list of spring projects....I'm excited, hubby is groaning...he is not 100% in love with chickens, doesn't eat eggs, and mostly hates the idea of building yet another structure:) That's just life on the farm....he will be just fine once he gets involved !

Anyway...on to the good you know that all domestic chickens can be genetically traced to Gallus Gallus....the red jungle fowl, a bird that still runs wild in Southeast Asia.

Chickens were domesticated over 8,000 years ago and they are the closest living relative to's that for a gene badge !

I've been turned on to "Welsummers" by another Tennessee farm family...

The Welsummer is named after the village of Welsum in Holland although the breed was originally developed in the area along the river Ysel to the north of Deventer, Holland at about the same time as the Barnevelders (1900-1913). The Dutch bred it from the partridge Cochin, partridge Wyandotte and partridge Leghorn, the Barnevelder and Rhode Island Red. It was first imported into this country in 1928 for its large brown egg. The Welsummer is a large, upright, active bird with a broad back, full breast and large full tail. They head has a single comb, medium wattles, almond shaped ear lobes and a strong, short beak. They have yellow legs which fade to pale yellow in summer and reddish bay eyes.


Welsummers lay lovely large eggs and the dark brown pigment can actually be rubbed off as it is added at the end of the egg laying sequence. They do go broody but not usually until late Spring but are not particularly good mothers. Chicks are strong and are easily sexed as females have much darker head and back markings than males. They lay fewer eggs during the winter. They are friendly, easily handled birds which love to free range and forage for food but can also be kept in runs quite happily. They are productive for 3 years of their 9 year lifespan.

Sage Hill does not plan to breed, so no problem with setting hens and baby chicks.

Hens do not need roosters to produce eggs......

I'm looking at other breeds also, maybe a collection of a few different breeds that are compatiable.

Chickens provide fresh eggs which provide good nutrition to our diet, a natural insect guard for the gardens, and a natural fertilize to help process the compost to a richer and healthier growing medium.

What's not to love ???

What's happening in your spring season .....
Bea Kunz
Sage Hill Farms

Friday, March 25, 2011

Charm And Romance In The Garden~

Some would say a 'garden is a garden'....but I would say....each garden has its own special signature.  Whether formal or cottage style, there are many touches that can transform the simplest to splendor and the formal to ease and comfort.

Cottage gardens began in England and were more for growing food than for simple pleasure.
As more and more food became available in markets the cottage garden became more ornamental.

My first thought when Cottage gardening comes to mind is "overcrowded." However, overcrowded can be beautiful if a little thought goes into the placement of the bulk of planting.
Fencing and hedges, paths and garden art can define areas of interest, leaving the rest for casual viewing and not so much close-up inspection.

If one is lucky enough to have plants from previous generations of family or friends...this can bring an element of  meaning to be cherished and passed on to other family and friends who garden.

A Memory garden inside a garden is a special way to honor those who have gone from our lives.

Sage Hill Farms is named in memory of my mother....who thought she could not cook anything worthy of eating without Sage. 

Don't forget the critter garden when remembrance spots are planned.....children especially have a hard time adjusting to losing a pet, understanding why baby birds get tossed from their nest and die...butterflies with broken wings that render them helpless....knowing they are in a safe place that can be cared for makes these rough moments a bit easier to accept.

Whatever plans you have for your spring garden...make it you own, name it, treat it with the same love and attention that you expect for yourself....the rewards will be more than you can imagine.

Oh...and don't forget to add herbs anywhere and everywhere. Garlic grows well among and is beneficial to roses. Basil is a lifeline for tomatoes.

Above all else, let your own personality guide you~