Garden Chick - Notes from the Garden

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Here a chick, there a chick, everywhere a chick chick

My friend Sandra plants hens and chicks everywhere (sempervivum tectorum). She planted several for me last summer in an old red wagon, but I allowed them to get too much rain over the winter, and many rotted (there was no drainage in the bottom of the wagon, our mistake). I transplanted what was left in an old wooden box a few days ago. They are supposed to be easy to grow, but for some reason, I don't have much luck. I am going to try them again, because I want to plant in some unusual containers to take to the market.
Plant your hens and chick in a sandy soil or you can mix one part soil, one part sand, and one part peat moss. The area must be well drained and receive full sun at least 6 hours a day. You can divide your plants at anytime by breaking the clumps apart with your hands. The plants roots do not mind being disturbed. Replant. Any chicks that fell from the main plant can also be planted. Water sparingly.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Horehound ( Marrubium Vulgare)

I planted my apothocary garden, and Michele at Possum Creek Herbs gave me a horehound plant for free. I have heard of horehound cough drops, but was not very familiar with the plant. It grows quite large (up to 2 feet tall) and is not the prettiest of plants so it was planted at the back of the garden. Horehound is easy to grow, and will tolerate poor soil conditions, heat, and drought. (Sounds perfect for the weather we are experiencing in the south). The only thing it cannot tolerate is wet and heavy soil.

The horehound plant's leaves are soft and wooly and will bloom small white flowers the second year. You can harvest the leaves the first year, and immediately before the flowers bloom in the summer the second season . You will want to cut the plant back immediately after it flowers the second season.

Horehound has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. It posseses strong expectorant qualities and has been used for respiratory problems in children and adults. You can make a tea from the leaves, and soft stem, but it does have quite a bitter taste so you will want to sweeten with sugar or honey. Making a horehound candy is more palatable.
Horehound can be quite invasive since it self seeds and has been known to cover entire pastures. ( Horehound is a member of the mint family) Don't let this stop you from adding it to your healing garden though. Keep an eye on it, and keep it in check. Also, be sure you are buying the correct horehound, since there are a couple of plants which are known as horehound but not related. Check the plant tag for Marrubium vulgare.

The potency of horehound quickly diminishes after it is harvested, so immediately cut the harvested plant into little pieces, dry, and store in an airtight jar in a cool dry place. It will be ready for use in making horehound candy and tea.

Horehound Candy
Make an infusion from your harvested horehound. Use twice as much water as leaf. (ex: 2 cups water, 1 cup leaf (and stem if you wish). Bring the water to a boil and pour over the horehound. Allow to steep 30 minutes.
Add 1 cup honey, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1 Tablespoon butter to 1/2 cup of the horehound infusion. Bring to a simmering boil, stirring constantly. When you drop a bit of the syrup into a glass of cold water and it forms a soft ball, remove the pan from heat. Pour it out onto a baking sheet where it can cool enough to allow you to work with it. Roll into balls and wrap in parchment paper. Store in a glass jar, in a cool place. You can start taking the candy when you notice the first signs of a cold.
* While horehound has been shown to be safe for use, do not use with babies or small children. As I always warn, if you are pregnant or lactatingALWAYS check with your physician before taking any medicine or herbs. If you have any medical problems, including gastric problems (horehound may stimulate the gall bladder), consult your health care provider before taking.
Thanks to Gardensablaze for the picture.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Living in a Green Home

Most of us are out in our yards and gardens, busy with weeding, watering, and bringing in the "fruits of our labor". I guess my house has suffered a little (a lot). Working full time, helping my mother, granddaughters, and trying to run my Gardenchick business, little time has been left over for the dust bunnies, cobwebs, and kitchen sink. I remember my grandmother would be out in her yard, pulling weeds and gardening, while dishes were piled in the kitchen sink. Now I know why. Weeds and dishes, they are always there, so why bother? But at some point, either embarrassment, or the inability to ignore it any longer, the house cleaning must be done.

There are a number of reasons to choose natural cleaning products, most importantly, the lack of harsh chemicals on your household surfaces, and the cost.

Most natural cleaning recipes include these common household products: Borax laundry booster, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, castile soap, baking soda, washing soda, and distilled water and lemon juice. Essential oils such as lavender, tangerine, and sweet orange, and tea tree are an added plus for either their scent, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal or grease cutting abilities.

Laundry Softener:
1 quart white vinegar
1 cup dried or fresh lavender buds
2-4 drops lavender essential oil

Place the lavender is a clean glass mason jar. Add the vinegar and cover with a plastic lid or plastic wrap. Allow to sit for one week, then strain. Add the lavender essential oil. Depending on the size of the wash load, add 1/2 to 1 cup to the final rinse water.


1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup baking soda
5-10 drops citrus essential oil(tangerine, sweet orange, lemon)

Make a paste of the ingredients and use a damp cloth to wipe off. Great for greasy stove tops

Bath Scrub

1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt
10 drops citrus essential oil (tangerine, sweet orange, lemon)
5 drops tea tree oil (optional, tea tree has anti fungal properties)

Window Cleaner
1/4 -1/2 liquid Castile Soap
3 T white vinegar
2 cups distilled water

Combine in a spray bottle, and shake gently before using.

Looking for a gift for the new bride or for a housewarming? Combine the ingredients, recipes, and different colored spray bottles and containers in a basket along with sponges, and dishclothes in a brightly colored basket. I found cute plastic spray bottles in fuschia, blue, and orange at the local Dollar Tree.

The picture above is from There are some good ideas on seasonal cleaning, and you can download free printables to organize your cleaning of every room.

You can find more recipes in the August-Sept 2009 Issue of MaryJanes Farm

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy 4th of July!

"You may think you have overeaten, but it is only Patriotism" (Erma Bombeck)

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