Happy Spring!

My typical day begins around 4:30 or 5:00 each morning – writing, returning emails, catching up on the news and weather reports, contemplating the day ahead. Around 6:00 or 6:30, while most of the year it’s still dark outside, Sally and I walk to The Herbarie office across the field. This past month – March 10 – I heard the first whippoorwill call as we stepped outside in the early morning!

Both February and March brought challenging and exciting changes for The Herbarie and I found myself working very long days, every day of the week.

We received our USDA NOP Organic Certification as Handler/Processor! We are still working on our Farm certification which will allow us to claim our farm grown products as Organic Certified. At The Herbarie, we’ve created a new product category to include our USDA NOP Organic Certified products and we plan to add more products to this list.

After 10 years of successful business, The Herbarie website traffic and sales demanded that we move to a dedicated server. Now that we’ve made the change, the website is quite snappy and pages load very quickly!

During March, which was busier than usual, we were also short staffed and I spent much of my time in the warehouse. The timing could have been better, but the outcome was positive. This allowed me the opportunity to review our operating procedures and make improvements.

Also, on March 10, when the moon was full, Gracie had her kittens. Gracie is a rescue cat that found us several months ago. She found a warm soft spot in the barn for nesting. This week we moved the family to a secure and safe spot inside until everyone is ready for a trip to the vet for neutering.

The plants we started from seeds in February are all ready for planting in the garden. We began to harden off the plants a week or so ago to avoid shock when they make the move to the outside. The broccoli and yellow squash were planted April 12. The tomatoes are scheduled for planting April 18. The peppers and eggplant will have to wait a couple more weeks, along with the Basil and Cucumbers and Melons.

In anticipation of the return of the hummingbirds, the sugar water feeder in the Secret Garden has been up since the first of April. We saw the first hummers last week! Right now, there are a few blooms in the gardens to entice the hummers and butterflies – Carolina Jessamine, Tulips, Pansies, Collards, Cabbage and my elegant Constance Spry Rose – but soon everything will be blooming and hummers and butterflies will be everywhere!

Spring is an exciting time of year! Hope and new growth, so many shades of green, the first butterfly, the first hummer, the birds nesting, the flowers blooming!

The Lemon Balm (Melissa) is green and lush and almost ready for the first distillation of the season. Lemon Balm has a fresh green-lemony scent and I enjoy the aromatherapy while working in the garden. This wonderful plant is useful in so many ways. I’ve been making Lemon Balm tea for years and consider it a spring tonic. One tea that I make is called Garden Fairy Tea and I’ll share the recipe here:

Garden Fairy Tea

This magical and refreshing tea is made with our own farm-grown herbs and flowers and is enchanting for young and old alike. Children enjoy watching the magic color change and everyone finds it refreshing. We offer this nourishing and refreshing tea to our friends and family as a summertime treat.

1 cup Fresh Lemon Balm Leaves
1 teaspoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dry Rosemary Leaves
1 teaspoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dry Spearmint or Peppermint Leaves
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dry Garden Sage or White Sage
2 fresh Red or Dark Pink Rose whole Flowers OR two tablespoons dry rose petals
Juice from 1 fresh lemon
Sugar or honey to taste

All herbs and flowers must be fresh and harvested from an area that is free from pesticides. Rinse fresh herbs and flowers as needed in cool water. Combine all herbs and flowers together in a stainless steel or other non-reactive, heat resistant pot or container and fill with enough water to cover plant material. Cover and bring just to boiling point. Remove from heat and steep for 20-30 minutes. Strain tea from solids into a warmed, glass container – a Mason jar works beautifully. Add sugar or honey to taste, stirring until dissolved. At this point, make certain your audience is present! Add lemon juice to tea and the magic begins – the brownish color is transformed into a lovely pink! Serve in tall, ice-filled glasses with a sprig of fresh mint or lemon balm.

Herbarie Hydrosols!

Our Hydrosols are distilled from our own botanicals here at Stoney Hill Farm. These Hydrosols are for external use only and are preserved for the safety of our customers. Lemon Balm (Melissa) Hydrosol has a lovely green-lemony scent and can be used directly on skin as a gentle astringent and toner or it can be used as part of the water phase for creams and lotions. Our Rose Hydrosol is distilled from our own antique Roses and has a light rosy fragrance. Here’s a simple toner formula that utilizes both our Lemon Balm (Melissa) Hydrosol and our Rose Hydrosol:

Spring Morning Facial Toner

This basic hydrating toner is designed to soothe, nourish and refresh skin. SymGlucan is an outstanding humectant and skin softener and has demonstrated superior moisture retention. Rose Hydrosol and Melissa Hydrosol offer gentle astringency and toning. This formula can be used as a daily finishing toner for oily or acne prone skin or as an intermediate hydrating toner to be followed by a cream or lotion.

The simple formula below is calculated to make a 200 gram (7 ounce) batch. We’ve also provided the approximate measurements for those who do not have a scale.

Ingredient Percentage/Weight/Measurements

Rose Hydrosol 50% = 100 grams =1/2 cup
Melissa Hydrosol 44.5% = 89 grams = 1/2 cup
SymGlucan 5.0% = 10 grams = 2 teaspoons
Cosmocil CQ 0.5% = 1 gram = 3/8 teaspoon

Total: 100% = 200 grams = approx. 7 oz.

Combine ingredients and package in container with a dispensing top.

Soon all the Roses will be blooming – Happy Spring!!


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