Welcome to Hill Country Herbalist

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Decorating With Herbs From the Garden

I had fun making this bouquet. My inspiration for creating this bouquet is my beautiful grandmother, who celebrates her birthday tomorrow.

As I harvested tomatoes, peppers, and Meyer lemons, I suddenly thought of creating a bouquet capturing the bounty of a fall garden in celebration of her birthday. With so many herbs in bloom - the excitement overtook me and before you knew it, I was running back into the house in search of a vase!
In the Hill Country Garden, roses tend to be larger in the fall than in the spring - I think a big part has to do with less pests and insects buzzing about (which are notorious here in the spring. These particular blooms are very cabbage like and they simply smell divine....sweet and clean! Pictured here: Belinda's Dream and Souvenir de la Malmaison.

Zinnia’s do very well here in the Texas Hill Country, as they are native to southern regions of the US and Mexico. They love the heat - thrive on it, actually. Give them plenty of water and they are happy. Although they are not part of the edible garden...their eye popping color and 4 inch blooms offer a feast for the eyes. Topping off the arrangement: Meyer lemon stems and leaves, Thai basil blossoms, arugula blossoms (my favorite in the bouquet...the little yellow flowers dance with whimsy!), and salvia. All of these plants excel in the garden as they help bring in the 3 B's of pollination: butterflies, birds and bees!

Gardening and the joy of plants is a big part of who my grandmother is... who my family is...and who I am. The joy of plants and gardening is in our bones...the thread that brings us together. What a wondrous gift she's passed on to her children...and in turn her grandchildren.

Happy Birthday Grandma!
To many many more!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Gardening in the Hill Country

The Hill Country loves the fall and so do the veggies in the garden! This Swiss Chard was planted earlier this spring. Over the summer it continued to produce lovely foliage. It was beautiful for visual effect in the garden; however, the hotter it got, the more bitter the leaves became. Now that that the temperatures have cooled, the chard is back to producing delicious, delicate, and flavorful leaves… perfect for raw salads and sautés.

Also planted earlier this spring...my ever producing jalapenos! I've used these darlings in vinegars, dehydrated them and made them into spiced powders and certainly sautéed them into whatever dinner would be enhanced by them! I simply love these hardy plants. They didn't even flinch with this past brutal summer heat and sun. Herbaunt loves to make jalapeno jellies and jams. I'll be seeing her this coming weekend so I'll be bringing her a bag or two of these tasty lovelies!

These are "Black Cherry" tomatoes. They are absolutely my favorite tomato. They are prolific and when picked right off the vine, you're not sure whether it's a tomato or a tasty grape you are biting into! They are so very sweet and firm. Just a lovely fruit...perfect plain or dolled up with olive oil, salt/pepper, a squirt of lemon and garnished with basil blossoms. I'm delighted that the very same plants that gave endlessly this summer are full of blooms and producing delicious fruits this fall. Simply a winner!

Cilantro does well in the fall - I tend to have better luck growing it in the fall than in the spring. Something about the days growing cooler rather than warmer makes this plant sing with happiness. I pick at it so often; it hardly has a chance to grow large. No matter, it's happy and thriving and I love it!

Bell peppers are also rejuvenated and producing lots of blossoms and pepper babies right now. I pick about three ready to eat peppers a week from just the one plant I planted this past spring. I'll say that's a fantastic value!
One of my favorite herbs that has bounced back from the summer heat is Yarrow. I was pretty worried about our Yarrow this summer, as it died back and simply could not tolerate the brutal heat. Once fall arrived, and the days consistently stayed below 100 degrees, the Yarrow sprouted back and is happy as ever. The taste of the new leaves is delicate and delicious. Perfect to add to salads and a quick munch while working in the garden. Recently, herbhusband hurt his ankle. He developed a large bulging knot in his ankle and I prepared Yarrow tea as well as made a foot soak to include Arnica, Yarrow, fresh sprigs of Rosemary and Thyme. He's doing well - he did indeed break his ankle so we are doing our best to get him back to wellness! Incidentally, the Yarrow flowers are desired when making tea.
Ahhh...Zinnias....what can I say about this happy go lucky vibrant flower? They sure make the garden pop with color. Not edible or medicinal, they simply are adored in our garden as they dazzle us with their beauty. Love them - can't say enough about how easy they are to grow from seed and how they produce showy flowers in a short amount of time. Joy!
Our Meyer Lemon is loaded with lemons. We have ours planted in a wine barrel we purchased from Becker Vineyards. We transferred this plant from 1/2 a whisky barrel to this full size wine barrel and it is thriving. There's a couple dozen Meyer lemons ripening on the plant. We love these lemons as they are sweeter, less sour, and seedless. Juicy is an understatement! I enjoy making salad dressing from the juice as well as adding the juice to sautés and teas. Now, our biggest challenge is to move it back into the greenhouse before winter comes!
Our Arugula is doing well, also. It's blooming...signaling the end of season is near :( All the same, we pick off the leaves and add them to our dinner salads. It's amazing to think how we longed for the summer heat to break and in a blink of an eye... our fall is fading....
This is definitely the time of year to harvest, collect all the seeds you can, overwinter your beloved plants, and plan for next spring. But, for now....we are munching on our greens and enjoying the lovely evenings...hope you are too!!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Raspberry Calendula Under Eye and Neck Intensive

Doesn't this crème look delicious? It is! Made with organic calendula and raspberry leaves infused in extra virgin olive oil blended with aloe vera, rose and peppermint floral water and vitamins for your skin goodness! Neem oil and eyebright extract also lend wonderful nutritive properties!

My skin just drinks it up and my neighbor tells me she loves the way her skin glows with happiness each time she uses it. This lotion loves maturing skin - it truly unleashes your skin's smile!

I had created an account about a month ago on PoppySwap.com and recently I met the owner of Poppy Swap - Kiki - at Rootstalk in Salem, Oregon. She really motivated me to finish setting up my online store. So, this weekend I added this wonderful replenishing crème to my online Poppy Swap store. This brings me one step closer to my mission: helping reduce pollution in people one product at a time!

Every time you replace a beauty product for one that is toxin and artificial preservative free - you are helping your body process less toxins...less toxins equals less stress on your hard working organs!

I'm taking orders now until Mid November for holiday gifts. Interested in giving nutritive, luxurious, glowing goodness to your friends and family this holiday season? Contact me at hillcountryherbalist@gmail.com and I'll walk you through the ordering process!

Now...I'm off to work in the herbal kitchen and gardens...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Seeds and Herbs for Fall

Ahhhh....October 1st! Actually, It's rather hard to believe after such a harsh summer here in Texas. We skipped spring and went right into 100 degree weather before summer officially started. But now, as the breeze is stronger and cooler and the leaves on the trees are trickling down; I am motivated to sow seeds and plant herbs for fall gardening.

This is the time to sow bee balm, calendula, spring wildflowers, and poppy seeds! I have a bag full of seeds to sow this evening. I love sprinkling mother earth with seeds - I find it whimsical and fun.

I planted broccoli, cabbage, cilantro, parsley, arugula and a variety of lettuce before the trip to Rootstalk in Salem, Oregon last weekend. I’m happy to report the plants are strong and doing well. The roses in the garden are budding and I'm looking forward to heavy blooms in later this month.

I'm getting my Rootstalk (a celebration of plants, people, and planet) blog ready this weekend. What a wondrous festival where we met lovely people and beautiful plants. Oregon is a beautifully conscientious state. I'm so thankful and well rested after experiencing cooler temperatures and riveting discussions at the festival. Something this Texas girl desperately needed!

Just a quick hello for now - more to come....
In the meantime, check out my facebook page (Hill Country Herbalist) as I will be uploading more pictures from Rootstalk!