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Early Spring has Arrived

February  12, 2013


Spring is on the way.  I usually think about this time of year as “Early Spring” - That time after the winter solstice, when the days steadily grow longer.  Each day the sun is up earlier and we have more light in the evening.  Robins are bouncing all over the bare yard listening for earthworms.  Robins, heralded as the harbingers of spring, are our winter residents and have been here since the cooler weather of fall.  Actually they are more northern populations that migrate south for the winter here and our robins go farther south.  Early spring is here. Another sign? New baby chicks.

We have been planting cool season herbs and vegetables since the summer heat subsided months ago.  As we are harvesting, we keep planting.  Successive plantings yield a continuous supply of tender baby greens while you are cutting more mature greens for braising.  Lettuces and greens can be planted from fall through spring.  With some protection from cold snaps in the season we call winter, they continue to yield abundant harvests.  

Those greens that grow well fall to spring include: arugula, kales, mustards, pac choi, Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, spinach, tatsoi, mache, minutina, hon tsai tai, Italian dandelion, kohlrabi, radicchio, sorrels and many more.  

If some of these are not familiar, check out specialty seed catalogs for these and other exotic varieties.  Try at least several new ones.  

We sell the plants, but you can also find a good selection of greens from these catalogs:   

The catalogs offer good descriptions, growing instructions and varieties you will not commonly find at garden centers. (Renees in online only.)
Greetings for a Healthy Early Spring.  Pautuxy Phil is with us on this!


Margaret, Susie, Yvonne, Vickie, and your friends at Shelton Herb Farm

Classes at Shelton Herb Farm

Starting Herbs from Seed
Wednesday, February 13, 10:00 am at The Farm
$10 per person

starting herbs from seed

Learn how to start herbs from seed and how to keep them growing. Discuss the tricky aspect of transplanting up into a larger container and hardening off before planting outside.  Leave the class with a handout containing more information and six 2-inch planted pots to grow on your own.   

Growing and Using Specialty Greens
Wednesday, February 20 , 10:00 am at The Farm
$10 per person
Please RSVP to:

specialty greens

Growing greens for looks, taste and health. When to plant, how many to plant in containers, raised beds, or smaller gardens. We will share recipes so you know how to eat your tasty new greens. Take home a selection of specialty greens. 

Upcoming Garden Events

Mark your Calendar for these Great Upcoming Events!

handmade market

February 16-17: Wilmington Garden Show, Schwartz Center, Downtown Wilmington.  To benefit New Hanover County Arboretum and the Ability Garden. 9am-5pm Saturday, Noon to 4pm Sunday.

Feb 18-March 25, 2013   6-8pm.  Back to the Basics of Gardening in the Southeast.  New Hanover Co. Extension Arboretum .   

February 23:  Tidewater Camellia Club Winter Show.  1:00-5:00pm. Arab Shrine Club.

February 28:  Piedmont Medicinal Herb Production Workshop.  8:30am-5:00pm at the Silk Hope Farm Heritage Center in Silk Hope, NC.

March 1: Feast Downeast Conference

March 2:  Hobby Greenhouse Tour

March 9:  R.A.V.E. (Regional Area Vendor’s Expo).  10am-3pm.  N. Brunswick High School.    (We will be there with plants for sale.)

March 16 & 17:  Wilmington Women’s Club Show:  Women 2013, Navigating Life.  One of my favorite shows.   The women in this club work hard to pull together a variety of interesting local entrepreneurs.  They then turn around and spread out their profits to good causes in our community.

Dill and Fennel: What's the Difference?

butterfly on fennel

We mentioned parsley in our previous newsletter and thought links on dill and fennel would also be useful.  Fennel and dill are in the same family, look similar, but differ in many ways.  One tastes like pickles and the other like anise.  They both serve as food for the swallowtail butterfly.  Fennel is perennial, and dill is strictly an annual.  When the days get above 80 degrees, dill starts flowering, making seed and will be gone when the heat sets in.  If you want dill for your pickles, you may want to make some dill vinegar while it is still cool.  Otherwise, late plantings, trimming back your dill, or planting in filtered light may prolong leaf growth.  Or, try to get an early crop of cukes for pickling.  

Both leaf fennel and Florence fennel are perennials.  The finnocchio is short-lived, and bronze fennel is a hardy perennial.  We have plants that have come back for 6years in one of the gardens.  Bees love the flowers and they are lovely filler for summer bouquets.  Bright yellow flowers on the bronze foliage make beautiful tall summer flower borders.  Both dill and fennel readily reseed in the garden so keep the flowers cut, pick the seeds and avoid planting them close to each other so their genetics don’t mix.    

Cool weather will be here for months to come and freezes are a reality southeastern NC until mid-April.  Plant cold-hardy annual herbs like chervil, cilantro, and dill now so that they will fill out and mature before it gets too hot. 

There are other cool season vegetables that need to be planted so they mature before heat sets in.  In our area, garden peas need to go in before mid-February so the peas bloom and produce peas before hot weather sets in.  Potatoes need go in so they have healthy bushes to make good potatoes before it gets too hot. 
Check out Pender County Extension Agent Charlotte Glen's recent blog post about what to plant in our area in Spring.

c. 2013 Shelton Herb Farm                
340 Goodman Road
Leland, NC  28451                                      Shelton Herb Farm on Facebook

910-253-5964                                            Visit the farm Monday-Saturday 8am-5pm

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Shelton Herb Farm
340 Goodman Road
Leland, NC 28451

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