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Fragrant and Yummy Too

SPRING HERB BASKETS

The Easter holiday is just around the corner, and if you’re looking to steer clear of the traditional sugar laden Easter basket, then we have just what you’re looking for. Why not try a more natural approach to the traditional Easter basket this year? A living basket overflowing with fresh English Thyme, French Tarragon and Tuscan Blue Rosemary brings the convenience of the herb garden to your outdoor patio or a sunny window indoors. And best of all, these herbs can be harvested for months to come - and did we mention that herbs are delightfully aromatic and beautiful too? So this Easter, consider the perfect sugar-free option for that cook or gardener in your life! Here are a few ways to use these edible and fragrant beauties:

Thyme – A low growing evergreen, this herb is extensively used in French cuisine. Thyme is the perfect compliment to veal, lamb, beef, poultry, fish, stuffing, stews, soups, sauces, stock, herb butters, flavored vinegars, beans, lentils, potatoes, tomatoes, cheese, onions, cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, leeks, mushrooms, eggs, and rice.

French Tarragon – This leafy green is also widely used in French cuisine. It's distinctive yet delicate herbal flavor is particularly well suited when paired with fish and chicken. Tarragon is also delicious in salad dressings and in sauces.

Rosemary - One of the oldest herbs known to man, this evergreen perennial is a real treat to cook with. Rosemary is ideal for spicing up pork and poultry dishes and is also used to flavored butter, oil and vinegar.

Fresh for the picking

GET READY FOR STRAWBERRY SEASON!

After the winter we’ve had here in Hampton Roads, it seems like the warmer weather couldn’t arrive quick enough! Fresh fruits and veggies are most likely the last thing on your mind these days, but berry season is just a month or two away, and everyone knows that there’s nothing like fresh strawberries! Those juicy red berries are a sure sign that warm weather has arrived! One of our favorite berries, are Chandler Strawberries. And, did you know that Chandler is the leading strawberry variety sold in supermarkets. They produce fruit that is conically-shaped ranging in size. When ready to be picked, the berries are red, firm, juicy, sweet and tangy. The number of berries per plant will depend on the size of the plant and overall condition of the roots and stems. Chandler strawberry plants drop their fruits in late May or early June.

Chandler strawberry plants thrive in the southern states during the spring. They require full sunlight, sufficient water and well-drained soil; too much water can cause the roots to rot. We recommend planting in single rows about 8 to 14 inches apart or in double rows that are 1 to 2 feet apart. Healthy, mature plants have shallow roots and stems that grow to about 8 inches tall. Strawberry plants can also grow from seed or clippings; plant them in small containers with fresh soil. 

Bring your little gardeners out tomorrow, Saturday, March 29 at 11:00am to create a strawberry jar using Chandler strawberries at our STRAWBERRY JAR WORKSHOP FOR KIDS >>

And if you’re interested in local berry-picking this spring, follow the link below to find our where you can pick your own sweet berries this season. LOCAL STRAWBERRY PICKING >>

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PLANT OF THE WEEK:

JUBILEE BLUEBERRIES

Looking for a new plant to add to your garden this year? Look no further than this juicy new blueberry variety that is not only beautiful to look at, it tastes even better! This southern high bush performs well through summer heat, and is resilient to winter cold spells. Medium to large, sky-blue, very sweet fruit ripens over a two to three week period. With four seasons of leaf interest, the blue-green foliage will offer bright yellow-orange fall color. It is an upright, compact grower, reaching about 4 to 5 feet. We love mixing blueberries into the landscape for a sweet treat for the eye and the palate.

The ever popular blueberry is considered an antioxidant super food, best enjoyed fresh from the garden. Blueberries are not only rich in antioxidants, but are low in calories and sodium, they contain no cholesterol, and are a great source of fiber. Not only are the health benefits associated with the blueberry fantastic but they are delicious and can create quite a statement in the garden. The striking ornamental beauty of the blueberry offers four seasons of interest. From, the white bell shaped blooms to dark green shrub foliage to the fruit, this little berry packs a punch all year round.

Blueberries are easy to grow, require little care, and are seldom bothered by pests. Follow these simple steps to enjoy this sweet treat during the summer months!

  1. Select a sunny location in well drained soil for planting.
  2. Plant blueberry shrubs as close as 2-1/2 feet apart to form solid hedgerows or spaced up to 6 feet apart to grow as individual specimens.
  3. Mulch over the roots 2-4" to conserve moisture, prevent weeds and add organic matter.
  4. Blueberries are sensitive to water fluctuations due to their shallow roots and required approximately one inch of water a week. In drought conditions, it may require more water.
  5. Enjoy the fruits of your labor either alone or in muffins or even frozen.

photo courtesy of Monrovia

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