Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Burpee Seed Starter Giveaway

I'm ready to start thinking about seeds and what I will need to start planting.  I'm still in limbo with trying to sell this house, so I don't want to get too wrapped up in garden plans, but I can't seem to stop myself.  I am compelled to think about my herbs and what I would like to grow in case I am fortunate enough to move in time to plant an outdoor garden.

In the meantime, starting herbs indoors is just as rewarding, and then later, I can transplant them to larger pots for my kitchen window shelf . Of course, the same principal applies to starting vegetables indoors, but then you'll want to be sure to plant your seeds to coincide with the appropriate transplanting time for your area.

My good friends at Burpee have come up with something really exciting for those of you who have gone "green" and are concerned about our environment. They have a new Eco-Friendly Seed Starting Kit for 2010.  Each kit includes a 36-cell PLA planting tray and a PLA watering tray.  What does PLA mean? Basically, it's an al-natural plant-based product made from corn, or in this case, sustainable coconut coir fibers; it's 100 % renewable, disposable, and biodegradable.
Each cell has a Burpee Super Growing Pellet in the bottom -- just add water and watch it expand.
You'll also find a biodegradable germination sheet, 3 wooden plant labels, a 1 ounce package of organic fertilizer, and a Plant-O-Gram ( a chart to help you keep track of what you planted and where.) This kit is really well thought out, in true Burpee style. The people from Burpee want you to have a chance to give this kit a try so they are offering FIVE kits as giveaways. Here's all you have to do to enter:

1. Leave a comment about something newly offered in 2010 that excites you at

2. For a second chance to win, sign up as an e-mail subscriber with Feedburner, Feed Blitz, or become a Google Follower (see sidebar.) Then leave a second comment telling me you have subscribed or that you are already a subscriber.

If you subscribe in more than one way, leave a separate comment for each.

3. For a third chance to win, blog or Tweet about this contest with a link here, then come back and leave another comment telling me about it.

4. If you're not a blogger, be sure to leave your contact e-mail address like this to avoid spammers: pianananna(at)gmail(dot)com. If I don't have a way to reach you or you don't respond in three days, your name will be disqualified, and I will choose again, picking my favorite answer.

Good Luck!!

Open to US residents only, 18+.

Winners will be chosen by

Email addresses will not be shared with any third parties.

This Giveaway ends on Tuesday, January 26th at midnight EST.

Don't forget to visit An Herbal Bedfellow for healthy recipes made with herbs, and also my newest blog:
Bits, Tales, and Yarns - my newest writing adventure.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thyme -- Facts and Fiction

Thymus vulgaris

Most gardeners, whether you are interested in perennials, vegetables, or herbs, don't think twice about picking up a shovel and attacking the soil. For the genteel ladies of the past, it was a new experience. Here is what one gardening author wrote for well-refined ladies who were just beginning to learn about their hobby.

It must be confessed that digging appears, at first sight, a very laborious employment ... but by a little attention to the principles of mechanics and laws of motion, the labour may be much simplified and rendered comparatively easy .. .
Jane Loudon
Instructions in Gardening for Ladies, 1840

One of the first herbs these ladies would have planted would have been thyme. It's great in soups and sauces, meats and vegetables, as well as a host of other recipes.
Thyme grows best in full sun in a fairly dry soil, but a heavy rain doesn't seem to affect it.
As I do my research, I am learning new things right along with you. There's so much to learn yet about thyme, that it amazes me.
So in this last of my four part series, let's get on to the facts and fiction.


1. Thymus came from the Greek word meaning courage; therefore this herb was often connected to stories of heroes and soldiers.

2. Another Greek meaning is fumigate. Thyme was used as a refresher and cleanser in the bath.

3. In the language of flowers, it means a call to action. Combines with the meaning of "courage" this explains why soldiers often took a sprig of thyme to battle.

4. The Romans used thyme as a tea to cure melancholy.

5. Thyme works well as a moth repellent in drawers and cupboards.

6. If you plant thyme near lavender, both will flourish.


1. According to legend, thyme was used for the Virgin Mary's bed.

2. If a toddler is the first person to touch a new plant after it has just been planted, he will remain single for the rest of his life.

3. Having a potted plant of thyme in the house was thought to cause death or illness.

4. If a young woman placed a sprig of thyme in one of her shoes and a sprig of rosemary in the other, on the Eve of St. Agnes (January 20th), she would have a vision of her future husband.

5. Thyme was an aid in seeing fairies. All you had to do was collect a sprig of thyme in an area where fairies were known to abide, and place the sprig on your eyelids. If they were nearby, you would be able to see them.

For he painted all things that matter,
The tints that we all pass by,
Like the little blue wreaths of incense,
That the wild thyme breathes to the sky.

Alfred Noyes, The Elfin Artists, 20th century

Don't forget to visit An Herbal Bedfellow for healthy recipes made with herbs, and also my newest blog:
Bits, Tales, and Yarns - my newest writing adventure.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Rosemary -- Facts and Fiction

Rosemary - Rosarinus officinalis
The Latin name (ros-marinus) means "dew of the sea."

If you've seen my last two posts, you can guess where I'm going. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme; a memorable line from a song from the sixties based on the most common four herbs used in the kitchen. Of the four, rosemary was the least familiar to me in my early marriage. It does have a stronger flavor than the others and also a pungent scent. I have grown to love rosemary, and just to touch the leaves and then smell my fingers can take me to Heaven.

Rosemary grows best is a sunny location with alkaline soil. It should be in a well-drained area. It also grows well in pots. Containing the roots forces the fragrance to be strong. When harvesting, cut 4-inch sections from the top.
Now for the Facts and Fiction:


1. In the language of flowers, rosemary means "your presence revives me."

2. Rosemary is the birthday flower for January 17th.

3. Astrologers call it the "herb of the sun."

4. The French used to spread their wet laundry on rosemary bushes to dry, leaving behind a fresh scent on their clothing.

5. In the 1200s, Queen Elizabeth of Hungary used a toilet water made from rosemary flowers and white wine as a facial. She was known for her youthful appearance.

6. Place rosemary in the pages of an old book to dispel the musty smell.


1. On Midsummer's Eve (June 23rd) place a bowl of flour underneath a rosemary plant. In the morning, you will find the initials of your future husband or wife written in the flour.

2. Crush rosemary flowers and tie them to your right arm to make you feel happy.

3. Brides wore wreaths of rosemary on their heads to help them remember their wedding vows.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Simon and Garfunkel, 1968

Don't forget to visit An Herbal Bedfellow for healthy recipes made with herbs, and also my newest blog:
Bits, Tales, and Yarns - my newest writing adventure.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sage -- Facts and Fiction

Sage - Salvia Officinalis

I've written quite a bit about sage already, so if I repeat myself forgive me. It's a fantastic herb used for flavoring foods, as well as healing.

Sage prefers a sunny location, and can take dry soil conditions. It can be grown from seeds or cuttings. It has been well-loved throughout the centuries so the folklore and wives tales abound.

Here a just a few of my favorites:


1. Plant sage next to a beehive for a sage-flavored honey.

2. The Chinese valued sage so much that they traded the Dutch three chests of tea leaves for one chest of sage leaves.
An Ancient Chinese proverb says, "How can a man grow old who has sage in his garden?"

3. Sage is the birthday flower for January 19th.

4. American Indians mixed sage with bear grease to create a healing salve.

5. Sage can be used as an antiseptic, and an aid in digestion, as well as soothing coughs and colds.

6. Sage was used for dental hygiene; the leaves were rubbed on the teeth and gums. It also whitened teeth.

Wives Tales:

1. Snip the flowers of sage before they bloom to prevent misfortunes.

2. To find out who your future husband will be, go to the graveyard at midnight on Halloween and pick 9 sage leaves without breaking the branch while the clock is striking 12 and the face of your true love will be revealed. IF you are destined to be a spinster, a coffin will be shown instead.

3. Eat sage in May to live to an old age.

4. The Greeks believed that sage would make a man immortal.

5. If you are able to grow a healthy sage plant in your garden, your business will flourish.

6. In the language of flowers, sage symbolizes esteem.

"There in the front grows sage, sweetly scented.
It deserves to grow green forever, enjoying perpetual youth
For it is rich in virtue..."

Wilfred Strabo, 9th century monk and poet

Don't forget to visit An Herbal Bedfellow for healthy recipes made with herbs, and also my newest blog:
Bits, Tales, and Yarns - my newest writing adventure.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Parsley -- Facts and Fiction

"Parsley - the jewel of herbs, both in the pot and on the plate."
Albert Stockli

Parsley is a wonderful herb that tastes good, smells good, looks pretty, and has many great uses. Parsley known botanically as Petroselinum crispum and flat-leafed parsley as Petroselinum neapolitanum is also called Italian parsley. It prefers full sun but can also grown successfully in part shade. Parsley also grows nicely indoors in a window pot. Be sure to place it in a sunny window.
But there's so much to say about parsley that I decided to just make a list of facts and wives tales.

1. Use parsley on an appetizer or hors d'oeuvre before a meal to help stimulate gastric juices and the pallet.

2. Chewing parsley seeds can help with the results of drinking too much alcohol.

3. Chewing parsley leaves will mask breath odors such as garlic and alcohol.

4. Parsley is the birthday flower for October 30th.

5. In the language of flowers, parsley stands for festivities and feasting.

Wives Tales:

1. Pick parsley during a thunderstorm to increase its potency in an herbal cure.

2. Sow parsley in a garden other than your own to become pregnant. (Conversely, the ancient Romans thought parsley could make a pregnant woman miscarry.)

3. Dreaming of parsley means you will be unhappy in love.

4. To dream of EATING parsley means good news is coming.

5. In the middle ages, parsley was the main ingredient in a magical potion which was rubbed on a witch's broom to make it fly.

6. In Old England, the ragged leaves of parsley were said to be because of pixies who tore them as a punishment to the gardener who had created an herb garden in place of tulips which were the cradles for pixie babies.

7. If you eat parsley seeds daily you will increase your fertility and vitality.

8. The Greeks associated parsley with death and wove it into wreaths for a loved one's funeral.

Well, it looks like parsley is all over the map, so you decide. I'll just use it in the kitchen!

Don't forget to visit An Herbal Bedfellow for healthy recipes made with herbs, and also my newest blog:
Bits, Tales, and Yarns - my newest writing adventure.