Santa Fe, Mrs. Bobbs Garden

What a wonderful trip I had. The Sangre de Cristo Herb Society of Santa Fe hosted me as a speaker for Herbfest. They were delightful hosts and one evening I even got to see a jack rabbit! I haven't seen one since I was a teenager as all of them have disappeared from Missouri decades ago.
Garden of Elspeth Bobbs, Santa Fe
You may recall how much I enjoy getting to visit other people's gardens when I travel and I was thrilled and honored to get to visit Mrs. Bobb's Garden in Santa Fe. The 2 women who gave me the tour kept saying how they wished I could see it in summer, and I know it is even more intriguing then. But I love seeing a garden when you can see the ribs and backbone, the design of what's there.
Elspeth Bobbs
Elspeth was very gracious in allowing me to see her garden. We sat and visited for a few minutes. I'm afraid I was gushing. The garden is lot to see, and what struck me was how gratifying it is to meet a gardener who is both serious about gardening, but doesn't take the garden seriously. Let me show you what I mean.
Stepping stones with thyme.
 This is how stepping stones should be. None of those spaced-out steps that you have to leap from one to the other (a pet peeve of mine) but actually walking space, with wonderfully aromatic thyme growing between.
Espaliered apple trees divide 2 different garden areas.
Now hold on to your hats. Here's where I started spinning in place like a top. This garden is so much fun I just wanted to stay and play.

Fung-shui becomes Funky-Shui here!
A train, a pool and a mural, from sea to shining sea in the background.
Homage to A. E. Housman Garden
Some of the terrace gardens.
I didn't pass the test - I've forgotten the dragon's name!
King Arthur's Sword in the Fantasy Garden
Mother Bee
When one of the trees fell on the property, there was a bee colony inside. This is Mother Bee, in memory of the tree and the bees.
Blue Gate into the Vegetable Garden.
The zig-zag fence - more room for roses!
The mischievous couple in the garden.
Resting Compost.
A memorial to all of Elspeth's pets over the years, all listed there.
Children Bench
I replayed in my mind all I saw in Elspeth's garden as I drove the 18 hours home from Santa Fe. I loved that she had fun with her garden. She has a remarkable collection of herbs, vegetables, flowers, perennials and some fruit trees that are well over 100 years old. But, plant lover that I am, what I brought away from my visit was the pure joy of place, the excitement and thrill of making the garden a fun place to be. I was inspired by this garden in ways I haven't found inspiration in a very long time. I may have to go out and play in my own garden in some new ways! Thank you Elspeth and your wonderful garden crew! Yours is a garden I will remember fondly.


Homemade Crackers with Herbs

Tomorrow I've a newspaper reporter and photographer coming to do a story on the garden and Long Creek Herb Farm. There's not much to see in the garden this time of year, just empty beds awaiting summer vegetable and herb plants. We have frost predicted for later in the week, so even basil, corn, beans and tomatoes can't be planted yet.

Any time media people come, I always strive to feed them lunch. I believe if a reporter tastes what's from the garden, they will better understand why I have such extensive gardens.

I have an attitude about gardening and it's summed up in, Why garden if you can't eat what you grow?
How that plays out for me, is expecting plants to justify their space in my garden. To be green and put up a flower now and then, may or may not pay the rent on that space. With an iris, the enchanting fragrance evens the debt for space. A Japanese yew, however, does nothing be exist in its green-ness and it's only in the deadest of winter when I crave something, anything green, that it barely squeaks by.

But caraway, dill, poppies and cumin, those pay the rent on their space twice. Once with flowers or herb leaves, and second by their seed. It's the seed, this time of year that I appreciate most, in making homemade seed crackers. And the hot peppers I've been drying, also earn their keep in my Cheddar Jalapeno crackers (any hottish pepper will work for this). Here are the steps for the Cheddar Jalapeno crackers, from my book, Making Homemade Crackers Using Herbs ($5.95 plus postage, from LongCreekHerbs.com).

Cheddar Jalapeno Crackers
1/2 cup, or about 3 ounces cheddar cheese cubes
1/2 large, fresh jalapeno, seeded (or use 1 tablespoon crushed cayenne or similar)
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
4 (about) tablespoons cold water

Step 1, put everything into the food processor and pulse blend
Step 2, roll out the dough, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Step 3, roll out the dough very thin on floured surface.
Step 4, use a knife or pizza cutter and cut the dough into cracker sizes.
Step 5, prick the crackers with a fork. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet until crisp, 10-12 minutes.
Step 6, cool crackers on baking rack. When cooled, store in air-tight bag (they also freeze well).

Jalapeno Cheese Crackers, ready to eat. They won't last long, these are good!

Jalapeno Cheese Crackers and Herb Seed Crackers.


Exciting Plants for You This Spring!

Babaco Papaya - "Mountain" Papaya
How about growing something new this year? Of course, we're all gardeners and we always try something new each year, right? But this sounds like fun. I learned about this from Randy Schultz's Garden Cuttings newsletter. It's a papaya that is hardy down to almost freezing. It grows from 4-8 ft. tall. Unlike most papayas that suffer if temperatures drop below 60 degrees F., this one can remain outdoors in moderate areas, or is small enough to bring indoors in winter. It starts fruiting at about 2 ft. in height, and the seedless fruits are 8-10 inches long with intense, delightful fragrance and flavor. It's not cheap - $29.95 for one 4 inch potted plant, but hey, you could be the only one in the neighborhood harvesting your own papayas! Here's the link at Logee's.

Did you know you can grow micro-greens on the kitchen counter? Sort of like growing sprouts, but leafier. Botanical Interests have special greens mixtures that you can grow in a shallow tray on a windowsill or kitchen counter. Grow your own salads, greens for sandwiches and more. There may be nothing more healthy and delicious than freshly grown sprouts, and they can easily be grown on a kitchen counter. The Micro Greens Savory Mix from Botanical Interests includes a tasty mix of nine different types of sprouting seeds including beet, Swiss chard, cress, mustard and kohlrabi. All of the seed varieties in the Micro Greens mix are non-GMO seeds, because Botanical Interests is committed to natural and organic seeds. Use these sprouts to liven up sandwiches and salads. There are 10 easy serving ideas and a recipe for Tomato, Micro Greens and Mozzarella Salad on the inside of the seed packet. A large packet of Micro Greens Savory Mix seeds sells for $3.99.

Rosella Purple Tomato
For a new take on a great heirloom tomato variety, consider growing Rosella Purple. This is a new dwarf tomato variety that produces fruits similar to Cherokee Purple but on short plants, making this variety ideal for container gardening. (Cherokee Purple is one of my favorite tomatoes to grow). This dwarfed variety was bred by the Dwarf Tomato Project, an international group of tomato enthusiasts devoted to breeding short tomato varieties with great flavor, Rosella Purple fruits weigh 6-10 ounces and feature a delightful deep purple color. The productive plants grow to about 36 inches tall and benefit from some staking to keep them upright and to protect the fruits from sun-scald. These determinate plants produce fruit 65 days after transplanting. A packet of seeds sells for $3.25 from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

And if you hadn't noticed, my newest book is on our website. Several of our wholesale customers are already stocking it, as well and I've been pleased at how fast the book is selling. It's full of my favorite hot sauce recipes. If you grow hot peppers, love hot sauce, or like to make things for gifts, you will like this book. Last fall I made gallons of my different recipes, testing and adjusting, sending out samples to friends for critiquing. This book is the result. It's a little book (40 pages) with a lot of heat!

You'll learn how to can hot sauce, freeze it, tips for making it hotter, or less-so, a guide to the various kinds of peppers that work best in hot sauces and a whole lot more. You can order it here on my website. $6.95 plus $2 shipping. It's in its second printing already!