Jekka’s Herb Farm Open Days – the ultimate end-of-season plant sale

This coming Friday, we fling open our gates and welcome everyone to Jekka’s ultimate Herb Farm Open Days of 2011 (2nd-4th September, 10am-4pm), featuring her spectacular end-of-season plant sale (roll up, roll up, perennial herb bargains a-plenty). If you’re tempted to buy at least four herbs, you’ll get the cheapest one FREE. So if you buy 12 herbs, you’ll be getting 3 free organic herb plants. And so on.

Jekka's Herb Farm Open Days - 650+ organic herb varieties

Jekka's Herb Farm Open Days - 650+ organic herb varieties

If you’re a rare plant/herb plant collector, don’t miss it. We have a superb selection  (over 650 varieties) of  organically grown, culinary, medicinal and aromatic plants in 8cm, 1 litre and 2 litre pots for you to browse and buy. Landscape gardeners and garden designers – bring a van: we’re selling off a choice selection of specimen herbs in larger pot sizes (up to 20 litres) at very reasonable prices. 

Specimen herb plants, organically grown, on sale at very reasonable prices.

Sale-aside, Jekka’s Open Days are simply a lovely day out for gardeners, cooks, or those with aspirations. Award winning Jekka gives a FREE farm tour (or talk, depending on numbers) at 10.30am and 2.30pm on each open day. Jekka will also be on hand to sign copies of her best selling books, chat about herb care and growing tips (and what to do with them once they’re grown), and her new range of organic herbal teas (which will also be on sale).

Jekka will be on hand to give expert herb tips, sign books, & chat about her new range of organic herbal teas

When the scents and aroma of Chocolate Peppermint, French Tarragon and Lemon Verbena conspire to get your tummy growling, you can nip over to the Berry Blue pop-up cafe, relax and feast upon ‘Home Grown Thai Red Curry Squash Soup, with fresh bread and Coriander Pesto’ or ‘Slow Cooked Beef in Guinness, with Herbed Potatoes & Wilted Spinach’. Prepare to be overwhelmed with temptation for ‘Home Grown Greengage Meringue Sundae’ and ‘Apple and Lavender Sorbet with Lavender Shortbread’. Then, wash it all down with Jekka’s fresh herb tea, or a jug of Pimms with Jekka’s fresh mint, or ‘Home grown greengage crush’, and you’ll be feeling all refreshed and ready to get back to the lovely business of handpicking your herb garden.

Refresh and revitalise with the finest fare in the Berry Blue cafe

Entry is FREE on Friday 2nd September, and £2 per person on Saturday 3rd &  Sunday 4th. But if you’ve already purchased a hard copy of our catalogue, then bring it along and wave it wildly (or sedately, as your character permits) at whoever is manning our gate, and you’ll have free entry for 2 people on Saturday and Sunday too!

Members of the Royal Horticultural Society, the Soil Association (timely, as Jekka’s open days fall right at the start of Soil Association initiative ‘Organic September’ including the Bristol based Organic Food Festival - so if you’re visiting us, why not visit them too?), the West of England Herb Group  (of which Jekka is president) and copy holders of the latest issue of Grow Your Own magazine also have free entry on all 3 days.

This will be Jekka’s biggest, best, end-of-season herb plant sale ever. More info’ required? Email sales@jekkasherbfarm.com or ring 01454 418878.  See you there!

30 organic rosemary varieties and a great big plant sale

It’s harvest time in the herb garden. August and September are months of abundance, with plentiful supplies to use fresh from the garden. It’s also the ideal time to prepare herbs for the winter months, not only to give a continuous supply of leaf, but also to give hardy perennials their very best chance of surviving the vagaries of winter.

Chocolate Peppermint

 Jekka has been busy sorting and cutting back our 30 different mint species (including Chocolate Peppermint with its ‘After Eight’ flavour, and variegated Pineapple mint, delicious and pretty in a fruit salad) to give a final winter crop. Mint cuttings can be put to excellent use in a fresh mint sauce, pea and mint soup, a jug of Pimms or a refreshing cup of mint tea.

Rosemary Sudbury Blue

Jekka has also been pruning and re-potting her rather large rosemary collection – now a staggering 30 different varieties. To Jekka’s keen eye, it isn’t difficult to distinguish R. Foxtail which has a bushy, prostrate habit (not unlike a fox’s tail) from a R. Prostrate, also, unsurprisingly, prostrate but minus the bushiness. Or R. ‘Lady in White’ from R. ‘White’ – naturally, both are notable for their white flowers, but the Lady is arching whilst the commoner is prostrate (draw your own conclusion). Cultivars such as R. Sissinghurst Blue and R. Sudbury Blue have significantly different minimum temperature requirements. Sissinghurst is frosthardy (down to -50C) , whilst Sudbury is fully hardy (down to -150C).Taste and flavour are important distinguishing factors too; for something completely different, try R. Green Ginger, which adds a mildly oriental taste to your roast lamb or barbequed fish. Other factors include the shade and shape of the rosemary’s thin needles: some are light green, some are dark, some are fatter whilst some are more pine-needle like in appearance.

Overridingly, Rosmarinus officinalis is amongst the most useful plants you can grow in the garden. It is evergreen, so can be harvested all year round; an appetite stimulant, the leaves have antibacterial and antioxidant properties; combine with meat, casseroles, soups and sauces, fish, rice, cordials vinegars etc; even the flower is edible, with a sweet taste, delicious with cooked vegetables; the leaves can be roasted at high temperatures without disintegrating; plant it companiably near carrots to help repel carrot fly; infuse it for an antiseptic tea/mouthwash/gargle – also, allegedly, an excellent cure for a hangover.

Come along, see for yourself and pick up some expert growing tips too at Jekka’s final Open Days of the season, from 2nd – 4th September, when she’ll be holding her end-of-season plant sale, including organically grown rosemary species; rare, tropical and wildflower herb varieties; essential herbs for foodies, such as Lemon Verbena, French Tarragon and Chilean Guava; dye plants Woad and Wormwood; medicinal powerhouses Arnica and Lemon Balm; aromatics like Balm of Gilead and Cat Thyme.  We’ll also have a super selection of our beautiful specimen herb plants on sale at very reasonable prices.

Jekka's Open Days - September 2nd to 4th - End-of-season plant sale

 The farm will be open to the public from 10am – 4pm. Entry is free on Friday 2nd September and charged at £2.00 per person on Saturday and Sunday, although catalogue holders, members of the RHS, the West of England Herb Group and the Soil Association also receive free entry on all days for two people.  

Jekka's FREE herb talk, 10.30 & 2.30 on each open day

 

Jekka’s Herb Farm is usually closed to the public, so Open Days are a unique opportunity to browse and buy, breathe in and taste the scents and flavours of our 650+, organically grown herb varieties. Pick up some expert tips from award-winning, organic herb farmer, writer and broadcaster, Jekka, and partake of locally grown, seasonal refreshments in the ‘Berry Blue’ café. Herb workshops with Jekka (pre-booking is essential) take place on each Open Day at 12pm and tickets are £15 per person.

We very much look forward to welcoming you to the farm (and a bit of self indulgence,  sharing our knowledge and passion for herbs with you)!

Summertime, and the picking is easy…

We recently enjoyed our penultimate Open Days of the season, and happily, the weather turned warm in the nick of time. Of our 650+ varieties, the most popular herbs were  Sweet Cicely (a natural sweetener), French Tarragon (no chicken dish is complete without it) and Lemon Verbena (makes the best tea in the world).

During her (twice daily and free) herb talks, Jekka asked ‘How many of you are growing Bay in a pot?’ and then ‘How many of you are feeding them? Because they won’t survive on water and love alone.’

Jekka's Open Day talk "Feed on Fridays"

Especially container grown herbs. Give them a foliar feed – being organic, we use liquid seaweed, which is available from most garden centres. And remember, “Feed on Fridays”.

Jekka’s workshop, ‘How to grow salad herbs for autumn’ included some special, seed sowing tips and tricks of the trade.  Student herb-growers were very pleased to take their samples home afterwards; they’ll see their efforts grow into a luscious, tasty autumn crop.

August is harvest time -  a month of abundance in the herb garden. There’s a vast choice of fresh, verdant herbs to harvest: Chives, Lemon Verbena, Mint, Sage, Wild Rocket,…to name but a very few.

Chive abundance

Evergreens like Rosemary and Thyme can be harvested all year round, but if you’ve recently cut them back, you might have an excess that you’re wondering what to do with. If you have a glut of a particular herb (and no wish to be gluttonous), then preserve them for winter use. Parsley, for example, freezes beautifully, and Lemon Verbena is easy to dry and store for use until this deciduous herb produces leaves again next (late) spring/(early) summer. Or try your hand at making a herb butter, or vinegar. Sage butter, for example, is fantastic for basting a roast, or tossing, melted with fresh cooked pasta. Vietnamese coriander vinegar is great for sauces and stir-fry. Jekka’s Herb Cookbook has a section at the end of each chapter on what to do with a glut of herbs (don’t miss Fennel and cucumber pickle – very, very mmm).

Melted herb butter - what could be better?

 August is also, really, your last chance to safely cut back those herb plants which have rewarded you with beautiful flowers and now need a darn good haircut to preserve the health and shape of the plant, before the season of mists and potential frosts. But the mellow fruitfulness of the herb garden goes on right throughout autumn, with the ripening of deep, dark blue berries on Myrtle (dry them, grind them and use them like Juniper) and the sweet, red fruit of Chilean Guava (allegedly Queen Victoria’s favourite fruit).

Myrtle - summer flowers & autumn berries. Use the leaves like Bay for a touch of spice

But enough of this chilly talk – it’s holiday time. Don’t forget to keep your herbs well watered on hot days (the best time is early morning before the sun gets up), and don’t forget these dates: 2nd, 3rd and 4th September. They’re our last Open Days of the season, and our end-of-season plant sale. It is the very best time of all to get a perennial bargain – plant it then, and it will have two whole seasons to get established for next spring. A most sensible plan. Happy herb harvesting.