Home-grown plants make herb farm unique
The daffodils, crocus, flowering almond and forsythia are bursting with their spring song so it must be time for opening weekend at Moonshadow Herb Farm in southeast Muskogee.
Even though it is still a little early to plant some things, no one wants to miss out on seeing what Sharon Owen has grown over the winter for their medicinal and culinary garden beds.
"Each year I propagate new plants from cuttings of my stock plants," Owen said. Seedlings are grown from organic seeds. I do not buy from wholesalers and re-sell. I grow my own earth-friendly, chemical free stock."
Owen's new, larger greenhouse has made it possible for her to grow an even wider variety of plants this year. Plus, the herb garden in the back was re-worked and new beds planted to adjust to changing weather patterns.
"Moonshadow is a small, retail nursery specializing in medicinal, crafting, ceremonial, culinary and obscure herbs," Owen said. "Examples of herbs considered obscure include Our Lady's Bedstraw, Cost Mary (Bible Leaf), and Sweetgrass. There are also herbs to make theme gardens such as a kid's pizza garden, or to create a butterfly garden or Biblical garden."
Customers were shopping early last weekend.
Bo Mullins of Muskogee said, "I'm buying the Joe Pye Weed to use as a medicinal herb and the Mexican bush sage is going in the garden just because it is gorgeous."
Karen Coker of Muskogee said she was purchasing the Joe Pye Weed for its ability to provide nectar for butterflies at the end of the summer.
"I'm Cherokee," Coker said. "I like to buy traditional plants like Cherokee purple tomatoes because they were developed by the Cherokees and the tomatoes grow to a pound apiece and taste spectacular."
Coker explained that the ceremonial sage that Owen grows is burned in smudge pots by many Cherokees to purify the environment.
Whether you are shopping for heirloom tomato plants, herbs or scented geraniums, Moonshadow Herb Farm has something for everyone.
The prices at Moonshadow are: 3.5-inch pot annuals and half-hard annuals $2.75 each.Perennials in 3.5-inch pots $3.25 each. Quart-size annuals and half-hardy annuals $3.50 each. Quart pot perennials $3.75 each. One-gallon potted herbs are $4.25.
The pineapple sage in the photo has red flowers that bloom from August to frost. In all, Owen offers six types of sage (salvia) this year for culinary and ceremonial gardens.One item that Moonshadow is noted for is Pelargoniums, commonly called scented geraniums.
"I propagated 18 varieties this year," Owen said. "That includes the most popular ones plus a few collector varieties." Examples of Pelargonium choices include Attar of Roses and Ole-Fashioned Rose for potpourri and cooking, Rensham Lemon, Citrosa and Orange Fizz with citrus scents, plus Staghorn Peppermint.
Pelargoniums make wonderful additions to any garden; they provide aroma, texture.
Pelargoniums are excellent in containers. Most varieties repel insects, not just the Citronella, which is the one used to produce Citronella oil repellent.
Owen said, "If anyone is interested in particular plants they may call or e-mail me and I will reserve them to be purchased at the open house on March 29. Later in spring, additional plants will be available."
Moonshadow Tomato plants for 2008Cherokee Purple — an heirloom with purple-red meat.Brandywine, Suddith's Strain — an Amish heirloom with potato leaf.Rutgers — high yield, Campbell's Soup development for canning.Black Plum — teardrop shaped purple cherry tomato.Red Pear — 2-inch pear tomatoes, heavy yield.Sun Gold Cherry — 1-inch gold-orange tomatoes — 60 days.Sun Sugar Cherry — heavy yield, sweet, half-ounce golden tomatoes.Yellow Pear — 1.5-inch pear shaped, heavy yield.
"Other hard-to-find plants I have this year are Lovage and Pearly Everlasting," Owen said. "Lovage is a perennial herbal, celery substitute. Pearly Everlasting is a cute dried flower that crafters use. There is also Feverfew, a delicate white flowering herb said to help prevent migraine headaches."
Nine varieties of basil are in the greenhouse: Purple Osmin, Thai, lettuce leaf, Mexican cinnamon, Krishna Tulsi, Mrs. Burns Lemon, Napoletano, Genovese Sweet, and lime. They each add wonderful scent and flowers to the garden during the heat of the summer, to say nothing of their endless uses in the kitchen.
Other plants you may have been looking for that you can find at Moonshadow include: Aloe, Arnica, BLOOD SORREL, Boneset, Borage, Burdock, Horehound, Motherwort, Mugwort, Stinging Nettle, Night-blooming Cereus, Pregnant Onion, Patchouli, Pennyroyal, St. John's Wort, Mad Dog Skullcap, Soapwort, Sweet Grass, Syrian Oregano, Valerian, and Wormwood.
"The main garden is not fully re-planted yet, so it will not be in its full glory this year," Owen said. "Even so, people are welcome to come meander, look, touch and smell. The gardens are open for tour groups of children and adults by appointment so they can enjoy and see what grows well in our area."