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Camp Frémont

Gardening, Photography, and Homeschool.

- by Sarah Fremont

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  • Sarah Fremont


We were living in New York City in a studio apartment and I was hankering to get my hands in a bit of soil after moving from Minnesota where we had a large yard and garden. “Let’s go buy some potted herbs at the farmer’s market,” I said to my husband. At this point we had little money to buy much extra of anything, so he was hesitant. “But think of all the money we will save from growing our own herbs!” He obliged, and we took the subway downtown to the outdoor market and purchased three small potted herbs—rosemary, thyme, and peppermint. After bringing the pots home, I placed the herbs in the window sill during the winter, and set them out on the stoop in the spring through fall. And voila, I was gardening in New York City.


Herbs are one of the easiest ways to get into gardening, and fresh herbs added to your home cooked meals are a delight! Herb plants are available online year round or often found at local nurseries, so winter is an excellent time to begin when you are craving a bit of gardening and indoor greenery. Buy the herbs as small plants, not as seeds, so you can pot them up right away.


There are five herbs that are known to do best in pots and will make it through your indoor winter garden:



Oregano

  • Flavor: earthy and minty.

  • When to water: when soil feels dry to the touch.

  • How to harvest: make sure that the plant is at least four inches in height. Pinch the top part along with the first set of leaves and just above the leaf node.

Chives

  • Flavor: mild garlic and onion.

  • When to water: always keep the soil slightly moist.

  • How to harvest: when the plant grows above six inches, snip the top using sharp scissors. Make sure to leave at least two inches of the plant intact from the bottom.

Mint

  • Flavor: cool, sweet, and a little spicy.

  • When to water: always keep the soil moist.

  • How to harvest: pick leaves as you need them.

Rosemary

  • Flavor: piney, woodsy, and slightly bitter.

  • When to water: thoroughly water, but let the top two inches of soil dry out between watering.

  • How to harvest: cut off a bit of the stem above the woody part, leaving at least two-thirds of the plant.

Thyme

  • Flavor: earthy, sweet, minty.

  • When to water: lightly water when the soil feels dry.

  • How to harvest: cut a few inches off a stem, pick the leaves you want to use, and leave at least five inches of the plant intact from the bottom.


A few additional tips when growing your own potted herb garden:


  1. Use good soil when potting the herbs. The best option is to find a local nursery with excellent organic potting soil. Many of the boxed soils that can be purchased at chain stores do not drain well and often develop fungus.

  2. Plant your herbs in breathable pots. I like using terra cotta pots with drainage holes and saucers. They are very affordable and the plant is able to breathe versus a plastic pot that would trap moisture. Also, choose a pot that is a bit larger than the plant. As it grows larger, you can always repot into a larger pot.

  3. Herbs like the sun. In the winter, place the pot on a sunny, southern facing window sill. When the threat of frost is over, place the pot outside in the sun.



A potted herb garden is a lovely way to dip your toes into gardening, delight in fresh grown aromas and flavors, and bring greenery to your windows during the bleak months of winter.


Happy gardening!


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  • Sarah Fremont

March winds and April showers

can blow your plants away.

So start your seeds inside the house

and plant outside in May.

Hollie Hobbie





When we first started gardening, we were so excited to start from scratch with seeds grown indoors. Growing plants from seeds allow you to start gardening earlier in the season, and buying a packet of seeds is much cheaper than the cost of plants. We went to our local gardening store and purchased a wide variety of seed packets, brought them home, and began the process of starting our seeds. We planted them in suitable seed starter soil, watered them, and provided adequate sunlight. After a bit, the seeds formed little seedlings that peeked through the soil. It was all very rewarding. Once the seeds had outgrown their indoor homes, we were ready to transplant them outdoors. This is where we, as newbies, had a sad awakening. Although our seedlings were ready to be transplanted, the garden was not ready for the seedlings. It was not the appropriate planting time for the specific vegetables we had chosen. Fortunately, we were able to transplant the seedlings to larger indoor pots and enjoy the fruits of our labor indoors.


Now that we know to choose seeds that will form seedlings at the right time to be planted, we have enjoyed the process of starting seeds in eggshells. Eggshells have been a fun choice because they are easy to obtain, you can place the shell and seedling directly into the soil, and the eggshell provides a great source of calcium and other minerals for the plant.


If you’d like to try this at home, here are the steps to follow:


  1. Choose your seeds. Look at the packets’ indoor starting time to help you choose the best seeds. Herbs and flowers are easy, great choices.

  2. Save your cracked eggshells. Choose shells that are mostly intact, rinse them well, and line an empty carton with the shells.

  3. Using a spoon, carefully add pre-moistened seed soil to the eggshells. Seed soil is a lighter soil that allows the root system to grow freely through the plant, creating a strong and healthy plant.

  4. Add the seeds to the soil and slightly push down, just until the seeds are fully covered. We add two to three seeds per shell for optimum success rates and keep the strongest looking seedling.

  5. Gently mist the soil with a spray bottle of water
. Continue to keep the soil moist while the leaves are developing.

  6. Place the carton in a sunny windowsill and watch the seeds sprout.

  7. When your seedlings develop leaves, you can transplant them into a larger pot or directly in your garden. Before you transplant, gently crush the shell and remove a few shards around the bottom.

We’ve used this method for our outdoor garden, and also for starting flower seeds for our indoor house pots. It is such a rewarding feeling to know you were involved in the entire growth process from start to finish.


Happy planting!



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  • Sarah Fremont


I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea: and she gave a dose of it to Peter! “One table-spoon to be taken at bed-time.” But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.

From The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter


In the afternoons we would walk over to our neighbor’s house. As we entered her home, we were greeted with the smell of freshly baked muffins and the sounds of classical music in the background. The table was set with a lovely white linen tablecloth, blue china she found at an antique shop, and fresh flowers in a beautiful vase. We felt like the most honored guests for the simplest of occasions—afternoon poetry and teatime. Chamomile tea was poured in our delicate tea cups, honey and milk were passed around, and a delicious muffin was set on our plate. Our dear neighbor would begin reading her book of poetry while we ate and sipped. It was a treasured and dreamy time.


Do you enjoy chamomile tea? The soothing apple and sweet honey flavor is a delight. Chamomile has been found to help with insomnia, anxiety, and digestive upsets. Peter Rabbit’s mama gave him tea to settle his tummy and to help him sleep. We were pleasantly surprised to find how easy it was to grow our own chamomile indoors, so naturally we had to give it a go.



What you will need:


  1. Seeds or seedlings: We use the German variety of chamomile and found our organic and heirloom seeds at our local nursery. Alternatively we found seedlings ready to ship on Etsy.

  2. Soil: Always spend the extra money on healthy, organic soil.

  3. Terra cotta pots: They are the best pots for breathability.


How to grow chamomile:


  1. Fill pots with soil.

  2. The seeds are very tiny and can be gently pressed into the soil. Keep soil evenly moist and place pots in the sun.

  3. Once blossomed, harvest the open flowers in the morning, and lay them out to dry inside on a paper towel.

  4. Once dry, store them in a sealed container until ready to brew.

  5. Place dried flowers in a tea ball and steep for 5 minutes. Add milk or honey to taste and enjoy.



The flowers can also be dried for floral arrangements, pressed for crafts, or woven into charming wreaths. Leaves are edible too, and can be tossed into salads. Enjoy growing this sweet and useful flower. And happy teatime! xo


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