Herb Blog | Bowery Beach Farm

Christmas Wreaths

Posted on December 2, 2015 BY Kelly

Christmas Wreath  | Bowery Beach Farm

With Christmas around the corner there’s so much to do … gifts to buy, presents to wrap, parties to attend, work to finish and life to keep up with.

But one thing every home should have that says “Welcome! Christmas is here!” is a wreath. My husband always says I have enough greenery and Christmas decor but I can’t help myself when I pass take a walk through the garden or on a local trail … there is usually something green and alive that comes back with me.

The above wreath is made with sprigs of balsam tied to a wreath base using floral wire (which everyone should have in their house … it has a multitude of uses) and decorated with pinecones, red fake apples for color and a red and white bow. I especially love that when you pass a live wreath you can breathe in Christmas!

Another favorite is the boxwood wreath.

How to make boxwood wreath | Bowery Beach Farm

This is a wreath I make annually. And this year I got my grubby little paws on some real, live mistletoe! So you know that means it’s making its way into ALL my Christmas decorations. There’s only one caveat. And its BIG. Mistletoe is poisonous so make sure there are no berries or leaf droppings that children or your pets can pick up and put in their mouths! But other than that these white berries add a little something extra!

Rosemary WreathHow to make boxwood wreath | Bowery Beach Farm

And as an herb farmer, my live Christmas decor would be incomplete with out some rosemary included somewhere. So this year I used the same metal wreath frame I use for my outdoor wreaths, I just choose a smaller diameter, and made a rosemary wreath for the back of each chair of our kitchen/dining room table. Not only do they look pretty, but our family and guests get to take one home and as they dry can be used in the kitchen on cold winter nights!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted on November 26, 2015 BY Kelly

Thankful for my mom and sister

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving and may you be surrounded with love today!

Natural Thanksgiving Decorations

Posted on November 18, 2015 BY Kelly

Natural Thanksgiving Decorations | Bowery Beach Farm

Here at the farm I like to bring outdoors inside. Here is a peek at how I decorated our Thanksgiving table.

Obviously there are a lot of pumpkins that are brought in from the garden. This year we grew the famous Fairytale Pumpkin which has a lovely muted orange hue that was screaming to be our Thanksgiving centerpiece. Simply hollowed out the center, washed it with a mix of water and clorox to keep it fresher longer and deter mold from growing, and inserted a plastic chinese food soup container into the pumpkin. Then I added water and a ball of chicken wire to the plastic vase insert and added some lime green hydrangeas from Trader Joe’s and some wild rose hips and ferns collected from our frosted gardens and voila!

Natural Thanksgiving Decorations | Bowery Beach Farm

I also included some small Baby Boo white pumpkins and dried eucalyptus pods to complete the table. The runner is simply made of burlap sacks I had laying around the potting shed that I cut and ironed. And the place settings are a mix of my favorite flea market find china and mismatched hotel silverware tied in a brown ribbon with a fern sprig to add some earthiness. 

Natural Thanksgiving Decorations | Bowery Beach Farm

As much as the pumpkin centerpiece was the focal point, my favorite detail were these little candlestick wreathes I made of wild rose hips and dried ferns from the yard. They’re were made super easily using green floral wire as a base and to tie it all together. These are so pretty and are drying so well I’m planning to use them on our Christmas table as well!

How to Dry Thyme

Posted on November 5, 2015 BY Kelly


Drying Thyme | Bowery Beach Farm

I’ve been running the food dehydrator non-stop to my husband’s dismay. Everyday he says things like, “You haven’t finished drying that parsley yet?” and I have to remind him that now I’m onto drying something else like sage, rosemary or thyme. This week I’ve been harvesting and drying a TON of thyme. This year we grew quote a few different varieties in bulk but some of my favorites include: French, English, Silver Edged, Lemon, Spicy Orange and Lavender.

Culinarily French Thyme is the typically the best tasting and the most requested by our restaurant and chef clients. This drys exceedingly well and maintains its delicious flavor. English is another highly sought after variety and the most most home gardeners are familiar with. We grew both on the farm this year and I personally found the French variety edges out the English ever so slightly. Silver Edged is also a good choice because it can be used in cooking but looks just as pretty in the garden or a pot with its silvery-white edges. Lemon is a must if you like to cook with fish and Lavender is a good addition to rice, pot roasts and doughs if you like the flavor of lavender (it really does have a lavender taste!). And I found spicy orange is best for borders. I adore its citrusy-orange scent as I step on or brush against it in the garden.

Drying Thyme | Bowery Beach Farm

Thyme – fresh or dry – is a must in the kitchen for me. It is an essential herb in spice mixes like bouquet garnis and herbes de Provence. I use it in soups, stews, herb breads, marinades and meats. This herb has so many uses in the kitchen that it is a no-brainer for us to grow and dry so we have home-grown thyme all year long.

And drying this herb couldn’t be easier! Harvest stems early in the morning, and cut right before your thyme blooms for peak flavor. Rinse and shake off any excess water. You can dry the leave on or off the stem, but they’ll dry quicker off. If you have a dehydrator kudos to you, it should take a couple of days. If not, don’t worry, you can bundle a few springs together and hang them upside down in a room that is a at least 50ºF for a week or so. Once dried, the leaves should come off easily by using your thumb and forefinger to squeeze and run them down the stem. 

Drying Thyme | Bowery Beach Farm

Now just store them in an airtight container out of sunlight to maintain flavor. And as a rule of thumb use one teaspoon of dried thyme for every tablespoon of fresh when cooking.

n soups, herb breads and  marinades

Propagating Pelargoniums

Posted on October 19, 2015 BY Kelly

Propagating Scented Geraniums | Bowery Beach Farm

Have you ever started a project with a timeline in mind of how long it would take … and then it takes twice, scratch that, four to FIVE times as long?  Well, that’s about how long it’s taken me to propagate all our varieties of scented geraniums!

Propagating Scented Geraniums | Bowery Beach Farm

And that’s not even going into all the leaf and flower drying and essential oils we’ve been distilling from everything growing in the fields and hoop house.


But with just over 50 scented geraniums (or pelargoniums for you more botanically inclined plant enthusiasts) growing for next year it’s been a busy couple of weeks months of cutting and propagating.

Propagating Scented Geraniums | Bowery Beach Farm

For many of our larger leaf cultivars I trim, no, make that cut down the leaves by half or a third in order for the plants to have enough energy for root development, rather than transpiration. This helps them develop stronger root systems much faster than if they had their entire leaf.

Propagating Scented Geraniums | Bowery Beach Farm

And don’t waste your money on rooting hormones – scented geraniums really don’t need need or require that in order to set root. They are more than happy to grow roots and into healthy plants with just some light, water and TLC.

October Dahlia Harvest

Posted on October 12, 2015 BY Kelly

Growing and Harvesting Dahlias | Bowery Beach Farm

It’s hard to believe but the dahlias just keep going and going. 

Growing and Harvesting Dahlias | Bowery Beach Farm

And with the weatherman calling for frost every other day I’m amazed they’ve kept producing at such an incredible rate. So now I’m getting greedy and don’t want to give up our trice weekly dahlia harvests.

Growing and Harvesting Dahlias | Bowery Beach Farm

So far I’ve been able to harvest from both the dahlias in the field and the hoop house, although I’m sure the ones in the open air will eventually succumb to the cold first.

Growing and Harvesting Dahlias | Bowery Beach Farm

For these lovely autumn weddings the ‘Snoho Doris’ and ‘Bracken Rose’ give such a lovely punch of pink color to their bouquets while still evoking the essence of fall. And we certainly can’t forget the loveliness of  Fluer and Cafe au Lait’s.

Growing and Harvesting Dahlias | Bowery Beach Farm

Hoping these beauties will keep rocking’ it into November with the cover of the hoop house. And then I’ll find someway to coerce my husband into braving the cold to take down the greenhouse for the season and help me with digging just under 100 dahlia plants …

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Posted on September 8, 2015 BY Kelly

When I turned around and saw that my calendar said September I just about fell off my seat! Where did the summer go? Did I miss it? I’m sure everyone feels this way, but I just need to remind myself take a moment and pause. Take it in. Breathe. And stop and smell the roses … well at least the scented geraniums ….

Scented Geraniums | Bowery Beach Farm

One of my favorites this year was Mimosa – and that’s not only because a mimosa is a wonderful way to start the weekend. It has a deliciously sweet scent.

Mimosa Scented Geraniums | Bowery Beach Farm

But it is hard to beat the smell of heliotrope just after a rain.

That is why I like to plant it not only in the garden, but also in pots next to my window and door. So that whenever a breeze comes by, or I brush by it as I come in the house I get a whiff of the sweetness!

Heliotrope | Bowery Beach Farm

And even though dahlias aren’t fragrant, they are beyond beautiful. So much so that I forgive them for not inviting me in with their non-existent smell. This year I’m growing just under 100 plants, and one of my new trials will definitely be making it into the big dahlia beds next year. 

Mom's Special Dahlia | Bowery Beach Farm

Mom’s Special is indeed special. The photo in the catalog doesn’t do her justice. Streaked delicately with purple and white this dahlia is showy! Making it the perfect focal point in an arrangement or bouquet. Now I just wish I  had grown more of them … 

And that’s why there’s always next year!



What’s Flowering?

Posted on August 5, 2015 BY Kelly


I wait all year for this time. I know there are so many plants that have already been flowering in the garden but there is nothing, and I mean NOTH-ING like dahlias in bloom.

This year I have quite a new new dahlias in my trial gardens, and this Mystery Day is one of them. 

Mystery Day Dahlia

And while this new butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling I’m getting from getting my first look at MD, I know my one, true love is on its way. 

Yes, you know who I mean …

The Cafe au Lait. 

Growing Dahlias

But I can’t help but share with you my (minor) disappointment in seeing her first bloom is more pinky than blush. 

I know there is variation within these tubers so I’ll just have to wait another week for the rest of them begin to open and (hopefully) surprise me with lots of creamy loveliness.

It seems like my dahlias are a bit behind this year, not exactly sure why. But I’m thinking (and this is just a guess here) that we had a really chilly spring and start to summer and that is why they are so slow to bloom. But who cares?! They’re starting to flower now so I will forget all my worry and disappointment from the past two weeks of no dahlias.

In the meantime I will take heart in how the scented geraniums are coming along in the hoop house. It never ceases to amaze me the difference a few weeks makes …

Growing Scented Geraniums

Even the Verbena Boriensis I planted on one side of the greenhouse is happy .

Verbena Boriensis

So I will leave you with thoughts of blooming summer flowers …. 



Happenings Here on the Farm

Posted on July 14, 2015 BY Kelly


Things have been super busy here for us … I don’t even know where the Spring went. But it felt like we never really had much a a Spring anyway – we went …. Winter, Winter, Winter, Boom Summer. 

But that certainly didn’t stop us from growing (in more ways than one) this season. So our biggest and newest (and let’s be honest – most AWE-SOME!) addition to the farm is our Hoop House! We put it up in about 3.5 hours with the help of my husband and my sister’s boyfriend, who all did not believe me that those 10 24-foot steel tubes would turn into the gloriousness that is now our brand-spanky-new 50 foot hoop house.

Isn’t it beautiful?!


Bowery Beach Farm | Hanley Hoop House


And we dressed it up with some fancy landscape fabric.


Bowery Beach Farm | Greenhouse Fabric


Which I promptly burnt holes into so I could sow seed and transplant my seedlings. And I will share this with you because we are so close – I really should have burned the holes before I laid the fabric down flat … as it appears the torch goes out when you point it down. Making that a much more time consuming step. 

Next went down the drip line – which again, I will lay down first before I lay the fabric next year. It’s all working out okay since the fabric is permeable and the plants seem to really be loving the cool slow drink from the tubing. And before long … voilá! Big happy plants! All 350 of them in the greenhouse.


Bowery Beach Farm | Growing Dahlias


And the propagation house has also been bustling with activity since March.


Bowery Beach Farm | Growing Herbs


For which I have learned the very, very, very important task of crop scheduling. I know this sounds like a boring activity, but without it our market table would look quite sad. So there is an never-ending weekly dance of sowing, propagating, transplanting, planting, pruning, fertilizing and then … repeat. All the while keeping in mind how many plants are headed to the field or greenhouse for harvesting, and those to market for sale.


Bowery Beach Farm | Potting Bench


The planning may not be the most fun job, but it gets me to the best part of the job … the growing! 

My favorite way to pass the time in the greenhouse vacillates between sowing and taking cuttings. I love to start things from scratch, but I also love making scented geranium babies from the mommy plant. I find it very cathartic and peaceful. Sometimes I save this task for the end if I can so I have something to motivate me to move faster (which is always helpful since I have more of a sedentary personality).


Bowery Beach Farm | Attar Of Rose Scented Gernaium


When I look at my scented geranium table I feel so ridiculously happy that everyone’s growing and healthy. 


Bowery Beach Farm | Scented Geraniums


And that doesn’t even take into account the raised beds and field of herbs ready for harvest. 

 Bowery Beach Farm | Caraway


I will also share that I get incredibly excited when plants that take a few years to mature before they can be harvested are ready. I’ve waited 2 years and now I’m rewarded with lots of delicious caraway seed. I think I should make some bread with it … you know, just to test it out first. 🙂

Sowing and a Growing!

Posted on April 9, 2015 BY Kelly

I must be the luckiest girl in the world … because right now I get to sow and grow all day long. All day. Everyday.

It really is not boring.

But that may be because I bring a small DVD player into the greenhouse and play 80’s movies to keep me company. (And it’s not at all weird that I share my favorite movie lines with my little seedlings expecting for them to enjoy them as much as I do.)

Soaking Sweet Pea SeedsBasil SeedlingsPropagating Seeds - Bowery Beach Farm |© Kelly Orzel Photography

So my world now consists of seeds, dirt and water. And patience.

Patience is something I’ve never been especially good at. Which is strange that my chosen profession involves quite a bit of patience.

Propagating SeedsBowery Beach Farm |© Kelly Orzel Photography

But each time I am rewarded with these little green seedlings I feel like a master of the universe (did you just pick up on one of my guilty-pleasures 80’s movie reference?)

Bowery Beach Farm Greenhouse in April |© Kelly Orzel Photography

I’m amazed that we started sowing in January and even though we have lots to show for it, but there is still so much to do. We’ll be sowing every week until July. And once we reach May it will be time to add outdoor and hoop house garden tasks.

Prepping the garden beds. Laying drip tape. Laying landscape fabric. Transplanting.

Watering (of course). Thinning. Pinching-back. And Harvesting. (I’m getting tired just thinking about it).

Bowery Beach Farm Greenhouse in April |© Kelly Orzel Photography

And in between all the seeding, I keep cutting back my scented geraniums. Making new baby scented geraniums. Now that is true magic! One day you just have this sad small leaf, and in 6 weeks you’re amazed it’s grown so much. I think that must be how parents feel when when dropping their babies off to kindergarden.

And that’s why I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I get to do what I love!