The Herbarie

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

We have been very busy working long days in our warehouse and office. On Saturday, the weather was so beautiful that I decided to spend some time outside.
Overall, we have enjoyed a mild and lovely Fall, with temperatures in the 50-60F range. We've not yet had a hard freeze, so our gardens are still filled with blooming Roses, Pineapple Sage, Honeysuckle, Mexican Sage, Sansanqua Camellia, and Zinnias. Ginger Lily and Osmanthus (Tea Olive) are still blooming and smelling wonderful and the birds and bees are everywhere.

On Saturday, I was relaxing in my secret garden when I heard the distinctive sound of hummingbird chitter twitter! I could hardly believe my ears! I thought I'd seen the last of our hummers until Spring of 2010! This past summer, just like every summer, we enjoyed hearing and seeing our many hummers buzz-fly from flower to flower and feeder to feeder. All summer long I've tried to take a picture of these magical creatures, but have not been fast enough. On Saturday, this precious little hummer perched on the Belinda Rose and waited patiently while I took picture after picture of her - isn't she adorable!

This is a view of old Rose Cottage - a former share cropper's home. This little cottage here on the farm is over 100 years old. Sasanqua Camellias are blooming profusely in the foreground with Mexican Petunia in the background.

This magnificent Monsieur Tillier Tea Rose is in bloom from Spring to Fall. These roses are near the Stoney Hill Farm sign beside our warehouse. Monsieur Tillier also grows and blooms in our other gardens. I propagated these roses myself which are now about 8 feet tall and just as wide. True Tea Roses are perfect shrubs for Zone 8 gardens with lots of room. They are not demanding, easy to grow and free from pests. All of these pictures were taken this past weekend.

Another Sansanqua Camellia beside The Herbarie office. Camellias don't have a scent, but the blooms and evergreen foliage are just gorgeous.

My husband Earl and I are animal lovers. In addition to our wild birds and other wild creatures, our farm is home to Sally - our Great Pyrenees, our three Nubian goats - Rose, Petunia, Pansy, a bunny named Tinkerbell, and many "rescue kitties". These kitties have somehow made their way to us over the years. We support the dedication and hard work of our local animal shelter where animals are spayed and neutered and adopted into families. Earlier this year I wrote about Gracie and her kitties - Dahlia and Poppy. Soon after the kitties were born, we acquired Sir Thomas, called Tommy, whom we are guessing is Kitty Daddy. Now Sir Thomas, Gracie, Dahlia and Poppy are one big happy (and neutered) family. Poppy is resting after a long day in the garden.

We have so much to be thankful for here at Stoney Hill Farm! We are thankful for our family, dear friends and customers, superb staff, our thriving business, and our special place on Earth that brings us so much joy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fall Is Here!

Here at the farm, the air is fragrant with the scent of Osmanthus and Ginger Lily. My beloved Roses are in bloom again. Cooler temperatures remind us the seasons are changing. Summer is behind us and Fall is here.

Our eggplant, peppers and okra are rushing and racing to produce fruit and we harvest daily. The Red Okra is now almost 12 feet tall and still producing those tasty pods!

The muscadines have done well again this year. Muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia) are native to South Carolina and thrive with little care.

During late summer and early fall, these generous, low maintenance vines are dependably lush with fruit.

Every morning and evening - to and from work - I stop by the arbor to grab a handful of delicious and nutritious muscadines! My favorite muscadine is Southland, a big juicy purple to black variety. These delectable bites of bliss are very high in polyphenolic compounds such as Ellagic Acid and Resveratrol. Muscadines are one of the richest sources of these antioxidant compounds and have been studied extensively for many potential health care benefits.

Our Pineapple Sage plants are lush and just starting to bloom. The Camellia sansanquas are full of buds and will be blooming soon. This time every year I make my Muscadine and Pineapple Sage Jam along with more Hot Pepper Jelly. Each year I say I’m going to make wine with our grapes and who knows this might be the year I’ll do it!

Fall fruits and flowers are a special treat and remind me that life goes on and to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose.

Herbarie Update!
Our mission at The Herbarie is to bring nature and science together to offer the best in innovative, natural source products. We have a strong commitment to quality and ethics, a responsibility to the environment, and strive to offer the best in customer service. We are passionate about what we do and we strive to share this passion with our customers!

We have brought in many new products! Throughout Fall I will be sharing information on these new products, along with ideas, formulas and formulating tips - all here on my blog!

ECOCERT - PlantaMulse™ Liquid - Natural Plant Source, PEG-free, biodegradable complete emulsifier made from the esters of glycerin and fatty acids. PlantaMulse™ Liquid has the ability to form lamellar liquid-crystalline structures in water which provides exceptional stability and superb re-fatting properties and sensory characteristics.

PlantaMulse™Liquid performs beautifully to formulate cold process, sprayable formulations such as body mist or facial mist. PlantaMulse™Liquid will emulsify essential oils, as well as oils and emollients, in sprayable formulations.

For years, customers have been asking for a natural alternative to ethoxylated emulsifiers such as Polysorbate 20 and we are so pleased to be able to offer PlantaMulse™Liquid!

This summer I have enjoyed making and using my Natural Spray Mist with PlantaMulse Liquid:

I’ve used this basic formula to make a light, refreshing and conditioning “bodymilk” mist with our Calendula Extract OS and Rose Geranium Essential Oil. This formula is so easy to make and so very nice to use!

Natural Spray Mist with PlantaMulse™Liquid
Part A:
Plantamulse Liquid - 2.5% = 12.5 grams
Calendula Extract OS - 9.0% = 45 grams
Essential Oil or Fragrance Oil - 1.0% = 5 grams
Optiphen - 0.8% = 4 grams

Part B:
Distilled water - 86.7% = 433.5 grams

Total: 100% = 500 grams

-Combine room temperature ingredients in Part A with mixing – a hand held whisk or stir tool can be used. -Add distilled water in Part B to combined Part A with high shear mixing (stick blender) or homogenize until fully incorporated. -Package in container with spray mister.

PlantaMulse™Liquid is perfect for making elegant, light lotion! Our All Natural Lotion formula is so easy to make and will leave skin feeling exceptionally soft, smooth and conditioned.

PlantaMulse™Liquid All Natural Lotion

Part A
PlantaMulse - 3% = 15 grams
Abyssinian Oil - 2% = 10 grams
Passionfruit Oil - 2% = 10 grams
Calendula Extract OS - 5% = 25 grams
Coviox T-50 - 0.5% = 2.5 grams

Part B
Distilled Water - 70.2% = 351grams
Cucumber Extract - 5% = 25 grams
Pineapple Sage Hydrosol - 10% = 50 grams
Hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC) - 0.5% = 2.5 grams

Part C
FO/EO - 1% = 5 grams
Optiphen - 0.8% = 4 grams

Total: 100% = 500 grams

-Combine room temperature ingredients in Part A and mix well using our hand held, wire whisk and nylon spatula. - Add Part B distilled water and mix well using a high shear mixer such as a stick blender. - Lotion will be medium viscosity and perfect for packaging in a bottle with a dispensing cap.

PlantaMulse™Liquid can also be used to make hot process creams and lotions by utilizing a co-emulsifier and fatty alcohols. When greater viscosity is desired, 1-4% fatty alcohol (ie. behenyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol), and medium HLB co-emulsifier (PlantaEm), or low HLB co-emulsifier (ie. lecithin, glyceryl stearate, sorbitan stearate) can be used. We also recommend water phase viscosity/sensory enhancing ingredients such as XanThix, UltraMaize or HEC.

PlantaMulse™Liquid is compatible with most ingredients and due to its lamellar liquid-crystalline structure is a perfect carrier for active ingredients. PlantaMulse™Liquid is not compatible with cationics.

PlantaMulse™Liquid is supplied in easy to use liquid form.

PlantaMulse™ Liquid exhibits excellent stability at elevated temperatures and good freeze/thaw stability from pH 5.0-9.0.

●PlantaMulse™Liquid eliminates the need for Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80 and other ethoxylated emulsifiers in the formulation of sprayable body mist.

●PlantaMulse™ Liquid is easy to use and provides all natural, PEG-free emulsification for cold-process, sprayable lotion milk, body mist, facial mist and light lotions.

●Sprayable emulsions will be opaque and will not be clear. For stability and to enhance sprayability, homogenization is necessary to create smaller emulsion droplets and lower viscosity. A high speed stick blender can be used instead.

PlantaMulse™Liquid can also be used with co-emulsifiers and fatty alcohols to formulate high viscosity lotions, creams, and other emulsions.

PlantaMulse™ Liquid can also be used in scrubs and body polish to provide rinseability.

PlantaMulse™Liquid is based on vegetable source raw materials and is free from ethylene oxide and nitrosamines. It is biocompatible and biodegradable and offers skin conditioning and a soft feel. PlantaMulse™ is a trademark of The Herbarie.

All natural, Amazonian White Clay for skin cleansing, hydration, and rejuvenation.

After months of steeping in nutrient-rich leaves, fruits, and seeds swept downriver from the Amazon rainforest, this native clay is allowed to dry naturally and become energized by sunshine during the dry season. The clay is then gathered from the banks of the Amazon river and used for skin hydration, cleansing, and rejuvenation. Amazonian White Clay is rich in mineral salts such as calcium, iron, potassium, and sulfur and according to traditional belief, can channel positive energy.

Recommended usage:Face or body pack: 15-50%Skin and body products such as regeneration, cleaning, hydration: 3 to 10%

Honeysuckle Extract WS
for moisturizing and soothing skin.

Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many years, but only recently by western herbalists. Honeysuckle contains antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory constituents and has a multitude of uses. The major constituents in Lonicera japonica are Flavonoids, Triterpenoid Saponins and Tannins.

The Herbarie’s Honeysuckle Extract WS is prepared from the flowers, buds and tender, young leaves of Lonicera japonica. Our unique processing utilizes steam distillation and other pure extraction methods to obtain both volatile and water-soluble plant constituents. Honeysuckle Extract WS contains no solvent residues, no heavy metals or other impurities.

Honeysuckle Extract WS can be used in skin care products such as creams and lotions, serums, toners, antiaging products, baby care products.

Amazonian White Clay Facial Gel Mask

Amazonian White Clay is nutrient-rich and perfect for skin cleansing, hydration, and rejuvenation. Biofunctional Acai Extract WS is rich in polyphenolic antioxidant compounds. Our Pineapple Sage Hydrosol and Honeysuckle Extract along with Aloe Vera Liquid provide moisturization and help to rejuvenate skin.

Ingredient Percentage / Weight / Fluid/Dry Meaure

Part A
Distilled Water - 34.7% = 34.7 grams = 2 tablespoons + 1 tsp.
GuarSilk - 0.3% = 0.3 grams = 1/8 tsp.
UltraMaize 3% = 3 grams = 1 + 1/2 tsp.

Part B
Pineapple Sage Hydrosol - 25% = 25 grams = 2 tablespoons
Aloe Vera Liquid - 10% = 10 grams = 2 tsp.
Honeysuckle Extract - 10% = 10 grams = 2 tsp.
Acai Extract WS - 2% = 2 grams = ½ tsp.
Amazon White Clay - 15% = 15 grams = 2 tablesp.

Total 100% = 100 grams = about 4 ounces

Marula Oil
is obtained from the fruit of the Marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) which is native to Africa. Marula Oil has been used traditionally in South Africa for many years. Our high purity Marula Oil is extracted from the kernels of the fruit using traditional cold-press methods and no solvents.

Marula Oil rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants which are essential components in the maintanence of healthy skin. Marula Oil is absorbed quickly and provides skin with a conditioned, soft feel. It has also been found to significantly improve skin hydration and smoothness.

Marula Oil is also used in hair and scalp conditioners for rinse out and leave in applications.
Due to the high mono-un-saturated content, Marula Oil demonstrates excellent oxidative stability as well.

Characteristics: ● Light, quickly absorbed ● Conditioned skin feel ● Excellent oxidative stability
Applications: ● Skin Care products ● Antiaging products ● Baby Care products ● Hair and Scalp Care products ● Lip balm ● Balms and salves

Emollient Facial Cleanser with Marula Oil

This oil based facial cleanser is perfect for normal to dry skin. It contains Marula oil which is rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants and offers excellent skin softening and conditioning in leave on or rinse off products. Our Olive Oil PEG 7 Esters is water dispersible and provides gentle cleansing without stripping skin of natural oils. Meadowfoam Oil is naturally high in Vitamin E and along with Jojoba Oil and Castor Oil add stability to this formula.

Ingredient Percentage / Weight / Fluid/Dry Measure

Olive Oil PEG 7 Esters - 25% = 25 grams = 2 tablesp.
Marula Oil - 35% = 35 grams = 3 tablesp.
Jojoba Oil - 10% = 10 grams = 1 tablesp.
Meadowfoam Seed Oil - 10% = 10 grams = 1 tablesp.
Castor Oil - 20% = 20 grams = 2 tablesp.

Total: 100% = 100 grams = about 4 ounces

More New Products, Formulas and Tips Coming Soon!


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Summer Vegetable Review

August in the South is hot and muggy and buggy, but we can sometimes catch a glimpse of Fall just around the corner. It seems like yesterday we were sowing seeds for our Spring garden and now most of the crops have been harvested and summer is coming to a close. Since I wrote about our garden earlier in the year I’m sure folks are curious about how it turned out and I wanted to share the results!

Summer Vegetable Review!

We’ve been gardening without the use of pesticides for many, many years, but this was the first year we exclusively used USDA NOP certified or approved seed. We purchased most seed from two different sources – Johnny’s Seed and Seeds for Change – which I will list below. We bought some Aji Colorado Pepper seeds from Horizon Herbs and found some USDA NOP Clemson Spineless Okra seeds at Lowes and some untreated Park’s Whopper Seeds at Cousin’s Feed and Seed.

From Johnny’s Seeds: Rose Tomato, De Cico Broccoli, Yellow Crookneck Squash, Sugar Pearl Sweet Corn, and Rosa Bianca Eggplant.

From Seeds for Change: Oregon Trail Shell Pea, Oregon Giant Snow Pea, Roma 2 Bush Bean, Royal Burgundy Bush Bean, Straight Eight Cucumber, Sweet Marketmore Cucumber, Corno Di Toro Sweet Pepper, Costaluto Genovese Tomato, Arkansas Traveler Tomato, Roma Tomato, Lettuce Leaf Basil, Genovese Sweet Basil, Poppy Joe’s Basil, Lemon Basil, Red Velvet Okra, Crimson Sweet Watermelon, Ambrosia Cantaloupe.

Except for corn, beans and melons, we started all seeds inside under lights and some with a warming mat. Germination was excellent! What miraculous power within even the tiniest seed! It’s wonderful to see those tiny green sprouts in February!

With the exception of Aji Colorado, all the starts were beautiful! Actually we tried sowing Aji Colorado twice and germination was only about 25%. The seeds that germinated didn’t thrive which was disappointing. I’d not tried this variety before and they sounded so delicious. I can only suppose that for some reason these seeds weren’t viable and I keep meaning to call the good folks at Horizon Herbs to let them know.

De Cico Broccoli produced beautiful plants, but the timing was bad. Broccoli needs cool weather and I was hoping the long, cool spring would bring us lots of delicious shoots. Unfortunately this didn’t happen. The plants grew very large, but took too long to send out shoots. So our broccoli harvest was zero this spring. I will try more this fall/winter or perhaps winter/spring.

Fresh yellow crookneck squash are so delicious – especially when sautéed with Vidalia onions and basil! But within the last 6-7 years, it’s become more and more difficult to successfully grow yellow crookneck squash. These squash and other plants in the Cucurbitacae family are often plagued with squash bugs. We use interplanting techniques and rotate crops to try to outsmart the pests and it generally works well. We have many, many butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. This year, I tried to outsmart the bugs by planting the squash very early in out-of-the-way, mixed garden beds and odd spots. We were able to harvest a few times before noticing any signs of squash bugs. But by June, the critters found our plants. Initially, we hand picked all bugs and eggs that we could find, but as the summer progressed, we weren’t as diligent and they slowly but surely took over and the plants wilted and died. Next year we’ll try a different strategy.

Our early Oregon Giant Snow Pea and Oregon Trail Shell Pea were a great success and so delicious! I highly recommend them and wish we would have planted more! These peas are so tender and sweet that they can be eaten fresh out of the garden and I confess that I probably ate as many as I brought inside. These very tender peas can be used fresh in salads or gently cooked.

Beans and peas are very generous plants! As legumes, they have the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil while at the same time provide humans with nutritious and delicious food! Organic farming should always include beans and peas and other legumes!

My husband Earl looks forward to fresh corn every year. We’ve planted Silver Queen and several super sweet varieties over the years. We plant the corn in blocks and every year we have a great harvest! It’s very important to harvest and eat or freeze within a few hours to preserve the fresh, sweet flavor. Earl is the expert for this job and has it down to a science.

This year we planted USDA NOP Sugar Pearl from Johnny’s Seeds which looked like a good choice for early sweet corn. When the corn was about 4-5 inches tall, I fertilized with Hollytone and sowed Southern Peas along the rows. Corn requires huge amounts of nitrogen and I wanted to make sure we had enough in the soil. We weeded, watered, and nurtured the stalks for several weeks. The corn grew lush and green and the peas along with it. The corn was just about ready for harvest when the squirrels found it. In spite of the resin owl, the organic squirrel deterrent, Earl’s rock tossing (he missed every time), those fat squirrels got every single ear of corn. I suspect they were watching us the entire time and just waiting patiently to harvest it themselves. We’ll have to come up with a different strategy for next year. I’m thinking that Sir Thomas, one of our rescue cats who now lives in the garden, may be willing to help.

It’s interesting to note the differences in corn and peas. Corn is a rather selfish and demanding plant while peas are most generous. Corn requires a great amount of nitrogen, water, and lots of human energy to produce only one or two ears per stalk. Peas grow easily and quickly and produce generously while fixing nitrogen in the soil. And nutritionally speaking, peas are by far the best choice. I’ll vote for peas and beans.

The Roma 2 Bush Bean and Royal Burgundy Bush Bean were very tasty and produced well for about three weeks. Again, I only wish we would have planted more. Next year we will be sure to plant these varieties at intervals throughout the summer.

All Southern gardeners grow tomatoes and by February we are already anticipating the July harvest! At Stoney Hill Farm, we plant our tomatoes in a row between two cattle panels adding about 4 inches of compost/mulch. This method works very well for us and every year for years and years we have had lots of tomatoes.

This year we planted our tomatoes in a new spot near the back of the fenced garden. In hindsight, this new spot was probably not ideal for planting early tomatoes and it’s a wonder they survived - I’ll explain why. The micro climate in this spot is slightly cooler and more sheltered than other areas of the garden. This year we mulched heavily with hardwood mulch. Hardwood mulch requires nitrogen to break down. Tomatoes don’t like cool and damp and were being robbed of nitrogen so these conditions were the opposite of what they needed and wanted! In addition, the heirloom tomatoes are not as resistant to the fungus diseases (Fusarium wilt and Verticillium wilt) that can plague tomatoes.

And I’m sorry to say that we lost several plants after the first month or so of planting into the garden. I felt so foolish and should have known better. I’ve grown tomatoes all my life and these were pitiful looking! One by one, the plants were dying and by early July we had not yet had our first tomato. Our neighbors felt sorry for us and gave us some of their Celebrity tomatoes which had thrived. We enjoyed those tomatoes for several weeks.

We had initially fertilized our tomatoes with Hollytone organic and compost at planting time, but the surviving plants were spindly and yellow and clearly still deficient in nitrogen. I felt so sorry for them and decided to try giving them a boost with a nitrogen-rich organic fertilizer for a few weeks. By the end of July, the fertilizer along with the hot temperatures miraculously brought the remaining plants back to life and now they are thriving and producing - finally! The Rose tomato is by far the best! These big tomatoes are beautiful with a rich taste – very delicious! The Rose is perfect for slicing, for drying or for freezing or canning. The Rose tomato’s rich flavor reminds me of the tomatoes my Grandfather used to grow.

The Arkansas Traveler was a disappointment. It hasn’t produced well and the taste is rather bland. We won’t try this one again. The Costaluto Genovese is tasty, but tiny – about the size of cherry tomatoes – which is very unlike the description. The Park’s Whopper is good – not outstanding like the Rose – but good. The Roma’s are good and reliable as always. We had two or three Roma volunteers in other areas of the garden which was a nice surprise.

I’m not canning any tomatoes this year, but I have dried several pounds and stored in the freezer for use throughout the winter.

As mentioned, Southern Peas were interplanted with our corn and tomatoes. Like all legumes, these peas fix nitrogen in the soil and make a good companion crop. This year we planted Pink-eye Purple Hull and they are delicious. These peas are perfect for a children’s garden because they are easy to handle with close to 100% germination and fast growth. The pods look like string beans hanging from the vine and can be harvested when the pods turn purple. We shell the peas for eating fresh and can easily be frozen for eating throughout the winter months. Purple hull peas and rice with okra and tomatoes is one of my favorite meals! Absolutely delicious and so good for you!

And now for the late summer, heat loving plants! Okra, peppers, eggplant and melons!

I love Okra! Okra is in the same family as hibiscus and produces beautiful big flowers. The Red Velvet variety is quite ornamental and I plant it in all the garden beds amongst the other veggies and flowers. Okra loves hot weather and produces best in late summer. The pods grow quickly and must be cut every day. As soon as I harvest the pods, they are cut into pieces, placed in freezer bags and frozen.

Eggplant and peppers are happiest in hot weather and are now producing well. Eggplant and peppers sautéed with Vidalia onions, fresh thyme and basil in olive oil makes a great topping for homemade pizza – yummy!

Yesterday I made some Hot Pepper Jelly. Hot Pepper Jelly is a favorite and we like it with cream cheese on crackers.

All the basil is thriving and I use it in everything. I’m still making pesto, but I am using pecans instead of pine nuts. I’ll not buy any more pine nuts because of the problems associated with them. I actually prefer using the pecans and will experiment with other nuts too.

These are our wonderful Pinkeye Purple Hull Peas!

What’s better tasting on a hot summer afternoon than watermelon and cantaloupe? The Crimson Sweet and Ambrosia both have done well this year and we hope to enjoy them into the Fall.

Last week we picked a bushel or two of apples and are planning for more fruit trees to be planted this Fall. We have lots of blueberry bushes, thornless blackberry, and muscadine grape vines. We bought four Asian Persimmons and three PawPaws in pots last year and will be ordering Fig, Asian Pear, Apple, Jujube and perhaps Hardy Kiwi upon the recommendation of my friend Patti. We plan to plant these in October. We like growing disease resistant, tough fruit trees since we don’t have time to pamper them and don’t spray. We’ve never sprayed or fertilized our apple tree and it’s produced well for over 10 years.

Our muscadines are almost ready for harvest. Muscadines are tasty and good to eat right off the vine. On my way back and forth to the office/warehouse, I always stop by for a quick snack!

I like to make Muscadine Pineapple Sage Jam, apple juice and grape juice and hopefully will also have time to make wine this year.

The days are still hot, but noticeably shorter. Every plant is rushing to flower and send forth seed. The zinnias have peaked and are beginning to decline, but the butterflies and bees and hummingbirds and I are still enjoying them.

This week we will be sowing our Fall garden. We’ll sow turnips and mustard greens, chard and collards. I’ve not had much luck with carrots and beets, but I’m going to try them again. In September, we’ll sow Crimson Clover as our winter cover crop in areas that aren’t planted with Fall crops. Since it’s too hot here to grow lettuce outside, I will grow some Mesclun mix inside under lights. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how everything turns out!
Next Blog: New Products! The Herbarie's Natural Source Cosmetic Ingredients - Plantamulse Liquid, Phytocide Aspen Bark Extract, Curcuma Xanthorrhiza, Amazonian White Clay, Usnea Lichen, Chia Seed CO2 Extract, Gromwell Root CO2 Extract, Sage Antioxidant CO2 Extract and Avenalipid!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

One Sunday in July

Today is gorgeous! If only every South Carolina summer day could be in the 80’s instead of the 90’s! I cannot believe it’s already mid-July - where did the past six months go? It’s Sunday and I’m spending some time on the back porch of the old cottage on our property. Our rescue kitties – Gracie (mother), Dahlia, and Poppy (daughters) – have all been spayed and are now allowed outside during the day. They are so adorable and very cute as they play “chase the shadows and anything that moves”.

The wind chime on this porch is singing slightly out of tune because of the dirt or mud "dobbers" that have taken up residence, but it’s still pleasant sounding as it sings with the gentle breeze.

As many of you know, we were “on break” during the week of July 6-10. During my break, I had time to finish 6 months of filing that had piled up, a good bit of manufacturing, a good bit of warehouse reorganizing, some website editing, some office cleaning, a little reading, a little R&R, and other fun and good stuff. The “other fun and good stuff” included making some Blackberry Jam and Blueberry Jam! We are now getting quart after quart of blueberries and blackberries every day. I eat blueberries on my Muesli cereal in the morning. I snack on blueberries and blackberries during the day. Every afternoon I look forward to my refreshing Blueberry Smoothie! I am literally loaded with antioxidants and feel very healthy these days!!

I’ve mentioned this recipe before, but will talk about it again because it's so good! I also wanted to remind folks that smoothies can be made with fresh or frozen berries! I make my Blueberry Smoothie with about a cup of either fresh or frozen blueberries, ½ to one whole banana, about ½ cup vanilla yogurt and ice. I put everything in a blender with some exquisite Dances With Bees honey! Dances With Bees is located in Georgia and is the best honey I’ve ever tasted! My husband (Earl), daughter (Kim), and I love this honey and eat it on our cereal and just about everything! So delicious!

Anyway, back to the Blueberry Jam. I wanted to report that the Blueberry Jam was a bit of an experiment. I made this batch from frozen blueberries and wondered if it would be as tasty as with fresh – it was! So now I will be freezing the berries to make jam (and those yummy smoothies) this winter when I have more time - or at least that's the plan for now.

My basil is lush and healthy and ready for harvesting. Later today I will be making the first batch of Basil pesto this season. Pesto is so tasty on pasta or in soups or almost anything. I started several Basil varieties from Organic Certified seed this year – Sweet Genovese, Poppy Joe, Lettuce Leaf and Lemon. All but the lemon have done so well! The lemon basil thrived, but went to seed so quickly. No amount of pinching would delay it so I just let it flower and made the bees happy!

All spring, I’ve been pinching bits of the basil for cooking with vegetables or to use fresh on sandwiches or in salads. I made a delicious sandwich with one of the big Lettuce Leaf Basil’s leaves and avocado and cheese – very tasty! Basil is probably one of my most favorite kitchen herbs. It’s best used fresh and cooked gently. I’ll add it during the last five minutes of cooking. Unlike some herbs, Basil doesn’t dry well. To me, it’s almost tasteless when dried. I like to mince fresh basil and mix with olive oil into a paste and freeze. I usually put the “paste” into a small quart size freezer bag, flatten and freeze. This paste is similar to pesto without the cheese, garlic and pine nuts. Once frozen, the basil/olive oil can be broken off as needed for cooking and the fresh taste of basil can be enjoyed all winter! The pesto that I make today will go into ice cube trays to be frozen. Once frozen, the cubes will be put into a freezer bag for later use.

Later this week we will be distilling our Basil Hydrosol. Basil Hydrosol makes a lovely, aromatic addition to formulas for hair or skin care. It's particularly useful for acne or problem skin. I'll share some more information and new formulas soon!

We are currently preserving our hydrosols with Cosmocil CQ. We have conducted three years of testing with our hydrosols that are preserved with Cosmocil CQ and the efficacy is outstanding. Cosmocil CQ is a very gentle preservative and is safe to use around mucous membranes such as the eye area. While we are extremely pleased with Cosmocil CQ, we are looking for other preservative options that will work as well and that will allow us to certify our Hydrosols and Botanical Extracts with the USDA NOP program. Many people do not realize that it is very, very difficult to certify cosmetic products as organic with the USDA NOP – their requirements are very explicit and stringent. The product must contain USDA NOP certified ingredients.
If the product contains ingredients that are not USDA NOP certified, those ingredients MUST be included in the USDA NOP “allowed” listing. For details, please refer to the USDA NOP Standards which can be found on their website.

Fortunately, we have identified one new natural preservative that may make it possible for us to offer USDA NOP certified botanical extracts and hydrosols. Since we are in the experimental stages, I won’t report any details at this time. But hopefully by next year, we will have good news to report regarding the USDA NOP and these experiments. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted!

We have also been doing quite a bit of experimenting with the new natural preservative from Active Microsystems – Leucidal Liquid. The manufacturer has challenge test data (as noted on our website), but as we all know, each and every formulation is different and must be tested to determine efficacy. I am thrilled to report that our preliminary microbial testing on one cream formula that includes Leucidal Liquid is excellent! The formula we used is identical to the Luscious Lavender Natramulsion formula that can be found in our website Formulary. I used 2% Leucidal Liquid in the formula with 1% Coviox T50 – I reworked the water percentage so the formula would balance. The manufacture date on this batch is 050809. The first APC/yeast/mold was conducted on June 19 after normal usage. The results were: yeast/mold less than 10 cfu/gram and bacteria less than 1 cfu/gram - excellent! I'll be sending samples to the lab over the next 6 months to a year and will report on the results.

We are also testing Leucidal Liquid as part of a preservative system in our Botanical Extracts and Complexes. The results are not yet in, but I am very optimistic. I'll be sure to let everyone know how the testing turns out.

I am very pleased with Leucidal Liquid and and feel very encouraged with the results so far!

Well, I’ve moved from the back porch of the cottage to the front porch of The Herbarie. The wind chimes here sing in key. It’s so peaceful and I love looking at my happy Zinnias, birds, butterflies and bees, but I just realized that time is flying and it’s already afternoon and I’ve not yet made Pesto! I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer – I’ll be back in touch soon!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice

The magical Summer Solstice is here and dawn comes early. The woodland creatures will dance and sing all night! This morning and every morning and evening in spring and summer, the Rufous sided Towhee calls out “how are you, how are you?” or sometimes “who me, who me?”. The Rufous sided Towhee lives in our area all year and we see them at the seed feeders in winter. They are ground feeders and can be recognized by their distinctive backward scratching motion when looking for insects and seeds that have dropped to the ground. During winter we don’t hear their call often and I look forward to it every spring.

The hummers are back! I just love those little birds! We have several sugar water feeders around the property as well as hundreds of flowers to entice these magical creatures. I enjoy their chitter-twitter-chat when I am in the garden. Our hummers have always enjoyed perching on branches and the wire fence in our garden – waiting to zoom in every now and again to take a sip from the many flowers or feeders. My daughter, Kim, gave me the best hummingbird feeder in the world. It’s copper and glass and can be easily disassembled for cleaning. She bought it from Drs. Foster and Smith. Good hummingbird feeders are difficult to find and I ended up buying four more.

We recently noticed a new bird running across one of the paths and garden beds. The bird had a distinctive white and black ringed neck and long spindly legs that made it easy to identify as a Killdeer. This very interesting bird is in the gull or shorebird family and seems oddly out of place here in the Piedmont of SC – but in fact, is a permanent resident for this area. Our book tells us they eat grubs and insects so we want to encourage them to stay here. Since they build their nests in hollow depressions in the ground we will keep careful watch so they won’t be disturbed.

Walking to the office and warehouse I’ll stop by the blueberry bushes and grab a handful to take with me. Blueberries are full of antioxidants and so tasty! Blueberries freeze well and we can enjoy them all year. Blueberry smoothies are a favorite treat on a hot summer afternoon! I toss a handful or two of blueberries into the blender with some vanilla yogurt, half a banana, some honey or sugar, a few ice cubes, and blend. Soooo delicious and refreshing!

My Zinnias are blooming! Hundreds of Zinnias in bright and beautiful colors are a treat for butterflies, bees and me. These are 11th generation Zinnias that began as a few tiny Cut and Come Again Zinnia seeds that reseed every year in our many garden beds. Each year they send out their seeds to come up the following spring. Zinnias are such happy flowers and I love to share them with family and friends.

I fell in love with Queen Anne’s Lace when I was a young girl and determined that I would have it in my own garden some day. Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) grows wild in meadows and along roadsides and is considered a weed by most people. This graceful and delicate flower is in the same family as parsley and carrots and can claim medicinal usage as well as beauty.

On my way to the office and warehouse I cut a bouquet of Zinnias and Queen Anne’s Lace to keep us company as we work inside all day.

The Herbarie

June has been very busy at The Herbarie! We’ve been working almost non-stop to make sure shelves are stocked and orders are shipped. We’ve also been busy distilling and manufacturing our botanical products. We are offering a new botanical extract – Honeysuckle Extract WS – which contains beneficial water soluble and volatile components of Lonicera japonica.

Honeysuckle Extract WS contains soothing and anti-inflammatory constituents and can be used in skin care products such as toners, body mist, creams and lotions.

*I’ll share some simple recipes for soothing and hydrating facial or body mist:

Chamomile Rose with Honeysuckle Extract WS

¼ cup Honeysuckle Extract WS
1 cup Chamomile Hydrosol
1 cup Rose Hydrosol

Combine ingredients and package in clean container with spray mister

Honeysuckle Rose and Lavender Facial Mist

1/4 cup Honeysuckle Extract WS
1 cup Rose Hydrosol
1 cup Lavender Hydrosol

Combine ingredients and package in clean container with spray mister.

Here’s another fun to make recipe:

Honeysuckle, Rose and Lavender Scented Body Mist:

¼ cup Honeysuckle Extract WS
1 cup Rose Hydrosol
1 cup Lavender Hydrosol
¼ teaspoon AquaEm
¼ teaspoon Lavender Essential Oil

- Combine AquaEm and Lavender Essential Oil in a clean container that will hold at least 3 cups and gently mix. Our tri-pour beakers work very well for this purpose.
-Add the remainder of the ingredients with mixing and package in a container with spray mister.

*Our hydrosols are preserved with Cosmocil CQ and Honeysuckle Extract WS is preserved with potassium sorbate and citric acid. If these recipes are followed precisely, no additional preservative is necessary.


New! SMO Taurate

We have recently brought in a fabulous new surfactant for shampoo and body wash – SMO Taurate! I am very discriminating when it comes to choosing surfactants. They must be gentle, perform exceptionally well, be vegetable derived, AND be environmentally friendly. SMO Taurate fits this description and then some. SMO Taurate is in the same family as SMC Taurate. SMC Taurate is derived from coconut oil and SMO Taurate is derived from olive oil. SMO Taurate is supplied as a liquid and has superb functionality in a cold mix formula or formulas that are heat processed. In most formulas, SMO Taurate will build enough viscosity so that no thickener is necessary – this makes formulating much easier! SMO Taurate can be used as the primary and only surfactant or it can be used with other surfactants.

I particularly enjoy combining SMO Taurate with Jordapon ACI 30 G for a very mild and substantive shampoo for color treated or dry hair. This seems to be a perfect marriage in terms of mildness and performance and after rinse out will leave hair silky and soft and manageable. The ingredient possibilities are endless, but many of our customers ask for “as simple as possible” so I wanted to share a very simple, yet very elegant formula. I’ve calculated a 200 gram batch with estimated fluid/volume measurements for those who may not have a scale:

Silky Soft Shampoo with SMO Taurate and Jordapon ACI 30G

20% SMO Taurate = 40 grams = approx. 3 tablespoons
20% Jordapon ACI 30 G = 40 grams = approx. 3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
58.5% Distilled Water = 117 grams = approx. ½ cup + 1 tablespoon
0.8% Optiphen ND = 1.6 grams = ¼ teaspoon
0.25% Peppermint Essential Oil = 0.5 gram = approx. 1/8 teaspoon
0.25% Rosemary Essential Oil = 0.5 gram = approx. 1/8 teaspoon
0.2% Citric Acid = 0.4 grams = approx. 1/16 teaspoon

-Using a container that will hold at least 8 ounces, weigh (or measure) water. Weigh (or measure) Jordapon ACI 30 G, adding to container with water. Gently blend. I typically use our wire whisk for blending.
-In a separate container, combine SMO Taurate, Optiphen ND, Peppermint and Rosemary EO with gentle mixing. I like to use our 100ml porcelain dish and our nylon spatula for mixing.
-Add the above mixture to the Jordapon ACI 30G/water with gentle blending.
-Add the citric acid to the shampoo with gentle blending until shampoo thickens. –Package in a container with a pump or dispensing cap.

This shampoo formula will have a finished pH of 5.3-5.5 and is suitable for shower gel as well as shampoo.

Some other ideas include:
-even more conditioning shampoo, add 0.2%-0.5% GuarSilk
-thicker shampoo, add 1%-3% Glucamate LT
-more billowy and longer lasting bubbles, incorporate Cocoamidopropyl Betaine into the formula.
-include Botanical Complex HC or HCA
-include Solu-Silk SF or Hydrolyzed Wheat or Oat or Soy Protein
-other essential oils that seem to work well in surfactant systems are geranium, lavender, myrtle, lemongrass.

Happy Summer!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Roses, Melissa, Sally and Me

The Roses Are Blooming!

The Roses are blooming! I’ve enjoyed this misty morning outside in the garden harvesting the many blossoms. The damasks, bourbons, English Roses and other antique roses are the first to bloom. Constance Spry and Sarah Van Fleet have been blooming their hearts out for a week or more. Belinda, our huge hybrid musk in the picture on the left is almost in full bloom. The true teas are just starting to bloom and will continue through the summer until Fall.
Every Spring my roses amaze me with their beauty and generosity.

I am distilling our second batch of rose blossoms today and the fragrance is heavenly! We will be busy distilling hundreds of pounds of roses over the next few months. Now, as I sit here at my computer, I can look out my office window to the gardens where the roses live while I enjoy the lovely rose fragrance and Gary Stadler’s lovely music! Gary Stadler is the wonderful man who designed and created my distillation equipment and made it possible to obtain our exquisite hydrosols. I always listen to Gary’s music when distilling our hydrosols.

This morning I overslept and didn’t wake up until 6:00am. But so far this morning, I’ve answered emails, harvested and distilled roses – stopped a few minutes to smell them – fed the animals, pulled a few weeds, worked with the seedlings – 4 varieties of basil, two varieties of cucumbers, two varieties of okra – checked on the garden veggies – answered a couple of business calls and it’s now 9:00am. By 10:00 am I need to finish with the gardening so Sally and I can take a walk and I can shower and be in the warehouse by 11:00am to finish processing orders I promised would go out today.

I'll write more later, but for now will share some pictures of my beloved roses, lemon balm, Sally and me!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy Spring!

My typical day begins around 4:30 or 5:00 each morning – writing, returning emails, catching up on the news and weather reports, contemplating the day ahead. Around 6:00 or 6:30, while most of the year it’s still dark outside, Sally and I walk to The Herbarie office across the field. This past month – March 10 – I heard the first whippoorwill call as we stepped outside in the early morning!

Both February and March brought challenging and exciting changes for The Herbarie and I found myself working very long days, every day of the week.

We received our USDA NOP Organic Certification as Handler/Processor! We are still working on our Farm certification which will allow us to claim our farm grown products as Organic Certified. At The Herbarie, we’ve created a new product category to include our USDA NOP Organic Certified products and we plan to add more products to this list.

After 10 years of successful business, The Herbarie website traffic and sales demanded that we move to a dedicated server. Now that we’ve made the change, the website is quite snappy and pages load very quickly!

During March, which was busier than usual, we were also short staffed and I spent much of my time in the warehouse. The timing could have been better, but the outcome was positive. This allowed me the opportunity to review our operating procedures and make improvements.

Also, on March 10, when the moon was full, Gracie had her kittens. Gracie is a rescue cat that found us several months ago. She found a warm soft spot in the barn for nesting. This week we moved the family to a secure and safe spot inside until everyone is ready for a trip to the vet for neutering.

The plants we started from seeds in February are all ready for planting in the garden. We began to harden off the plants a week or so ago to avoid shock when they make the move to the outside. The broccoli and yellow squash were planted April 12. The tomatoes are scheduled for planting April 18. The peppers and eggplant will have to wait a couple more weeks, along with the Basil and Cucumbers and Melons.

In anticipation of the return of the hummingbirds, the sugar water feeder in the Secret Garden has been up since the first of April. We saw the first hummers last week! Right now, there are a few blooms in the gardens to entice the hummers and butterflies – Carolina Jessamine, Tulips, Pansies, Collards, Cabbage and my elegant Constance Spry Rose - but soon everything will be blooming and hummers and butterflies will be everywhere!

Spring is an exciting time of year! Hope and new growth, so many shades of green, the first butterfly, the first hummer, the birds nesting, the flowers blooming!

The Lemon Balm (Melissa) is green and lush and almost ready for the first distillation of the season. Lemon Balm has a fresh green-lemony scent and I enjoy the aromatherapy while working in the garden. This wonderful plant is useful in so many ways. I’ve been making Lemon Balm tea for years and consider it a spring tonic. One tea that I make is called Garden Fairy Tea and I’ll share the recipe here:

Garden Fairy Tea

This magical and refreshing tea is made with our own farm-grown herbs and flowers and is enchanting for young and old alike. Children enjoy watching the magic color change and everyone finds it refreshing. We offer this nourishing and refreshing tea to our friends and family as a summertime treat.

1 cup Fresh Lemon Balm Leaves
1 teaspoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dry Rosemary Leaves
1 teaspoon fresh or ½ teaspoon dry Spearmint or Peppermint Leaves
1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dry Garden Sage or White Sage
2 fresh Red or Dark Pink Rose whole Flowers OR two tablespoons dry rose petals
Juice from 1 fresh lemon
Sugar or honey to taste

All herbs and flowers must be fresh and harvested from an area that is free from pesticides. Rinse fresh herbs and flowers as needed in cool water. Combine all herbs and flowers together in a stainless steel or other non-reactive, heat resistant pot or container and fill with enough water to cover plant material. Cover and bring just to boiling point. Remove from heat and steep for 20-30 minutes. Strain tea from solids into a warmed, glass container – a Mason jar works beautifully. Add sugar or honey to taste, stirring until dissolved. At this point, make certain your audience is present! Add lemon juice to tea and the magic begins – the brownish color is transformed into a lovely pink! Serve in tall, ice-filled glasses with a sprig of fresh mint or lemon balm.

Herbarie Hydrosols!

Our Hydrosols are distilled from our own botanicals here at Stoney Hill Farm. These Hydrosols are for external use only and are preserved for the safety of our customers. Lemon Balm (Melissa) Hydrosol has a lovely green-lemony scent and can be used directly on skin as a gentle astringent and toner or it can be used as part of the water phase for creams and lotions. Our Rose Hydrosol is distilled from our own antique Roses and has a light rosy fragrance. Here’s a simple toner formula that utilizes both our Lemon Balm (Melissa) Hydrosol and our Rose Hydrosol:

Spring Morning Facial Toner

This basic hydrating toner is designed to soothe, nourish and refresh skin. SymGlucan is an outstanding humectant and skin softener and has demonstrated superior moisture retention. Rose Hydrosol and Melissa Hydrosol offer gentle astringency and toning. This formula can be used as a daily finishing toner for oily or acne prone skin or as an intermediate hydrating toner to be followed by a cream or lotion.

The simple formula below is calculated to make a 200 gram (7 ounce) batch. We’ve also provided the approximate measurements for those who do not have a scale.

Ingredient Percentage/Weight/Measurements

Rose Hydrosol 50% = 100 grams =1/2 cup
Melissa Hydrosol 44.5% = 89 grams = 1/2 cup
SymGlucan 5.0% = 10 grams = 2 teaspoons
Cosmocil CQ 0.5% = 1 gram = 3/8 teaspoon

Total: 100% = 200 grams = approx. 7 oz.

Combine ingredients and package in container with a dispensing top.

Soon all the Roses will be blooming - Happy Spring!!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lessons From The Garden

One of my favorite books from childhood is still one of my favorites as an adult – The Story of the Root Children originally written by Sibylle von Olfers. This story is about the wonderful, magical transformation of Winter into Spring! This story has been retold several times, but my favorite version is by Helen Dean Fish and is called When the Root Children Wake Up. My mother read it to me when I was 4 or 5 years old and every year, about this time, I think of the story which begins like this:

“All winter long the trees are bare, the wind is cold and the fields are empty. But very early in the Spring the Sun begins to grow warmer, the air softer and the sky bluer. And the boys and girls grow happier though they cannot tell just why. Down underground something is happening. Something secret and wonderful. The root children who have been sleeping soundly all winter are awakened by the Earth Mother. She comes with her candle and her little firefly helpers to tell them they must be up and at work for it will soon be Spring. They are very sleepy at first but soon begin to stretch and open their eyes and be glad that it is time to wake. Wide awake at last, in their root house, the root children work busily on their new Spring dresses. Each chooses the color she loves best – violet, yellow, blue, white, orange or red – and with needle, thread and thimble, sews happily till her work is done.”

I’ll admit that even as an adult this story is exciting for me and I can still feel the wonderful anticipation of Spring and envision it through a child’s eyes.

The seeds that were sown in flats under lights a few weeks ago have germinated! The tomatoes were first, followed by the peppers and eggplant and broccoli. The USDA NOP Organic Certification requires that we use Organic Certified Seeds which has led us to try many new varieties this year! Along with the usual Roma and Park’s Whopper tomatoes, we’re experimenting with two new heirloom varieties this year – Arkansas Traveler and Costaluto Genovese. I bought them based on the delicious sounding descriptions, but later someone mentioned problems with these two varieties. But we’ll try them this year and hope for the best. The Rose tomato is another heirloom variety that proved to be delicious when we grew it some years back so we are growing it again this year.

We are growing two new varieties of peppers – Aji Colorado and Corno Di Toro. The Aji Colorado was purchased from Horizon Herbs. Horizon Herbs is one of the absolute best seed and plant sources available. They describe the Aji Colorado as a "fast-growing, flat-topped bush 24-30 inches tall, loaded with ornamental flowers giving way to red, elongated lantern fruits. These sweet, thin-walled fruits make incomparable chile powder.” A few months ago, a customer/friend from New Mexico gave me some of the most delicious chili powder I’ve ever tasted. I’ve been using it on everything I can think of – from my lentil soup to sprinkled on popcorn. I am now inspired to grow peppers for making chili powder! I am also planning to use these moderately hot peppers in my Hot Pepper Jelly that I make every year. Hot Pepper Jelly is great with cream cheese on crackers or on biscuits or as a condiment with meat or vegetables – yummy!

Good news!! Our application for USDA NOP Organic Certification as Handler/Processor has been approved! We are excited about this achievement and will continue with our application for Farm certification as well.

One of our small gardens – I call it my secret garden - is located just outside my office window. The garden is my special and private place – not really secret, but more or less protected from the foraging of the deer by a lattice fence. As I sit at my computer much of the day, I can watch as summer changes to fall, fall fades into winter, and winter becomes spring. In this garden we have several bird feeders and two bird houses and dozens of birds. Spring through Fall, this cottage-type garden is filled to overflowing with roses, herbs, daylilies – too many plants I’m told. But, this jumble of plants makes a great habitat for the birds, rabbits, turtles, frogs, and other critters that I welcome into my space. This time of year – late winter – the birds and other wildlife struggle to find food to eat. We fill the birdfeeders with seeds several times a week to make sure they will be fed. At any given time, we can see 25 to 30 cardinals in and around the garden and perched in the bare branches, they look like beautiful red ornaments! This huge family of Cardinals must have their own territorial rules because they certainly seem to live in harmony. Along with the cardinals are dozens of goldfinch. Through the winter these little birds are a dull greenish brown. As the days grow longer and spring and mating season approach, the little birds become brighter and brighter until they are a brilliant yellow by springtime! We also welcome the wrens, house finch, chickadee, sparrow, tufted titmouse, rufus-sided towhee and others.

On one of the warm days this week, I noticed the behavior and calls had changed. When I took a closer look, I saw the cardinals staking out territory and searching for nesting spots – they seemed to be on a mission! I was surprised and thrilled to see two bluebirds – male and female – come into the secret garden. The bluebirds don’t come to the seed feeder, but prefer to forage inside the big garden and out in the fields for insects so this was a rare and special treat. We have several bluebird houses – two in the fields and one in the secret garden – and this pair seemed to be very interested in the house by our secret garden. The male perched on top while the female inspected the inside. After a few minutes, they flew over to the smaller wren house to inspect, but after a quick look they flew back to the bluebird house. They continued to inspect the bluebird house for quite a long time. I am hoping it met with final approval as their spring nesting spot!

We’ve pruned our grapes and most of the roses, but still have some more work to do. Even though I know pruning is necessary, it’s never been my strength since I fear hurting the plant. How do I know precisely where to prune or just how much to prune? What if I prune too much or not enough? Am I being brutal or kind to the plant when I prune it back severely? These thoughts lead to philosophical thoughts about life in general. I recognize the fact that I have a tendency NOT to prune at all. I have a tendency to plant as much as possible – even plants that are often called weeds. I love Queen Anne’s Lace and Plantain and Chickweed and encourage them to grow. How do I decide which plant lives and which plant dies? To me, it’s an important and difficult decision. So most of my gardens are crowded and by Summer some of the plants struggle to survive. Maybe my lesson is to learn when and how to prune - when and how to weed. Because I know that even though it goes against my nature to prune the roses and pull up the plantain, it’s necessary for the overall good of the garden.

I’ll quote a passage from one of my books about roses, 100 English Roses for the American Garden by Clair G. Martin: “There are some basic guidelines for how, and how much, to prune. Most English Roses naturally have a V-shaped, or open pattern. Opening the center of these cultivars will not require as much pruning as some of the larger English Roses, which produce many basal canes. Once a rose has been growing for three years or so, it is a good idea to renew the shrub by removing some of the oldest canes. A cane will continue to grow and flower for a number of years, but after three years, its best flower production will be over. So for each new cane produced by a mature shrub, you can remove one old cane. This helps keep the shrub to a controllable size and maximizes flower production by encouraging the production of new flowering canes. Also, we should remember that pruning activates the growth cycle built into the roses. After the shrub is pruned, chemical processes are initiated that cause the dormant cycle to produce tender new growth. This tender new growth can be adversely affected by a sudden freeze to the point of being killed, so timing is important.” The author goes on to say: “If a cane or branch is dead, it’s dead-it won’t ever come back. Pruning out dead growth simply helps tidy up the plants and creates room for new, healthy growth. Dead or diseased wood is just a potential source of infestation, and removing it will help suppress the spread of the problems.”

These are words of wisdom that can be utilized in the garden as well as other areas of our lives. Many of us stay too busy with too many things. Sometimes it’s necessary to select the most important and weed out the rest. Sometimes we need to prune out the old wood to promote new growth. We are weeding and pruning at the Herbarie right now! After almost 10 years of successful business, we are much like the mature shrub. It’s time for us to remove some old canes, open up the center, to make way for new growth! This means that we are discontinuing some of our products to maximize our overall production and growth. We currently have nearly 500 products and a number of them are on sale for closeout as we move to a new phase in our business. It’s exciting to plan for new growth!

Today, is a gorgeous almost Spring day and I can't wait to get outside and enjoy it! I will be planting sugar peas as well as weeding and pruning. As Winter fades and prepares for Spring, I’m ready!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New for 2009!

The second half of January proved to be very busy and has continued into February. There’s been little time to sit beside the fire unless the laptop is with me. Working in the gardens, processing botanical products, and business in the warehouse and on the phone has made the past few weeks a 24/7 situation.

The good news is that most of our gardens are mulched and weeded and ready for planting this Spring! This weekend we will be pruning roses, grapes and other dormant shrubs and trees. We’ve made our vegetable garden seed selections and will be ordering this week. My favorite seed suppliers are Johnny’s Seeds, Horizon Herbs, and Seeds of Change. This year we are using only NOP Organic Certified seeds so it’s a bit of a challenge to choose the varieties that we think and hope will do well in our area. It will be fun to experiment though.

The Herbarie staff has been working very hard to process orders, keep shelves stocked, and keep everything running smoothly in the warehouse. This January/February it’s out with the old and in with the new! We’ve needed to make room for our new products and have drastically reduced some of our closeout items. We also changed our pricing structure on many of our long-time customer favorites:

In spite of the current poor economy, most customers report their businesses are doing well. We do hear reports of some companies that are struggling. We are hoping the new pricing structure will enable our customers to be more competitive in the marketplace. Rich creams and lotions, luscious shampoo and shower gel and anti-aging products are affordable luxuries. In difficult times, a bit of pampering can help us feel better.

We are excited to offer many new products. All can be found at this link:

Some I’ll list here:

Jordapon ACI 30 G – (Ammonium Cocoyl Isethionate) offers the same luscious lather and mildness as SCI Flake – only in an easy to use liquid!

Glucamate LT – easy to use, vegetable sourced thickener for shampoo and shower gel offers superior compatibility and thickening characteristics.

Colhibin – Inhibits collagen degrading enzymes. This plant derived peptide fraction protects Collagen from the harmful effects of Collagenases (MMPs). Colhibin has been clinically proven to help to reduce skin roughness and to delay wrinkle formation.
As skin ages, the synthesis of collagen decreases. In addition, enzymes known as Collagenases, promote the degradation of collagen. This degradation is sometimes referred to as MMP activity. MMP activity leaves skin rough and wrinkles are formed. Colhibin has strong MMP (Collagenases) inhibition properties that protect the collagen fibers from degradation. Colhibin is recommeded for antiaging products, sun care products, and other personal care products.

Matrix Peptide – Restore and maintain skin's youthful appearance!

Our skin matrix is made up of 75% collagen. Collagen is an integral structural component of this matrix and is responsible for providing skin with the necessary strength and support for the surrounding cells.
Collagen synthesis occurs naturally throughout our lives as our skin continuously repairs damaged tissue or builds new tissue. As we age, collagen synthesis decreases and skin will degrade. Therefore, preventing the loss of collagen and promoting the synthesis of collagen are both integral to maintaining youthful, healthy skin. Matrix Peptide is pure (>99.7%) G-P-Hyp tripeptide that is produced without the use of animal derived products or GMOs and demonstrates excellent bioavailability. In-vitro experiments have demonstrated Matrix Peptide will significantly increase the synthesis of Collagen I by binding to fibroblast receptors to initiate collagen production, making Matrix Peptide suitable for a variety of skin care applications to help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Matrix Peptide is recommended for antiaging creams, lotions, serums, toners, and other personal care products. Matrix Peptide has similar functionality when compared to Matrixyl 3000 and can be used interchangeably.

Syn®-Coll –Renew Skin's Youthful Appearance!
Collagen represents the main component of the ECM (Extra Cellular Matrix) of the dermal connective tissue and is responsible for providing skin with the necessary strength and support for the surrounding cells.

Collagen synthesis occurs naturally throughout our lives as our skin continuously repairs damaged tissue or builds new tissue. As we age, collagen synthesis decreases and skin will degrade. Syn®-Coll has the ability to bind with and activate key elements that promote the synthesis of collagen. Promoting the synthesis of collagen is important for maintaining youthful, healthy skin.

Syn®-Coll is a patented, innovative approach that is based on Pentapharm's many years of experience in synthesizing peptides for the pharmaceutical industry. This bioactive ingredient has been clinically proven to be safe and effective. In both In vitro and In-vivo experiments, Syn®-Coll has demonstrated significant anti-wrinkle effects.
Syn®-Coll is recommended for use in lotions, creams, serums, toners, and other antiaging products.

VitaC Stable (AAP) – a new, stable, water-soluble, vitamin C derivative known as Aminopropyl Ascorbyl Phosphate (AAP).

Numerous studies have documented the effectiveness of l-ascorbic acid as both an antioxidant and anti-aging ingredient for skin care. Unfortunately l-ascorbic acid is not stable and will oxidize very quickly – within hours - once put into solution. The oxidation of l-Ascorbic Acid can actually be detrimental to skin health. This makes l-ascorbic acid a poor choice for most skin care products.

When compared to l-ascorbic acid and other vitamin C derivatives, VitaC Stable (AAP) demonstrated superior benefits for skin care. VitaC Stable (AAP) serves as an excellent antioxidant, helps to promote the biosynthesis of collagen, and also helps to lighten/brighten skin by inhibiting the production of melanin which causes hyperpigmentation or age spots.

Studies have demonstrated a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles and hyperpigmentation after as little as two months. VitaC Stable (AAP) is non-irritating and non-toxic when used as directed (0.1% - 1.0%). VitaC Stable (AAP) is an off-white powder that is easily soluble in water and very stable over time. This superior stability along with superb functionality, makes VitaC Stable (AAP) one of the most important anti-aging active ingredients.

Marula Oil – Lovely, easily absorbed oil with a conditioned feel! The Marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) is native to Africa and is highly valued for its fruit. Marula Oil has been used traditionally in South Africa for many years. Our high purity Marula Oil is extracted from the kernels of the fruit using traditional cold-press methods and no solvents.
Marula oil is rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants which are essential components in the maintanence of healthy skin. Marula Oil is absorbed quickly and provides skin with a conditioned, soft feel. It has also been found to significantly improve skin hydration and smoothness.

Marula Oil is also used in hair and scalp conditioners for rinse out and leave in applications.
Due to the high mono-un-saturated content, Marula Oil demonstrates excellent oxidative stability as well.

Helichrysum Extract ECOCERT® certified is produced from the flowers of the Helichrysum stoechas plant. The Helichrysum flower contains compounds that have antioxidant and antimicrobial activity. These compounds include flavonoids, acetophenone derivatives, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, triterpenes and phytosterols. Flavonoids and acetophenones are the primary antioxidants and serve as free radical scavengers and help to prevent ROS formation. In addition to antioxidant activity, Helichrysum Extract ECOCERT® also demonstrates antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and purifying activity primarily due to the essential oil components.

Aloe Vera Oil Extract – This oil based extract is from the Aloe Vera Barbadensis Miller variety of Aloe. Aloe Vera Oil Extract is produced by incorporating constituents from the leaf of the Aloe Vera plant through a proprietary process into a Soybean Oil base.

Aloe Vera Oil Extract has an exceptionally nice feel and is absorbed quickly, leaving skin feeling soft and conditioned. Aloe Vera Oil Extract may be used in most anhydrous (oil based) products, or it can be used in the oil phase of formulations for cosmetics, toiletries, or O.T.C. pharmaceutical preparations.

Cupuaçu Butter is obtained from the seeds of the Cupuaçu tree that grows in the Brazilian Amazon. Our Cupuacu Butter is a refined, light tan, soft solid with a low melt point (approx.32-36°C) that liquefies and spreads quickly when in contact with the skin. Cupuaçu Butter possesses a high capacity for water absorption which gives it superior moisturizing properties. Cupuaçu Butter offers a lovely emolliency that will restore elasticity and softness to skin. It contains phytosterols and unsaponifiables that help to regulate the balance and activity of lipids in the epidermis. Phytosterols have been used topically to soothe dry skin and smooth wrinkles. The phytosterols contained in Cupuaçu include: β-sitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol. The β-sitosterol properties and chemical structure are similar to that of cholesterol, which represents more than 70% of the unsaponifiable fraction of Cupuaçu Butter. In addition, Cupuaçu Butter also functions to help stabilize emulsions.

● Vincience Active Achromaxyl™ IS!
Achromaxyl IS is a new, patented skin-lightening active ingredient for cosmetic products. It is composed of fermented and hydrolyzed proteins extracted from the Brassicaceae family.
Skin-lightening biofunctional active ingredients are generally used for two major cosmetic applications: the reduction in the appearance of age spots (one of the major signs of aging) and general skin-lightening

● Vincience Active D'Orientine™ S!
D'Orientine™ S is a new, patented plant-derived active ingredient extracted from the date-palm kernel (Phoenix Dactylifera). D'Orientine S has clinically proven anti-wrinkle efficacy and free radical scavenging properties to protect skin from environmental sources of aging and wrinkling.
D'Orientine S properties are based on its unique complex of 7 compounds acting in synergy to delay the visible effects of aging.

● COMING SOON - Natural Preservative - Leucidal Liquid OC is derived from Leuconostoc kimchii, the bacteria that has traditionally been used to make kimchi. This product consists of a peptide that is secreted from the bacteria during the fermentation process that has been shown to have antimicrobial benefits. Using in-vitro testing methods, Leucidal Liquid OC has been determined to be non-irritating. Leucidal Liquid OC combines the current trends for alternative preservative systems and peptide technology.

Challenge testing has demonstrated that 2% Leucidal Liquid OC in a cream bse is able to successfully inhibit microbial growth. Samples were inoculated with S. aureus, E. coli, P. aeruginosa, C. albicans, A. niger, K. pneumoniae, B. cepacia. Following 28 days of incubation samples were then re-inoculated for an additional 28 days. Minimum Inhibitory Concentrations (MIC) were determined using a standard agar dilution method. A variety of bacteria and fungus were tested to evaluate the ability of Leucidal Liquid OC to protect against microbial contamination. The results indicate that Leucidal Liquid OC can provide effective protection for a cosmetic system.


Today has turned out to be a lovely blue sky day, but it's COLD for SC - still below freezing at 10:30am! A good day for lentil soup, collards and cornbread! More later....


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy New Year!

January is a relatively quiet month at the farm so along with our regular responsibilities, we have been indulging ourselves by taking peaceful walks in the woods and reading by the fire. This is also the time to bring out the seed and vegetable catalogs and dream of those roses blooming in the spring! Horizon Herbs, Johnny’s Seeds, and Seeds for Change are my favorite online seed shops. So throughout January, I’ll be making my selections!

We have been gardening organically without the use of pesticides for years and years because it makes sense to me. But we have not pursued any organic certification programs. I am excited to say that we are in the process of applying for Organic Certification through the USDA’s NOP program. We're applying for two certifications: 1) Farm Certification 2) Processor/Handler Certification. The Farm certification for us will be for crops (herbs, veggies, flowers, etc.) The Processor/Handler will be for the products we sell (our farm distilled hydrosols, botanical extracts and complexes, our jams and jelly, and other products.

The certification process requires a long paper trail and the task seems a bit overwhelming. But fortunately the official in charge of this program has been extremely encouraging, helpful, and patient with my many questions which makes it seems much less daunting. I hope we will receive at least one of the certifications this year!

As most folks know, I created The Herbarie from my love of plants and their gifts to us. Since 2000, The Herbarie has grown to include close to 500 products for cosmetics and toiletries. We are fortunate and thankful that our business is flourishing in spite of the current troubled economy. We are thankful for our wonderful and loyal customers, many who have been with us since the beginning – our customers are the best! It’s been exciting for me to see how many of these businesses have grown and are thriving. It’s equally exciting to hear from new customers about new endeavors and plans for achieving their dreams. It’s rewarding for us to be able to play a role in this process.

In addition to the many products we distribute, we also create, process, and sell over 30 of our own botanical products for cosmetics and toiletries. We combine traditional herbal medicine with the latest phytochemical research to create our botanical products. These products include our Botanical Complex line and our Hydrosols, most of which are grown in our gardens or wildcrafted from our woods. As the business has grown over the years, I have found myself spending too much time at the computer and in the warehouse instead of in the garden or my lab. This past year we hired several new staff members and now have four. Now that our staff can assume more of the inside responsibilities, I have resolved this year to Spend More Time In The Garden! So, I am definitely looking forward to “growing” in 2009!

Angie Turner
The Herbarie at Stoney Hill Farm, Inc.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Welcome to The Herbarie

The Herbarie
Natural Source Products for Cosmetics and Toiletries

We are a wholesale supplier of ingredients for the cosmetics and toiletries, personal care, spa and wellness industries. Our mission is to bring nature and science together to offer the best in innovative, natural source products. The Herbarie is built around our commitment to quality and ethics, a responsibility to the environment, and the best in customer service. We are passionate about what we do and we strive to share this passion with our customers.

The Herbarie offers a full selection of ingredients for making cosmetics and toiletries. Most of our products are based on natural ingredients, such as shea butter, jojoba oil, sunflower seed extract, rose water, herbs and other botanicals. We are pleased to offer this selection of naturally derived bulk ingredients from which you can create your own personal care products.

Our raw materials include, botanical extracts and botanical complexes, distillates and hydrosols, dried botanicals, hydrolyzed proteins, emulsifiers, emollients, conditioners and thickeners, oils and butters, and essential oils for making both skin care and hair care products. We specialize in botanical extracts and botanical complexes which include antioxidants and anti-aging products. The Herbarie also specializes in making shampoo and making shower and bath products. We offer the best of the ultra-mild surfactants and surfactant concentrates for making shampoo and shower gel. The Herbarie also offers cosmetic active ingredients, cosmetic anti-aging ingredients, cosmetic preservatives and other ingredients to make your own handcrafted personal care products and cosmetics.

We provide technical assistance and information on all products from The Herbarie and offer a Formulary to provide additional guidance for working with the raw materials we sell.

The Herbarie Formulary is designed to provide basic information, creative ideas, and guidance to formulators in the cosmetics and toiletries, personal care, and spa industries. Our free online formulas range from simple to complex to meet the needs of both the beginning and experienced formulator. We hope you will enjoy using them to make your own handcrafted cosmetics and toiletries and other personal care products.

Stoney Hill Farm, Inc. is located in Prosperity, South Carolina. The 21 acre farm is home to a variety of fauna and flora, but specializes in growing herbs, roses, and other useful plants.

Angie Turner
The Herbarie at Stoney Hill Farm, Inc.