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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Miniature Conifers and Witches Brooms


I recently attended a meeting of the Wyandotte Garden Club, where our guest speaker, John Generaux, from Hidden Lake Gardens, in Tipton Michigan, spoke to us about Miniature Conifers.

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Hidden Lake Gardens  a 755 acre a botanical Garden and  arboretum operated by Michigan State University, hosts, among it’s many gardens, The Harper Collection, a collection of some 600 specimens of rare and dwarf conifers. Of course, conifers are trees that bear cones, what we commonly refer to as pine cones, although pines are just one of the many types of conifers.

In a fascinating, and all too brief presentation, John explained to us about “Witches Brooms,” which are dense clusters of twigs or thickened stems that develop on the branches of woody trees.

DTL Herbs

These clusters of stems, contain genetically mutated branches, which, when propagated are a new plant, with DNA different from the tree where they were originally growing.

John dedicates his weekends at Hidden Lake Gardens, to locating, studying, developing, propagating and preserving these newly discovered and rare varieties of trees.

As he explained to us, in order to preserve these new  species, a slip of the “broom” is taken and grafted on to a seedling of a tree of the same genus (so a spruce to a spruce, a fir to a fir, a pine to a pine, etc.)

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This slip was taken from a “Broom” growing on a spruce tree, so it has been grafted onto a young Norway Spruce seedling.  John indicated that Norway Spruce is used because they are readily available and relatively inexpensive.

DTL Herbs

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When the graft starts to show new growth, he knows it has successfully joined with the root stock or scion.  Then, when the graft become strong and healthy enough, the top of the Norway Spruce will be cut away, leaving him with a chimera, an organism with more than one individual sets of DNA.  As the tree mature, and gets strong enough, cuttings can be taken from the new growth and rooted, creating a tree that is genetically independent of both the original host and the interim scion.

Although this process can be described in just a few sentences, in fact it can take many years.

These are generally slow growing trees, .  Many of the varieties of rare trees in the collection grow from 1/2” to 3” per year, so it could take up to 24 years to grow a tree a foot tall.   In fact this miniature hemlock tree is over two years old and slightly over 1” tall.

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John speculates that some of his trees that he is just starting now will barely be big enough to be transplanted years from now when he retires.  It is clearly a work of passion and dedication, and not one motivated or driven by profit.

This wonderful presentation ended with an invitation to visit Hidden Gardens and tour the many different collections housed there.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

How To Start Prepping Your Gardens

Hi everyone!

Are you ready for Spring? Ready to get out in the Garden? I know we here at DTL Herbs are! Now that the snow is beginning to finally melt I am excited about the new season and getting our herb beds and flower beds around our home ready and prepped.

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We are getting ready to embark on an exciting, crazy and busy new level of our business, DTL Herbs. As most of you know, we have a contract at a local well established farm for some land. This also includes having access to existing greenhouses and the opportunity for hoop houses.

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We have already planted a couple of thousand herb plants and plan to get more growing. We also are adding many heirloom vegetables and fruits to our planting schedule. Yup, BIG plans for just the two of us!!

DTL Herbs http://dtlherbsltd.blogspot.com/

Right now with the weather still not warm enough for planting, we are taking advantage of this decent weather to get our own yard prepped for Spring. Fortunately we have mostly perennial herbs and flowers planted here at home. We really have no extra time during the summer to spend energy in our home gardens. Every ounce of energy and time we have goes right into our business.

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So, home garden prepping has begun around our little homestead!

I came across this article from The Home Depot (no we have no affiliation with HD). It’s a simple article about “Getting your garden prepped” and thought I would share it.

CLEAN UP

Start your garden prep by cleaning and tidying up your beds. But don’t rush the season. You can do more harm than good if you walk around in your garden while the ground is soggy or icy. Walking around now will compact the soil, making it difficult for plant roots to penetrate, and digging will leave clods of dirt you’ll struggle to break apart.

When the soil is dry enough, pull up any dead annuals or vegetables still standing in the garden. Also prune or cut back perennials and ornamental grasses to encourage vigorous, healthy, new growth.

Toss the debris in your compost pile, unless you see signs of pests or diseases. If you do, trash the plant parts to avoid spreading problems.

Remove any grass, rocks, weeds and twigs from your planting spot. Weeds can re-sprout from chopped-up roots, so be as thorough as you can.

DIG IN

Now you’re ready to dig in. Loosen the soil by digging or tilling 6 to 8 inches deep. Dig or till up to 12 inches deep for root crops like carrots and potatoes, or plan to grow them in hills, which are flat-topped mounds of loose soil. Root crops will also thrive in raised beds filled with lots of good soil and organic matter.

AMEND

If you didn’t test your soil last fall, you can still do so now. Use a home test kit or send a soil sample to your county extension service. Then add any lime, garden sulfur or nutrients the test recommends. A fall application gives amendments more time to meld with your native soil, but they’ll help improve your garden even if you’re adding them now.

Also add lots of good organic matter to your garden bed, such as shredded leaves, compost, and / or dehydrated manure. Organic materials loosen the soil’s structure, improving drainage and allowing roots to penetrate more easily. Turn your amendments and organic matter into the loosened soil, so everything is mixed together.

MULCH

Top off your bed by mulching it with several inches of organic matter.

PREPPING A RAISED BED

If you’ve never gardened in a raised bed, it’s easy to assemble one from a kit. If you’re prepping a raised bed you’ve used before, top it off with more soil, if needed, and mix in any amendments as indicated by a soil test. Finish by mulching the raised bed with a few inches of organic matter.

MAKE A LIST

Before you plant, make a list of plants you want to grow. Be sure to shop early, since many popular varieties sell out fast. Jot down any seed starting supplies you need, too, such as peat pots, trays or seed starting mix. Consider using some grow lights if you’re starting a lot of seeds indoors or if you don’t get enough bright light from your windows. You may also want to invest in a seed propagating heat mat, which supplies gentle heat underneath your pots or trays to help plant roots develop faster.

Check your seed packets when you buy them, and mark the dates to start your seeds on a calendar. You — and your garden beds — will be ready to go when spring arrives.

Source: The Home Depot

Have you started prepping your gardens yet? Have you decided on adding anything new?

Remember, you can purchase our products at our online store: DTL Herbs

 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Feedback Friday #2

Hi Everyone, and welcome to Feedback Friday.

Feedback Friday

Feedback Friday is a feature where our customers have a chance to share their experiences with our products.

If you would like to write a post of Feedback Friday, and be featured on our blog, just drop us an email, and we will schedule a date for your post. 

Todays post was written by Karen Burke, a food preservation specialist and master gardener  from Macomb County Michigan.

Here’s what Karen wrote:

Hello everyone!  Karen Burke here. 

I would like to let all of you know how I use DTL Herbs.  I currently teach dehydrating classes and use the "Herbed Salt" on zucchini slices. 

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This is a favorite class snack that I make for them to sample (In season).  What I do is slice the zucchini 1/4" thick and shake the "Herbed Salt" on top, one side only. 

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I then dehydrate at 115°  F until they are dry. (Approximately 8 hours depending on how humid it is)

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These make a wonderful and healthy substitute for commercially processed potato chips.

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You may also want to try their "Chive and Dill Vegi Dip" to dip the chips in!  

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I have been using their "Herbed Salt" on my own zucchini chips for over 3 years now and everyone loves them.

I no longer "drop and run" zucchini off at anyone’s house.  In fact I actually grow MORE zucchini! 

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Next month (March)  I will be trying their "Hunter's Blend Dry Rub" on meat to make jerky.  I'll let you know how it turns out!

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Thank you Karen for sharing your experience with us!

 

 

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Feedback Friday #1

Hi everyone!

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Welcome to our first “Feedback Friday”! We hope to to feature this a couple times each month.

What is Feedback Friday? It is post written by one of our DTL Herbs customers. The customer will share with us all how they use one or more of our products.

If you would like to write a post, just drop us an email and we will be glad to answer any questions you have!

Now, I would like to introduce to you Lorie, a customer from one of our Farmer’s Markets.

Now, here’s Lorie…

We continually hear what chemicals are added to food. For instance, margarine is a few molecules away from plastic. A fast food chain has decided to remove a harmful chemical that they add to their "fresh bread".  A red slime was previously added to fast food burgers, of course it was labeled as safe for human consumption. MSG has been linked to Chinese food menus and I'm sure other menus.

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We eat foods that have been labeled as GMO, which is defined as,


Genetically modified organism (GMO) an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques.

My son asked me, "why do they have to add all that junk to the foods we eat."  I'm a Registered Nurse and a Certified Herbalist. I'm convinced that our poor health conditions in this country are a result of the chemicals that exist in our foods.

Thomas Edison said, "the doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care and prevention of disease."

Hypocrites, Greek Physician and Herbalist, Father of Medicine said, "Let your medicine be your food and your food be your medicine."

I was introduced to this fantastic small business, DTL Herbs, 3 years ago. Their attention to growing and harvesting herbs free from chemicals and pesticides is exactly what I look for in products. The research and development of herbal combinations is amazing. When shopping during the "warm" months at Farmer Markets where DTL Herbs sells merchandise, their fragrant herbs are intoxicating and freshness is apparent.


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Many people are nervous in using herbs to cook. DTL Herbs has taken out any guess work when it comes to using the dried herbs. The combination of herbs is perfectly incorporated to produce a taste explosion that cannot be produced by store bought products. Herbs not only provide great tasting foods but also make your food healthy.
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I enjoy making Chicken Soup loaded with fresh vegetables and I add, DTL Herbs (and all naturally dried, and grown, peppers from another local business The Garden Hoard).

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I add All Purpose Seasoning Blend, to my soup the last 45 minutes of the simmering stage. The smells coming from the stove,  a warm bowl of soup, during a furious winter snowstorm are more than I can wait for completion.


I have never been disappointed in products purchased from DTL Herbs. Be adventurous, cook with herbs. Be healthier and get rid of the chemicals in your food. DTL Herbs is my choice for my food.

Thank you Lorie for sharing with us and for being such a wonderful DTL Herb customer!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

An Ethical Dilemna*

*I find it mildly disturbing that spellchecker keeps autocorrecting the word “dilemna” to “dilemma.”  As part of an several generations who were taught to spell it with an “n” I don’t care what the ancient Greeks did.  I personally will continue to use the more traditional spelling despite the efforts of a robotic dictionary to change my ways.

 

We are not a health food company.  We don’t sell capsules or powders designed to increase joint health or improve memory.  We don’t sell additives or supplements or herbal health shakes.

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We don’t want to replace the food you eat, or even provide your daily meals.  We just want to share the message that Herbs Make Good Food Taste Even Better.

Herbs make good food taste even better

So we set out to create products that you can add to your fresh vegetables,(Organically grown if you choose)

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  or your chicken …  (free range antibiotic free if you desire,)

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or your bread…   (gluten free is up to you,)  

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…to help whatever you choose to eat taste even better than it did before.

But just because we don’t sell heath foods, that doesn’t mean our products aren’t healthy. We grow without the use of any chemicals.  We don’t use pesticides or herbicides (even the word ‘herbicide’ makes us shudder) or chemical additives.  We grow our plants as close as possible to the way they would grow in the wild, naturally and without interference.  We believe that they develop the best flavor that way, and we believe that the less chemicals we put on our food, the healthier that food will be.

The DTL Herbs Jingle

And, so although we don’t set out to produce Health Food per se, (that’s one of those fancy Latin phrases that makes one sound all smart and stuff,) We do try to produce Healthy Foods.

We don’t use MSG or any kind of flavor enhancers or artificial preservatives.  We don’t use artificial flavorings, instead relying on the natural flavor of the herbs that we grow, and in only a few case do we add coloring, generally for identification purposes in products that look so similar that we can’t tell them apart without opening the package and tasting or smelling them.

We have a wide range of products with no added sugar and several products with no salt, and they are very popular.

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But there are times and places where sugar and salt are necessary, or at least important factors in recipes.  There are chemical processes that take place when food comes into contact with sugar or with salt, that effect the flavor, the texture, and the ultimate result when cooking. 

And since our goal is to help everyone make good food taste even better, we try to provide a wide range of products, so that those who are not interested in eliminating the sugar or salt from their diet have options available to them.

And of course to appeal to a wide range of individual tastes as well.

So some of our products contain sugar and/or salt.  In fact, our dry rubs begin with a sugar/salt blend that makes up a large percentage of the finished product. 

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The sugar and salt work together to tenderize the meat and lead to a juicer more tender end result.

We grow as many of our ingredients as possible. But it simply isn’t practical to manufacture our own sugar or salt.

This brings us to an ethical dilemna.

 

 

We can buy salt, mined, refined, packaged and distributed right here in Michigan. 

This supports our local businesses, keeps money and jobs in our community or our state, and helps promote our local economy. 

 

 

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Or, we can use sea salt, produced somewhere in the Middle East, or in the South Pacific. Or some other overseas location.

Sea salt is generally acknowledged as having higher amounts of trace minerals and although still salt, being a bit healthier.

 

 

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We face an even greater dilemna with Sugar.  We can buy sugar made here in Michigan, from sugar beets grown here in Michigan. 

Again, this supports our local businesses, keeps money and jobs in our community or our state, and helps promote our local economy. And it supports the farming industry here in Michigan.  An industry that we want to support whenever we can.

 

 

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However, it is virtually impossible to find sugar beets that are GMO free.

Research at the Saginaw Valley Bean and Beet Farm has enabled farmers to harvest more beans per acre and remain No. 1 in dry bean production nationally.

And although cane sugar is produced in limited quantities in Michigan, sugar cane is not grown locally, because of the climate.

We have experimented with Stevia as a sweetener, but Stevia does not interact with salt to tenderize meat the way sugar does, so it is not an effective ingredient in dry rubs. And although Maple Sugar is made here in Michigan, it has a completely different flavor profile that would change the taste of our products. 

So once again, we choose between using a locally made product that is perhaps less healthy, or in the case of sugar, contains GMO’s, which we try to avoid, or using a product produced somewhere else and shipped into our state.

It seems that whichever we choose, there will be a portion of our customers who are unhappy with that decision.

So we can only do what seems right to us.

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What would you do?

 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Small Space Gardening Ideas

Hi everyone!

We hope your Christmas was wonderful!

Here it is, just barely past Christmas and all I can think about is gardening! LOL I look out at all the snow and my brain is thinking about Spring and planting!

So, I thought I would share a few fun ideas I saw from Mother Earth Living.

We can start daydreaming together!

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A Hanging Gutter Garden. This not only takes up little space, it could be used as a privacy screen type thing.

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How about planting an Indoor Fairy Garden. You could have a lot of fun with this idea and add all your own personal touches.

pallet-planter

Go vertical and recycle an old pallet. This would really work wonderful for herbs and on a small porch or patio!

terrarium

Don’t forget a simple indoor terrarium. This was my first gardening project that I did all by myself around the age 5. I would take an old canning jar and go into the swamp by our cabin and gather live moss and small ferns. I would create a new terrarium every summer to bring home with me.

wine-barrel-planter

I love this cut out oak barrel idea. It creates a pretty step down garden.

Are you starting to think about gardening yet?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Winner! Winner! Winner! And more!

We are happy to announce the winners of our Power of Three contest.




We will need shipping information from each of you and we will get you each your Three (3) Packages of Toasted Pumpkin Seeds But wait, there's more!

Anyone who entered and did not win, if you send us your information, you will receive a special surprise!

Thank you everyone for entering the contest!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Power of Three Giveaway! CLOSED!

Hi everyone!
A couple of days ago we hosted a fun Halloween event called “Potions and Powders” at the MSU extension offices in Macomb County. We had such a fun time with this event. We talked about the magical, mystical and some folklore regarding the use of herbs.
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We talked about the fact that the Power of Three is very important when creating charms, potions or spells.
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We had a “Potions” table set up to create your own blend of tea.
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Keeping in mind the “Power of Three” when mixing up your brew.
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We had some treats and learned some tricks.
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We all learned some new things and had a great time.
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We decided to have a fun little giveaway with the Power of Three in mind.
GIVEAWAY
We are giving away Three packages of our Toasted Herb Pumpkin Seeds to Three winners. And you will have Three different chances to win!
Here is how to enter:
  1. Become a follower of this blog and leave a comment. If you are already a follower, leave a comment stating that.
  2. Be a Friend at our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/dtl.herbs and leave a second comment on this post telling us you are a fb friend.
  3. “Like” our DTL Herb Fan page at https://www.facebook.com/dtl.herbs.ltd and leave a third comment here that you liked us.
That’s it! Three different chances to win Three packages of Toasted Pumpkin Seeds.
This giveaway ends on November 9, 2013
Good luck everyone!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It’s All About Pumpkins!

Hi everyone!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Since we are not pumpkin farmers but, one of our favorite products for this time of the year is our Toasted Herb Pumpkin Seeds, we need LOTS of pumpkin seeds!

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We start working with local growers and communities early in the summer to get pumpkin seeds.

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Another pumpkin seed source is from local Pumpkin events. The Trenton Cultural Center hosted a pumpkin carving and lighting festival this past weekend.

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Kids created their own spooky pumpkin face.

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There were a lot of pumpkins carved to be lit that evening!

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And this would be the part we are involved in! LOL

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We were thrilled and thankful for buckets of pumpkin guts!

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Of course that means HOURS and HOURS of cleaning and gathering pumpkin seeds! And then many more hours seasoning and toasting them before they are ready to be packaged for sale.

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We are dedicated to offering all of you the best quality and tasting toasted herbed pumpkin seeds possible!