A new Gourmet Garden Variety that is easy to Grow.

By: Marie Streich Head Horticulturist/Grower
Bloch’s Farm Green Lake, WI

What do you call the most amazing basil you’ve ever grown? Amazel, of course. This is truly a game-changing plant—the first downy mildew-resistant variety of Italian sweet basil. This vegetatively propagated variety is sterile and sets no seed allowing it to put more energy into vegetative growth than other basil varieties even after flower initiation. Vigorous, large, well-branched plants produce a higher yield and last all season. The more you harvest, the better it grows, expect a height 20-32”. Does best in full sun and well-drained soil. University of Georgia gave it their ‘Best of the Best’ award at the season’s end, and the Champaign County Illinois Master Gardener Idea Garden awarded it their Gold Medal for performance and flavor while Boerner Botanical Garden in Hales Corners, WI gave it their ‘Best Performance Overall for Annuals. 

Bloch’s Farm is open every day 8am to 6pm.  Visit our website www.blochsfarm.com and feel free to email me at marie@blochsfarm.com, or call at 920-294-6000.

Plants you didn’t know where Edible

Bloch’s Farm Green Lake, WI

            Gallium odoratum commonly known as Sweet woodruff can be identified by having dark green foliage with leaves in tiered whorls of six-eight leaves. Sweet woodruff leaves and flowers make a wonderful tea and May wine. The favor has a strong vanilla taste. Dried woodruff leaves keep their scent for years. In Germany they were used to flavor jams, jellies, brandy, beer, sausage, and sherbet. The best time to harvest the leaves are right before and right after the flowers are blooming.

Juniperus virginiana Eastern red cedar. The foliage of red cedar is dark green to blue green in color. The leaves are of two types: one type is scale-like, opposite, dull pointed, closely appressed to the twig, about 1/16 inch long; the other leaves are awl like, about 1/4-1/2 inch long, pointing away from the twig. The twigs of red cedar appear to be four-sided or square. The buds are very tiny, usually hidden by the leaves. The bark is very distinct, thin, reddish brown in color and peeling off in long shredded strips. Now I understand that most people do not want to spend their time prancing around the woods foraging for wild berries. Surprisingly enough the eastern red cedar is much easier to find then you’d think. Around here in south central Wisconsin the cedars grow like wildfire. They can be found anywhere along roadsides, in open fields, and surrounding old homesteads. The berries are actually small cones that have scales far too small for the eye to see. Only female trees produce the berries. Male trees just have little brown cones. Although juniper berries are most famously known for flavoring Gin, they have many other uses as well. The Comanche and Lakota Native Americans used these berries crushed as a spice for soup, wild game, and stews. The berries can be eaten dried, fresh, chopped, or powdered to bring out a sharp peppery flavor that balances the richness of winter game, meats, stews, and soups. Juniper berries are also a traditional ingredient in making German Sauerkraut and pickle well on their own.

Plantago major Plantain Many know this plant as a pesky weed that pops up in our lawn.  Plantain is not native to this area. The Native Americans called this weed white man’s foot as it seemed to follow wherever the settlers went. What many don’t know is that this weed has many medicinal properties as well as being loaded with nutrients. Plantains grow as a rosette. They have a cluster of leaves in a circle pattern around a shared center (like a rose). The rosettes are close to the ground and the leaves are narrower near the stem widening out towards the middle. Plantain is a relative of spinach. It is a good source of protein, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E. It also has important minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron. Most prefer to cook its leaves until tender just like preparing spinach. The seed pods are also edible and can be prepared like asparagus. Smoothies and pesto are also a great way to incorporate this plant into a diet. Known as the soldier herb plantain can be used to treat bites, stings, cuts, rashes, and even snake bites. It can prevent infection and stop bleeding.

I feel like I have learned so much after researching just these three plants and I hope you have too. Always remember proper identification is very important when searching for wild grown plants. Bloch’s Farm is now open for the season everyday 8am to 6pm. Call us at 920-294-6000, visit our website www.blochsfarm.com and ‘Like’ us on Facebook!

Growing Succulents

Bloch’s Farm Green Lake, WI

            Looking for that one plant that even someone with the blackest thumb could grow? Succulents are seemingly the IT plants to grow right now. They not only come in an array of colors but can go weeks without attention or water making them ideal for beginners.

            If you purchase a succulent and want to transfer it to a different piece of pottery or planter first make sure that it has drainage holes. If no drainage holes are present you can add a layer of gravel or stone to the bottom to create a pocket where excess water can go. If placing a succulent in a container without holes make sure to not overwater. The best type of soil to use when transplanting your succulent is a well drained mix such as a pre made cactus mix that won’t hold too much moisture. If you don’t have that available you can add sand, extra pumice, grit, or perlite to help drainage.

            Indoor succulents grow best in bright light such as in front of a sunny window. One sign that your succulent isn’t getting enough light is if it starts to grow very long with sparse leaves towards the light from a window. When watering get the soil completely damp then let it dry out before watering again. Many can go weeks without water but depending on type and location its best to keep a close eye on how they perform when you first purchase one.

            This season at Bloch’s Farm we are growing tropical/indoor and hardy succulents. Stop by and take a look at our collection! Call or email us with any questions 920-294-6000 or marie@blochsfarm.com. Opening for the season April 22nd!

Growing and Cooking with Marjoram

Bloch’s Farm Green Lake, WI

Marjoram Origanum marjorana is an herb used for culinary purposes, health benefits, and aromatherapy. This year at Bloch’s Farm we are growing Marjoram along with our other herbs and vegetables. Not to be confused with its close cousin Oregano, Marjoram has a milder sweeter taste. Marjoram originated from Greece where it was used to make wreaths and in wedding arrangements. Aphrodite the goddess of love was said to have worn wreaths made from Marjoram. It can grow up to 10-12 inches tall and has woody square stems with an upright appearance.

            Many health benefits are found with this herb. Marjoram contains compounds that have effective antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It may help improve overall cardiovascular health by maintaining normal blood pressure levels which reduces the risk of hypertension. It is also known to help reduce the buildup of cholesterol in arteries which can prevent heart disease. Marjoram leaves can easily be seeped to make tea. When added to food it also may help reduce the risk of developing inflammatory reactions, and in the essential oil form it may help uplift mood and improve psychological wellbeing. Marjoram can also be used to help relieve insomnia and reduce stress and anxiety.

Use Marjoram in the kitchen by adding it to different dishes. Including, soups, roasted meats, sautéed vegetables and marinades to add more flavor and aroma. Plant Marjoram in a sunny well-drained area in the garden, in a patio container, or inside the house by a sunny windowsill. When planted in the garden it attracts beneficial insects such as butterflies and pollinator bees. The best time to harvest Marjoram is right before it goes to seed.

Here at Bloch’s Farm we just finished planting our first crop of Organic Herbs for the season. Remember we are opening April 22nd, we can’t wait to see you!  Please call with any questions 920-294-6000. Also feel free to email me at marie@blochsfarm.com. Check out our website www.blochsfarm.com ‘like’ us on Facebook for more great gardening tips.

New Proven Winner Annuals for 2019

By: Marie Streich Head Horticulturist/Grower Bloch’s Farm Green Lake, WI

Bloch’s Farm is thrilled to be growing the following new annual varieties:

Proven Winners Angelonia Angelface ‘Steel Blue’ -Angelonia are heat-loving plants that will grow most vigorously and bloom best when the heat is on. They are plants best planted in mid-spring or later, since they won’t really grow until the temperatures warm up. Angelonia will tolerate wet feet and a fair amount of drought. The plants are easy care with no deadheading needed. A bit of fertilizer or some compost in a garden bed is usually all that is needed for these plants to thrive. Due to their heat-loving nature they are one of the plants that can be planted even during the heat of mid-summer. Don’t forget that Angelface are great long lasting cut flowers with a slight grape soda fragrance. Try some in a flower arrangement this year and see for yourself!

Proven Winners Superbells ‘Doublette Love Swept’ Double Flowering Calibrachoa hybrid -Abundant, small double petunia-like flowers all season on cascading growth; low maintenance.  The flowers are a gorgeous deep pink, with a fine white rim on each petal.  The effect is pure heaven. Deadheading is not even necessary. Grows 6-10” tall and spreads 12-24”. Full Sun to Part Sun.

Proven Winners Superbells ‘Holy Smokes’ Calibrachoa Hybrid– Abundant, small petunia-like flowers all season on cascading growth; low maintenance.  The flowers are fun and flirty, with a soft yellow base overlain with blue-purple splotches. Very similar size, habit and growing conditions as ‘Doublette Love Swept’. Calibrachoa do not like to have constantly damp soil. They will do well in the ground only with good drainage. For most gardeners’ containers are the best use for Calibrachoa. Great used in hanging baskets, patio planters and combination planters of all kinds. 

Bloch’s Farm will be opening in mid-April weather permitting! Visit our website www.blochsfarm.com and feel free to email me at marie@blochsfarm.com, or call at 920-294-6000.

What’s Growing At the Farm?


By: Marie Streich Head Horticulturist/Grower Bloch’s Farm

New for 2019 Bloch’s Farm is growing an expanded selection of annual Coleus and Begonias. Foliage is hot right now! What makes these plants the best choice for the Green Lake area is the fact that they are both shade tolerant and drought tolerant. Coleus and Begonias will look good in containers or in the landscape from spring all the way until the first hard frost of the fall, making it easy for customers to grow stunning containers and stand out landscapes.

Bossa Nova Begonias are a new option coming in coral, white, and yellow.  Excellent for use in dramatic hanging baskets, colorful combination planters, and a variety of other applications where continuous color-power is needed all season long. Bossa Nova exhibits excellent branching on a tidy, yet abundant habit. It easily fills out smaller pots in the early stages of growth. As it matures, Bossa Nova trails into an impressive, cascading plant, covered entirely with 2-inch, bell-shaped flowers, which provide continuous color. It thrives in a variety of climates, including high heat, and enjoys full sun to shade.

There are many varieties of Rex Begonias and while this plant certainly isn’t new to the industry new improved varieties are being created all the time. With all the breeding that has gone on with Rex begonias, it’s hard not to find one that strikes your fancy, especially as more and more selections are being introduced with a wide range of colors and intriguing veining and puckering in the leaves. Rex begonias have fabulous foliage. The flowers are insignificant, but with leaves like these, who cares? The leaf sizes vary but grow up to 9 inches long and 5 inches wide, while the mounding habit of the plants generally reaches 12 to 18 inches tall and wide—the perfect proportions to create gorgeous and dramatic planting combinations with perennials, annuals, or other tropical beauties. Rex begonias headline the show for months on end in any shade garden, especially when grown in containers. These plants prefer shaded, humid conditions and rich, aerated soil like that found on the forest floor.

Watch for next week’s article on our expanded selection of coleus. Bloch’s Farm is still closed for the season but we are busy planting and getting ready to blow you away with beauty! Visit our website www.blochsfarm.com and feel free to email me at marie@blochsfarm.com, or call at 920-294-6000.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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