Free Thyme at Lancaster Native Plant Festival

Therapeutic Thymes Magazine is offering FREE THYME with every subscription (new or renewal) purchased this Saturday at the Lancaster Native Plant & Wildlife Festival. Wendy Brister will present “Native Plant Gardening: Bringing Our Natives into the Designed Yard.” “Creative Gardens Inspired by Nature” will be presented by Bob Goodhart and Mary Kirk Cunningham. The Festival will be held 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Overlook Community Campus at the Manheim Township Library, Granite Run Drive, Lancaster, PA.

© Therapeutic Thymes, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Tips When Attending an Herb Festival

Herb Festivals are popular nationwide, among avid gardeners and weekend or hobby gardeners alike. There is so much to see and do and learn and, of course, buy!

  1. Wear comfortable shoes. If it is an indoor show, like the Pennsylvania Herb & Garden Festival (York, PA) in April, sneakers or soft cushion shoes will do nicely. If it is an outdoor show, boots may be more appropriate.
  1. Most events have websites with schedules and speaker listings. Review the fair website before you get there. Some shows note the vendor layout. Others simply list who the vendors will be at the show. Workshops and talks are also often listed ahead of time.
  1. Capture the moment / idea. Most of us carry cell phones and almost all have cameras. If you see a great idea that you want to try out in your garden, snap a photo. Unless the vendor has a sign requesting no photos, of course. While you’re at it, take a selfie at the show and post on social media. Be sure to tag the event.
  1. Interested in a talk? Find the classroom or space ahead of time. Some talks fill up quickly so if you want a seat, plan to get there a few moments early. Be aware too, some talks are included in the admission cost. Some are an additional charge.
  1. Bring a wagon. When the spouse’s arms fill up – and they will quickly – a wagon is a great way to cart around your purchases. Many shows also have a stand set aside to hold your purchases while you enjoy. Kind of like a coat check, but with plants!
  1. Bring some cash just in case. Most vendors accept credit cards but there is always a possibility of bad signals or a vendor who does not accept cards. Some – especially at a local show – may also accept checks.
  1. Most importantly … enjoy! This is a time to learn new things, try new things, make some new friends and contacts, and just relax.

Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the Spring 2018 Issue #6.
© Therapeutic Thymes, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Raised Garden Beds for Veggies

Raised Garden Bed. Photo by Julie Kingston
Raised Garden Bed. Photo by Julie Kingston

Do you know which soil to use in your raised garden bed for vegetables?

Gardening in raised beds is very beneficial especially if you blend up your own soil mix and it can be the least expensive. Julie Kingston, of Aaron’s Homestead Products, walks us through mixing your own soil versus store bought soil, and more in the Spring Issue of Therapeutic Thymes.

Look for it on shelves the first week of March. Don’t see a store local to you? You can purchase single issues as well as subscriptions through our website. We also ask that you send us suggestions of stores and businesses near you that might be a perfect fit for Therapeutic Thymes!

© Therapeutic Thymes, LLC 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Importance of Native Plants Discussed at PA Farm Show

HARRISBURG – Blair County Conservation District’s Suzanne Black discussed how to help native plants survive and thrive yesterday at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg. Pennsylvania’s native plants are constantly under threat to be crowded out by invasive plant species.

“Native plants are plants indigenous to a given area in geologic time,” said Black. “This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area. One-third of plants in the United States aren’t native, and this causes a significant problem.”

Natives are well adapted to the climate and therefore easier to care in comparison to non-native species. They do not require fertilizer because they are naturally adjusted to their habitat and soil. When the native species is in the proper environment there is little to no upkeep besides the possibility of adding organic matter or compost to the soil. Non-native species, on the other hand, are difficult to care for and lack the qualities to support biodiversity.

Natives are important because they are well adapted to the climate around them. They preserve Pennsylvania’s natural biodiversity and many insects rely on native plant hosts and cannot live off or eat exotic plants. A popular and supportive Native Plant includes Red Bud Trees. The Red Bud supports all aspects of natural biodiversity; butterflies eat the seeds, deer browse the foliage, and humming birds consume the nectar.

Black advises purchasing Native plants from a reputable source and buy only nursery propagated native species if you are planning to plant. Learn more at

Another great resource for Native Plants is the PA Native Plant Society. The Society has several upcoming events, such as a Native Plant Seed Germination Workshop. The workshop, according to the Society’s website, will include discussion on the seed germination requirements of various perennials. It will also include demonstrations on sowing seed in flats and the “wintersow” method in milk jug mini greenhouses.

Editor’s Note: The above is largely from a press release from the PA Farm Show. The 102nd PA Farm Show continues through Saturday, 13 January 2018.

(c) Therapeutic Thymes, 2018. All Rights Reserved.

Pennsylvania Herb & Garden Festival Announces Schedule

The Pennsylvania Herb & Garden Festival, coming up in April, has announced the 2017 schedule. There will be five speakers and workshops on Friday and seven on Saturday, including the Featured Speaker. Nadia Rousselle, of My Trim Line, is the featured speaker.

Susanna Reppert Brill, of The Rosemary House, will open the festival speaking on the “Herb of the Year 2017 – Cilantro/Coriander.” She will speak again on the same subject Saturday. Saturday afternoon she will also hold a workshop on tea blending.

Judy Bono, of The Gardener of the Owl Valley, will hold a workshop Friday on creating an air plant terrarium. On Saturday, she will hold a workshop titled, “Create a Tiny Landscape.”

Friday afternoon learn tips for using essential oils as Sue Morris, of Sue’s Salves, speaks on “Aromatherapy: The Art of Enhancing Health for the Mind, Body, and Spirit.” On Saturday, she will speak on “Plant Based Healing for Natural Skin Care.”

Lisa Newman, of White Horse Nursery/Fresh Flowers, will hold a “Herb Container Garden” workshop both days.

Ninette Jackson of Josiah’s Oils, LLC, will hold the final workshop of Friday. It will be “Making Your Own Essential Oil Blend.” She opens Saturday speaking on “The Basics of Safe Essential Oil Usage.”

Click here for the detailed schedule. There is an additional cost for the workshops and many require registration. The Pennsylvania Herb & Garden Festival will be held Friday, 7 April and Saturday, 8 April at the York Expo Center, in the Memorial Hall. The Expo Center is located at 334 Carlisle Avenue, York.

(c) Therapeutic Thymes, 2017

August Gardening Tips

By Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman

There is a time to plant and a time to harvest. Late summer to fall is not the time to take a break. It is the time to water, plant, gather and plan.

seeding-hand-wateringWe’ve been having some hot, humid days lately and today is going to be another so, if your garden is not getting enough rain, be mindful to water it at least weekly. Veggies and herbs need an inch of water – by rain or irrigation – each week. Hot days, like these lately, they may want even more. While you’re outside remember to hydrate! You need water too, especially on these heat advisory days.

Plant your leafy greens now. Lettuce, spinach, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage are in stock in most nurseries. As for flowers, this is the time to plant pansy seeds as well. Now is also the time to begin sowing your herbs, especially basil and dill.

Gather up your herbs and get them to drying. Flowers – the annuals that is – too! Cut back any poor looking perennials. Allow perennials to go to seed so they can flourish next year.

It’s also harvest time for those potatoes. It is time to dig them up when their foliage up top kind of flops over.

Dracula Plant from Michigan Bulbs
Dracula Plant from Michigan Bulbs

Plan for spring. Get your spring bulbs planted now for beautiful flowers in a few months. Bulbs are easy to grow. Daffodils and Tulips are two of the more popular flower bulbs but don’t overlook Saffron Fall Bulbs or Hyacinths. One I really love is the Ranunculus. These beautiful flowers bloom in May and June. They grow about a foot or two and love the sun! Irises and Cyclamen are also gorgeous flowers.

One plant I found recently while glancing through my Michigan Bulbs catalog, was the Dracula Plant. I have never seen this one before. To me, it looks like a vibrant red feather with an old ink pen in the center! Michigan Bulbs describes it as, “Maroon flower spathe features a long fleshy, black pistil that resembles a pointy tongue.” Either way, this late spring bloomer is stunning! I should point out that other nurseries had other Dracula plants – after I went searching – and some look vastly different.

Happy gardening!

© Therapeutic Thymes, 2016

Plant now for Fall crops

By Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman

cherry-tomato-plant-146147There is a time to plant and a time to harvest. Mid to late July is a time to plant if you are looking for fall crops. Now is the perfect time to plant eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes.

The Farmers’ Almanac points out that it is a good time to plant fall crops which will bear aboveground. In other words, plant veggies that grow above the ground. The Almanac also notes it is a good time to sow those forage crops as well as any grains.

Both tomatoes and peppers require six to eight hours of sunlight. When planting, loosed the soil and mix your soil with compost or peat moss. Also consider using a fertilizer like Espoma’s Tomato Tone to help nourish your tomatoes and field against diseases specific to tomatoes. The Tomato Tone can be used now as part of the soil preparation and again as a fertilizer.

Happy gardening!

© Therapeutic Thymes, 2016

Don’t Let Mosquitos Ruin Your Holiday Picnic

By Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman

mosquito-biteImagine for a moment family and friends are in the back yard getting ready for your Fourth of July picnic. The kids are squealing with delight playing with a sprinkler. The smell of burgers on the grill fill the air. Your friends comment on how great your landscape looks, with just the right blend of color against the verdant lawn. The lawn is an even green, beautifully mowed. There is a nice breeze so that it is warm but not unbearable. Even so, there it is … mosquitos!

What can you do? You could decorate your yard with citronella candles and hand out bug spray to everyone. Or you could go natural. No, not THAT kind of natural!

Plan ahead with some plants that naturally repel mosquitos. Citronella Geranium is a great plant for that morning sun / afternoon shade spot. Given room, it can grow as much as four feet tall and spread out two feet wide. It also works nice as part of a container arrangement.

Lantana-VioletLantana is known as a bedding plant and offers a wonderful array of colors. For this reason, it works great in containers. Not only does it repel mosquitos, but is also is not tasty to deer and other critters. Another positive is that it attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

Lemongrass is another great plant. It is actually an herb used most often in Asian dishes. Here many people grow it as an ornamental plant. It also likes morning sun / afternoon shade and can be planted either in ground or as part of a container arrangement.

Plants are not the only natural repellant. Essential oils are a wonderful way to repell insects. Citronella, clove, patchouli, lavender, and plectranthus oregano are all wonderful oils that can be used either topically or aromatically.

bug repellentOne Bug Repellent recipe I stumbled upon awhile back is:

14 oz. Witch Hazel

12 drops Lavender Oil

15 drops Citronella Oil

15 drops Lemongrass Oil

Mix together well. Try using a spray bottle.

no bite meOne final suggestion – before I go shopping for our holiday picnic! – is “No Bite Me” by SallyeAnder Soaps. This is an all in one preventative and after bite cream. It is DEET Free and safe for the kids. Its active ingredients are: eugenol, cedar oil, lemongrass oil, geranium oil, mint oil, thyme oil, clove oil, and rosemary oil. Inert ingredients include: purified water, soy and canola oils, beeswax, lecithin, and rosemary needle. I got my 2 fl. oz. container from Stauffer’s of Kissel Hill for $12.99. I have also found the same product on Amazon for less.

No matter which option you choose, have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July holiday.

© Therapeutic Thymes, 2016

Stop and Smell the Flowers

By Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman

7 Have you ever received a bouquet of flowers for your birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion? It probably made you feel loved and happy. Have you ever received a floral arrangement after a loved one passed away? It probably reminded you that you are loved and that you are not alone.

Certain flowers have long been associated with specific meanings and symbolism. Ask any florist about heather for example and they will tell you is symbolizes admiration and good luck. It is also said to have protective powers. Almost everyone knows that roses are symbolic of love and passion. Did you know though that the different colors also have specific meanings? White is symbolic of innocence. Yellow is for friendship while pick is for appreciation. This month – June – is known as National Rose Month here in the US.

12The psychological and emotional power of flowers is undeniable. Flower Therapy takes that concept one step further. It deals with the “psychological and emotional well-being as the cornerstone for reaching or maintaining physical health,” according to the Flower Essence Society.

The Flower Essence Society (FES) was founded by Richard Katz and Patricia Kaminski in 1979. For more information about FES, please go to their website at

4The idea of using flowers to aid in mental and emotional issues and concerns dates back to the 1930’s when Dr. Edward Bach introduced the theory of flower essence therapy. His remedy uses specific flowers to dispel or counteract specific feelings. For example, elm is used for people who suffer a lack of confidence after taking on too much, according to the Bach Centre.

6The Bach remedies do not work on a physical level so the treatment instead is to focus on the emotional feeling. For more information on the Bach Centre, please go to

Incidentally, Flower Therapy World Day is Dr. Bach’s birthday – 24 September.

The vast majority of sites discussing flower therapy all refer back to Dr. Bach. Most were also located out of the UK and Europe.

10Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting a field of flowers, literally, in Manheim Township, Lancaster County, PA. The farmer has a sign – several actually – around the edge of the flowers stating “Pictures – Yes; Picking – No; Enjoy”. For weeks now I have watched countless people walking through his field, taking photos and just enjoying themselves. I have no clue who the farmer is but his field of flowers are definitely therapeutic after a long day!

© Therapeutic Thymes, 2016

Garden Tip: Watering

young-girl-watering-plants-greenhouse-4849961Gardening is often thought of as having relaxing and therapeutic effects. Hence, we will be offering gardening tips on a regular basis. Today’s tip concerns watering your plants.

Instead of light watering every day, try a good soaking once or even twice a week.

Also, when watering your outside plants, do so early in the day and water at the base not the roots. This is so when the sun comes out and soaks up the moisture on your leaves, the leaves won’t get sunburn!

© Therapeutic Thymes, 2016