Herbal Bath Salts

The herbs are thriving this spring!  This winter we transplanted the herbs from the raised beds to a designated herb garden to provide more space for their roots and also to put them on a drip irrigation system.  Many herbs are quite adaptable to the native soils here. In fact we have had to restrain the mint and oregano from taking over the entire garden! 

It’s been a  bounty of culinary opportunity and also great habitat for all our pollinator friends in the garden.  Bluebirds nested in the bird box this spring to hatch their young.   Praying Mantis are around to help with the aphid control & the Swallowtail Butterflies have been a delight in the flower beds each dawn and dusk!

Rosemary, Tarragon, Chocolate Mint, Lemon Grass, Sage, Sorrel, Cress, Dill, Lemon Balm, Fennel, Pineapple Mint, Oregano, Holy Basil …..

Recent “Great Clips” Retreat Guests harvesting to make Organic Herbal Bath Salts. Taking home a bit of relaxation to remember their vacation to Little St. Simons Island!

      Chef Matthew Raiford mixing the bath salts.

We used 3 herbs: Mint, Lemon Balm, & Rosemary

Some of the guests brought their salts to the beach for a foot massage and then  took a walk through the tides to rinse off!
Herbal Bath Salts Recipe: 
     2 cups Sea Salt
  1 cup Olive Oil
 5 drops each, essential oils of Lavender, Rosemary, and Peppermint
                             1/4 cup chopped fresh Rosemary
                    1/4 cup chopped fresh Mint
                                  1/4 cup chopped fresh Lemon Balm 
 Put salt into a bowl. Add olive oil, mixing well with a spoon.  Add the drops of essential oil and mix thoroughly.  Add fresh herbs and mix until incorporated.  Put ingredients into a jar and then enjoy with a nice warm bath or shower.
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Spring Organic Garden Update

It’s been a while since we’ve done a garden update, and there have been so many exciting things happening in our organic garden! We are continuing to overcome the challenges faced after the tidal flooding of June 2009. The floods affected the soil in the raised beds, increasing salinity and causing a host of issues. The saltiness of the soil was affecting the germination success of seeds, so calcium was added to help neutralize the soil. We are also applying compost teas regularly to replace the beneficial bacteria that were lost.  Additionally, the load of nematodes present increased dramatically;  to counteract the nematodes we have applied  Neem, a natural remedy made from a South American plant. Moreover, we have planted Marigolds. The Marigolds serve a number of functions. They release a chemical from the roots to suppress nematodes. They also suppress pest insects and attract beneficial insects. We will also be able to use the flowers in our cut arrangements.

As for the garden crops, we are on the cusp of transitioning from the winter garden to the summer crops. There are potatoes in the ground, green and purple bush beans, and even one heirloom variety, the Georgia McCaslan pole bean. There are also beets, carrots, and winter greens including collards,  kale, chard, turnips, and arugula. The warmer temperatures will allow an early transition to summer crops of tomatoes, okra, and peppers. Other plants in the organic garden include herbs, and cutting flowers like nasturtiums, calendula, pansies, sunflowers, zinnias, asters, and even loofah.

Perhaps one of the most exciting developments in the organic garden is that we have completed installation of an underground irrigation system, rather than relying on the hose and sprinkler system of the past. This will allow us better control of our watering schedule and the ability to set a timer to water at regular intervals. The system is even equipped with rain sensors, so we don’t have to worry about using water when we don’t need to! This was a wonderful addition to our garden space. Another upcoming change will be to relocate our three types of composting systems into the main garden area. When visiting the garden, you can see a shade cloth where the bins will be placed which will help protect them from the most intense heat of the day.

Please be sure to visit the organic garden on your visit to Little St. Simons Island!

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Fall Garden Update

Summer’s vegetables have come and gone, and fall crops have taken their place in the LSSI organic garden. Fall is one of the most productive seasons for plants in our gardens, thanks to milder temperatures and less pressure from insects. The fall garden includes a variety of vegetables, herbs, and cutting flowers. They include carrots, radishes, green beans, collards, pok choi, chard, arugula, mesclun mix, green onions, parsley, cilantro, oregano, sage, thyme, tarragon, mint, sorrel, dill, chives, chervil, fennel, nasturtiums, pansies, calendula, and micro-green sprouts of beets, radishes, peas, mizuna, and cabbage! What a variety! All of these wonderful plants will be used to the fullest advantage in the Lodge kitchen so guests can enjoy their rich organic flavors and colors. We continue to recycle kitchen waste into usable soil and compost teas by using vermicompost, tumbler, and stationary bin composting systems.

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Making way for the Summer Garden

The Little St. Simons Island Organic Garden is in full bloom with a wide variety of vegetables, cutting flowers, and kitchen herbs. We have completed the transition from winter production of collards, carrots, radishes, broccoli, beets, bibb lettuces, arugula, mesculun mix, and cold weather herbs. The summer garden production is in tomatoes (many varieties), peppers, squash, cucumbers, beans, sweet peas, okra, melons, cutting flowers, and a wide variety of kitchen herbs with a focus on sweet basil.

We use companion planting in our raised beds; this provides an advantage for flavor enhancement as well as pest reduction. For example, tomatoes like to be planted near basil, but not near beans. Marigolds will help keep aphids away; and nasturtiums planted with squash provide a “living mulch” and will draw out squash bugs.

We are focused on increasing the “life of our soils” in addition to growing more soils from our compost operations. In the winter garden we had great success with the use of “teas” made from our vermicompost (worm castings). These teas add to the biology and fertility of the garden and enhance soil moisture. Compost teas also work as natural insecticides to “coat” the plants and protect them from pests.

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A Year in the Garden Through Photos

The certified organic garden got its humble beginnings with prep work in late 2007 and early 2008, and it's hard to believe how much has changed since then. Begun as a small project by former Naturalist Supervisor Jason Hunnicutt and former Kitchen Assistant Bonnie Denard, the garden has evolved to involve

many more staff members and it has significantly increased production. We have learned many lessons along the way, and are very proud of the outcome. We hope that guests visiting the island will look at our example and be able to bring composting and organic gardening into their own homes and gardens.

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February Garden Update

The certified organic garden at LSSI is entering its second year, and we are growing by leaps and bounds. We continued to harvest our winter crops of kale, collards, salad greens, arugula, carrots, broccoli, radishes, herbs, and flowers for use in guest meals. We are continuing to grow greens, and we are also beginning to put in new crops of lettuces, snap peas, and fresh salad greens. As February continues and March comes forth, we will be starting seedlings for Spring production.

There are some new changes to the look of the garden as well. We have constructed 5 new raised beds, so we are doubling the production area. This req

uired a massive transport of new compost brought over from the mainland. The cold temperatures of late encouraged us to also construct two cold houses to start seedlings in. We constructed a second three-bin system for composting kitchen scraps, in the hopes of producing even more soil.

Speaking of soil, our worms are producing excellent castings. We have coordinated a vermicompost workshop led by an expert in raising worms. The workshop will be held on Jekyll Island February 20, 2009. On February 21, he will come to LSSI to evaluate our worm systems and give us some pointers on how to expand our vermicompost systems.

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November 2008 Garden Update!

With the high nitrogen levels in our raised bed soil mixture, which is part peat moss, part composted chicken manure, our winter greens are thriving! Thank you chickens! This month we have harvested chard, kale, salad mix, arugula, radishes, cilantro, oregano, mint, thyme, rosemary, chives, and parsley for our kitchen. We have also began collection for our future orchard with the purchase of three Meyer Lemons, Ruby Red Grapefruit, and Brown Turkey Fig trees.

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October 23, 2008 Garden Update

The plants are LOVING the arrival of fertile growing soil and the cooler weather. Planted in the six raised beds are: Salad greens, spinach, arugula, chard, collards, kale, pok choi, broccoli, carrots, beets, radishes, onions, twelve different kinds of herbs, and edible flowers.

The tilled areas of the garden will soon be planted with a cover crop of rye to grow over the winter and provide fertility and water holding capacity to the soil for future garden or orchard plantings. They call this green manure. Meyers lemon, brown turkey fig, and ruby red grape fruit trees are also part of the garden now!

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October Organic Garden News

There have been some exciting changes and new beginnings in the organic garden. First, we’ve constructed raised beds to help retain moisture for our newly seeded crops. After getting a barge-load of compost delivered (we’re composting many materials on the island, but we needed a LOT of compost to start!) we were able to plant the fall crop. All the plants are starting to sprout and are doing very well. We’re continuing to compost with the use of tumblers, vermicompost bins, and a three compartment manual bin. Amy has also added windowsill garden boxes in the kitchen so that the chefs can have fresh cuttings of herbs at their fingertips.

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The Organic Garden

Little St. Simons Island is always looking for new ways to become more Green, and in early 2008 we began a new garden project. We have been working to establish a certified organic garden to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and cutting flowers for use in the Lodge. The garden has been prepared, inspected, and certified and some crops have already been planted and harvested. Plans are underway to construct raised beds for fall planting. The garden utilizes composted kitchen scraps and other materials found on the island naturally, such as fallen oak leaves, which gives us a way to reduce kitchen waste and to add nutrients back into the soil at the same time.

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