Herbs the topic at Brundidge RotaryPublished 11:00pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013
If you want to know anything about growing herbs, you might want to ask Sylvia Dismukes.
After all, this year she potted 172,000 flats of herbs.
Of course, Dismukes doesn’t take all the credit. She gladly shares it with her family and those who are employed at the Dismukes’ herb farm just north of Troy.
Dismukes was the program guest of Ben Busbee at the Brundidge Rotary Club Wednesday and shared the knowledge she has gained growing herbs for Bonnie Plant Farm in Union Springs for nearly 13 years.
Dismukes grew up on farm between Louisville and Blue Springs so she knew the fundamentals of farming.
As the county administrator for Bullock County, she kept her hand to the plow in a sense. When she retired in 1999, she and her husband, Wilmer Dismukes, moved to Pike County and have been growing herbs ever since.
“People tell me that it must be a lot of fun playing in the dirt and planting herbs,” Dismukes said. “It is. For the first ten thousand. The next one hundred and sixty thousand aren’t too much fun.
“We actually get started getting things ready in October but the real work comes from January through May.”
There are 26 greenhouses on the herb farm and it takes about 20 people working hard and steady to get the work done.
“What most people don’t know is that all of the watering of the millions of plants is done by hand,” Dismukes said. “I pray for everybody I know while I’m out there watering. So, if you know anybody that needs praying for from January through May just let me know. I’ve got the time.”
In the herb-growing business no two years are alike, and Dismukes said she learns something new every year.
“One thing that I’ve learned is that most people kill their plants with kindness,” she said, laughing. “Too much water will kill a plant. Too little water is better than too much.”
The Dismukes farm has grown up to 30 herbs in a season and, from time to time, an herb is added or taken away.
“We don’t grow chives anymore,” Dismukes said. “All of the chives are now grown at one location. So, no two years are alike.”
Dismukes gave insight into the herbs that attract bees and hummingbirds. “Most of them.”
“And cornflowers are very attractive to butterflies,” she said. “Dill leaves can be added to a bouquet of roses to give it a soft and airy look. Rosemary is drought tolerant. Lemon Balm has a pretty blue/purple flower. Thyme runs everywhere and you can’t get rid of Bee Balm. If you have a place that washes, plant Bee Balm and it will take care of it.”
Although borage is no longer grown at the Dismukes’ herb farm, Dismukes said the flowers from the plant can be dipped in egg white and used for cake decoration. “They are also good in salads.”
Dismukes said she loves growing mint but recommends that it be grown in pots because it can “take over.”
“This year, we’ve grown regular mint, spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, orange mint and grapefruit mint and it’s all good,” she said.