Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What You Have Missed in the Herb Garden!

My Two Rosemarys in Containers Are Thriving!
This Prostrate Rosemary in My Herb Garden Is Buried by Oregano and Catnip!
Maybe It Doesn't Look Too Much Better!
A Couple of My Chive Plants Have Rebloomed!
The Chives Don't Look Like Too Much of a Mess Either!
I Got Two Bags of Chive Sticks Going for Mulch for the Tomatoes!
My Little Friend Relaxing on the Salad Burnet!
This summer I have been spending a majority of my time in the garden.  It takes two of us to keep things going.  I think because of all of the rain we have had everything is very lush including the weeds!

I was going to do a post called How Much Time Do You Spend in Your Herb Garden?  I decided that was a bit silly at this time of the season!  We are all spending as much time as we can and harvesting as much as we can.  So I just going to catch you up on what is going on in the herb garden.  My rosemarys in containers are both doing very well.  The prostrate rosemary in my herb garden has become buried in a mangle of oregano and lemon catnip.  So I have just cut around it to give it a chance.

I think you get the idea.  I like my herb garden because it is  a small space that I can watch regularly for trimming, harvesting and weeding opportunities.  I'm going to harvest some chives for my containers that I freeze each winter.  I used two whole containers last year.  Just don't get carried away.  I don't like to compost what I have worked so hard to grow and preserve!  Oh, my little friend wasn't eating the salad burnet, but it was moved so it wouldn't be tempted.  On the alert for stink bugs in my lemon verbenas!  Haven't had one yet!  Trying to keep it that way!  Hope you are having a great day in your herb garden!  Cooler than normal July at the moment!  The weather is never boring any more!  Talk to you later.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Getting Ready for the Last Week of July, 2014!

Lots of Different Sizes of Sunflowers in the Herb Garden!
This One is in the Basil Bed!
These are in the Sage and Lemon Monarda Bed!
I Think We have Our Second Sighting of a Second Praying Mantis!
A Swallowtail Butterfly Enjoying the Sunflowers!
The First Early Fig from Our Containers!
Trimmed Off the Spent Flowers from the Lady's Mantle!
Harvesting Some Peppers and Tomatoes from the Garden!
The Mints Are Hanging Out with the Green Pepper Basil!
Have Some Dill to Dry!
What's Your Herb Garden Like This Summer?
We are in harvest and trimming mode in the herb and vegetable gardens!  Probably a very good thing but it doesn't leave much time for blogging these days!  We are just getting a huge rainstorm at the moment!  Coming down in buckets big time!  We have most everything held with sticks and strings by this time of the season.  Just wanted you to see what's going on and maybe remind you of what you should be doing in your herb garden.

We had mostly all volunteer sunflowers this season.  Not exactly in the right places, but the goldfinches,  bees and butterflies certainly love them wherever they may be.  The Herbal Husband discovered a second (I think) praying mantis and we got a photo of it.  This one was a bit smaller than the first.  We worked on harvesting some more veggies before the rains came.  I was hoping to get more garlic out and I think we got some, but not quite what I was hoping for.

As you can see, the mints are all doing fine and I should harvest some of them for tea blends later this fall.  My dill crop got buried by the volunteer radishes.  I was lucky even to get as much as I did.  The bonus in drying dill on paper towels is that the paper towels smell like dill once it is finished drying.  I think that's a really great herbal bonus!  I also wanted to mention that if stink bugs are a problem for you, make sure to keep your eyes out for the stink bug on lemon verbenas!  They have become a problem in this area.  Besides Japanese beetles, I have been picking all sizes of stink bugs from my raspberries!  So be on the lookout!  It was really humid today and hopefully, tomorrow will be less humid, dry and pleasant.   Hope you have a great last week of July!  Where has this summer gone?  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Are You Digging Your Garlic and Other Herbal Harvesting Going On!

Garlic Dug My Way!
We have this discussion every year.  The Herbal Husband tends not to remember the outcome unless it is in his favor.  For garlic to have any chance to overwinter or be stored long term, it needs a nicely formed wrapper.  As you may be able to see this garlic has both brown and green leaves, this is when I like to dig them.  Even at this stage the wrapper had some splits in it.  The Herbal Husband, however, likes big bulbs of garlic and thinks if he leaves them in the ground until the leaves all turn brown, the bulbs will be bigger.  It is just not the case and I can't convince him otherwise.  A postscript to this post:  Here is a link to a post from my gardening friend, Jessica Walliser's blog, Savvy Gardening called A Few Garlic-Harvesting Tips.  Maybe it will be some good additional information.

The other issue for me is that if it continues to rain, and we don't get a dry digging day soon, the garlic bulbs will come out split and the wrappers will start to degrade and will have to be used more quickly.  So stay tuned as the garlic turns in the ground! :)  Postscript to this story.  It isn't getting run over by the car, but the rest of the garlic was dug yesterday (July 29th)!

The Rest of the Garlic Was Dug Yesterday!  Yippee!
I got some interesting new canning supplies from Ball.  They are individual herb jars so I decided to see how they worked.  I had dried eight or so stems of spearmint.  Took the leaves off the stems and then used my herb mill to finely grind the leaves.  They all fit in a 4 oz. jar.  I think it is a very cute idea for a Xmas present.
Spearmint Dried for Tea or Potpourri!
Cute Little Shaker and Pour Spout on the Jar!
Also Found a Scary Amount of Herbal Vinegars That Needed to be Decanted!
I Made This Potpourri Last Year!
I Found These Vintage Green Ball Canning Jars to Display the Potpourri!
I wrote about the scented geranium potpourri in Mother Earth Living last year.  The recipe can be found in my post called Aromatherapy Crafts for the Holidays, Part 2.  I'm trying to work inside during rainy days or the ickies and stickies days which we are having at the moment!  Hopefully the cold front will come through soon and cool us down and dry us out!  So I haven't been sitting on my herbal butt not doing something!  Can't believe it is almost the end of July!  Hope you are having a great day!  Talk to you later!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Downy Mildew on Sweet Basil!

Leaf of "Organic" Sweet Basil with Downy Mildew
Underside of Same Leaf with Downy Mildew
A Whole Mess of Sweet Basil Seedlings with Downy Mildew! :(
I Really Don't Know Why This Basil is Doing OK!
The Experiment of Keeping the Sweet Basil Inside Has Not Helped the Downy Mildew!
I'm Encouraging The Herbal Husband to Get Rid of It!

Well, I can finally take a break from picking raspberries and making jam.  Never had this many great raspberries this early!  I did want to address this topic because it could be devastating to your sweet basil plants.  It is called downy mildew.  It exists in some vegetables, perennials and in the cruelest choice possible for herb lovers to sweet basil.  The good news is that at the moment the disease does not seem to affect other basils varieties, lemon, Thai, cinnamon, etc.  As Dr. McGrath calls them the fruit and spice varieties.  The other good news is that you can eat the diseased leaves and not die!   The Herbal Husband and I are living proof of that.  Also, in an ironic twist, the sweet basil that The Herbal Husband saved last fall from being dried by another local garden center was planted in the herb garden just recently and is doing fine at the moment.  Leaf moisture and humidity and limited air circulation are catalysts for downy mildew and we are having all of those at the moment!  So I will let you know if this basil gets the disease!  Fingers crossed!  The one big symptom of this disease is yellowing of the leaves which is a sign of a nutrient deficiency.  You can put a leaf that is showing symptoms but no spores in a plastic bag with a wet paper towel in the dark overnight to see if the spores will appear.  Good air circulation and sunlight will help keep your basil plants healthy.

The Herbal Husband has moved the seedlings in the container from outside to an inside western windowsill.  So as an experiment, he is still harvesting the leaves and the seedlings still have the disease.  A postscript to this story.  The downy mildew on the basil hasn't gotten better inside.  I keep gently nudging The Herbal Husband to get rid of it.  Surprisingly, the sweet basil from last fall that was inside until recently has done well outside now that the downy mildew is inside!

This is one of those diseases that you have to start spraying from the start.  Click on the link above for solutions and to participate in Dr. McGrath's study at Cornell University.  One solution for organic gardeners would be Neem oil.  Unfortunately we thought we were buying organically grown at a local garden center.  I think we will have to wait for a resistant strain of sweet basil and they are working on that.  The use of light in greenhouse situations for commercial growers has been found to be effective in limiting growth of the disease.  In any case you need to destroy your plants and preferably on a sunny day so that "the disturbed spores are killed by UV radiation."

It has really been rainy here!  We had almost 3 inches last week and an inch overnight!  I wish we could share it with the western states that need it so badly.  Hopefully you are having a great weekend.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who lost their lives recently.  I will try to be more present and showing you what has been going on in the herb garden!  Talk to you later.

Friday, July 11, 2014

End of the Week, Herbally Speaking!

Lyre Leaved Sage Has Bloomed Again!
The Lemon Monarda is Blooming!
Calendulas Are Blooming Too!

I Just Clip and Drop the Spent Flower Heads of the Calendulas into the Bed Below!
The 'Silver King' Artemisia is Growing!

So Is the 'Sweet Annie' Artemisia!

Monarda and Coreopsis!
The Native Monarda!
The First Native Sunflower!
A Tiny Sunflower Volunteer in the Herb Garden!
A Butterfly Buddy on the Coneflower!
Made Three Batches of Lemon Basil Jelly!
Don't Forget to Eat the Edible Flowers of Herbs!
The first 'Alaska' Nasturtium is in Bloom!
The First 'Sungold' Tomato!   Had a Second One Too! So There Wasn't a Fight!
Blooming Cilantro!

Surprised at the Early Crop of Raspberries!
Did Two Batches of Raspberry Jam This Morning!
Well, I had a productive week in the garden!  As you can see, there is a lot going on in the gardens!  I have the most lemon basil this year and it will be my most made jelly flavor this summer.  The other surprise is our early pick of raspberries!   We have 'Heritage' raspberries that are quite old and they keep producing despite their age!  Most of the time the early crop around this time is either mushy or tacky and I have tried to use them for jam without success.  This year the raspberries have been wonderful and I set up the raspberries and sugar last night and then cooked them down this morning.  I think they were the best pour of jam I have had for awhile!  Just so satisfying when it turns out correctly!

We have also progressed from four-lined plant bug damage to Japanese beetle and stink bug damage!  I was thinking as I was catching the little darlings in my hands and dropping them into the beetle juice jar that I was never brave when I was a child like I am now.  Funny how you change over the years and when you finally reach 60 nothing is a big deal anymore!  It is always something in the bug world these days!  So hopefully you have had a great week in your herb garden.  The weather has been beautiful and we have another great day tomorrow before the rains come back.  Talk to you next week.

Monday, July 7, 2014

In the Doghouse, Herbally Speaking!

That Pot in the Center of the Photo is the Issue!
Boy, The Herbal Husband is in big trouble with me.  I don't pay attention a lot of the time.  There is just too much going on.  However, the other day when we had the cloud burst and the figs knocked over the tomatoes and we thought things were OK.  They are not!  This lovely one of a kind pot that I got at a deep discount and at an herb farm that went out of business has a CRACK!  It is supposed to be for lavender and it held in various years a 'Goodwin Creek' lavender and other varieties too numerous to name very nicely.  The Herbal Husband thought that a 'Cherokee Purple' tomato would do well too!  It is an indeterminate tomato not a beautiful lavender that mostly behaves!  He promises to fix it, but I'm not sure that it will be sturdy enough to hold another lavender. :(  We will see!

We are finally getting a thunderstorm and rain.  Got the grass cut this morning and picked a bunch of raspberries so I guess my jam making will start soon.  Hope you have had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.