July in the Herb Garden

deadheading

Time to:

Deadhead flowers of dill, cilantro, basil, thyme, and chives to keep them producing all summer. Snip off the flowers before they have fully bloomed. Use the flowers in salads, marinades, etc.

Sow more seeds of cilantro to replace the plants that will soon set seed. Once cilantro has produced a small seed head, the plant is finished. Sow seeds once a week until labor day for a steady supply of fresh leaves.

Mulch moist soil loving plants such as basil, chamomile, mint, dill, fennel, monarda, with a 2 inch organic mulch. You could use shredded bark, pine needles, red cedar chips, brown paper bags or newspapers. Water the herbs well, then apply the mulch and water again. This deep watering and moist mulch will provide the herbs with protection against the brutal days of July.

Hold off taking any cuttings from rosemary, lavender, sage or thyme until late September. The plants need their leaves for protection against the summer sun. Remove their spent leaves and flowers, but take no prunings until the weather is cooler.

Herbs grown in containers need to be to watered often, at least once a week. Even if it rains, the herbs require a deep drenching to ensure the roots receive moisture. If the herbs are growing on a concrete patio or drive way, consider moving them. Temperatures can reach over 130 degrees inside the pots. It wil burn the roots, and you won’t notice it until the herbs are in distress.

Harvest a few leaves weekly from lemon balm, mint, dill, thyme, sage and basil. Dry the leaves on paper towels. A kitchen counter is a good area. Lay the leaves single file and let them air dry for about ten days. Once the leaves are dry, slip them inside plastic bags, label and store in a cool, dry place.

Wash, chop and dry basil leaves, and add them to ice cube trays, Fill the trays with water and place in the freezer. Once the basil is frozen, pop the cubes into freezer bags, label and place in the freezer. You can use the cubes in soups, stews, or thaw for pesto.

July tip for repelling ants:

1 cup of fresh peppermint or orange mint

1 cup of fresh rosemary needles

4 quarts of boiling water

In a heat proof bowl or stainless steel sauce pan, add the herbs and pour the boiling water over them. Allow the herbs to steep in the water until cool. Strain out the herbs and add the liquid to a few spray bottles. Spray around doors, windows, outside and inside, kitchen counters, trash cans, pet areas. Ants do not like the oils in the mint and rosemary, it burns their soft bodies. You can spray the herb mixture on them as well. It will stun them and possibly clog their pores, causing death to the insects. Safe to use around children and pets.

~ Meadow Walker

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