August in the Herb Garden

Cut back chives- by now they’re leggy and overgrown, and probably a little on the strong side. Cut them back 2 to 3 inches at the base of the clumps. Water well for several days. New and tender shoots will quickly re-grow.

Prune the mint- August is hot and dry and mint loves moisture, so now would be a good time to give them a trim. If growing in containers, trim the plants about 2/3 down to the soil line. Water daily for a week or so, and the mints will produce lush and fragrant new growth. If the mints are growing in the garden, prune them level with the soil and water heavily for a week or two.

For a continuous autumn crop, sow these seeds now:

Coriander, sow the seeds in full sun, keep the soil evenly moist until the seeds sprout. Keep sowing the seeds each week until late September, This will keep you supplied with fresh green leaves until frost.

Dill- does well in late summer as the days are usually cooler. Scatter the seeds on dry soil and in full sun. Don’t cover the seeds. Slow to germinate, but worth the wait. The dill will produce delicious fern like leaves until November.

Parsley- Direct sow this month in deep, fertile soil. Keep the soil evenly moist until the seeds sprout. Parsley seeds are slow to germinate, so be patient.

If basil plants have gone to seed, it’s possible to get yet another harvest from them. Pinch a few side shoots from the mature plants and place the shoots in water. They should sprout in about ten days. Once they have rooted, plant them in the garden or containers. Discard the old plants. The new shoots will go on to produce and mature until frost.

Best herbs for drying: Mint, lemon balm, rosemary, sage and thyme.

Best herbs for freezing: Basil, chervil, chives, fennel and parsley.

If you have herbs growing in containers, begin to pot them up in larger containers with fresh potting soil. They have used up most of the nutrients by now in the old soil and more than likely, they’re root bound as well. If you have too many, consider giving some away to herb loving friends.

If you’re planning on giving miniature rosemary trees for the holidays – start now. Buy a few red or white 6″inch pots, and fill them with moist potting soil. Insert a fresh rosemary cutting in the center of the soil. Use a pencil to poke a hole in the middle. Insert the cutting, tamp the soil down to remove air pockets, and place the pots in a shaded area. Keep the soil moist for the next several weeks. The cuttings should root. Once they have rooted, move the plants to a sunny area. They should be ready for gift giving around Thanksgiving.

~ Meadow Walker

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