June in the Herb Garden

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Time to re-pot any 3 inch herb plants that you bought at the garden center. Go to the next largest size pot, 6 to 8 inches. Use a good potting soil, Hyponex, Miracle Gro, or Hoffman’s. Trim away any excess roots that have wrapped themselves around the pot. Water well, and place them in a shady area for a day or so.

Pinch out the blooms and developing seed heads of basil plants. This will keep the plants from going to seed. Once basil produces a flowering top, production will slow down. You can pinch off side shoots from the mother plants, and root the shoots in a glass of water. After the shoots have rooted, plant them in the garden or in planters. If you have several pots of basil, place them near outdoor seating areas and doors to keep insects away. And to keep them off of you, just crush a leaf or two in your hand and rub it on your skin. To help basil emit a stronger insect repelling fragrance, water the plants at the root level instead of leaf watering. To keep basil growing strong and healthy, feed them every 4th watering with a dilute solution of plain black coffee or unsweetened ice tea. The tannic acid in the coffee or tea is loaded with nitrogen. Just what the basil plants love.

June is a great month to cut back chive plants. They have probably finished flowering by now, and could use a bit of trimming. Cut them back 2 inches above soil level. Water them well for several days, and they’ll bounce back with tender new shoots.

Welcome birds, bees and butterflies to your garden by growing zinnias, marigolds, lemon balm, lavender and sage in an area that receives 6 hours of sun. Add a bird bath and a feeder, and this will help the little creatures cope with hot and humid days.

Most herbs are not bothered by insects. I said most. The insects love basil and dill. Either hand pick the insects or spray them with Dawn dish detergent. Add a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water. Give it a shake and spray.

For repelling mosquitoes, try growing catnip. Cat’s love it, but biting mosquitoes don’t. Catnip repels these insects twice as much as DEET. DEET is a toxic chemical that plays havoc with beneficial insects. Catnip is safe to use and it works ! You can buy a package of catnip seeds and plant the seeds in the garden and in containers. Plant in full sun and moist soil. Dry the leaves and soak them in white vinegar for a potent and all natural insect repellent.

What’s better than fresh basil and the green tops of garlic? I sprayed the grill tonight with a cooking spray and placed a bunch of fresh basil leaves and garlic tops on the grill and cooked boneless chicken breasts on top of all the greenery. It gave the chicken this wonderful garlicky-basil flavor. We had cucumber and tomato salad and baked potatoes with chive butter. Delicious dinner !

Don’t over water lavender and sage during hot and humid days. These two herbs do much better with a drier soil. Water sparingly and only when the soil looks dry. The same applies for rosemary. She does not like wet soil or a heavy mulch.

If you’re growing tomatoes, pinch off a sucker from the bottom of the plant and root it in water. Once it’s rooted, plant it in the garden. This little sucker will grow up and produce another tomato plant for you.

If squash, cucumber and peppers are not setting fruit, they may need help from you. Take a q-tip and gently rub the flowers. This will stimulate the flowers to set fruit.

Slugs? Sprinkle black pepper along their slimy trails. They won’t return to that area.

Happy gardening.

~ Meadow Walker

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