It's Summertime in the Garden

comments (0) June 29th, 2019

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cookinwithherbs susan belsinger, contributor
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Heres a young, not quite mature, preying mantis scouting for bugs to eat. Ive seen lots of these beneficial insects so far this season. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
I use both the leaves and flowers of anise hyssop--this is a white-flowering one rather than the common purple. They are lovely in teas and desserts, baked goods and beverages. I infuse them in vinegar and in vodka! Harvest yours now and youll have new growth for later in the season. Pollinators adore this herb and deer leave it alone.
My comfrey is falling over again. I harvested it once like this in spring. The bees really like the little bell-like blooms. I cut it all of the way back and use the the larger leaves around plants for a nutrient-rich mulch. I dry small leaves and flowers to make salve and have on hand for poutices.
Both the common roadside daylily and the many colorful varieties that I grow are edible flowers. (Although you do not want to harvest flowers where there is traffic pollution). I eat the buds sauteed and tossed with pasta or in a stir-fry and the flower petals I scatter over salads or use as crudites with dip.
After my initial harvests in the spring, nettles have recently bloomed and formed seeds. With gloves on, I harvest leaves and use them like any potherb for wilting with olive oil and garlic; I dry leaves for tea; and use the nettle seed in making gomasio.
The Monarda fistulosa aka wild beebalm, is peaking right now. Butterflies, bees and wasps and hummingbirds frequesnt the patch throughout the day. Since the leaves and flowers contain carvacrol, I use their spicy flavor on pasta, pizza, veggies and in grain dishes--just like Id use oregano.
Signet, or gem marigolds are petite plants with small edible blooms--both have a hint of citrus flavor. I use their petals to garnish salads, vegetables and desserts.
Heres an echinacea in bloom with a busy swallowtail. I grow these purple coneflowers to attract pollinators and to make a root tincture; plants need to be at least three years old before harvesting the root.
Summer squash plants are just about ready to bloom--which means squash soon!
Cucumbers are coming along--training them to climb the cucumber cage--which is easier for harvest rather than have them crawl along the ground.
Tomatoes are also blooming and a few of them already have green fruit--just might pick the first tomato of the season before the Fourth of July!
I plant all sorts of ornamental marigolds throughout the garden to deter pests--they are odoriferous--in a pleasant way and are great for cutting.
Heres a young, not quite mature, preying mantis scouting for bugs to eat. Ive seen lots of these beneficial insects so far this season. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.Click To Enlarge

Here's a young, not quite mature, preying mantis scouting for bugs to eat. I've seen lots of these beneficial insects so far this season. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.

Photo: susan belsinger

We recently celebrated the summer solstice as well as St. John's Day (sometimes referred to as Midsummer) and the hot weather has arrived here in Maryland. We haven't had much rain so plant growth, especially flowering, has progressed rapidly--it seems a lot of plants are flowering earlier than usual this year. And along with the blooms, I am seeing lots of pollinators from birds and bees to butterflies and moths, as well as beneficials like preying mantis and ladybugs.

Before we know it, we'll be harvesting summer veggies! Right now, a lot of herbs need to be cut back and harvested. Pictured here are a number of culinary and medicinal herbs that I cultivate and harvest for the kitchen, the boudoir and to use in tinctures and to dry for teas. Some herbs we want to keep cut back to prevent their flowering, like basil and cilantro. Other herbs I grow especially for their blooms--like calendula, chamomile and lavender.

Enjoy the growing season and get out there and harvest your herbs. What is going on in your gardens?

Farewell to June and welcome July--Happy Fourth!

 

 

 

 


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