Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Herbal Harvest

Midsummer and the herbal harvest continues. I'm constantly harvesting mints since they recover so fast. By now, annuals are well established so I've been harvesting all basils. Cutting back also removes flowers and encourages the plant to branch out and produce more foliage. Chamomile flowers are winding down, but plenty have been dried for tea. Bright, cheery calendula petals are useful in all sorts of skin preparations. Annual statice, probably the best dried flower for holding color, is at its peak. If you grow catnip for your cats, dry some to have for winter use.

I knew it was just a matter of time before Lucy had a nasty run-in with a bee. Well, she tried to eat one and got stung on the tip of her tongue-ouch! Of course, it was after office hours for the vet, so it was an emergency call. But the dr. did get the stinger out plus gave her benedryl which put her to sleep for awhile. About two days later, I was yelling "No bees" again, so I guess she'll never learn. We have a bumper crop of rabbits this year, so she has fun chasing them, usually early in the morning. She's very fast, so we don't let her chase the small ones. I had to capture one little bunny that hopped into greenhouse 2 and settled in between stacks of empty flats. I put him out at the fence line and hope he doesn't find his way back.

Several people have asked me about drying hydrangeas. I do dry a lot lot from our bushes out front. Unfortunately, I've never found a way to dry them at the peak of color and - have them hold both the color and form you want. I wait till later in the season- late August into September. The flowers begin to dry on the stalk. You can feel the getting papery. Then I cut them, stand them in a vase - no water - and put them in a closet away from the light. The color is often darker or more muted than the brilliant summer color. Right now, I'm cutting off blooms that have turned really brown. This will encourage some reblooming and these later flowers will hold a better blue color.

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