Monday, June 18, 2012

So, what's happening now?

With the great start perennials have gotten this year, I've been busy harvesting.  I've harvested lavender to dry for bunching and also made lavender wands when it was fresh.  Once the little florets open, the bees love it.  I let the flowers stand until the bees are done and then cut back the flower stems.  Other flowers I've cut and dried include yarrow, lady's mantle, and nigella (love-in-a-mist) seed pods.

Well established perennials can be cut back by half and dried.  I've made a couple cuttings from oregano, lemon balm, mints and tarragon.  I'm also drying chamomile flowers for tea.  Both chamomile and lavender flowers have more oil and flavor than leaves, making them good candidates for tea and culinary use.  I'm also drying thyme, although I cut that back by about a third.  Generally the woody stemmed herbs are cut back less, since they are slower growing compared to other, more vigorous perennials like mints and oregano.

Make sure your annuals are well established before making large harvests.  You can snip to use fresh at any time, but hold off on large cuttings till they are growing well.

I was concerned early on because I hadn't seen many bees, but they are really working the catmint and lavender in the bed in front of the greenhouse.  And there are literally dozens and dozens of honeybees enjoying the flowers on the thyme walk.  We don't do much work there, so we will not disturb them.  On sunny days, it looks like big chunks of thyme are moving because there are so many active bees.  I've read that they plant thyme in France to attract bees - certainly seems like it works.

Lots and lots of little butterflies - mostly cabbage whites and other whites, along with a few sulfers.  I have seen a few larger species - comma, red admiral, and painted lady - but the larger ones seem more plentiful in mid and late summer.  I'm starting to see swallowtail caterpillars on dill, parsley, fennel and rue, so those butterflies will appear shortly.

Our plant sale starts June 23.  Perennials are buy 3, get 1  free and annuals are half off.  Try a new plant or fill a spot in your garden.

Posted for Kathy.

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