Summer rolls on--now we're in July. June just sped by. Maybe that's because, with all the rain, I spent a good part of the month outside weeding the gardens. Seems like we'd get everything cleaned up, then we'd get a big rain and instantly, the weeds were back. We were lucky here, in that we got the rain, but not the high winds. With all the moisture, the newly planted annuals are well established. I've pinched back basils a couple times and the plants have branched out well. Pinching back produces a compact plant with lots of foliage--exactly what you want with basils.
Since everything is growing so well, I've been doing a lot of harvesting. I'm drying culinary herbs--like oregano, savory, thyme, mints, lemon verbena. I air dry these in bunches or on my screened racks. With the humid weather, it's hard to get them completely dry, since they reabsorb moisture from the air. When they're nearly dry, I finish them off in the dehydrator, so they are completely dry before storing them. I've harvested a good crop of chamomile flowers. The dried flowers are a popular item in the shop--makes a great, relaxing bedtime tea.
I've been harvesting flowers for drying, too. Yellow yarrow is just finishing up. It dries so easily and the golden color is a wonderful addition to dried wreaths and arrangements. Also harvested the striped, balloon-like seedpods of nigella or love-in-a-mist. The blue, white or pink flowers are followed by the seedpods, which contain dozens and dozens of seeds in each pod. I dry bunches, remove more and leave just a few to reseed. Otherwise, I'd have a forest of them!
Good news on the honeybee front. I've been seeing more then one at a time, but nowhere near the numbers I used to see. Recently, they've been working the annuals blooming in the greenhouse. And I'm starting to see more butterflies--lots of skippers, some fritillarys, red admirals and a couple commas. Should have a bumper crop of swallowtail butterflies this year. Had caterpillars on parsley and dill in several locations in the garden.
Our plant sale is on-going. We're out of a number of varieties, but still have a good selection of perennials. There's still plenty of time for planting and for them to establish themselves before the end of the season. After July 4, perennials will be 33% off. Plus, you get a free basil plant with your purchase!
Don't forget to cut back blooming perennials when they're done flowering to encourage growth of new, clean foliage. Also, if you want to cut back lavender for better shaping of your plants, this is the time to do it. Other tasks include saving seed as the seedheads mature and making sure biennials drop seed. They will produce new foliage this year and allow continuing flowering next season.