Harvesting herbs is all about making the most of your garden’s bounty all year long. In the summer you’ll be able to make frequent cuts and keep them branching, growing, ever grasping towards the sun. In the fall you’ll want to harvest them in bunches, and in winter and early spring you’ll want to cut leaves from the stem right before you cook. Let’s look at how you can make the most of your plants throughout the year!
If this is your first time harvesting herbs, you may want to think about bunching and curing your herbs to use throughout the year. Bring together 10-20 stems of your chosen herb (always bunch like with like!) and bundle them with twine. Hang them somewhere warm and dry like your summer porch, but not in direct sunlight.
Remember that it can take up to a month to completely dry your herbs, and you’ll want to break off any too-crisp leaves before you crush, cut or store them; keep your herbs in individually labeled bags.
In the summer you’ll want to cut plants every day to encourage growth – but only in the beginning of the day before the first sunlight bakes the essential oils in the plants. Always cut leaves near the flowers at the top, not so much near the base if you can help it.
You want to promote branching and growth as much as possible. If you’re going to cook, you may be better off taking a whole stem and chopping it up!
One of the most important things to remember when dealing with herbs is to never cut more than a third of the plant – if you do, it could send it into crisis mode and it will quit producing and could even stunt its growth. That’s the last thing you want to do.
Chives, lavender and a few other plants can be cut down to the quick – while shallots or “green onions” can be cut down as far as you can get them to have quick regrowth.
Storing your herbs carefully in airtight containers (glass, plastic and ceramic work) in a cool, dark and dry place will help them last for as long as possible (up to one year. Keep them away from extreme heat or sources of light, as these can destroy the flavor and fragrance of your herbs.
If you’re trying to figure out what to prune in the fall and what to save for the birds, you’ve come to the right place. There are many important winter crops and seeds that feed birds long after fall (“three-leaf” for example looks a bit like grapes but while its berries are poisonous to humans, provide much needed sustenance to birds in late fall and winter), let’s check a few of them out!
Did You Know: Many perennials just don’t survive after the first frost, so it’s important to trim them back. Not only do they not feed the birds, they can have diseases and pests that can come back to haunt your garden in the spring!
Bearded Iris: Beautiful in bloom, but by fall it’s the favorite snack of iris borers, fungus and more. Once the first frost and toss the old leaves – don’t compost it.
Beebalm: This one is a bit of a combo – you’ll want to cut them back once you spot mildew – but if you can, try to leave the seed heads for birds in the late fall and winter when they need it most.
Columbine: If you spot any leaf miner damage, cut back – and once the foliage begins to die in the fall you’ll want to remove it – don’t compost it.
Daylily: Shear them back and remove the foliage in the fall so you won’t have to deal with it again in the spring.
Coneflowers, Black Eyed Susans and Sunflowers: these flowers are a staple for birds in all season, much less the late fall and winter months. Removing seed heads and cutting back stems will help encourage new growth the following year.
Globe Thistle: You’ll want to keep this around, at least the seed heads. Trim back stems and foliage in the fall.
Zinnia: there are dozens of seeds on a single head – enough to feed a whole gaggle of birds for an entire day. Impatiens and marigolds are also excellent choices in this category.
Campass, Prairie Dock and Cup Plant: These are another type of wildflower that birds love; deadhead the plant and then cut back the stems once they’ve dried out.
Anything with seeds or berries that dry well and can last through the first frost (or freeze well) are going to be ideal plants for birds. Anything that mildews, rots and falls apart needs to be cut back at the first site.
Growing garlic is so much easier than it looks – but you’ll need to prepare the soil, give it plenty of light and space it just right. Let’s get started!
The first step is to find some well-drained, rich, loamy soil that your plants will love – and make sure there is plenty of sun available too! Garlic hates wet feet and shade, so avoid it when choosing your final spot for planting your garlic cloves.
Garlic cloves should be planted in full sun in the fall.
You can buy whole cloves at the store and plant them, it’s easy – but just like with all your other plants, you’re going to want to give them the best start.
You’ll need to sprout your cloves before you plant them in the ground. Get a clear glass jar and fill it with water; add one teaspoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid seaweed and add your cloves. Let them rest in the water for 3-5 hours before you plant them.
You’ll most likely be growing more than one garlic clove at a time; make sure you plant the pointy end up towards the sky and keep the tips 2” below ground so they’ll be protected from the elements. Space out your cloves about 6” to 8” from each other, giving them ample room to grow on their own without crowding – garlic is not a crop you want to have to thin out later.
Garlic only needs a single inch of water each week during the spring – but once your leaves begin to turn yellow in the summer, you’ll want to quit watering your plants. This way they’ll get nice and firm and be ready for a fall harvest!
One of the most important things you can do is fertilize your bulbs – you can use 1 tablespoon of fish emulsion to 1 tablespoon of liquid seaweed mix in a gallon of water – do this once the leaves are green and until the greens turn yellow in the summer.
Scapes, the delicious flowery tendrils that sprout out the top of your garlic bulbs, should be culled regularly throughout the summer; with less energy going towards growth your bulbs will grow big and strong underground, just waiting to be culled.
Once the leaves turn brown it’s time to harvest, usually anywhere from mid-June to mid-July. Tie your garlic together in bundles of 4-6 by the stalks and hang them in a dry, shady space with lots of wind and allow them to cure for 4-6 weeks. Once they’re cured, you can store them for months on end!
Organic gardeners should focus on two elements with regards to fertilizers: phosphorous and nitrogen. Potassium is also an important element, though a bit less so than the other two. There is really no single organic fertilizer source that provides ample quantities of both phosphate and nitrogen. As a result of this, it is important to blend multiple fertilizer sources to give your plants everything they need to grow.
So as you can see, if Jim applies this fish meal fertilizer, Jim’s job is not done. He still needs 2.5 pounds of nitrogen and 18.75 pounds of phosphorous. To achieve this, Jim can supplement his fish meal fertilizer with bone meal, a fertilizer high in phosphorous but fairly low in nitrogen. Bone meal is 22% phosphorous and 3.5% nitrogen. If Jim adds 80 pounds of bone meal to his crops, he’ll add 17.6 pounds of phosphorous and 2.8 pounds of nitrogen. When added to his fish meal fertilizer, this brings his total phosphorous to 23.85 pounds and his total nitrogen to 25.3 pounds. While that’s not exactly 25 and 25 pounds of each, it’s close enough that Jim’s crops will thrive beautifully.
Bone meal is really the only organic fertilizer high in phosphorous (it has 22% while most others have no more than 2 or 3%). For this reason, all organic gardeners will need to use bone meal on their crops. Fertilizers high in nitrogen in addition to fish meal include dried blood (13%), and animal hoofs and horns (also 13%)
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7:05 – rose
10:57 – dragon fruit
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