JULY 1 ~ Cut my garlic scapes today. These gooseneck looking flower heads will go to seed and leave garlic cloves too small. Luckily. aside from being strange and cool to look at, they are very tasty. Cut the scape stem pretty far down--do not cut the leaves. You can refrigerate these for several weeks (a month). I chop them up (the whole stem and flower head) and throw them in salads, sautee with veggies--however you would use garlic. They are milder in taste and firmer in texture.
JULY 2 ~ When i plant my garden, i put radishes in the rows to act as markers since they germinate and grow so quickly (usually 3-4 days). Then I remember where the slow germinating carrots, etc. are and don't weed them out. But, by now, everything is up, ready and past ready to pick ---and I have all these radishes--which you can eat only so much of. So, I picked tons today. All the extras go into making bug spray. Grind them in the blender (bulb and leaf) and then add a bit of natural detergent and garlic and put in a spray bottle. But, while I have them aplenty, radishes do taste good sliced thin and served with feta or a ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
JULY 3 ~ Still raining and getting well past prime time for herb harvesting. Many things are already in bloom--meaning they are too mature for a good medicinal harvest. Luckily, I made more tintures than i needed last year, but for some herbs, my cupboard will be bare until next year. In some cases--like feverfew, i can severely cut back the plant and get a late second harvest in the fall--not optimal, but better than nothing.
Also, due to the rain, the weeds are PLENTIFUL--Fortunately, there are plenty of them that are just as or more tasty and medicinal as the cultivated herbs. All is not lost!
JULY 5 ~ Sugared some rose petals for use this winter. The wild roses are in full bloom and the cultivated ones just beginning. My flowering plants are at their peak right now, so with a few good, sunny days, I'm making some Flower Essences (garden peas, roses, lady's mantle, motherwort)
JULY 6 ~ Harvested caraway seed. This biennial can be tricked into living several years if you don't allow it all to go to seed. I did remember several weeks ago to chop half of it back when it was coming into flower, so I have my supply of tasty seeds and a source for next year. Also, daylilies are blooming--I'll have some blossoms stuffed with goat cheese or herbed cream cheese for supper
JULY 7~ Another rainy day, so herb work is inside. Made some salves from oils (yarrow, calendula, comfrey and chickweed) that were sitting around taking up cabinet space.
JULY 8 ~ During the days of the Full moon each month is my favorite time to take a walk in the garden at night. I have many grey/silver leaved and white blooming flowers that can not be appreciated fully unless seen by moonlight.
JULY 9 ~ Edible pod peas have been coming in for several days, but my shelled peas are in now. Usually, this is cold pea soup weather--but it too chilly!! And, I am too lazy, so I'm just going to steam my peas with the traditional herb pairing of mint. It does not sound good, but it is very satisfying and tasty. Peas are another food my grandson would not eat, but today he helped pod them and said he would try them for dinner. He does like to chew on mint leaves, though, so i picked spearmint and lemon balm, bruised them with my fingers and just floated them in cool water. He loved that--better for you than lemonade and very refreshing.
JULY 10 ~ Last night at the last minute, i decided on some stuffed daylilies as a side dish. They are on the decline and I wanted to make full use of them since so many plants this year are not at their best. I made up a stuffing recipe on the spot based on what i had in the fridge--it was delicious and I'm having more for lunch today---1 Tbsp. of goat cheese (per blossom), mixed with pepper to taste, finely chopped mint leaves, finely chopped radishes, salt to taste. You can substitute cream cheese or feta, change up the herb(s)--no end to the yummy possibilities. Some people take the time to fry these, but they are great raw--i like them better--and they are better for you - and a much quicker fix than cooking.
JULY 12 ~ The Milkweed is blooming!! Most people weed it out or mow it down before ever seeing it grow big enough to identify--but it was the first herb I ever knew (sap for athlete's foot) and it is the only food source for Monarch butterflies. The early shoots are good steamed andthe flowers........are gorgeous. They are various dusky shades of lavender--and the aroma is like nothing else. I am lucky enough to have it in my fields, but also have it in my garden. I have to get rid of some of the garden ones as they get very big and impede my vegetables. But I do let several grow, because smelling them now and having butterflies around me later make weeding and garden maintainence a much more pleasant task.
JULY 13 ~ Made some milkweed floral waters today. Several of my sages/lavenders need to be renewed. I dug them up and cut out he dead/woody centers and replanted the outer parts of the plant. Won't look like much this year, but next year, they will be gorgeous.
JULY 15 ~ MINT!! I had an instinct to buy more mints to plant--and wondered why I would do such an unwise thing--well, I have discovered that mint pairs well with so many things-unexpected things. I have been adding it to my steamed veggies, fruit dishes, mixed with cream cheese/sour cream as a dip....
JULY 16 ~ Finally a hot day--but an on/off wet one--not so good to work outside--so I'll make a few ice creams. One of lavender and one chocolate mint. I have extra goat milk and cream--and some free time
JULY 18 ~ A dry, warm and sunny day--I actually got lots of things done! The first raspberries came in, so for the next few weeks I have to be outside at first light to get the berries before the birds do. My roses are gorgeous. I picked lots of petals to candy/crystalize---and some to steep in milk to drink- a yummy Indian recipe--it is truly a treat for the soul. I staked out everything I can pick tomorrow and got jars ready to make oils and tinctures. Calendulas will be first on my list. They are blooming like crazy and will until late Fall. I add blossoms every day to oils. Picked peas and now have some squash blossoms to stuff. On the down side--the Japanese beetles are here- so search and destroy missions will be daily.
JULY 19 ~ Very busy-everything seems to be blooming at once. I picked Elder Blossoms to make Elder Fizz (3 gallons will get me through the year) and harvested to dry: bee Balm, feverfew and yarrow and picked calendula flowers to dry and put in oil to steep for 6 weeks. Drank more rose petal infused milk and gave some to my grandson--who loved it. At this point, the bulk of most meals is coming from the garden and I have harvested enough plants to make an adequate amount of medicines for the coming year, so now i can concentrate on extras for others.
JULY 21 ~ Decanted Elder Fizz to ferment for 2-3 weeks before bottling. Harvested caraway seed. Harvested half of my cilantro seeds (corriander) and am continuing to cut back the other half of plant to get daily cilantro for salads and salsas--and also to keep the plant alive for a few years.
JULY 23 ~ Having enjoyed my lovage plant since early spring- to replace my having to buy celery- it is finally time to cut it back for the year--maybe to get a second harvest (one benefit of this rainy/cool year). The leaves taste like celery and the ribs, if cut small, add that needed crunch to salads--but if you like bloody mary's (or V-8 juice /FRUSION for kids), using the stems as straws is great fun.
JULY 24 ~ Went Blueberry picking today. Fun to pick-especially with kids--and if you have read the book-"Blueberries for Sal" ---and oh so healthy--good for eyesight, diabetes, cardiovascular health. Fruits in season are some of our most useful herbal medicines.
JULY 25 ~ Cutting back a lot of plants--I leave the stems laying on the soil near the plant (not too close to the stems to avoid mold) Because of rains, there is a fair ampunt of powdery mildew on bee balm and hyssop--those are put on the bonfire to avoid spreading that disease.
JULY 27 ~ Harvested Heal All (Ajuga reptans) from the shadier areas of my yard. Dried some and tinctured the rest. Made up some Ear Mite Oil for the cats. Steeping rosemary in almond oil for 6 weeks-enough to last 4 cats a year.
JULY 28 ~ Spend most of my days picking--peas (which have been VERY generous this year), red and black raspberries, zuchinnis , squash blossoms, greens. The weather has finally turned hot-so all the corn/tomatoes and pumpkins have doubled in size in just the last week.
Lots of work---but--every week I take a few hours to simply sit and enjoy--no weeding, or judging how things look, or thinking what i have to do next--or even next YEAR! I look and listen and notice the little surprises of self seeded things or strange new plants from where ever. As always, much of the enjoyment comes from "neglected areas"-where I didn't get mowed or forgot to weed.
JULY 31 ~ Spent today baking for LAMMAS. Fresh herb breads, (used dill, parsley, chives, fennel, oregano...), Blueberry Pie and will have Challah for dinner. It has been raining all day--again, so the traditional bonfire will have to wait until tomorrow night.
My daughter said she also had felt compelled to cook a lot with mint this year and has been using it with pasta (along with lemon and oil) and making lots of Tabouli. It has been a nerve wracking year--mint is good for frazzled nerves and the digestive upsets they can cause!
Tina Finneyfrock JUL