Feature

June in the Garden

Every gardener has a few herbs in their garden, what they are used for, well their uses are so numerous I would have to extend my column to tell you.
This month I'm going to write about herbs in general not about any in particular. Now as we all know we gardeners are a bit of an eccentric bunch, so you will know what I'm trying to tell you and that I'm not completely mad.
Before you harvest take time out to observe and absorb the plant, ask yourself how the plant makes you feel, engage with the plant, talk to it strike up a conversation. This is what the Aboriginal and tribal people do and have done for a very long time perhaps you will find this easier than you think.
If you haven't time for a long connection then just take a moment before you harvest to appreciate the plant and always thank them.
Herbs should be harvested when they are at their best. With leaves it is just before the plant comes into flower, with flowers it is when they are fully open, with fruit it is when the fruit is ripe and sweet and with roots it is when the energy has dropped back down into them at the end of autumn. First year roots are the sweetest for eating and not forgetting seeds it is when they are fully formed and dried out.
Always harvest on a dry day, when the sun or wind has dried the dew from the plants, this is best around midday or early afternoon. If at all possible harvest from many plants so that you don't deplete the whole plants energy. If you are gathering in the countryside ( which I don't agree with as you can easily grow what you need at home) only pick where there is a great profusion of plants and pick so that you would not know you had been there.
If you haven't already why not start a herb journal and record the date and where you picked it but also write down your thoughts about the plant and what you used it for. This is invaluable to look back on. Process the plant as quickly as you can using the best leaves checking them for insects, eggs, fungal growths and check over flowers and fruit for blemishes use only the freshest.
Everything else put back on the earth or in the compost with your thanks. Using the fresh plant when it is full of its vital life force is best every time but we have to find ways to store them so they can be used all Until next time Good Gardening

 

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