The mean temperature for the entire summer (June-July-August) was 92.3 degrees. Temperatures raced above 100 early in mid-June and maintained through the rest of the summer, giving us a total of 67 days of 101+ weather (16-26-25), with a max of 106 degrees on three days. I was miserable. Doing anything in the yard whatsoever meant I swam in my own sweat. We had a couple of bushes and one tree die. But the herb garden was my little sanctuary – my little nursery of babies to nurse and keep healthy. And my efforts paid off. The herbs maintained themselves well despite the heat, and I suspect that being located on the East wall of the house had a lot to do with it. Well, that and a very watchful eye on my part. It took me several weeks to figure out how to water them correctly. First I watered them too much. Then I watered them too shallow and too often. Then I couldn’t water them enough with all of the persisting heat.
Yet, with the passing of the heat, I’ve seen a rejuvenation in my herbs. I know this has a little to do with a good soaking from the rainstorms this past weekend, but I didn’t let them get very wet. I built a canopy in early summer that I’ve used to keep the roof runoff from destroying the garden bed and I had them covered for most of the showers (the soaking was an accident really). When I say they’re covered, they’re covered. Rain would have to come in sideways from the East to get past the cover. Rain or no – over the past several days, the sage, thyme and especially the oregano have just exploded with new growth!
I’ll be ready to harvest basil and sage again this weekend. I think I’ll be a bit more aggressive with the sage this time around. It has been about two weeks since the last harvest and both sage plants have completely filled up their spots in the garden and are starting to crowd the curry plants. The basil is over two-feet tall again and is choking the light from the marjoram (evident by the longer stems reaching towards the light). The last basil harvest produced two full ziploc sandwich bags of dried leaves. I expect a little less this weekend – I’ve had quite a few worms do their work.
I’ll also trim they thyme and marjoram. It looks like I’ll have a lot more thyme this time around, which is awesome. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to start harvesting the oregano plants, too. It looks promising. I have left them alone all summer. I read that you should let the oregano plant start growing upwards a few inches before harvesting it. I’ve never grown oregano, and after watching it spread it’s spidery arms out along the ground all summer, I began to doubt that it would ever grow up. This past week has really proved me wrong. The oregano plants have not only grown exponentially in their long, spidery arms, but they have also begun to reach several inches into the air. After growing more upwards, I expect them to want to produce flowers. At that point, I’ll just keep pinching them back and allow them to get bushier. This is what I hope anyway. I expect one of the plants to start growing over the side of the garden within the next week. So, we’ll see if they’re ready to go by this weekend.
This weekend is also time to build some beds for broccoli, carrots, lettuce and spinach. The broccoli seeds are already started, so we’ll see what pops up. I was a couple weeks late getting them in dirt, but I was waiting until temperatures dipped below 90. I probably won’t plant anything for the next couple of weeks, as I want to add my amendments and let the new dirt sit a couple of weeks first. It’s probably not necessary, but it probably won’t hurt. Besides, I’ve got a few weeks until I need to get the lettuce and spinach started. I’m still wondering if I’ll be better planting them near the house on the East side like the herbs, or if I should move the lettuce/spinach beds out to full sun. Near the house, they will get 6-7 hours of direct sun, with shade in the afternoon. Surely that will be enough sunlight. Any thoughts?