June has come quickly, and there is so much more left to do. The tomatoes are planted, and interspersed is basil, the queen of the summer herbs in her glorious varieties. I have found various cultivars that just have to be tried! There is columnar, sweet, lime, lemon and, of course, Thai basil. One of my plants was purchased in earlier days at Trader Joe’s and is just now enjoying a new spot in the garden.
I am still harvesting a few strawberries growing in beds and in pots. I love how they spread, jumping from the pot to the graveled area. The next berry harvest will be blackberries. It truly is a weed and would like to spread throughout my vegetable garden. It is being put to good use by sharing the new plants that pop up from the root system and cane tips. One more berry harvest is awaiting: raspberries. I was given one plant by a gardening friend and it too is moving with great success from pot to walkways.
- Chores for June include watering with drip irrigation, if possible.
- Keep herbs trimmed so that flowers do not develop, unless you also have a bee yard.
- Fresh new herbs are perfect for drying, either in a dehydrator or suspended as a bundle.
- Seed heads may begin to form and they can be collected for next year. I have arugula drying in a paper bag.
- Various flowers can be dead headed and I have been busy doing that with my daisies.
My fun project again this year is sweet potato cultivation. Last year I experimented with three varieties. This year I have added more and am keeping track of planting, fertilization, and slip placement. The great information I received from Jeff Carnahan at the USDA about “best practices” should help increase my success. The above images show “The People’s Community Garden” in Bartlett. Youth volunteers had gathered to add garden soil, form raised beds, and plant various sweet potato slips from the University of Louisiana and the University of North Carolina research stations. Most of these potatoes are in the trial stages, including at least three purple varieties. Carnahan has advised a onetime application of 25g of 8-8-8 and 25g of 0-0-65 in the furrows close to each slip. After that, success comes with consistent watering.
This project is even more fun because more gardening families have joined in giving this crop a try, and they are now part of the Sweet Potato Club! The summer challenge will be stir frying the young leaves as a new culinary experience.
~~ Reni Erskine