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Dallying In The Dirt, Issue #304 - Drying parsley sage is an easy way to store these herbs
October 17, 2017

Abundant crops of Parsley and Sage have been harvested and are about to be hung up to dry in the solarium. Now if I just had some Rosemary and Thyme I could be on my way to Scarborough Fair. Thyme I have by the bucket load as the creeping variety makes up most of the pathway in the front garden. Most years I have a living Rosemary plant growing in the Solarium. Drying herbs for winter time cooking is a simple and easy way to utilize those flavours. Parsley is a great container plant on the deck all summer and if it’s in the ground it is a fairly reliable biennial, at least in my zone. You get lovely yellow flowers in the second year. Sage is even easier as it is a hardy perennial for me and every year the crop gets bigger. Start a few seeds or buy a couple of plants in the spring and add them to your perennial garden. The foliage is that lovely soft grey/green that works as a nice contrast in the garden. Cut it to the ground in the fall and dry the uppermost soft leaves to fill your spice drawer. Yesterday was the right time to do it as I saw some frost on the top of the truck when I looked out the window this morning. Nothing looks damaged in the garden but we are certainly well past that time of year and the Begonias are living on borrowed time.

I hope the Begonias survive for another few days. This is a developing Begonia seed pod and I really want to be able to harvest those seeds. It is a deep orange non-stop Begonia that I grew from seed. I got a range of flower and leaf colours from those seeds and this was the best one. I have one small seed pod already but would like one more. I probably don’t need it as Begonias have incredibly small seed and the one pod I opened had a few hundred seeds in it. This pod is just bigger and healthier looking and may have a higher percentage of viable seed. I have never had any problem with Begonia seed viability or at least none that I could detect. When you sprinkle a few hundred seeds into a germination tray there is really no way to count them or the resulting seedlings. There is always more then enough. Any attempt to sow them individually would just drive me bonkers. The one advantage of purchasing Begonia seed is that it is usually coated and can then be handled individually but that takes all the fun out of it.

You keep hearing about my great garden downsizing. This lovely looking piece of garden soil was once one of my backyard perennial gardens and the one I had the most trouble maintaining. Once it was cleaned out and I could really see how big it was, it became much more obvious why I could never keep ahead of it. It also abuts my neighbours yard and he readily confesses to his sins which include planting Goutweed Aegopodium podagraria and Chinese Lanterns Physalis alkekengi before he had any idea about their rather invasive tendencies. I expect that this lovely piece of fertile soil will resprout with Goutweed sometime soon. The vast majority of this space will be covered with sod. It’s hard to believe that this garden was big enough that it will take at least 20 rolls of sod to cover it. If you look closely at the top of the picture you may see the remains of a large clump of Colchicum and a large Clump of ornamental grass, Pennisetum Heavy Metal. I have dug both of those up. The Colchicum were much easier. They were both divided into several smaller clumps and planted in a long row tight to the fence. That should make an attractive and easy to care for living fence. The potential downside is the small strip of open soil that may invite the Goutweed to come and visit. We’ll deal with that problem when it occurs and it surely will. The most interesting thing to watch for is how well the Colchicum do after being divided.

Now it’s time to answer a few of my reader’s questions. To ask a question just “reply” to this ezine. Don’t forget to check the front page of the Website for frequent short ideas for current gardening activities.

Sue Asks? I'm thinning out my sedums and have a lot of plant material. Can I cut that up and mix into the soil? Isn't that 'green manure' and good for the soil.

Ken Answers! That should work just fine. One thought, Sedum are very tough plants and it you plant a bit of root with some crown attached, it will probably grow. Just chop and sort carefully.

Ann Asks? I have a question about bulb planting in my front yard where the rabbits chomp/pick the tulip blooms every year. Is it your experience that rabbits will leave both daffodils and hyacinths alone? Anything else?

Ken Answers! I get a few Tulip flowers cut off each year but don't know whether to blame the rabbits or the squirrels. There are about 1000 Tulips in my front yard so I don't get too worked up over a few. I do spread Acti-sol, a chicken manure based fertilizer, around Tulips. It's great fertilizer and the little beasts don't like the smell and mostly stay away. Narcissus and Hyacinths seem to be distasteful to them as do many of the smaller bulbs like Iris, Muscari and Chiondoxa.

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