July is the beginning of the real harvest season for us. Not that the spring gardens didn’t produce, but we didn’t plant any of the real “good stuff” early this season. We mostly just had enough lettuce to feed a family of four for two months. It was beautiful (garden netting is a blessing), but after a month of lettuce wraps and salads for dinners every night, we were ready for something new…and I don’t mean lettuce soup. Gosh, I don’t know why I tried to listed to that suggestion.
Lettuce soup is a never-ever for us.
We have finally finished off most of the lettuce, to my husband’s delight, and now the rest of the gardens are bursting with new crops. Many of the herbs in our gardens have matured and are ready for harvest.
Our drying hut is starting to fill up with bunches of oregano, basil, thyme, chives, mint, peppermint and bee balm. DON’T WORRY, we have left a few hundred bee balm plants for the hummingbirds and other pollinators.
The hummingbirds were chirping and zooming around us as we marched into one of the large patches and “stole” away the spent flowers.
Our blueberry bushes are busting with berries and the tomato plants are producing some beautiful fruits. The pumpkins and squash are healthy (despite the squash bugs), and the beans and cucumbers are going strong.
As for the onions…well, the onions were trampled by “herds of bunnies” this spring, so they’re not doing so well. We say “herds of bunnies” jokingly, because it was hard to believe at first that the tiny, adorable cottontail we saw gently hopping in the clover could possibly be the only culprit.
According to the trail camera and, eventually, our own eyes…it was. The sneaky little bugger would scoot under the fence and then power-hop all over the onions patch like a tiny, fuzzy Tony Manero *cue the song ‘Staying Alive.’* We don’t think it was after the onions, but we do think it was after the carrot tops and baby lettuce that kept popping up between weeding weekends. “What on earth did we plant lettuce and carrots between the rows for?” We didn’t mean to; our best guess is that there were seeds in the compost. Live and learn!
Despite the damage done by disco bunny, it looks like we are going to be getting a decent harvest of onions. Thankfully we followed some wise advice from my parents – Always plant more than you think you’ll need!
The rest of the gardens are looking great and we are continuing to learn as we go. We have had lots of dinners seasoned with fresh herbs, and I’ve been enjoying bee balm tea with a little honey from my friend’s hives.
For anyone interested, I’ve included my recipe for be balm iced tea below.
Happy summer and happy gardening!
Bee Balm Iced Tea
*For about 4 Servings*
– 36 healthy & fresh or dried bee balm leaves (check the fresh ones to make sure you do not use leaves that have powdery mildew).
-6 cups water
– Place leaves into infuser or mesh/straining bag and close
– Place infuser or bag into a large sauce pan or heat-proof container
– Pour boiling water over the infuser/tea bag and let steep for 5-10 minutes
– Remove the infuser/tea bag and let the tea water cool at room temperature for 10 minutes on a heat-proof surface
– Cover the container and place the mixture into the fridge for 30 minutes, or until ready to serve (I don’t keep it in the fridge longer than 3 days). You can also just add ice and enjoy.
– For a sweeter tea, add honey to taste while the tea is still warm and mix it thoroughly.
*NOTE – As with the consumption of any herbal supplements, always check to make sure consuming particular herbs will not interfere with any medications you take or health issues you might have.*