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Posts Tagged ‘transplanting’

planting a holy basil (Ocimum sanctum) bed

Today was a wonderfully productive and easy day. We put many many plants in the ground and the beds are filling up!  There are new full beds of holy basil (aka tulsi), astragalus, st. john’s wort, rosemary, thyme, hyssop, figwort (Scrophularia nodosa), and anise hyssop. We seeded a few California poppy in the center circle, as well as adding a few more hollyhock, a nice patch of jasmine-scented nicotiana, more lady’s mantle and violas and our little tribe of datura (aka jimson weed).

bed for the dragon--rosemary, thyme, hyssop

We put in a few more valerian, another blue vervain, and some strong, large wormwood and mugwort plants to begin our artemisia bed. We also seeded a number of artemisias, including sweet annie (A. annua, aka qing-hao), western mugwort (A. ludoviciana), redstem wormwood (A. scoparia, aka yin-chen), and sagebrush (A. tridentata).

planting artemisia seeds

We finished the bed for comfrey and nettles,  adding stones for pathways when we need to harvest, as well as rhubarb, cleavers and some horseradish that had volunteered elsewhere in the garden. We added hibiscus (the H. sabdariffa, whose calyxes we can make beautiful red tea from), which will be annual shrubs in the front of the bed of otherwise wild-children. The cleavers would like some support and a bit of shading, which they’ll get as the nettles get larger. We seeded in some purple Papaver somniferum Zahir to add some color and other delight to our comfrey-nettle-rhubarb palace–hopefully the weather won’t get too hot for them to germinate. We still have space in that bed for others–perhaps some mints or our bee balm (Monarda) collection?

CNR palace with paths complete, rhubarb in place; dragon comes in to right of rhubarb

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Today was visually undocumented for 2 reasons–1) too hot for our brains to function properly and remember cameras and 2) we committed crimes against the medicine fairies that I for one don’t want to be reminded of. It was 80 degrees by the time we met at 9:30 and only got hotter–95 in town that day. We had more bed shaping and digging to do (sweaty JOY) and we had some mature perennials that had been dug elsewhere and needed to be put in the ground right away. Unfortunately, right away meant on this blistering day that spelled disfigurement and misery for some of the babies. Blech. We gave everyone lots of water with fish/seaweed emulsion and the usual rescue remedy given to all transplants, but it was still just terrible. If I’d been working outside of the schedule of the apprenticeship, I never would’ve done it, but this was what we had so we went with it. Still a teaching moment–what NOT TO DO.

So, now we have some arnica plants that were ready to bloom beautifully who are currently recuperating and giving a good showing of flowers–though not what it would’ve been–on somewhat browned stalks with some shriveled leaves here and there. I think we’ll snip them all and hope for a second bloom. A couple of the earlier transplanted st. john’s worts didn’t appreciate the heat either–even though they didn’t get moved at all that day. On a brighter note, the calendula and valerian we put in look just fantastic, so it wasn’t a total disaster.

The day ended with some folks taking the first swim in the local icy brook. Too early for this sort of heat.

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We had to skip meeting on the second Monday in May and so came together again after 2 weeks. What a difference! Unfortunately, it was mostly a difference in weed size. We had a lot of digging to do, especially to reclaim some of the rocky, clay-filled corners of the garden that hadn’t been worked before. We also had a lot of amending to do–especially in beds that had been home to greedy potatoes–and in others that are just too full of clay for most plants to absorb nutrients or respirate properly. We added tons of compost to improve nutrients and aeration and a bit of wood ash to raise the pH. Medicinal herbs are far less picky about soil conditions, especially pH, than veggies, but we decided we might as well adjust our slightly acidic soil to give them the best environment possible.

Here’s the whole crew hard at work on those rocky corners and other weedy pursuits.

reclaiming the corners

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