Garden Club – Bird Migration

February’s meeting was a workshop on dealing with common garden problems, e.g., pests, mulching, watering and plant location. Also presented were some helpful hints for the gardener.

At the March meeting on the 18th, the assembled throng will hear from Karl Kuhn, a serious “birder.” He’ll speak on migrating birds and feathery residents of Niguel Shores.

More on Herbs* (continued from January): Herbs, like most plants are either annuals like basil, cumin, chamomile, dill and fennel; or perennials like chives, lavender, lemon grass, oregano, rosemary – and let’s not forget thyme. Parsley is one of the few common herbs that is a biennial. However, unless you want to harvest the seed, you can treat it like an annual and plant new plants each season. *These may not be hardy in all regions of the country. Check your zone ratings.

Herb Garden Design: Herbs make great container plants. To grow herbs successfully in containers or window boxes, you’ll need a pot that has adequate drainage holes.

Use fresh potting soil each year and keep the container well watered and fertilized. Try different combinations such as purple-leaved basils mixed with creeping thyme, or silverleafed sage planted with curled-leafed parsley. Large perennial herbs, such as rosemary and lavender, can have their own pot and be over wintered indoors in cold climates. You’ll be amazed at how attractive and useful these potted herbs can be. Soil Requirements: In general, herbs prefer a moderately rich soil. An overly rich soil (or excessive fertilizing) can lead to vigorous growth. However, many people find that the flavor of over fertilized herbs is bland, probably due to reduced essential oil content. Many culinary herbs, such as thyme and oregano, are of Mediterranean heritage and are accustomed to growing in gravely soils. The soil in your herb garden should have excellent drainage. If yours doesn’t, consider growing your herbs in raised beds or containers. Culinary herbs with different leaf textures and colors are best grown close to the house where they can be easily harvested and enjoyed for their beauty. Perennial mints, including spearmint, applemint, and peppermint, are very vigorous and can become invasive. Rather than planting them directly in the garden, grow the plants in containers, and then sink the containers into the garden. This will contain the roots and limit spreading.

Herbs can provide important habitat for beneficial insects. Dill and fennel are two herbs beneficial insects particularly like.

Broccoli Raab: If you’re into gourmet cooking, one of the latest hot culinary items is broccoli raab. Broccoli raab, (sometimes called broccoli rabe) is actually not broccoli. It belongs to the turnip family of vegetables but got its name because it grows florets that are similar in appearance to traditional broccoli. Broccoli raab likes cool temperatures, and seeds can be sowed directly into the soil in early spring. Once sown, broccoli raab takes little effort to grow a successful and tasty crop. Give it a try and impress your dinner guests.

—Morry Meadow