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Jessica’s Garden: There’s Nothing Like A Little Dirt Therapy

Galvanized tub with peppermint

True to Maryland’s form, we have switched from Winter straight into Summer. Among my favorite things about this time of year are the heat thunderstorms. After a scorching day, the sky breaks and it pours and pours. As a child, I remember lying in bed with the windows open, listening to the thunder roll and embracing the fresh cool air. We had substantial storms in Carroll County this past Monday evening. I made the mistake of pulling all my seedlings out of the greenhouse to get doused before the storm. They received a harsh lesson in hardening up for the real world in the garden.

Black Currants starting to fruit

The patches of lawn I killed a week or so ago are finally starting to show their defeat. I asked my husband to till the smallest area for my potatoes. While this was intended for my berry bushes, I’m afraid that now that they are starting to bear fruit, transplanting them will cause too much stress on the plants. So this solved another problem I encountered in last year’s garden–planting tomatoes and potatoes too closely together. The potato beetles were terrible for me. As soon as they’d completely ravaged my poor potatoes, they tried to destroy my tomatoes. Now, they will be planted across the backyard from one another and I’m hoping to contain this issue.

It felt so good to get my hands in the soil this morning and work on planting my potato patch. There is nothing quite like dirt therapy. It’s a time for me to have some much deserved and craved “alone time.” Sometimes it’s just nice to be alone with your thoughts.  And then when I do get company in the garden, usually from my favorite three year old, it’s always welcome and enjoyed. There’s nothing like sweat on your brow and dirt under your fingernails to make you feel accomplished.

Salvaged pots for herbs-1
Salvaged pots for herbs

The last few seasons I have been planting a significant portion of my herbs in my vegetable garden since we have space. But I also love how fresh herbs look in pots on our new front porch. And the convenience is nice too; it’s a much shorter trip to the front porch than the back garden for a sprig of thyme or fresh chives. And mint is something I would never dare plant straight in the soil in fear of losing complete control of it.

Sage in bloom

In addition to the pots I painted and planted with herbs last week, I also started collecting some galvanized tubs. I drilled holes in the bottom for drainage and lined the tub with burlap (for two reasons: you can never have too much burlap and also, I thought it might prolong the life of the container if the soil wasn’t in absolute direct contact with it.) My mint looks perfect in it, and it’s handy for when mojitos come into Summer fashion.

Chive Blossoms

I have found that my perennial herbs that have survived the winter tend to flower very quickly.  I try to stay on top of pinching off the flower blossoms to keep the plant producing all Summer and into Fall. A lot of times, these blossoms can be used in cooking. I snagged all the blossoms from my mother’s chives, disguising my harvest as garden help.  I really wanted them to make a chive blossom, lemon zest and peppercorn sea salt. They are supposed to have a light onion flavor that I thought might be nice for seasoning veggies for the grill this Summer.

We also snagged my husband’s smoker from my parent’s house. It’s been there since I was hiding it for Christmas. I think my father was hoping we’d forgotten about it.  I am looking forward to a season of family and friends and backyard barbecues at the farmhouse. I’m aware summer can get hot, but it’s the time of year when I thrive. I am more than elated that the weather has turned for the warmer.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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