Well, I don’t know about you, but I found June to be most satisfactory over all. It was a weird month as I caught up to many projects, some of which are almost completely finished. Very careful to not start lots of new ones like I usually do, I’ll be free in July to focus on getting everything off my old ‘to-do’ lists and take a trip up to see our daughter and her wife in San Francisco for a weekend.
Most of my gardening efforts have been pulling weeds and clearing out dead things to make room for the tomatoes that are slowly growing. Slowly since we have had a lot of the usual June ocean cloud cover which cuts our daily Sun down to about 4 hours a day. Today, I will go out to collect herbs for drying. The New Moon makes it a perfect couple days to do that. It’s good for the plant’s regrowth to cut extra herbs on the New Moon.
I’ve probably said all of this before, but today it makes sense to repeat it to myself…There are a couple rules I try to follow when gathering herbs:
1) Don’t take more than 30% of a healthy plant. Being a little conservative yet more consistent with collection will keep a plant lush and thriving, instead of shocked and stunted, trying to recover. There are exceptions to this rule, like all rules. If a plant needs an aggressive chop, then let it have it – but always on a waning or new Moon.
2) Gather your herbs no later than mid-morning. The Sun has had time to dry the dew off and get the plant’s Mojo working but not enough time to start breaking down the volatile oils and juicy alkaloid stuff that we want at optimum levels in our collected parts.
What parts you collect, leaves-roots-stems-flowers, depends on your herb and your needs, so keep that in mind when planning ahead. Give them a good rinse and they’re ready to dry. Most of mine get dried on plain unbleached craft paper that comes in a big roll. Sometimes, depending on the herb, I hang big clusters upside down by the stems. Keep them in a cool, dry, out of the dust area and maybe turn them over every few days if their leaves are big. After a couple weeks, they are ready for storage. Mine get stored in jars that I collect along the way and I make sure to label them since a lot of herbs look the same after they’re dried.
3) If you’re after an herb for its roots, you may not want to touch it for another Moon, letting it mature in the summer Sun. For seeds, definitely do not cut off the flowers now or you will not have any seeds later! That sounds only sensible, but I have done it before without thinking. Yes, I can be a little impetuous.
Remember, if you’re packing up seeds to share or store, put their name and date collected on the packaging so you won’t have to question yourself later.
If you’re not after an herb, it’s also a good day to collect blooming flowers for vases. The plant will get a good trim for regrowth as the weather heats up and you’ll have something pretty to look at. I don’t know if I’ll have time for cutting flowers today, we’ll have to see. My camera froze yesterday, so until I get it fixed there won’t be any new pictures and getting that taken care of will be my priority. Enjoy your day and I’ll see you next month.