Saving leaves, seeds and taking cuttings like crazy! Frosts are coming soon and the plants that are kind enough to actually thrive here in August are slowing down now that the temperatures have dipped down past the lower 50’s. This means the greenhouse that went back up today will hold for one more season and I’m busy in between the day job, gathering all the summer plants before fade away and getting beds ready for cool weather greens and alliums for the CSA after Christmastide.
Fruits of the fall labors this week at the market ..
Herbal Tea Wreaths
Herbal Soup Stock Wreaths
Teas - Herbal Chai, Pio's Calming Tea, After Dinner Mint, Fasting Tea, Star of the Sea, Rose of Lima
Seeds - Thai Basil, Tulsi, Genovese, Apple Mint, Italian Dandelion, Green Malabar, Chaste Tree
Garlic and Greens. There's still time to plant garlic in Texas. A wonderful biennial, with a third-wheel tag-a-long crop, is Garlic/Sweet Potato interplanted with greens. Garlic can go in the ground late September through early November and Sweet Potatoes slips can go in May through June. The garlic isn't normally harvested until July or August but the sweet potato slips planted at least six inches away on the east side of the garlic won't disturb the bulb harvest. A couple of production beds will be dedicated for a biennial garlic/sweet potato rotation.
To prep for the garlic the beds I made sure the soil was on the loose side and had some sand and organic matter added in with it. I use two-week old bokashi compost and buried it in a trench and then mounded the soil on top. I'll leave it another couple of weeks and then plant the cloves and mulch heavily. If there isn't time for all this, you can drench 1-ounce of EM-1 to a gallon of unchlorinated water. This amount seems to work well to inoculate 24 sq. feet. Push cloves down about three inches and mulch heavily with untreated grass, straw or hay or mulched leaves. Then you can pocket plant lettuce or other cold hardy green at least 6 inches away from cloves. When it's time to harvest the greens, cut the stem at soil level and cover the cut portion with compost and mulch the cut portion. About a month before the cloves begins to form a bulb it's a good idea to add a natural calcium (I'll add a recipe next week)and a comfrey tea to the soil. Garlic are heavy feeders but that will work against the tuber production, so the only feed these beds during garlic season and get most of it done before May.
There is a popular hardneck variety that does well in the south, Creole, and this is what I am most familiar with, although there are several others. I'm only planting a few bulbs this year and mostly used whatever cultivar was in Natural Grocers or Whole Foods. These are the softneck variety, which means they won't store as long and they are not seed garlic, so aren't bred to be as productive or disease resistant but you should still have a decent outcome and I have even had a few small scapes, (although softnecks aren't supposed to have them) and at grocery store prices, you can afford a few extra bulbs to better your odds.
If you want to look into more exotic varieties, this company has a very extensive selection of “southern friendly” cultivars and this article at Modern Farmer is a good introduction to growing garlic in any climate.
Teas, tinctures, like Carmelite Water and pressing plants. A simple and wonderful tea is made with the leaves of the Passion Flower Passiflora incarnata, and Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis. Historically the Passiflora is reputed to have calming (anxiolytic) effects and has shown in some scientific studies to be as effective as some anti-anxiety pharmaceuticals. and Lemon Balm has been recorded since the middle ages to help alleviate stress, anxiety and to promote sleep.
lots of things with Malabar Spinach. Mostly smoothies with a fat (avocado, coconut oil, dairy) and vitamin C (lemon, acerola cherry, cranberry juice) to help with any oxalate overload. Whatever doesn’t make it smoothies, quiches, stews or stir fries gets rooted and potted for edible houseplants.