Weekly Garden Update: July 23

This week, I am going to give you some ideas on what to do with all your excess mint (if you grow it) plus a natural bug spray recipe and more ideas for companion plantings that work well together.

Ideas for Mint

Tip of the week: Mint is a rapidly spreading, tunneling plant that can be invasive if not kept in check. Trim it often and remove it from any areas that you do not want it to grow before it becomes a problem, and you will find it is a wonderful addition to the garden.

Mint should be harvested frequently at its height of growth from June – August. Mint can be made into chutney, pesto or added to salads. I have found some ideas to use up large amounts of mint without much hassle. The first idea is to dry the leaves for mint tea. Simply cut your mint stalks down about 6-8 inches. Wash the leaves thoroughly and lay out to dry on paper towel. Once dry, place the mint (and paper towel) onto a baking sheet or other flat surface, place in warm, dry room to completely dry. In about 2-3 weeks, you will have dry mint leaves for placing into a tea baller or mesh bag to make fresh mint tea. Jus steep 5-10 minutes in hot water and enjoy, or pour over ice for iced tea.

If mint tea isn’t your thing, then maybe a mojito is more up your alley. I have two recipes for you! The first recipe involves making a mint simple syrup by steeping 1 cup of mint leaves in 1 cup each of sugar and water. Bring the sugar and water to a boil, add the mint leaves, turn off the heat and let it sit for an hour. After that hour, strain out the leaves and store the mint syrup in the refrigerator. To make your mojito, add 1 oz of the mint simple syrup, 1 1/2 – 2 oz. rum, 1/2 lime and club soda or sparkling water (to taste) to a rocks glass, mix, add ice and enjoy!

The second recipe I made up this weekend while experimenting with what ingredients we had around the house. It turned out quite well, so I wanted to share it with you.

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Tulsi Tea Mojito

Hopefully you can read my bad writing on the chalk board! If not, comment on the post and I will clarify. I have to give recognition to Tippecanoe Herbs for the Tulsi tea blend and also to Twisted Path distillery for the rum. The soda I used was Sipp mojo berry which adds a nice delightful fizz and flavor.

Natural Bug Spray

You may have noticed that bugs have now come out in full force. I have a natural bug spray that is easy to make and works great. One note I will make is that one needs to apply it every couple of hours to be effective as it is natural and wears off. To make, find an old lotion bottle with a pump top that is empty. Wash it out and add the following:

1/2 cup Witch Hazel

1/2 Cup Baby Oil (or other carrier oil)

25-30 drops each of any of the following essential oils: geranium, citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, clove, peppermint

Apply liberally to skin every 2-3 hours as needed, your skin will be soft, smell good and repel mosquitos and other biting insects.

Companion Plantings

Lastly, we have some images of companion planting at its best! The first photo shows a union that I was trying out for the first time this year. I planted snow peas on an arbor trellis and fingerling potatoes through the middle of the bed. My hope was the peas would grow up over the top and leave room for the potatoes to take up the middle. Not only have we had a super crop of peas, but the 2 plants really seem to help each other grow. The potatoes act as a shade on the delicate roots of the peas, and a stable aid to hold the pea vines up right. I am excited to see the potato crop that develops.

In the second and third photos we see the same garden bed at different angles. I placed hardware cloth cages around my kale and broccoli plants to keep the rabbits from eating them. The cages, however, turned into a great way to also corral the plant growth until I am ready to dig up the garlic all around them. Once I pull the garlic, I will remove cages to allow the kale and broccoli to grow to full size, and the rabbits will no longer find these larger plants as appetizing. This garden bed is truly amazing, containing garlic, potatoes, zinnias, kale, broccoli and a few volunteer tomato plants. They are all growing in unity and not in competition.

I hope your upcoming week is amazing in the garden!

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Phlox in bloom

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