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PAL Questions: 2 - Garden Tools: 1
Are late July and early August still a good time to start sowing seeds for basil, parsley, and coriander in Seattle?
According to Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest by Binda Colebrook (Sasquatch Books, 1998), you can sow coriander in late August to early September and as long as the winter is not too harsh, you should have success. You may want to keep the plants under cover during winter.
When you sow parsley, Colebrook recommends looking for European varieties which are cold-hardier than the American type. The following article, from the British paper The Guardian (July 1, 2006 issue) discusses summer sowing:
Summer-sown parsley by Sue Stickland
Here is an excerpt:
"Spring-sown parsley often struggles, but sow now and it's easier to get healthy plants. These should give a good crop right through to autumn, and look as decorative in beds, pots and troughs as they do on the plate.
Sow directly where it is to grow, or into small pots for transplanting, and keep it moist. In steady July temperatures, germination should take a couple of weeks (quicker by half than in spring). Plant out seedlings from pots as soon as they are big enough, and before the 'tap' root hits the bottom. This will give stronger, more resilient plants.
The main enemies of spring-sown parsley are aphids and carrot flies. Aphids not only make the leaves unappetising, but carry viral diseases; carrot flies tunnel into the roots, weakening the plant, just as they do with their main vegetable host. When parsley starts to yellow and redden, and plants become stunted, one or other of these pests is usually to blame. July sowings avoid the worst attacks, provided you keep them well away from any ailing plants. Never try to grow this herb in the same spot twice.
For vibrant, deep green leaves, the plant must also have rich soil and plenty of moisture. Add well-rotted manure or garden compost (or a bagged equivalent) to a garden patch, and to the potting compost in deep troughs and pots. Don't forget them in dry spells - most herbs won't need watering, but parsley will. When it turns cold, bring pots into a cold frame, greenhouse or other warm, protected spot. These late-sown plants will provide welcome fresh sprigs in winter and early spring."
Basil is a half-hardy annual, and is best sown into pots in early spring, or directly into the garden in late May. I don't think you can successfully grow an outdoor fall/winter crop. Mary Preus, author of The Northwest Herb Lover's Handbook (Sasquatch Books, 2000), suggests potting up plants from your garden in September and moving them indoors. If given the right light and care, you can keep harvesting throughout the winter.
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I'm writing an article for a travel magazine about locally grown culinary herbs which are used by chefs in our area. I found a reference to something called "cinnamon mint," but there doesn't seem to be any information available about this plant. In fact, I'm not sure the name is accurate. If it's not an actual mint, are there other mint varieties used in cooking?
I am going on a hunch, having found nothing that suggests there is a species of mint which is called cinnamon mint, that the plant in question is actually cinnamon basil. This is commonly used in cooking. I looked in Mints: A Family of Herbs and Ornamentals by Barbara Perry Lawton (Timber Press, 2002) and noticed cinnamon basil in the index. This plant's botanical name is Ocimum basilicum 'Cinnamon,' and it is described in the chapter entitled "Herbal Mints" (as opposed the what the author calls "true mints") as follows:
"Vigorous plant with a strong flavor of cinnamon combined with the typical basil taste. Terminal spikes of purple flowers rise above glossy green foliage."
Utah State University Cooperative Extension has a publication about mint which mentions several types for culinary use.
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If you jumped the gun and planted your basil too early in the season, it may have been stunted by cold evening temperatures. Don't despair, you can still have enough basil to make all the pesto you want by buying and planting 4 inch sized starts in late June or July. Basil wants more water than drought loving Mediterranean herbs, so plant it with your vegetables or annuals instead. Read more about Herb of the Year for 2003.
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January 13 2017 10:35:53