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Bee Balm harvest, Happy farmer!

sheri the herbal mixtress

A life-changing event happened for me a few weeks ago. Herbalist Tony(a) Lemos (director of Blazing Star Herbal School) saw my photo of a Bee Balm plant I’d identified as having powdery mildew and told me I was mistaken. It wasn’t the disease powdery mildew but part of the natural leaf pattern and perfectly fine to use.

It took me a little while to process this. Actually, my brain is still turning it over. For years I’ve been rushing to get what Bee Balm I could harvested before what I called “the funk” (whitish spotting) appeared on the leaves. Then, I’d chop the plant down.

bee balm leaf

To think I’ve been wasting so much of one of my favorite plants for so long makes me actually pretty distraught. I am so grateful that Tony(a) gave me a shout!

So this year I waited and watched. The splotches have mostly faded away, just a bit left on one plant, and there’s been a big spurt of growth. It’s only a small exaggeration to say they had become little shrubs, full of bunches of new leaves with a couple flowers here and there.

I’ve never seen Bee Balm grow so big in my garden- though I have seen them that big when growing wild- and I guess now I know why. You don’t have to cut them down mid-season! (argh… )

Their exuberance crowded and shaded the Peppermint and Chives growing in the same bed allowing me the excuse/opportunity for another harvest. Just leaves. I left the flowers for the bees.

bee balm harvest

I’ve never had so much Bee Balm in my stash. Can’t decide what I want to make first!

 

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Herbs for You, Me, and the Bees

mid-july herb harvest
July 15th’s harvest basket

Want to know the downside of this beautiful basketful of herbs? It was stolen!

Yes, stolen from the bees. They were already busy at work in the garden when I went out in the morning to pick.

Being all too painfully aware of the horrors threatening the bees’ survival (Colony Collapse Disorder, poisoning, industrial farming, loss of habitat), I grow medicinal herbs as much for them as for myself.

Our animal and plant friends need the nutrition and medicine that herbs offer the same as we do. So make sure you plant lots of extras 😉

(herbs in the photo, clockwise from top left: Holy Basil, Bee Balm, Echinacea, St. Johnswort, Calendula)

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