May Herbs Herbs Herbs! – The Garden Thyme Podcast

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In this month episode we are talking about herbs. Now there are too many amazing herbs our there to cover them all in one episode so in this episode we are cover:  what is a herb, three common herbs (basil, chives and thyme) and some of our favorite herbs for the garden.  

We also have our: 

  • Native Plant of the Month (Wild Ginger) at ~ 27:10
  • Bug of the Month (Rose Slug Sawfly) at ~ 31:30
  • Garden Tips of the Month at ~ 36:15

We hope you enjoyed this month’s episode and will tune in next month for more garden tips. 

 If you have any garden-related questions please email us at or look us up on Facebook at

The Garden Thyme Podcast is a monthly podcast where we help you get down and dirty in your garden. The Garden Thyme Podcast is brought to you by the University of Maryland Extension. Hosts are Mikaela Boley- Senior Agent Associate (Talbot County) for Horticulture, Rachel Rhodes- Agent Associate for Horticulture (Queen Anne’s County), and Emily Zobel-Senior Agent Associate for Agriculture (Dorchester County).

Theme Song:  By Jason Inc

Herbs in Veggie Gardens

One of the most common pieces of advice I give out is to plant flowers in your vegetable garden. Blooming flowers are a big draw to many beneficial insects, including pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies, and predators and parasitoids like the tiny wasps who help to keep pest insects under control in your garden. Plus, flowers are pretty, you can cut them to bring inside, many of them smell nice; they are just pleasant to be around.

To attract a good range of beneficials, it’s best to have something blooming in or around your garden all season long, and a wide range of flower types and sizes is also good. From giant sunflowers to tiny forget-me-not or alyssum, if you see bees on it, it’s good to have around. But sometimes we forget that herbs are also flowering plants—we plant them for a burst of flavor in the kitchen, but don’t consider their other qualities, including as a source of nectar for flying insects. Some herbs have flowers that are great in size and shape for butterflies to visit, many attract bees, and those with the tiniest flowers bring in those useful little wasps. So when you’re planning what flowers to plant in your garden, consider adding more culinary herbs as well, and let them do double duty.

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What can you start from seed in February?

I hope all of you are busy planning your vegetable gardens and getting those seeds ordered! If you haven’t purchased seeds yet, now is the time. A lot of seed companies are experiencing larger than usual interest and several have had to temporarily stop accepting orders. Many varieties of seeds are running out. So jump on it!

If you already have your seeds and your plan of action, you may be champing at the bit to get started. Those of us who start seeds indoors feel the urge to play in the dirt (or the soilless seed-starting mix) even in winter, but it’s often not a good idea. When I began gardening, I started many plants far too early, and was sorry later when I had enormous seedlings that couldn’t be put in the ground until the weather cooperated. So as a former offender, I will state clearly: DO NOT START YOUR TOMATO PLANTS IN FEBRUARY. In fact, do not start your tomato plants until late March or early April, and you will be much happier, and so will your plants.

But what CAN I start, you ask, with a pitiful, yearning look in your eyes. I know. I really do. Here’s a  list. It may not include anything you’re actually planning to grow, but I’ll give you another suggestion at the end. Here we go.

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Build an herb spiral

Many gardeners are looking for ways to use space efficiently and get the most out of a given area, and at the same time create the best environment for their plants. Every garden should have herbs, but sometimes they can be tricky to grow. They want different kinds of soil, so putting them all in one bed doesn’t always work. Some are perennial and some annual or biennial. Some demand full sun and some can benefit from a bit of afternoon shade. Most want great drainage. And of course they take up space. What’s one solution? An herb spiral.

My herb spiral last fall, with pineapple sage, rosemary, lavender, and the trailing plant called Cuban oregano


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Gardening resolutions 2020

Happy New Year! At the beginning of January we typically think through what we plan to do better in the coming twelve months in all aspects of our lives, whether that’s reading more books or committing to a fitness program or eating healthy. Of course we don’t always follow through, but it’s still worth considering what might make our lives better–including our gardening lives! Here’s just a snippet of what I’m focusing on in 2020. Continue reading

Papalo: the “summer cilantro”

Have you ever been tempted by an article or blog post, or maybe a seed collection, suggesting that you grow a salsa garden? Tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro are the usual recommendations for growing and making your own salsa. But the timing for this type of garden can be tricky. Tomatoes and peppers mature in the summertime. Onions planted in the early spring are ready about the same time, or can be stored for use. Garlic should have been planted the previous fall, but if you got that done you’re all set. But cilantro—that’s where salsa gardeners get frustrated.

Cilantro is a cool-weather herb; in summer’s heat, it bolts and goes to flower, and then produces seeds (which we call coriander). By the time your tomatoes are ripe, cilantro planted in spring is done. You can get around this to some extent by choosing a slow-bolting variety of cilantro and planting it every few weeks, but those summer-planted succession crops have spotty germination and bolt really fast.

Or you could try another herb with a similar flavor that likes growing in heat. I suggest papalo.

papalo bunch flickr.jpg
Papalo bunch, photo by mcotner, Flickr/Creative Commons

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