Summer is here with fresh produce, festivals, and fun. Don’t let it slip away. Cross out some time now for free concerts, picnics, hiking, camping, swimming, hammock naps, and all the myriad opportunities this season offers. It’s up to you to make the most of it.
Fun Things to Do!
With covid restrictions easing up summer is feeling somewhat normal with free concerts, festivals, farmers markets, and so much more.
Cherry Creek Arts Festival, July 7-9,
It’s back! Music, entertainment, art, and food. https://cherrycreekartsfestival.org/
Breckenridge Arts Festival – July 7-9th,
http://www.mountainartfestivals.com/festivals-calendar/2021/7/1/38th-annual-breckenridge-july-art-festival-77clr Cool off in the mountains.
Greeley Stampede, going on now through July 4, www.greeleystampede.org/
Colorado Renaissance Festival, weekends through August 7. Time for some jousting and turkey legs. https://coloradorenaissance.com/
Denver Botanic Gardens Lavender Festival, Saturday, July 16 and 17, 9 am to 5 pm
More than 2,000 lavender plants set the scene for this family-friendly celebration of Chatfield Farms' Lavender Garden. There will be music, entertainment, demonstrations, food and drink vendors, garden and farm tours, and featured artists. Come enjoy a fragrant day at the farm.
Winter Park Jazz Festival, July 16 -17.
Music and mountain splendor. https://www.playwinterpark.com/jazzfest
Check SCFD for free and discounted music, dance, museums, and more.
The Herbalists Happy Hour
The Herbalist’s Happy Hour – Crafted Cocktails and Tapas from the Garden is the perfect book for summer. A great reference for cooking up easy, fresh, delicious drinks, cocktails and appetizers for entertaining and enjoying. Get it here
With the high temperatures and low humidity make sure your garden is getting enough water. My favorite time to water is after dinner. It gives the plants a chance to really soak up the moisture and start fresh the next morning.
If you haven’t mulched, do it now. It will cut down on watering and weeds. I started mulching all my pots with Spanish moss which helps the containers retain moisture. You can find it in bags in the artificial flower sections of craft stores. I have also found it at dollar stores in the craft section.
Cut back spent flowers and rangy plants to keep them tight and full of blooms. If the garden is looking a little weary, give it a shot of fertilizer to perk things up.
Replant basil and cilantro every 3 or 4 weeks to keep a fresh, vibrant supply. Time to start drying your herbs for your winter pantry.
Herb of the Month – Basil – Ocimum sp.
Basil, Ocimum basilicum, is an annual herb originally from India. Delicious with any cuisine it is usually affiliated with Italian cooking. There are dozens of different basil varieties, from citrus scented varieties to exotic flavors. They all grow easily in full sun with adequate water and do not tolerate cold temperatures. The leaves are used in cooking, flower buds are also edible.
Basil, depending on variety, can grow from 6” to 2 feet or more. They need 5-6 hours of sun to be happy and grow easily from seed. Plant seeds every 3-4 weeks for a constant supply. They work well in container gardens. Basil prefers rich, moist soil.
Try to keep basil from blooming and getting lanky, pinch off flower buds and harvest on a regular basis. Flowering will compromise flavor and hasten the demise of the plant. Always pinch right above a set of leaves.
You can multiply your basil by taking cuttings and rooting it in water, babying the plant a bit when you transplant it into the soil. Aphids like basil. Remove the majority of them by pinching off the top parts where they like to hang out and hose off the rest of the plant with the hose.
Basil grows well with tomatoes, and some of the bush and shorter varieties are hardier than sweet or Genovese basil, which is known for the best taste.
Basil is one of the chef's essential herbs. Use it at the end of preparation to preserve its taste and color. It can be used in salads, sandwiches, in Italian, Asian and Mexican cuisine. Try it with fruits, and beverages, and just snipped over sliced garden tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil.
Basil does not dry well so preserve it by processing it into a paste with olive oil in a food processor. You can then measure out spoonfuls on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper, freeze, remove, and store in a freezer container. You can also freeze in ice cube trays. Add garlic, Parmesan cheese, and some walnuts or pine nuts, and you’ll have ready-made pesto.
"Oh, the summer night, has a smile of light, and she sits on a sapphire throne."
- Bryan Procter