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Phyllis Both color for BNR

Phyllis Both

“They know, they just know where to grow, how to dupe you and how to camouflage themselves among the perfectly respectable plants, they just know, and therefore, I’ve concluded weeds must have brains.” — Diane BensonThe weather has been wonderful and everyone is buying plants at garden centers. A word of caution: Many of these annuals and vegetables cannot stand night temperatures below 50 degrees. Even if they do not die, the plants may become stunted. There have been times in May that the temperatures have dropped severely. Never plant basil or peppers until June 1.

If you would like a light, ferny look in your flowerbeds or potted plants, consider chamomile. It comes up readily from seed. The species matricaria chamomilla is the one to grow for appearance and tea. This is an annual but sows itself annually. Chamomile tea is one of the world’s most popular teas and is made from the dried flowers. It has anti-anxiety properties and helps people that have trouble falling asleep.

Chamomile is listed by the Federal Drug Administration as generally safe but a small number of people are sensitive to it. Anyone sensitive to ragweed and chrysanthemums might be sensitive to chamomile. Chamomile flowers can be used to make a yellow-brown fabric dye. Only the flowers are used, as the leaves are bitter. Harvest flowers in full bloom for the best quality. Dry them and store in an airtight container.

Chamomile can be grown in an herb garden, vegetable garden or ornamental bed. It also grows in poor soil and does not need much fertilizer. The only pests that like it are aphids and they can be hosed off. Deer do not like it, so that is a plus. They are shallow-rooted, so a little watering helps. I am always interested in planting for pollinators. I found that chamomile is a great plant for native bees and honeybees.

Sauk County Master Gardeners will give a $1,000 grant to a village in Sauk County for a community beautification project. This year, we would like to present it to the town of La Valle. La Valle is interested in a beautiful area to sit and relax, enjoy physical activity and have community fun. The grant will be used for picnic tables, bike racks, benches and cement flowerpots. Congratulations, La Valle.

There will be a Master Gardener class held this fall if there is enough interest.

Contact Phyllis Both by email at pboth@charter.net or by telephone on Monday mornings at the Sauk County UW-Extension office, 608-355-3253.