Herbs Throughout the Season
Wish you could save some of the zesty and aromatic herbs your garden produces during the summer?
When the growing season has started to slow down with shorter days and cooler nights but you still have a good crop of herbs and wish to continue to use them in your fall and winter dishes. If they are planted in the ground you are going to have to preserve what you can by drying or freezing.
Find a method that works for the time and space you have. I dry a little throughout the summer. Small batches are easy and require little drying room. When you snip thyme for your marinate recipe, just snip some extra and dry on a paper towel and place in an air tight jar when completely dry.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) can be difficult to dry with good results. So try freezing some rolled up in plastic wrap and use in recipes still frozen.
Now if you really plan ahead for Christmas this year, pick out some pretty containers that go well on your patio but also will work in front of your “best light” window. Have your favorite herbs picked out and plant them in these great containers and can even give as gifts for Christmas or anytime during the winter.
When you do most of your spring planting, leave these containers until last as they will have an extended season inside. When the days get shorter and nights get cooler bring them in and your herbs will continue to grow for several more months. Most of this depends on the amount of light available from your windows as to how they grow inside. You will need to check them for water on a regular basis when first brought inside, as they need to be dry on top before you water them or they will rot and a fan for air circulation will help.
During the winter if you have a number of plants, turn your ceiling fan on reverse and run for awhile this is very helpful for all plants. You can mix herbs in one container, or if you have enough room, keep them separate. You are probably not going to be harvesting lots of herbs but any fresh herb will add a fresher taste to your dish. Take time to thoroughly clean and de-bug plants before bringing them in the house.
Basil does not like cool weather. Thyme, Thymus, parsley, Petroselinum and rosemary, Rosmarinus, are a few herbs that can take some cold weather, so leave them outside for as long as possible, even taking a slight frost. The Omaha Herb Society members have a running contest on who can winter over rosemary for the longest time. It’s a hard one so if you fail, you’ll have lots of company.
If you are wondering about starting herbs from seeds for spring, that is another topic with several different methods.