Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fall and Winter Herb Care

Gratitude is the fairest blossom
which springs from the soul.
~Henry Ward Beecher

At this point it's best in cool weather climates to avoid any pruning or fertilizing of the perennial herbs. You can still snip what you need for cooking. Thyme, savory and tarragon should be harvested/pruned a month and 1/2 or so before the first frost. You can mulch in the winter but do it with something that won't get soggy or become heavy.

If you have heavy frost in your area you will want to dig up and bring in your rosemary, lemon verbena, lemongrass, scented geraniums, pineapple sage, bay laurel. Lemon verbena will lose its leaves soon even when brought inside. Place it in a sunny window, water occasionally and it will start coming around as it
ends it's dormancy. Rosemary needs a very sunny window and water when dry. It won't lose its leaves like verbena, and you can harvest lightly throughout the winter months. It does like a little humidity so misting is helpful. Cut back lemongrass about halfway and place in a sunny window for the winter.

You should be able to keep harvesting savory, thyme and sage until Thanksgiving and in many locations until after Christmas. I love fresh sage in dressings and I put it inside the turkey or chicken cavities also.

Chives can be brought inside, but you need to wait until after Christmas to get them past their period of dormancy. Dig up a smaller bunch now and pot it in fresh putting soil. Leave it outside and bring it inside later. It should start growing again in a few days.

All indoor herbs need at least 5-6 hours of sun a day. A sunny windowsill is great, but remember to turn the pots so they don't "lean" to the sunny side. Also be sure the herbs aren't actually touching the window glass. You can also try fluorescent lights if
you have room. Place the light 6-8 inches or so above the plants and leave them on for 12-14 hours each day.

We have more recipes and tips on using herbs with poultry:

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