Thursday, March 4, 2010

Herb & Garden Tips

The last couple of days I was out walking around with my daughter on our property because despite all of our snow we've had sunny days in the 40's. I actually saw a little bit of green under the snow, and started thinking about my herbs and flowers (actually I felt a little giddy!). Today I have a few tips and a question and answer from a reader.

Some herbs can be dug up in the early spring and divided as you would many perennial flowers. This includes chives, oregano, yarrow, mints and lemon balm. Wait until the danger of frost has past before dividing. Dig deeply and around, so you don't chop the roots if at all possible, and break the clumps apart gently. Plant the herbs immediately, watering well afterwards. I like to add a little compost to each new planting in the hole.

If you are growing mint in the ground, go out after a good rain and pull up the runners that have spread from the main plant. They can spread VERY quickly, so you want to pull them now, and keep watch over it. Even broken pieces can root and continue to grow, so be vigilant. Remember, never let your mint flower or go to seed. Even if you have too much to harvest be sure to cut off the flowers before they go to seed.

Herbs for shade: sweet woodruff, violets, evening primrose, and wintergreen can take fairly heavy shade. Lady's Mantle, angelica, sweet cicely & monkshood can take partial shade.

When chopping herbs like lovage, celery, cilantro, or parsley save the stems and place them in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Next time you make stock with meat or poultry, throw the stems in the pot while it's cooking and strain out before using. This makes a great addition to stock.

Hardy Hibiscus: What do you think is the latest time I should prune, I forget every year. Zone 8, buds are just now peeping through. OK to still cut back? And how much....6-8" or more?

I'm guessing you are talking about what they call "tropical hibiscus" because here in Zone 5 ours grow up from the roots with new growth each year, so we don't need to prune. You can prune your hibiscus now through about August. Start with the longest branches and work your way around. The most important thing to know when pruning is you don't want any new growth during a frost. As long as you are past your frost date you should be fine.

We have more pruning advice on OFL:


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