End of summer is a great time to tidy garden beds and harvest herbs. Herbs have a tendency to take a walk on the wild side. As the days get shorter, growth slows and before long the sun cannot support all the greenery from summer.
This is the perfect time to harvest your herbs. You can cut them back so they remain lush, improving the tidiness of your garden, and providing herbs for the winter ahead. When you harvest your herbs, you will have enough for at least 5 families! They make wonderful gifts. For soft herbs like chives and garlic chives, I cut around the outside. You can either then dry or freeze your cuttings. For rosemary, I trim back as I would a tree, cutting off he lower limbs. I have not been successful in finding a rosemary that survives outside in my Zone 6 region.
Before winter, I will harvest all the limbs so I don't waste any of that great flavor. Rosemary is perfect with lamb, on potatoes, or on cheese bread. For sage, savory, and thyme, I simply trim them into a pleasing, healthy shape. For basil, oregano and marjoram, I remove about half of the top growth. Basil also will not survive even a frost. So when they call for frost, I harvest all that is left on the plant.
I dry my herbs to preserve them. I put loosely in a paper bag in a dry, warm area out of the sun and let dry naturally. Loose is the key here so they get good air circulation and do not mold. They should be completely dry in about 3-4 weeks. I like putting them in clothes closets to dry as they release such great fragrance. Once dried, remove the leaves from woody herbs and store in an airtight container out of direct sunlight. With a soft herb like chives, you can just crumble into the airtight container. I use wide mouth canning jars for herb storage.
If the winter is not a bad one, most perennial herbs like chives, oregano, sage, savory, and thyme can be harvested year-round straight from the garden.
In September, plant more greens, carrots, and radishes. October is the month to plant garlic for next year’s harvest. You can pick up transplants like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, kale, as well as herbs at many big box stores and nurseries since gardening has become so popular.
Caring For New Seeds and Transplants
Like in the spring, newly sown seeds need moisture to sprout. Keep seeds and transplants moist until they get their first real set of leaves and are well established. Then water as needed.
Many crops you can harvest into December and beyond, depending on how cold fall is. Some get sweeter with some frost, like carrots, chard, and lettuce. With cover, you can harvest all the way through winter!
A quick reminder, save the seeds from your best performers to plant next year. You can replant seeds from any heirlooms or open pollinated plants. Not only does it save you money, but it also gives you the plants that do the best under your garden and zone conditions.
For more tips on small space and container gardening, check out Melodie's blog at www.victorygardenonthegolfcourse.com.