Growing a herb garden has many benefits aside from adding exciting flavors to your meals and drinks, herbs also give your garden an added aesthetic. If you plant them correctly, they can be eye-catching landscape accents that can tie together other elements in your yard. If you are planning on starting a herb garden, you probably have many questions. You could be wondering if different herbs require different types of light and watering schedules or if they’re even worth planting. But possibly the biggest question is…
"What do I do with my herb garden in the fall?"
This is a question many plant lovers are asking themselves. If you are one of them, you've come to the right place. This blog will discuss the best gardening practices during the colder seasons so you'll know what to do with your herb garden in the fall.
Harvest and Store Herbs
Asking, “what do I do with my herb garden in the fall” is a good question, especially during the last weeks of August and we’re getting into the early weeks of September.
Knowing their ideal harvest dates is the best way to get high-quality herbs. Harvesting too early or too late will cause them to lose their flavor. Instead, they will leave an unpleasant aftertaste that you wouldn't want in your dishes.
When gathering herbs, you must do so on a bright and sunny morning. It should be just after the dew has completely evaporated from the leaves but before the sunlight is too high. The high noon temperatures can affect your herbs' oil content, causing their taste to change. In addition, you must pick from only healthy plants and discard those that appear to have some withering.
Once you have your freshly harvested herbs, rinse them in water and gently dab them with towels to absorb excess moisture. Then, tie the stems together and hang them in a dry, well-ventilated area. Test them occasionally to see if they are dehydrated. You can do this by placing a small branch in an airtight container, and if any condensation forms, more drying is required. Remember, you must not store the herbs until they are completely dry because they'll have a bitter taste.
Many gardeners know how expensive seeds can be. Therefore, gathering them with your withered herbs is an excellent way to cut down on costs. In addition, freshly collected seeds have a germination rate of nearly 100 percent, so they are worth the extra effort.
Collecting your herb seeds is a relatively straightforward process if you know the proper way to do it. Just like with harvesting, the weather plays a significant role in the collection of seeds. Choose a dry day with mild winds when collecting your dried plant. The seeds are in the flowers, so you should cut the flower heads and place them in a warm, dry location. Let the seed head sit there for a few weeks until the flower head falls apart. Then, store the seeds in sealed and labeled envelopes and place them in an airtight container.
Get Ready for Winter
Knowing what to do with your herb garden in the fall is the best way to get the most out of your precious plants. But what if winter is already around the corner?
A lot of herbs bloom during the summer, but most will die when temperatures start to drop. For plants that cannot withstand the cold, harvesting and storing them is the best thing to do. However, perennial herbs can survive winter if you take steps to protect them from frost.
The best way to keep them intact is to cover them with a 2-inch layer of shredded bark, leaves, straw or other organic mulch. You can also do some light tilling with a broad-fork or even just a hand rake around your garden bed disrupts overwintering bugs that will hatch in the spring.
Covering your garden with a natural mulch, like falling tree leaves will help protect your garden from erosion, while also giving it a boost of nutrients. This will help protect the soil from winter frost and thaw cycles. It's also a good practice to create a seasonal shelter for them, like a cardboard box, blanket or tarp, which will protect your perennial herbs from frigid winds and shield the roots from the harsh cold. An alternative option would be digging up your essential plants and repotting them indoors.