You’ve enjoyed the fresh summer taste of your herbs and/or enjoyed the lush greeness of the more aromatic/medicinal herbs…
It’s now time to make sure you have enough dried culinary herbs in stock to last you through winter and to divide your clump forming or spreading herbs for fresh plants in Spring and Summer. You can also start taking hardwood cuttings now.
I’m reading a book at the moment called the Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe. It’s fascinating and there’s some really relevant information in there for us gardeners at this time in this world. She talks about five staple crops to grow (and almost as importantly, to preserve and/or store) for “mega-hard” times; corn, potato, squash, beans and eggs.
I haven’t finished the book yet so there’s still hope that she will mention herbs at some stage. I’m hoping she’s going to say how important it is to grow herbs for “mega-hard” times too. Two reasons; so that you have some darn flavour for your “staples” and so you have some medicinal supplies on hand, here’s a great post on what you can easily grow for the cabinet as such.
So to dry your herbs- and I’m just talking culinary leaf here, medicinal has a few more specifics that I’ll cover another day..
In an ideal world you would harvest just before the flowers bloom, in the morning after the dew has dried on the leaves and during a full moon. Also ideally you would’ve done this all by now! But all is not lost, lemon verbena is still out there, I’m sure your oregano has sprawled left right and centre, thyme, your salvias.
Watch that you don’t cut your thyme back too harshly it needs at least a third of its leaves still attached (learnt that the hard way, twice). Of course all of those woody perennials will still be living through winter but their growth slows right down and it’s kind of mean to pick too much off them and “mega-hard” times might’ve wiped them out…
May as well harvest all of your stevia unless you have it in a pot and are bringing it indoors. Harvest peppermint before it hunkers down for winter.
For home use (and quantities) the hot water cupboard is the perfect place for drying your herb. Lay them evenly on a sheet of newspaper and check daily til they get to the crunchy stage. Store them in labelled dark glass jars- in an ideal world! Clear glass is fine as long as they’re stored in your pantry and not out in the light though. Failing the hot water cupboard you can dry them in a very low heated oven or if you’re fancy pants, a dehydrator.
And of course there are other ways to preserve your herbs, in vinegar, in olive oil, in pesto or in the freezer~ How do you preserve yours?
I’m going to try to be a bit more regular here than I have been of late… so with that in mind, next week I’ll do a post on how to divide your herbs, or, how I divide my herbs!!