In order for your herb plants to survive harsh winter conditions you want to be sure to winterize your herb garden. This will enable your plants to come back strong in the spring to continue to provide you with a great bountiful harvest.
Winterizing your home herb garden is not rocket science. Mother Nature has her own magical way of preparing for winter and you will see, as fall approaches, a slowdown in the growth of your plants. Your herb plants will begin to lose their leaves. Don’t be alarmed if your perennial herb plants look as if they are dead. They are not dead. They are merely dormant – hibernating, so to speak, to survive the winter.
There are a several reasons you want to pay attention to the condition of your soil as winter approaches. Many herbs like their feet dry anyway because they are from the Mediterranean. Thyme, rosemary and lavender actually prefer dry soil. But you should be aware that wet soil will wick the heat away from your herb plants. Also, water freezes and can crack the roots of your plants.
“Old Man Winter” can be quite hard on your plants. Be sure to take a few extra steps to care for them for their winter protection and survival. Herbs are especially prone to root rot over the winter if they are sitting in wet soil.
Definitely do not fertilize or prune your plants at this time. You don’t want tender new growth getting nipped by the cold. You can, however, go ahead trim out dead or damaged stems and foliage.
The best protection you can give your herb plants is mulch. If winter temperatures in your area generally fall below -10 degrees Fahrenheit you will want to lay down lightweight organic mulch around your plants. Shredded leaves, pine needles or straw will do the trick. Some people even use sawdust. However, if you want your herb garden to continue to have a more manicured look, you will most likely opt for a commercial mulch mix. Stay away from whole leaves or heavier mulches as these can suffocate your plants.
I know you want to make sure your herbs see it through to another summer, so what you do throughout their growing season is vital. If you haven’t paid much attention to “lightening up” your soil throughout the summer months, please make it a priority when fall comes calling. It’s the best way to help ensure herbal survival through the winter months.
Your small annual herbs are perfect for digging up and putting them in pots to spend the winter indoors. Find a sunny windowsill or plug in the fluorescent light. This way you can continue to have fresh herbs.
Even though we all know the most fun in herb gardening is planting your seeds, watching them sprout and grow strong to provide you with wonderful herbs for cooking or other purposes, you do want to pay close attention to winterizing your herb garden. Taking the few steps to winterize your herb garden will enable your plants to come back strong next season.
Linda Stevens has been herb gardening for over 10 years. Her exclusive book, “From Design to Harvest: Your Comprehensive Guide to Starting a Home Herb Garden” will teach budding herb gardeners absolutely everything they need to know about home herb gardening [http://www.homeherbgardentips.com/hhgt.html].
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