HERB GARDENING TIPS FOR DECEMBER

Harvest chives and mint since they will be dying back soon. Chives are best preserved by freezing. Pot up some chives and bring indoors or place in cold frame for winter harvesting. Harvest fennel or dill seeds. Rosemary, oregano and thyme can be harvested throughout much of the winter. If snow or ice is predicted, cover sage and parsley with fleece to prolong harvesting time. Remove seed heads from lemon balm and garlic chives if you don’t want them to reseed everywhere next year. Don’t forget to water herbs in containers outdoors in the winter. They still dry out. Wrap fleece stuffed with straw around containers to keep the roots from freezing if you have an herb you really want to save and can’t move it indoors.

Be sure that you have weatherproof labels by the herbs in the garden if you have more than one variety of an herb or draw a map of your garden so that if a label is missing in the spring, you still can identify the plant.

Plant any herbs that require stratification (a period of alternately freezing and thawing temperatures needed by some seeds to germinate.) Some examples of these are arnica, sweetgrass, sweet cicely, angelica, soapwort.

Continue with clean up or bed preparation for next year. Get a soil test if desired.

Plan for next year. Seed catalogs are already starting to arrive in the mail. Nichols Garden Herbs has a discount on seed packets for the next few days. Good sources for herb seeds and plants are: Companion Plants, Richters Herbs, Johnny’s Seeds, Nichols Herbs, Seeds of Change, Pantry Garden Herbs, Pinetree Garden Seeds, Bakers’ Creek, Mountain Valley Growers and Seeds of Italy. Most nurseries will no longer ship plants at this time of the year.

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