Balmy days and chilly nights, and soon fresh herbs from the garden will be in short supply. Tender herbs such as basil, dill, cilantro and chervil will die when temperatures drop below 32 degrees. So harvest them now. Bring them in and sort through the stems and leaves. Dry some of the herbs, freeze the rest for winter meals.
Not all herbs die in winter. Some are quite robust and will continue to grow during the winter months. Parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage are what I consider hardy herbs and can withstand low temperatures if they’re mulched and given water on a regular schedule.
Mint will stop growing and the upper leaves will darken. Don’t harvest any mint leaves after this month. Allow the plants to go dormant and rest. The same for chives. These plants will also stop growing, droop and lie flat on the ground. They will resume growth in late March.
Keep the herb beds free from fallen leaves. If you allow the leaves to remain on the herb plants, the leaves will smother them. Rake the leaves and bag them or put them in the compost bin.
Continue to water outdoor plants in containers and in the garden area. Wrap planters and pots with bubble wrap to keep the plants and roots from freezing. Wrap the outside of the planters and tape the bubble wrap in place.
November is a good time to mulch the herbs beds, borders and garden area. Hay, straw, red cedar chips and pine needles are good materials for protecting shallow rooted herbs. Apply a 3 inch layer of mulch around the base of each plant.
Gently remove snow from tall herbs such as rosemary. The weight of the snow will split the branches. Use a broom to lightly dust off the snow.
Careful when using salts and snow-melt around plants in beds and along side the walk or driveway. Salt sensitive plants will not survive if chemicals come in contact with them.
Still time to take cuttings of rosemary and sage. Start them in a sunny window and plant them outdoors in April. They’ll grow and produce all winter if given sunlight and water.
Re-pot indoor herb plants this month. Choose a container a little larger than the one they’re growing in. Use fresh potting soil and water the herb plants. Place them in a sunny window. Don’t fertilize any indoor plants. Most of them don’t require plants foods at this time of year.
If the nights are extremely cold, don’t leave tender herbs plants on a window sill. Remove them at night to a warmer area.
Holiday plants such as the Christmas cactus should begin to bloom this month. Be sure the plants receive 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight. Keep the soil a little on the dry side.
~ Meadow Walker