December in the Herb Garden

snowy garden 1
Shorter daylight hours and freezing temperatures have slowed down the growth of the herbs. They may be dormant, but they still need protection and water. Continue to water herbs growing in containers.

Remove any fallen leaves from low-growing herbs such as thyme or summer planted lavender. Damp, rotting leaves are likely to damage plants. Scoop up the wet leaves and toss them in the compost bin. They’ll decompose there and make a nutrient rich organic mulch in the spring.

Protect parsley, thyme and sage from heavy snow. If snow is predicted, cover the plants with big planters or large buckets- anything to keep the snow off of the plants. Remove the planters after the snow has stopped falling.

Fill a few 5 gallon buckets with water and place them in the greenhouse. It’s important to have the water the same temperature as the air in the greenhouse. Cover the buckets with newspaper or paper grocery bags. Use a plastic cup for dipping out the water. Give each overwintering herb plant a cup or two of water once a week. Keep the buckets filled.

Use fresh sprigs of thyme, rosemary, sage, mint, etc, for making red wine vinegar, white vinegar and other holiday treats. Use clean glass jars, and add a few sprigs to each jar. Heat the vinegar to almost boiling, and pour it over the herbs. Wipe the rims and seal the jars. Let the vinegar infuse for two weeks before using. You can add peppercorns to thyme vinegar to give it a spicy flavor. Pint mason jars are my choice for making the vinegars. I always make a dozen or so of the vinegars to give away during the holidays.

Still not too late to plant garlic. If the ground is not frozen, turn it over with a spade, smooth out the soil, and plant the garlic. Divide the cloves, and plant each clove point up, about 2 inches deep. Cover with soil. Even though it’s late fall, almost winter, the cloves will push their way up through the soil. You’ll see them as green sprouts in late January.

If you’re blessed to receive a rosemary plant during the holidays, remove the foil wrapper from around the pot. Set the pot in a shallow saucer and water it from the bottom. Rosemary requires a sunny window indoors. Ideal temperature is 65 to 70. This applies to all holiday plants such as poinsettia, Christmas cactus, Norfolk Island pine. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me. Thanks.

~ Meadow Walker

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