Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Harvesting and Storing Herbs

I am not going to pretend to know the proper technique for every herb out there - there are far too many! But, over the years I have gathered many harvest and storage tips that have worked for me and many other gardeners.

My first tip is to be brave! So many people that write me are afraid to cut back their herb plants. Herbs are very tough with the right conditions. It's often what you least expect that hurts them-such as overwatering, too much fertilizer or too rich of a soil. Many herbs, such as lemon balm, mint, chives, sage and oregano maybe cut within two or three inches of the ground and will grow back within no time for another harvest! If you are in doubt, you can cut back by half to be cautious.

Gather your herbs, using sharp kitchen or gardening shears, in the morning after the dew has dried. You will also catch the peak flavor if you harvest just BEFORE flowering, but don't let this deter you from harvesting if you have missed that time frame. You can dry the flowers for wreaths and dried arrangements and use the leaves for cooking. If you live in a zone that freezes be sure to allow your herbs a month and 1/2 or so before frost to grow after you harvest and before the first frost.

For more on freezing, drying and storing your herbs go to

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