Herbs for Fall and Winter Gardens
It’s almost fall and around the Triangle herb and vegetable gardens are being prepared to go dormant for the cooler winter months. Though everyone enjoys fresh cut herbs from the garden in the spring and summer, fall and winter seems to lead us to the spice cabinet and the use of dried herbs. However, did you know that fall is the ideal time to plant evergreen and cool weather herbs? It’s true. With a cool weather herb garden, you can add that kick back in your cooking! Even if you are not the culinary type, a cool weather herb garden can add wonderful scents and texture into your garden and home.
Cool Weather Herbs
Cilantro – A true winter annual, cilantro can be planted in the fall in our area and will produce luscious green leaves until May. Hard freezes may knock back the foliage, but a quick trim-up will encourage new growth. The seeds can be dried as Coriander. Two for one!
Parsley – A biennial herb (hardy to zone 6), meaning in will live through two growing seasons. Plant parsley in the fall and have a great harvest until December. In our harshest winter months, it will die back to the ground and come up fresh in the spring.
Dill and Fennel – Although many think of dill and fennel as summer herbs, those who have grown them know they tend to go to seed as soon as our hot summer days start. Plant these herbs in the fall for a longer season. Just make sure to get enough to share with the Swallow Tail Butterfly larvae which feed on them, as they are a host plant for butterflies. While dill will die after the first hard frost, fennel is a perennial and will return next year.
Chives – Chives are a perennial herb (hardy zones 3-9) that tends to do better in our cool winters. The plant sprouts from a bulb, much like garlic, which continually shoots up yummy green growth. Be sure to cut back throughout the winter to keep foliage from yellowing.
Winter Savory – The cool weather version of the summer savory, winter savory is a perennial herb (hardy to zone 3) which thrives on cold nights and even likes the snow! The strongly scented leaves are a common ingredient in German food and can be used in making teas.
Viola/Pansies – This winter favorite is the best way to add color to your landscape. Don’t forget viola and pansy flowers are edible and can add color as a garnish to your soups and salads!
The following are some of the evergreen herbs we carry atFairview:
Bringing Herbs Indoors
Looking for more tender herbs like basil? You can still have these great culinary herbs all winter in a windowsill garden. Either dig up your plants from the garden before the first frost and pot them to bring inside, or come intoFairview and buy some fresh plants. Place the plant in a bright South-facing window and enjoy a fresh harvest year round. A cutting from basil can even root in a glass of water on your windowsill! Don’t have a South-facing window? Try chives, they are a bulb and can stand less light indoors.
Another idea to bring herbs inside: Sprinkle seeds of herbs on the soil around the base of your larger houseplants (making sure there is some free soil) and enjoy a carpet of herbs around your plants all winter. Just make sure not to plant them around any poisonous plants and use appropriate fertilizer!
Lisa Jennings, Greenhouse