Keeping Fresh Herbs All Winter Long
It’s stuffing and turkey season, so take good care of your herbs and make sure they don’t die right before you need them the most.
If you got a good herb garden going this spring and summer, now is the time to take the necessary steps to protect your herbs in the winter months. Start preparing now, because the winter frost is right around the corner and you don’t want all your hard work to go to waste. Plus, this is turkey season, so now is not the time to lose your fresh parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
These are Mediterranean perennial herbs that are relatively easy to maintain throughout the seasons, but they need extra protection during harsh winters. Be careful not to make these mistakes and freeze your aromatic herbs by accident.
Too much water is a bigger threat to your herbs than the cold
Believe it or not, the wet winter conditions will kill more herbs than the frost. Find shelter for your herbs in the winter so that you can control how much water they are getting and not letting them drown in rain, sleet, and snow.
This is Colorado and the winters are no joke. If you’re already raking snow off your rooftops and defrosting your windshield in the morning, then you need to run outside and grab your herbs. It’s time you find them a nice spot on a windowsill inside your home.
Helping your outdoor herbs survive the Colorado winter
If you can’t bring them inside, make sure you find them a nice dry spot, out of reach of heavy winds and freezing snow. You’d think that clearing off a nice shelf in the gardening shed or garage will suffice, but these units are typically dry and cold and will suffocate your herbs. Better chance it outside.
If you are going to try to keep your herbs outside in the Colorado winter, then take a few precautions and give your herbs the best chance of survival.
Finding a dry spot is the first step. The ground is extra moist (and cold), the air is extra moist (and cold) and the nighttime frost will spell death to most herbs. Once you’ve found a dry spot, you’ll want to raise up the pots off the ground, and think about insulating your pots with some straw. Place straw around the herbs on top of the pot, but also around the pot to try to keep out the frost as much as possible.
Mulching the herbs can help to survive the cold season. Add a thicker layer of shredded leaves, straw, bark, or other light-textured natural mulch that will “hug“ but not suffocate the tender herbs. Let the layer be around 2 – 4 inches thick.
Only water your herbs in the mornings. And be careful not to overwater them. If the soil is too wet when the frost hits, the water will freeze, kill the herbs and maybe even crack your pot as it expands. If they need water, do it in the morning and make sure they drain properly.
The best thing you can do for your herbs is to bring them inside during the winter, but with a little extra care, you can keep them growing all winter long and help season the holiday turkeys with something fresh and homegrown from the garden.