Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An Unexpected Bounty

The heat and lack of rain this summer had wreaked havok on our garden.  We were fortunate to receive 5 inches of rain from Hurricaine Isaac and fairly consistent rain since.  Our lawn was the first to respond by turning greener and lusher than it had been all year.  It was too late for most of the garden.  Before the rain, I was just hoping that my herbs would live to make it through another winter and be more productive next year.  I had given up on having any extra to dry and use over the winter.

To my delight, the herbs responded as well as the grass did to all the rain.  Last month, we harvested all of the basil.  We had more than enough to dry, plus I was able to make 5 meals worth of pesto to freeze.  The dill and parsley died early on in the summer, but the thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano and chives started to thrive.  Last week I was able to harvest herbs to dry for winter.

Clockwise from the top-left: chives, thyme, oregano, rosemary and sage.

To dry chives, I snip them finely with a pair of scissors and spread them out on a paper towel or paper plate to dry.  They are usually ready to put in a jar in about 3-5 days.

The rest of the herbs are hung by clothespins on cotton string along the soffit in our kitchen.  It can take up to a month or more for them to dry completely.  Once they are "crunchy" dry, I will take them down, remove the leaves, discard the stems and store them in sealed containers.  Herbs can be dried in a food dehydrator much more quickly than hanging, but I think they make nice decoration and make the kitchen smell "herby."

I love being able to open a jar of herbs from the garden in the middle of January.  The herbs have more flavor and fragrance than factory processed herbs.  It is also a cost savings over buying herbs, especially with the plants that are perennial.


  1. This is an area I want to venture into. Did you start your herbs from seed or plants? Are they difficult to grow? Sounds fantastic!

  2. Most herbs are not hard to grow. Mint is the easiest, it's best to keep in a planter or pot, because it spreads like crazy and is quite invasive. I have not had much luck growing herbs from seeds, aside from borage, so all the plants I have I purchased as plants. Chives, mint, oregano, and thyme have come back year after year for me. The sage and rosemary made it through last winter, but that was a first, probably due to the mild weather. I will be covering all the herbs in straw soon to protect them through the winter. It's a fun little luxury to have herbs to pick whenever you want!