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Savvy Gardeners Keep It Growing By Candy Webb

Did you notice the sky darkening earlier each day? Red and purple leaves are displaying their beauty against brilliant yellow and orange. The autumn sun strays farther away, and nights begin to chill, warning us we’ll soon see the first frost before winter’s stillness. But hold on, don’t give up yet! There’s so much more to do for savvy gardeners, even while the summer’s sun vacations.

In October, after you’ve picked the last of your vegetables but before the first frost, consider bringing a few of your favorite herbs inside so you’ll have them on hand for cooking this winter. Common herbs like thyme, oregano, mint, sage, parsley, rosemary, and chives will come back year after year. They can all thrive indoors, too, as long as there is sufficient sunlight and care. All of these herbs are hearty enough to stand a very small amount of soapy spray (1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid to 1 quart of water) as an insecticide before bringing indoors. This will kill spiders, mites, and fungi. Spray today, rinse tomorrow, then bring inside to transplant if desired the next day.

For basil, place two or three cuttings (a 5 to 6 inch piece of the plant with two leaves gently torn off the bottom) in a vase with two inches of water. Set the vase in a sunny window for one to two weeks checking water every few days. You’ll begin to see roots develop at the bottom of the cuttings. Once several good-sized roots appear, transplant the cuttings into a container with good drainage and potting soil. I use so much basil I like to have two plants on hand. One is left to grow while I’m cooking with the other, then I rotate them again.

Keeping these plants protected from the cold will provide fresh herbs for cooking throughout the winter. When the sun and warmth return next spring, you’ll have a few less plants to buy – a budget bonus for your garden goodness!

Here’s to breathing in all the beauty of autumn this year!

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