Time to Harvest Perennial Herbs
By Maria Price
As temperatures start to slowly drop and our gardens begin to decline, it’s time to harvest your perennial herbs to be dried for later use. In these trying times, you will feel empowered by making some of your own seasonings and teas. A hot pot of herbal tea on a cold damp day can make you feel comforted and full of wellness depending on what you blend together.
Cut your herbs and tie them up in small bunches with string to dry. If you have room in a warm airy kitchen, a pantry, an extra room or a dry shed, these are all good places to dry your herbs. Some small-leaved herbs, like thyme, dry well in a basket.
As soon as your herbs are “chip-dry”, crumble them into a clean paper bag and store them out of light and heat in jars or tins. Make sure they are very dry and not soft as any moisture in the leaves will cause them to mold inside a sealed container.
You can dry lemon balm for use in teas or tinctures. Oregano can be cut all the way down to the ground, tied in bunches and air-dried. You can cut approximately half of your thyme plants to dry. This will reduce excessive woody growth and encourage new growth in the spring.
Passionflower vines can be cut and coiled to dry in a warm place. Rosemary can be tied into small bunches to dry, but don’t cut more than half the plant.
Another perennial herb that will be available until our winter weather gets very wet and sloppy is sage. It’s best to dry branches of it now so you’re not jaunting through a snow-covered garden to season your holiday bird.
If you grow roses that make rosehips, harvest them now for their addition of vitamin C to teas. Bee balm or Monarda, can be cut and dried for tea. All of the mints, such as peppermint, spearmint, applemint and orange mint can all be cut and dried.
After all your herbs are dried, you can spend a cold day making seasoning blends and teas for holiday gifts and yourself. A great seasoning for your holiday bird or any poultry is ¼ cup each of sage, thyme, oregano, marjoram and rosemary. Add 2 tablespoons of garlic powder and 2 teaspoons of pepper. Store in an airtight container.
A soothing tea for colds or flu can be made with one-half cup each of beebalm, lemon balm, chamomile, peppermint and sage. Add chopped, dried rosehips (with the seeds removed). Add 2 tablespoons of dried ginger powder, two broken up cinnamon sticks and a tablespoon of allspice berries. Blend well and store in an airtight jar. Steep 1 teaspoon per 1 cup of boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Sweeten with honey and enjoy.