How to prepare your herb bed for winter
October is here! The evenings are starting to cool. That is a clear indication of fall finally being here in our Texas garden. Each morning is a little more brisk than the last and there is dew on the ground. The pumpkin spice latte craze is all around us. At this point I know it’s time to sort our my garden and start on the winter to-do list. One thing I have to do every year is prepare my beds for winter. Here is how to prepare your herb bed for winter!
One of the most helpful things you can do is to make lists of what needs to be done in the garden for each season, each month or whatever you want to keep track of.
I find that if I write down my tasks on a list, I am more consistent about completing those jobs. I have completely list template printables to make this easier!
Every year about this time there is always so much to do in the garden. One of the main things that we have to do on the farm, is winterize the herbs and other plants that will overwinter in the garden.
How to prepare your herb bed for winter
Here are my quick tips for preparing your herb bed in October:
Some tender herbs will need to be covered. I have pots of lemongrass which are moved to the greenhouse & french lavender should be covered, either by moving under cover or protecting with fleece.
This is the perfect time for storing your seeds. Collect as many as you can & store in a cool, dry place ready for seeding up. A cheap, easy way to grow more herbs. If you have allowed your plants to self-seed, you should expect plants in and around your garden next season.
Tip: Herbs and many other plants will self-seed during the season if you allow them to. The seeds can be moved to other areas of the garden by wind or even birds. This past spring I had several Thai Basil volunteers pop up across the garden where we grew them last. Volunteer plants are awesome!
Once you have winterized your tender herbs by either moving them to the greenhouse (if you have one) or prepared to cover them, it is time to clean out some of the plant material from your bed.
You will want to dispose of all fallen leaves, don’t leave them to rot in the soil or on the plant & weed the area well as to cut down weed pressure for next season. Any of the plant matter that you removed can go into the compost pile as long as it is not diseased.
Next, get out your pitchfork or your hand fork to loosen the top layer of soil. You want to loosen the top 3 or 4 inches of soil. Be careful around any of your herbs that will remain in the bed as to not disturb their roots too much.
Now that you have cleaned out your bed, it is time to top off the bed with a good layer of compost. If you have your own, that is awesome but if you have to buy it, no biggie! You want to add about 3-4 inches of compost to the surface of your bed. This will provide nutrients to the soil and allow the beneficial microbes food over the winter.
Once you have added the layer of compost, it is now important that you add a layer of mulch to the bed’s surface. The mulch will protect the bed from the temperatures and will prevent the bed from drying out too quickly.
If you have herbs that will stay in the bed throughout winter, it may be a good idea to prune them right back to promote new growth in the spring. We have herbs that grow like crazy so I have to prune them back to control the jungle! For example, we have pineapple sage growing in our zone 8a garden and it is pruned back every winter but still turns into a giant bush that takes up about 4 square feet.
Tip: Don’t throw away the cuttings! Most herbs can be propagated by allowing the stem cutting to root in a glass of water and then planting in some good quality potting soil. I do this with Basil, Rosemary and Sage all throughout the year! It is a great way to get free plants with minimal work.
Related: How to Propagate Rosemary
After cleaning up the herb bed and taking cuttings from your herbs to propagate new plants, don’t forget to freeze the last of your herbs for use over the winter. Freezing or drying herbs is a great way to preserve your harvest for use when they not available fresh from the garden.
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