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Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014

Hints on taking care of herbs

Thursday, September 16, 2010

All summer long, many individuals have been caring for their herbs in their gardens and flowerbeds, knowing that eventually, they will succumb to winter weather.

However, it is not too late to get more out of your herbs by preserving some to cook with over the winter and bringing some indoor for a few months.

When you are thinking about taking a cutting from your herbs to preserve, do so before the intense midday sun has arrived and after any dew has dried off. Cut off the whole stem instead of just a single leaf when making the cut. Lay all of your cuttings in a single layer or hang them far enough apart so that they don't touch each other. Allow them to dry thoroughly before using them. You can try to dry them a little faster by using a very low temperature oven. After drying them, keep them in pieces as long as possible in an upright position. They should keep their potency up for about six months.

If you don't want to go through the process of preserving your herbs, you can continue to grow some indoors throughout the winter months. There are a few different ways you can do this. Some of the possible ways include Dividing, Propagating by Cuttings, and Layering.

Chives, lemon balm, mint, burnet, and sweet woodruff are a few of the plants that like to be divided before you bring them indoor. You can do this by digging up a portion of your plant and then potting it in a container. Remember, the container needs to be at least 1- to 2-inches larger than the portion of the plant you are bringing indoors. If the plant is leggy, try to prune it back about halfway to help encourage new growth to appear.

Basil, oregano, lavender, rosemary, thyme, and sage are plants which like to be propagated by cuttings.

Even though propagating by cutting sounds difficult, it is easy to accomplish.

All you need to do is take a cutting at node on the stem (a node is the location at which leaves are attached to the stem). Next, remove the lower leaves and insert the cut end of the stem into moist growing material in a container. You can use a soil mix, vermiculite, or perlite as your growing material.

Cover the container with the cutting with plastic and ensure the plastic isn't touching the plant. Place the container in a warm, shaded location. Let it grow there for a while until the roots start to grow.

You may want to try layering any mint, lemon balm, or thyme that you want. To do this, bend the stem to the ground and cover it with soil. Before covering, remove any leaves from the portion of the stem that will be touching the ground. Water it gently. The new plant will begin to grow within a few days.

If you would like to stimulate faster rooting, cut a wound just below a node on the stem portion to be buried.

After the roots have developed on the new plant, cut it off of the original plant.

After you cut it from the original plant, you can replant it into a container to bring indoors.

Herbs can add just the right kick to that dish this coming winter to help please your guests and family at dinner time. That dinner may prove to be more special if you allow your company to know that the herbs they are enjoying came from your own plants.

For more information on herbs or anything else related to agriculture, horticulture, or natural resources, contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly via e-mail at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Sept. 18 -- Pasture/Grazing Management Field Day, 8-11 a.m., Gosport. Call 812-829-2605 for more information,

* Sept. 21 -- Clay County Extension Board Meeting, 6:30 p.m., Extension Office,

* Sept. 25 -- Adventures in Gardening, 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds. Cost is $30. Register by Sept. 21 by calling 317-745-9260, and

* Oct. 2 -- Owen County Extension Board annual dinner, 6:30 p.m., Owen County Fairgrounds. Tickets ($5) may be purchased at 812-829-5020, by Sept. 24.