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Growing Herbs in Texas: Preparing the Herb Garden for Snow

12/4/2009 1:55:24 PM

Tags: Growing Herbs In Texas, Cynthia Meredith, Texas, Winter, Winterize, Cold, Herb Covers, Tips

C.MeredithCynthia Meredith has been gardening with herbs, reading about herbs, and discussing herb gardening in Texas for more than 20 years. She has owned The Herb Cottage (www.theherbcottage.com) for over 10 years, selling herb plants to people all over our state.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. I was in California, meeting my newest great-niece for the first time and celebrating with my family there. It was a very satisfying visit. Even so, I'm always so glad to come home to our farm and my nursery. This time, I came home to the news of a serious cold front on its way. Time to winterize! 

Summer shade house
Summer shade house covered for the winter.

Well!! The weather certainly has changed overnight. Even yesterday, while I was putting the final touches on winterizing here at The Herb Cottage, moving plants into the greenhouse and wondering just how cold it would get, the temperatures made it into the 50s and the sun was shining. Not so today... no way. It's gray, windy and cold. I've already seen a little bit of sleet and snow. I know those of you in other parts of the state are also seeing real winter weather today.

Winter Greenhouse bench
One bench in the winter greenhouse.

I just had a call from a neighbor regarding what plants in her garden would be hardy overnight, when it's supposed to dip to about 26 degrees. Mostly she was concerned about lettuce and snow peas. Both of which, I told her, would be fine without a cover. I think she's going to cover her lettuce anyway. That's a good idea to keep the tips from possibly getting frost bitten. Then she had questions about her herb garden. She asked if her rosemary would be OK? Oh, yes, I said. Rosemary can easily take down to the middle 20s for a few hours.

Other herbs that will be hardy in this little cold snap are oregano, thyme, parsley, arugula, cilantro, fennel, chamomile, chervil, lovage... the list is long. Many edible flowers will thrive in the cold, too. Pansies, violets, calendula and even roses will do just fine. My nasturtiums will not survive, however. I've got nice big plants with a few flowers, but a freeze will definitely knock them back. I could try to cover them, but I have more in the greenhouse, not as large, of course, that I can plant out. I love nasturtiums. The flowers are so cheery, colorful and bright, and they're edible, too. I always plant some in the fall hoping they'll make it through the winter, and they never do. Then, I replant in the very early spring and have scads of flowers all through spring and early summer until it gets too hot for them to survive.

Nasturtiums Texas
Big, beautiful nasturtiums. Tatsoi in the foreground, which will prove to be winter hardy. 

My little nursery looks so barren with many plants brought into the greenhouses in the last 2 days.

Table
Hardy herbs are under the table with the white covering.

Empty table
Empty, barren tables that just yesterday held many, many plants.

I left outside many of the hardy herbs in small pots, but covered them a little bit to protect them from icy rain. Snow wouldn't hurt them too much, as it kind of insulates from the cold. But, some of the potted herbs have just recently been potted up, so I thought I'd protect them a little.

Herb pots white cover
Small herb pots under the white cover. 

I've been in and out of the house quite a bit this morning. There's something about inclement weather that makes me want to be outdoors in it.... at least for a little while. Maybe I appreciate the warmth and shelter of the house more after being outdoors.

Amity heater
Amity with her winter friend, Mr. Heater.

I wish you all warmth and comfort for today's cold spell. Stay cozy and know the weather will warm up in a day or two. Isn't living in Texas grand? Snow one day, sunshine and warmer temperatures the next!



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