Your Guide to Fresh Herbs Year-Round

If you’re longing for fresh herbs during cold, wet winter days—take heart. With a little preparation, plant know-how and winter protection, it’s possible to have herbs in every season.

| February/March 2011

  • Keep fresh chives all winter by transporting its bulbs to an indoor container during the fall.
    Photo by Rob Cardillo
  • Harvest dandelion flowers to make wine.
    Photo by Rob Cardillo
  • Mint easily spreads throughout the garden. Try growing it in a container for convenient winter storage.
    Photo by Susan A. Roth
  • Lavender, such as this 'Hidcote' variety, requires very little care in order to flourish.
    Photo by Rob Carillo
  • Harvest nasturtium leaves during the entire growing season to add a peppery bite to salads.
    Photo by Rob Cardillo
  • Add color to semi-shady areas in your garden with bright bergamot blooms.
    Photo by Rob Cardillo
  • Cover yarrow with a layer of mulch during the winter to protect it from frost.
    Photo by Susan A. Roth

If you’re staring out your window, longing for fresh herbs during cold, wet winter days—take heart. With a little preparation, plant know-how and winter protection, it’s possible to have herbs in every season. Select a few (or many) of the plants discussed in this article and follow the accompanying tips to grow a selection of culinary delights throughout the year.  

Year-Round Herbs

What could be better than a plant that provides fresh herbs all year? Although it sounds like a culinary fantasy, several herbs do just that. When plant shopping, your best choices for year-round herbs are those described as “evergreen” or “hardy.” Even though many of these plants don’t die back in the winter, their growth slows, so try not to be too greedy when harvesting.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium). This feathery-leaved perennial grows almost anywhere and even enhances the disease resistance of neighboring plants. Yarrow is quite hardy, but if a lengthy freeze comes your way, protect it with mulch or a frost barrier. Use the leaves in salads year-round and infuse the summer blooms for a refreshing skin toner or a cleansing hair rinse. Dried yarrow flowers look stunning in herbal arrangements.

Note: Eat yarrow leaves in moderation to avoid skin irritation.

(View a picture of yarrow.) 

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum). This mild-flavored hardy perennial is happy indoors and out. Harvest the leaves all year to flavor and garnish food. In June, cut the flowers for a pretty addition to a summer salad. You can trim chives down to 1 inch, four times a year, to sprout a fresh batch of leaves. After cutting down the plant in the fall, dig up some of the bulbs and plant them in an indoor pot for chives through the winter. The bulbs can be kept inside year-round or planted outside again in the spring. If you live where winters are harsh, mulch your outdoor bulbs each fall.

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