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It’s a wet and windy November and the darker evenings most definitely make a difference to the time we can spend outside. It seems that even though the temperature might be mild, we are moving into winter pretty quickly. I make it an absolute priority to get outside whenever I can for some fresh air. I quite enjoy the interesting seed heads and faded hydrangeas while enjoying seeing the structure of deciduous trees in the cooler weather.
It’s not too late to harvest the last of the herbs and dry them ready for use in cooking over the winter. I collected an abundance of oregano which will be the last for this year, some lemongrass, lemon balm and mint. There’s something wonderful about the fragrance of herbs being harvested under a cloudy sky. They will all be washed, dried, crushed and stored.
One of my favourite herbs is oregano, not just because I love Italian cooking but because it’s flavoursome, and medicinal and is meant to bring happiness to the place it grows, plus the pretty flowers in summer will attract all the neighbourhood bees.
Plants can be started from seed in early spring or pick up a plant at your local garden centre. If you have sown seeds, thin them out into a small pot of peat-free multi-purpose compost and harden them off before planting out after frosts have passed. It will also grow well in containers as long as the compost doesn’t get too wet over the winter months, so good drainage is key. If you are growing in a container, now is the time to put it up onto pot feet or bricks. Cut back the flowers after they have finished blooming in the summer and any dead stems during winter. Try the shrubby Origanum ‘Hot n Spicy’ which will surprise your senses with a hot tangy flavour.
If you are growing tender herbs and want to keep them growing for as long as possible, make sure they are overwintered in the greenhouse. Basil and parsley for example can be potted, taken to the greenhouse and harvested for a longer period than if left outside where they will succumb to the frosts.