In the garden
Fall is the time to plant perennials including herbs. Because some favorites like basil and parsley are annuals planted in the spring, it’s easy to forget that many herbs can be planted in the fall and enjoyed until Thanksgiving, or if the weather is mild like last year, all winter long. And herbs can always be planted in pots and brought inside.
“Now is a very good time to get perennial herbs in the ground,” says Nicole Schermerhorn, co-owner of A Thyme to Plant at Lavender Fields Herb Farm. “It’s cool enough that you want to be outside working in your garden, but still warm enough for the herbs.”
“Typically we’re also getting enough rain at this time of the year,” adds Schermerhorn, “and you’re home from vacation now so you can take care of your herbs and begin using them.”
Hardy perennials to plant now include rosemary, sage, thyme, chives, fennel, mints, and parsley. The fennel and the mint will die back over the winter but come back in the spring.
“Planting now allows the herbs to establish roots over the winter,” says Schermerhorn. “They’ll flush out new growth in the spring.”
Herbs can be planted in dedicated herb gardens, mixed with vegetables, or added to flower beds and borders. Their various textures and colors can be very attractive, and many people enjoy putting fragrant herbs along walks or driveways where they can easily be touched to release their scents. Culinary herbs should be planted near your kitchen so that harvesting them is easy and convenient. You’ll use them more often.
In choosing a site, remember that most herbs require full sun, from 4 to 6 hours a day minimum, good drainage, and good air circulation. Good drainage is so important that Schermerhorn recommends planting herbs in raised beds.
“Clay soil,” she says, “does not provide good drainage.” She recommends a planting medium of one-third organic matter such as compost, one-third topsoil, and one-third builders’ sand.
“Make sure it’s builders’ sand,” says Schermerhorn. “It won’t compact like play sand so it adds drainage.”
Don’t mulch herbs. “We put a handful of organic compost around our plants to dress them up and improve the soil,” says Schermerhorn.
“Herbs do not like wet feet, and all mulch does in winter is keep their feet wet.”
In fact, most herbs are considered drought-tolerant, though some moisture is needed during dry spells to keep the plants growing. In general, annuals require more moisture than perennials.
Herbs also don’t require much fertilizer. Over-fertilizing an herb can produce growth that is too rapid, making the plant more susceptible to disease or insect problems and diluting the concentration of essential oils that produce the taste in culinary herbs. Herbs in pots are the exception. They should be lightly fertilized once a month during their growing season.
Using your herbs is important to keeping them healthy. Evergreen herbs can be cut and enjoyed in recipes or vases all winter.
“Herbs are designed to be used,” says Schermerhorn. “Cutting them encourages new growth, so keep using your herbs.”
Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s admission has increased by $1 across all categories. Admission is now $12 for adults; $11 for seniors ages 55 and older; and $8 for children ages 3–12. Admission remains free for children ages 3 and younger and for members.
The last price increase was in 2011, before the Garden consistently hosted Butterflies LIVE! (which is included with admission). > Read more.
The threat of bad weather didn’t keep visitors away from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden July 10 for the facility’s weekly Flowers After 5 event (which pairs music and food with a chance to stroll the garden) and its monthly Fidos After 5 (which allows dog owners to bring their pets with them to enjoy the evening). > Read more.
Thanks in part to a $10,000 gift from the Western Henrico Rotary Club, another bright pink Jeep modified to travel extremely rough terrain has been delivered to Midwives For Haiti so that more pregnant women in the quake-ravaged country will have access to prenatal care and a greater chance of surviving childbirth.
The funds were raised at the annual casino night held in February, club president Adam Cherry said. The Rotary Club also helped purchase the Virginia-based charity’s first pink jeep three years ago. > Read more.
A finalist in the Bravo television show Top Chef is bringing one of his four restaurant chains to Henrico County.
Bryan Voltaggio, who was the runner-up of the sixth season of Top Chef, (finishing second to his brother, Michael) and his business partner, Hilda Staples, will open their third Family Meal restaurant, at Henrico's Willow Lawn shopping center. The restaurant is expected to open early next year. > Read more.
The United States Army Field Band will present a free public performance at Deep Run Park in Henrico on Sunday, Aug 3 at 3 p.m.
Members of the band are soldiers who also serve as “musical ambassadors of the Army” and perform for schools and communities nationwide.
The Concert Band will be performing along with the Soldiers’ Chorus. > Read more.
Get up and dance – square dance, that is – with the Tuckahoe Square Dance Club tonight! More musical events this weekend include family-friendly karaoke at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House, the United States Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus Concert and the Henrico Teen Theatre Company’s production of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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