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.”
St. Joseph's Villa’s Flagler Housing & Homeless Services was one of three entities to earn the National Alliance to End Homelessness' Champion of Change Award. The awards were presented Nov. 17 during a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
NAEH annually recognizes proven programs and significant achievements in ending child and family homelessness.
Flagler completed its transition from an on-campus shelter to the community-based model of rapid rehousing in 2013, and it was one of the nation's first rapid re-housing service providers to be certified by NAEH. > Read more.
Richmond International Raceway's 13th annual Community Christmas tree lighting has been rescheduled from Dec. 6 to Monday, Dec. 12, at 6:30 p.m., due to inclement weather expected on the original date.
Entertainment Dec. 12 will be provided by the Laburnum Elementary School choir and the Henrico High School Mighty Marching Warriors band. Tree decorations crafted by students from Laburnum Elementary School and L. Douglas Wilder Middle School will be on display. Hot chocolate and cookies will be supplied by the Henrico High School football boosters. > Read more.
If the snow last weekend had you stuck at home, then you will appreciate free admission all weekend long at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden! Other free options this weekend include a Classic Family Film series at Varina Library, “Crafternoon” at Libbie Mill Library and the tenth annual Richmond Jewish Food Festival taking place Sunday and Monday at the Weinstein JCC. Concert options include the 8th annual Djangoary Music Soiree at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen and Flight Risk, performing at The Tin Pan. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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Jan. 4, 2017Click here to read the print edition.
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