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Herb gardening is all about timing and cycles. We have a zone 7 garden, and late summer and fall can be a bit of a slump in terms of harvesting. Generally, herbs harvested for their leaves are best harvested right before blooming. If you have been pinching back the tops on your herbs to delay bloom and encourage the plants to fill out and produce more leaves, some of your herbs may almost be ready for harvest.For the most part, though, this is a slower time when most of the annual herbs are spent and a few perennial herbs are either coming into a second bloom after a first harvest or just getting ready to bloom for the first time. Most perennial herbs have completed blooming for the year and are already focused on building up their roots for the coming winter.
Even though there isn’t much to harvest, this slower time of year is perfect for cleaning up the garden and getting ready for fall. It can be a good time to plant seeds that require stratification (alternating warm and cool temperatures), try to sneak in a second fall planting of annuals like calendula (and a fall veggie garden, for that matter!), or prep any garden beds that you would like to use for fall-planted perennial roots.Wondering what to do in your own herb garden this time of year? Here are some of the tasks I like to work on and some of my best tips to help you out!
Stay Ahead of the Weeds.
Clean Out Beds
Mulching your beds again with leaves or bark is a nice way to tidy them up for fall. Just remember that pine straw is very acidic and oak leaves contain compounds that inhibit the growth of other plants – so these two materials are probably not the best for your herb garden even if you have an abundant supply. Mulch helps retain moisture, adds a layer of insulation for your plants, and helps somewhat with weed suppression. Over time, mulch breaks down and adds organic matter to the soil – making for happy soil and happy plants!Below you can find a very informal video of me explaining how I’m getting my garden ready for fall and offering a little tour of some of the plants that are currently in my garden. Last year was a very bad year for us because we didn’t have rain for three or four months during the hottest part of the year! Most of last year’s projects didn’t survive. Then, this year, I made the transition from mainly being self employed as a writer to full time employment “in town” as we like to say around here – so you will notice lots of empty garden beds.If you’re a gardening nerd like me, there’s nothing quite as exciting as an empty garden bed just waiting to be filled. Getting the garden caught up felt really good, and I can’t wait to see where next year’s garden adventures take us.