The Garden Muse: Tucking in the Herb Garden for Winter

Published 8:31 am Saturday, October 21, 2023

the Garden Muse

Dawn Conrad

Today was a busy day. It was a day that started in the herb garden and ended in the kitchen. Weeds were pulled, some plants were trimmed back to the ground and other herbs were harvested for the last time this season. I do leave good seed heads standing for the birds and some of the foliage for other beneficial insects and critters to over winter in.

The garden was especially generous this year and there were a lot of herbs to trim, clean, and dry. Some were even frozen. It’s a process that will take at least two or three days to complete.

One of the many benefits to growing your own herbs is that with minimal effort they can transform a simple dish/meal into something quite tasty. I had originally planned a whole roasted chicken dinner for the evening’s meal. But when I surveyed the kitchen counter tops, completely covered in herbs of all kinds and stages of the process of preserving, I knew I would not have the stamina to do all that cooking.

So, change of plans for the evening’s meal! The chicken went into a stock pot along with a whole onion (skin and all) halved, a few garlic cloves, the leafy tops of two celery bunches, and lots and lots of fresh herbs, topped off with water brought to a boil and simmered for one and a half hours. The yield was one gallon of the most delicious chicken stock and some flavorful cooked chicken all thanks to a few handfuls of fresh cut rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano. One thawed pizza crust dough spread out on a half sheet pan top with some of the cooked chicken, onions, roasted red peppers, quartered artichoke hearts, and kalamata olives. A sprinkle of Greek seasoning and some feta cheese into a 400* oven for 20 minutes total and dinner was served. Pretty much for the cost of one whole roasting hen. That’s a win these days.

Grow some herbs and be creative in the kitchen. It may save you some money and it is also much healthier to season your own food rather than purchasing it already seasoned for you.

Dawn Conrad is a Retired Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, Herbalist, Writer and Artist. She can be contacted at dawn@mygardenmuse.com.