All of my herbs have gone to seed. I was wanting to bring some inside for the winter. Have I waited too long?
Hardiness Zone: 8a
Becky from Charlotte, NC
It depends on what you're growing. I'm not sure if you're talking about harvesting the leaves, stems and seeds, or bringing the entire plant in for the winter. Some herbs, like basil for example, tend to taste bitter if harvested after the plant sets seeds. The same is true for most herbs that are harvested for their foliage. Once they bolt (set seed) their flavor is altered. As a general rule, herbs that will be used for their foliage should be harvested before they bolt. Herbs grown for seed should be harvested as their seedpods change from green to brown, but before the seeds drop or shatter. Herbs that will be harvested for their flowers should be harvested just before the flowers are fully open, and herbs that will be harvested for their roots can be harvested in the fall as soon as the foliage dies back. If your herbs still have foliage, try harvesting a few and drying them or adding them to dishes to test their flavor. If they taste fine to you, there is no harm in harvesting them this late.
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If they have gone to seed, there might be a bitter taste.
Likely. If drying for storage the best time to harvest is when leaves are large and green, not dry. Wrap a medium bundle in large twist tie and hang upside
down in shade for about 10 days, then strip best
leaves and seed off stems inside large white plastic new garbage bag. After tossing all stems, pick out leaves and place in airtight containers for storage, sealing with scotch tape, marking date on top and labeling.
The residue is usually the seeds in the bottom of the sack, mixed with remnant leaf/stem particles. If possible, separate them by sifting in a flour sifter or finer sifter.
Store seeds in old envelopes, seal, lable and
date, writing any special instructions, descriptions you might not remember.
If all you got is seed and tiny dried up leaves, just use them anyway, being extra careful to remove all stems, and learn for the next year's use.
Store seed in a cool,dry place, not plastic bag. Beware of bugs attracted and able to eat into the paper.
My experience is mostly with Tarragon, Basil,
Garlic, Oregano, Lemon Balm, Curry, and the more common herbs over the years. I keep only what will grow with the least care. I've had the most luck here in N. Texas with these I've listed.
Good luck and God's blessings to you.
I harvest my herbs all through the season for drying. I also cut off the flowering stem to promote more leaf growth, however I do leave some of the flowers so the butterflies and bees have something to feed on.
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