Harvesting the Herb Garden

The season is winding down, and I'm harvesting herbs, flowers and seeds from the herb garden.

Calendula - my plants are still blooming, so I'm harvesting some of the flowers fresh so that I can dry the petals, and others dry so that I can save the seeds. Most of the plants have produced yellow flowers, but one that recently began blooming is producing orange flowers.

Catnip - the flower heads are drying up and the seeds are almost ready to harvest, although I've already cut off a few clusters that are dry enough. I plan to dry the leaves and stems to make cat toys. My inside cats love catnip, the outside cats couldn't care less.
Cayenne pepper - the last little pepper on my cayenne plant has turned red and been harvested, so I've pulled the plant and will plant spinach this week. I'm going to cover the tub with a sheet of hardware cloth to keep my dogs critters from digging in the soil.

Cinnamon basil - the seed pods are drying nicely on my one and only plant. I cut off all the flower spears that were completely dry, and left the ones that are still blooming on top. A few little black seeds are inside each seed pod.

Dark opal basil - this beautiful plant is still growing like crazy, so I'm going to harvest another "crop" of leaves to dry. It's only produced one flower spear so far, which I pruned so the plant would keep growing new leaves.

Lavender - the lavender plant has been happiest on my kitchen windowsill this summer. It bloomed again in September, then kind of dried up, but I'm glad to see that there is some new green growth on it now. I was getting a little worried about it.

Lemon balm - another plant that has thrived on my kitchen windowsill over the summer. I've been harvesting the leaves regularly in order to keep the plant's rounded shape, and have dried the leaves. I use them in some herbal teas and remedies, and add fresh leaves to my morning smoothies and to lemonade.

Marigold - there are still many marigold blooms on the plants, and just as many that are drying out. I've been pulling the seeds out of all the dry flower heads.

Oregano - I'll trim these two little pots of oregano before bringing them inside for the winter, and dry the few leaves from the cuttings.

Paprika - all those fat, round peppers are finally beginning to turn orange. When they're red I'll harvest, dehydrate and powder them. The paprika and cayenne were experiments this year.

Zinnias - the zinnia plants still look great too. I cut off all the dead heads and still have plenty of pretty salmon-colored blooms to look at, although they are inching past their prime. These plants have been blooming fools. I found a YouTube video that shows how to harvest zinnia seeds.

I plan to bring the rosemary, oregano, and chocolate mint inside for the winter. (Is there a use for chocolate mint? I grow it because it smells good when I brush against it, but I don't know if it has a use.) I could bring the catnip inside too, but since space is at a premium and it's super easy to grow from seed, I'll harvest all of the leaves instead.

I'll replant all of the annuals again next spring, and I plan to add a few new herbs as well. I'm particularly looking for comfrey.

What herbs do you grow, and how do you use them?

You might also enjoy:
The New Herb Garden
The Herb Garden in June
The Herb Garden in July
The Herb Garden in August
The Herb Garden in Late September
Ten Ways to Use Basil
How to Dry Homegrown Herbs
DIY Cayenne Pepper Powder
Harvesting the Herb Garden

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