The allotment was decidedly nippy the other morning. Bright and beautiful, but nippy nonetheless. The majority of the summer crops have finished and the plot has taken on a different hue; moving from a lush green to more of an earthy brown, as crops are sown and planted to overwinter.
Of course, some of the crops will survive the coming months. The herbs like rosemary and sage will continue to provide fresh flavour to the kitchen. However, others like mint and basil will die off as the cold days encroach. So, a few weeks ago I decided to cut a load of herbs and dry them in the shed. We use a lot of dried herbs, oregano, mixed herbs, they all help to flavour our sauces and stews. It made sense to not waste the fabulous flavours the plot and try to keep them to use in the winter.
To dry the herbs, all I did was cut a good bunch of a range of herbs, tied them into bunches and hung them in the shed. After a few weeks they had dried to a crispy, crumbly texture. The last stage was to crush the herbs, place in jars, label and add to the store cupboard for use later. Some of the herbs I kept on their own, but I also created an ‘allotment mix’ as well. It will be great to pull out the vibrant flavour of the allotment when it’s cold and wet outside.
I’m addition to cutting and drying herbs before the winter comes, it’s also a good time to take cuttings from the woodsy herbs such as rosemary and sage. Choose a vigorous, non-flowering, shoot. Cut it off just below the leaf node or joint. Next strip off most of the leaves, leaving the top few. Place the cuttings in a pot filled with compost and vermiculite in roughly equal parts. You need to water the compost and then cover with a plastic bag or bottle to create condensation. After 4-6 weeks in direct sunlight, the cuttings should have rooted and can be planted out in the spring. From one plant, you can give yourself a load of new ones.