Prepare Your Herbs for Spring
Spring is just around the corner. Have your herbs gotten the news?
As the snows melt, or the frosts ease, plants receive a number of signals. The ground will warm, the soil will become more porous and let in more air, and the number of hours per day of sunshine will increase. All these help signal the plants to germinate and sprout.
Indoor plants may get mixed signals, depending on where you place them and how you treat them over winter. If they’re near a window, that bright winter sunshine can feel like spring to them. If they’re in a corner, they may not get enough until mid-summer. Plan your placements to give sun-loving herbs (which is most of them) the maximum per day.
As the snow clears, those dead stalks and leaves will become visible. For perennial types, such as chives, it’s a good time to trim them down to near ground level. Avoid pulling so you don’t accidentally pull up the roots. Instead, just take some pruning shears and snip off the stalks about an inch above the surface. Sample one or two before you proceed, though. Sometimes, they’re green inside and should just be left alone.
Most herbs don’t require fertilizer, growing happily in soil that would be considered poor for other plants. But for those that can use a little extra help, early spring is a good time to apply it. If there’s still a bit of frost or snow on the ground, fertilizer beads can be drawn into the soil as it melts. Don’t overdo it, however.
Now’s the time to ensure that the soil is right. Winter snows can compact the earth, but most herbs like good drainage. Many, like lavender, are Mediterranean natives and evolved in rocky, well draining soil.
If the dirt has become hard, a little aeration is in order. Just use a common spike to create small holes for air and water to flow into. Take care not to stab the plant, especially as the roots may have spread out rather than down. Once loosened, you can add a little topsoil or sandy loam to ensure adequate nutrition and good drainage.
The majority of herbs combat insect invasions well. But this is the time of year when grubs will soon start to become active and feed on roots or leaves near the ground. A bit of spray will solve the problem before it becomes pronounced. Liquid sea-kelp is a safe and easy to use solution in these cases.
If you have indoor herbs, February is your friend as the days become longer. Let your plants enjoy the sun, and soon you will too.