Fall Herb Harvest & Planning for Winter

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Well it’s fall and I’m already starting to worry about the lack of fresh herbs in the winter…

Planning ahead, I’ve been collecting small Perrier bottles for storing cuttings for using in the kitchen but also to help with propagating.

I started putting cuttings in small Perrier bottles because I happened to have one on hand but over time and after sometimes using mason jars, and other glass bottles I’ve noticed that Perrier bottles work particularly well.

I think the green colour helps with root development by removing parts of the light spectrum? Of course this is speculation as I haven’t run any tests but I know that wine is stored in green bottles to protect the wine from light. And I think the same is true for plants. In fact I noticed the same when I placed a jasmine cutting in a green wine bottle. But when I place cuttings in clear bottles I usually don’t see root development. And while wine bottles are great for a hardy long plant like Jasmine, herbs need fresh water regularly and I think the small Perrier bottle offers the perfect amount of water to allow for routine top ups so it’s not sitting in too much stale water.

Small Perrier bottles also have a small opening so it’s easy to hold the herbs in place but have a wide bottom so the roots can spread out a bit more.

So why do I want root development?

Well I want to bring my herbs indoors but I don’t want to bring in outside pests and I want to get a bit more harvest before trying to move the entire plant inside.

By allowing cuttings to propagate I can split the plant and try to start an indoor plant earlier. Moving herbs indoors or even starting them from seed indoors is a hit and miss I find. Creating the perfect environment takes a bit of trial and error so it’s nice to hedge your bets.

Some plants develop roots better than others in water. Basil, mint, sage, lavender, have always developed roots when I’ve tried. Where as thyme, oregano, marjoram, and tarragon are a hit and miss. And parsley, dill, and cilantro have yet to be successful.

Developing plants this way I think is also a good way to prevent shocking the plants. Just like plants need hardening off, I’ve found that moving plants directly indoors is sometimes a shock to the plant. The change in light (I think) sometimes makes the plant weak and sometimes pests thrive in the new indoor conditions. Placing the cuttings (well washed) on water and giving them a chance to develop still may result in a weaker plant at first but I find if roots do develop then they are more likely to take to the soil then just transplanting them indoors directly into soil.

The tray I’m using is a condiment tray from Ikea that I happened to have on hand. It’s a great way to move the bottles around so you can keep them on hand but not have them take up counter space when you need to cook.

Would love to hear other people’s experiences with bottles (clear, green, or other colours), and moving plants indoors.

In a few weeks I’ll probably start moving other plants in directly into soil. Stay tuned…

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