Drying Herbs The Wild Child Way

Drying herbs to store for later use, now that the season change is upon us, is a very simple way to continue using the herbs you have grown to love, even when the temperatures don’t allow them to stay fresh in the garden. Herbs like dill are great to dry for pickling in the summer. Cool season herbs like parsley, rosemary, thyme, and oregano store so well dried and can be used in so many recipes.

The method I am going to show you today is easy and beautiful. It is a great exercise to do with little ones. They will benefit from the aromatics of the herbs and they love to make pretty things.

Start By Picking As Many Stems As Possible

Cut as many fresh stems as you can from your garden beds. I like to do this at the end of the season when I have used all the fresh I can. Right before I say goodbye to the plant, I cut as many stems as possible for drying.

Timing is important when it comes to drying herbs, too. They should be picked before the flowers develop, which is why I like to designate a day at the end of the season to day good by to my herbs and begin preserving them. If you wait until mother nature ends their life cycle, you won’t have good quality herbs to save. You should also harvest them on warm, dry morning after the dew has evaporated.

Prep Your Herbs For Drying

Next you will want to take some time prepping your herbs before drying them. Do this by discarding any damaged leaves, and only keep the best looking stems possible.

Finally, you want to place your herbs in two categories. One will be those soft and feathery herbs that will stay on the stalks to air dry. The second will be herbs like mint, lavender, rosemary, and sage that have large leaves and more more stiff. These flat leafed herbs will dry differently. More on that later. For now, let’s keep working on herbs that are soft like thyme, oregano, dill, cilantro, and fennel.

Bundle Your Herbs

Next, just tie stems in bundles and hang the herbs upside down. TIP: Use twist-ties so you can easily tighten the bundles when stems shrink as they dry. Then tie a string around the bundle so that you can hang them.

Tie your bundles small like the picture above, so that they dry quickly. If your bundles are too big they will mold before they can complete the drying process. Air flow is important, so keep your bundles small.

Find the Right Spot To Hang Them

Success with this process greatly depends on where you hang your herbs. Effective drying relies on abundant dry, fresh air more than heat. A well-ventilated place out of direct sunlight is ideal.

A Few Things To Remember

The internet makes hanging herbs really pretty. In fact every picture I have included in this post is beautifully bundled herbs. The reality of herb drying in South Louisiana is that it is going to take a while in our humid climate. To keep dust from settling on the leaves, slip the bundle in a brown paper bag before hanging. This will keep dust off and catch any dropping leaves as they drying process progresses.

The herb drying process will take ten days to two weeks to dry, depending on the size of the branches and humidity. Wondering if they’re completely dry? If the leaves sound like crisp potato chips when crushed, they’re good to go.

Storing Your Dried Herbs

To store herbs, crumble the dried herbs with your fingers (discard the hard leafstalks and midribs) and store in small, airtight containers. If you use clear glass containers, store them in a dark place so the herbs don’t lose their color.

Remember, drying concentrates the flavors of herbs, so you don’t need to use as much in recipes. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs instead. 

Cabbage Soup with Dried Garden Herbs

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cabbage, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 1 carton of quality chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water

Directions

In a large stock pot, brown breakfast sausage. Then add diced onion and continue cooking until onions are clear. Add cabbage and cover pot to smother. Once cabbage is smothered down and tender, add jar of spaghetti sauce and chicken stock and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring well.

Add herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and water if the soup seems thick.

Serve with a nice loaf of crusty bread or cornbread. Delicious!

Success With Seeds

The seed catalogs are rolling in, and the excitement of all the possibilities is out of control. I know! But while all of the excitement is really fun, when you get the seed packets in the mail there can be a bit of overwhelm, and if you aren’t careful, you may end up feeling like this whole endeavor was a big fat waste of time (ask me how I know).

Buying seeds is one thing. Starting them is an entirely another ball game. The seed catalogs can be very enticing, so before you go to town in the latest edition of Baker Creek’s Seed Catalog, here are a few things you need to know first!

What Do I Need To Start Seeds Successfully?

In order to take those little seeds to the garden in a 8 weeks or less, you will need some equipment. This is a long term investment, so look at it as a one time upfront cost that will yield you lots and lots of vegetables in the future.

Here Are The Supplies You Need

What Is The Time Frame I Am Working With?

We already know that in the garden timing is everything. When you start seeds, timing is everything plus some! You have all your eggs in the basket of “long term investment” and seed packets. You really want this to work. Timing is where it is at. Most people fail here, and that is why I want to make sure you understand how critical it is.

Let’s take tomatoes for example. Tomatoes take 110 days, on average from seed to harvest and they need approximately 8 weeks of growing time to be ready to go into the ground. We can plant starting around March 15th in South Louisiana, depending on weather, so if we do a little math, we end up with a seed planting date of somewhere around January 17th for tomatoes in May. Now why is this important?? Because if you wait until February to start your seeds, you will have June tomatoes. Still not terrible, but a whole month of tomatoes that you won’t be eating. And if you wait until March, the pests will be so bad by the time you see fruit that you risk not getting a single tomato to your table. In gardening TIMING is everything. January is the month to start seeds in South Louisiana, so make sure to have your order in, so you are ready to go.

What Seeds Should I Plan On Starting?

This is where things start to get a little tricky. If this is your first time, I would suggest sticking the tried and true varieties that other South Louisiana gardeners have grown and love. Seeds are finicky, so another great resource if you are feeling adventurous is the Baker Creek website. When you click vegetables on the site, you can read reviews from all over the country. See what gardeners in your area are saying before adding the seeds to your cart. You would be surprised how much information is there.

How Do I Start My Seeds?

Seed starting isn’t complicated, but it is like taking care of a newborn. For this reason, I am offering a work at your own pace course called “Success With Seeds” beginning in January for anyone who wants to try their hand at seed starting for spring. You can get all of the details by clicking the image below. This course is interactive and inside an exclusive pop up Facebook group! You will learn in real time, be able to troubleshoot as you go, and catch any problems as they arise. The cost of this course is $29, and it will take you step by step through the entire process. It is garden gold!!


If You Want To Grow Fun Varieties But Not Start Your Own Seeds

I have a solution for you!! I WILL GROW THEM FOR YOU!! I am hosting a plant sale in March where I will offer the varieties listed below for sale. I will ask $5 each for the transplants, and they will be ready to plant at time of purchase. This sale will be open to everyone and, you can also reserve plants that you want to make sure you are able to get for this season. Let me know what you would like in the form below! Payment will be due one day prior to the Wild Child Plant Sale, and if your payment is not received, plants will be offered in the sale.

varieties offered at wild child plant sale

Herbs

  • Cardinal Basil
  • Dark Purple Opal Basil

Cucumbers

  • Muncher Cucumber
  • Lemon Cucumber
  • Mexican Sour Gherkin
  • Dragon’s Egg Cucumber
  • Dasher II Cucumber

Peppers

  • California Wonder bell pepper
  • Sweet Chocolate pepper
  • Gypsy pepper

squash

  • Butternut squash
  • Early yellow crooked neck
  • Superpic yellow squash
  • White scallop squash
  • Fordhook zucchini
  • Black Beauty zucchini

Tomatoes

  • Brad’s Atomic Grape
  • Barry’s Crazy Cherry
  • Blueberries tomato
  • Blue Beauty tomato
  • Costoluto Genovese
  • Bonny Best
  • Early Girl

Eggplant

  • Rosa Bianca
  • Black Beauty
  • Listada DeGandia

You may reserve any plants above, and in addition, the plants below that will be ready for pickup at the end of April.

Melons

  • Ambrosia (cantaloupe)
  • Jubilee (watermelon)

Okra

  • Cowhorn
  • Orange Jing
  • Red Burgundy

Pumpkins

  • Jarrahdale
  • Jack Be Little
  • Casperita

To reserve your plants, please fill out the form below letting me know what you would like. I will send you an invoice via PayPal and you can pay when you would like, payment must be received 1 day prior to sale. I can’t wait to start these seeds! All orders must be received by January 17, 2021 to be guaranteed.