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Harvest Now for Winter Use

Herbs for teas, flowers for crafts, weeds for compost
      A welcome respite from the garden is around the corner. Until then, there are lots of chores to prepare for fall and winter. Harvesting what you’ve grown will allow you to enjoy the fruits of your labors when the winter winds blow.
      While you’re harvesting herbs for the kitchen, as I described last week, don’t forget the herbs for making teas. The mints for making tea include spearmint, peppermint, apple mint, orange mint and double mint. They can be air-dried in bunches and later, perhaps on a cold wintry day, be crumbled into airtight jars. Lemon balm should be cut now for drying. Lemon verbena, a tender plant, can be cut back and dried. It is one of the best lemon-scented herbs and can be brought indoors before frost. Sage is almost an evergreen herb that makes great tea for colds and flu, and seasoning for holiday dishes. Don’t cut more than half of your plant and dry in bunches. Find a warm airy place to dry your herbs.
      If you like to make wreaths or floral arrangements, harvest flowers now until October. Artemisia Silver King is a beautiful silver plant that can be cut to the ground and dried for use in wreaths. The native mountain mints can be cut to the ground and dried. Celosia or cockscombs in the crested or feathery types can be dried to keep their great colors. Only cut them when they’re not wet and make small bunches for drying. Another everlasting is globe amaranth, which you can cut all the way until frost. These come in red, orange, white, pink and purple. Hydrangeas, especially Limelight, can be cut and placed in crates or large baskets to dry. It’s fun to fashion these dried flowers and herbs into wreaths in the cold months.
      It’s also time to start raking leaves that seem to be falling a little prematurely. Add to the leaf pile weeds from flowerbeds and dead branches from perennials and annuals that have expired. Run your lawn mower over these materials to chop them into smaller pieces, then add them to your compost pile.
      If you have tender plants that you plan to bring indoors before frost, it’s good to examine them first for insects. Mealy bugs, aphids and scale are insects that can wreak havoc with indoor plants. Citrus plants in particular seem to attract mealy bugs. You can use products such as horticulture oil or Safer’s soap on the plants to get rid of these pests.