Spring Has Sprung. How do the Herbs Look?
Well, we are all welcoming a relatively early spring here in MN, and along with spring comes a chance to explore how our New Crops Herb Plot is coming along. We have several herbs planted in a demonstration plot, and will be updating you on the progress of that plot as the summer rolls along. Stay tuned for more information regarding a field day later this summer.
Most home gardeners, or those who have a kitchen garden for cooking or medicinal herbs probably take special care of the herbs to prepare for and survive winter. However, our test and demonstration site is really designed to help farmers get a feel for commercial-scale production of herbs. In such a scenario, obviously, we will select and grow herbs which can handle our hardiness zone, and will select for those varieties which will survive our winters.
The winter of 2015-16 may not exactly be the greatest test of winter hardiness. Ours was mild here in east central MN. We recorded only a handful of double-digit below zero low temps, and only one of -20 degrees, that on January 11, 2016.
But for now, lets take a look at the herbs. I’ve broken the herbs into 3 groups at this point. Those that are off and running well, those that clearly survived the winter, but are just not as vigorous and those that are not (yet) showing any spring growth.
- Off and running well: Sorrel, Wormwood, Nettle, Catnip, Angelica, Lovage
- Survived winter: Camomile, Lavender, Feverfew, Lemon Balm, Comfrey, Hyssop.
- Questionable winter survival: Skullcap, Caraway, Tarragon, St. John’s Wort, Gensing, Marshmallow, Borage
The last of group 3, Borage, is a reseeding annual, so it may be a while before we know anything at all on Borage. I took pictures of all the herbs, and will continue to do so as we roll through spring.
In this project, we’ll be sharing lots of resources on herb production. Some will be specific to one or two crops, and some will be more general. Lavender is a Mediterranean crop, and as such struggles in MN, but with our mild winter, we may have a good demonstration this year. While this article is not specifically for commercial producers, it has some good information on winter hardiness. Thanks for checking in! If you have any specific questions about commercial herbs, let me know, and we’ll try to address it here on the Herb Blog.