How to Save Herbs for Next Year

Whether you grow dill, fennel, chives or oregano, you don't have to stop using your favorite garden-grown herbs once winter arrives; you can save and store them. Saving and storing herbs is a cost-efficient way to extend your harvest through the colder months. 
Before you start saving seeds, keep in mind there are a few rules to follow before drying them. To avoid molding, harvest your seeds on a dry, sunny day to guarantee the leaves on the plant are water-free. Once picked, dry them out as soon as you can before they wilt. 


How to harvest

Depending on what herbs you want to keep and grow for next season, there are different harvesting requirements involved for specific herbs. If you have leafy herbs like basil, you will want to pinch off bunches of leaves from the tips of the stems. For herbs with longer stems, such as parsley or rosemary, you will want to cut near the base of the plant. For oregano, sage, tarragon and thyme, you can harvest by the sprig or stem. 
For herbs that are grown for their flowers, such as lavender, harvest them right before the blooms fully open, as this will give you a longer lasting aroma that will be more potent. Basil and dill produce more leaves when their flower stalks are removed, so remove them and take the leaves when they are fully bloomed. For seeds you'd like to harvest, simply wait for the flowers to dry and then take their seeds. 


Drying herbs

This is a simple and popular option to preserve your herbs and use them for cooking throughout the season. While you might want to hang them in your kitchen for a homey and decorative look, it might expose them to too much air, allowing them to lose their flavor. To properly dry your herbs, lay them out and bunch them together by size. Next, group stalks and fasten together with a rubber band. Then hang them out of direct sunlight in a room that is well ventilated, like a bedroom with the shades drawn, a dry cellar or attic, or even a rarely-used closet. If you'd like to dry them outside, place a paper bag over the bunches and punch small holes in the bag to allow air to flow through and hang on a line. 
You can also bring some plants directly inside, like basil and rosemary, as winter house plants and then repot them outside next spring.