Are you familiar with the meaning of Rosemary? It means the ‘dew of the sea’. From the ancient Greek, the plant is also called by the name ‘anthos’, meaning flower. Rosemary is one such perennial herb that gives a wonderful fragrance and flavor to our food.
On one hand, the plant will enhance the beauty of your garden with its needle-shaped leaves, colorful flowers, and excellent aroma and on the other, dried rosemary can be used as a fragrant herb in any of your fish, chicken and pork dishes.
Even the leaves can be used in your bread, soups, sauces and various vegetable recipes. So naturally, planting rosemary will be the best idea if you have a small yard to grow plants.
Rosemary or Rosmarinus officinalis is native to the Mediterranean region and can be grown both in a planter and in the garden. The plant has fibrous roots and it thrives better in the garden but with correct techniques, you can easily grow rosemary in a planter.
Now harvesting rosemary is easy, though you need to be very cautious in some steps so that you can get an unlimited supply of herbs from the same plant as harvesting incorrectly may result in killing the plant. For harvesting rosemary properly you need to know how to do it without harming the plant.
Let’s start from the beginning. But in case you have already planted your rosemary and now just want to harvest it then skip the first point and read the second one.
Though I would recommend you to read through all the considerations as it will help you in the future regarding planting and harvesting of rosemary.
Things to consider before Harvesting Rosemary:
Before harvesting rosemary, you have to understand if your plant is ready for harvesting or not. As, if the plant is incapable of tolerating the scissors and sprig loss, it may probably die.
- Caring for the rosemary plant starts from the planting decision. If you live in an area with an extended period of harsh winter weather and freezing temperature, than you must plant rosemary in a container. So you can bring it inside your home at the time of harsh frosty weather. If you live in highly temperate weather then you can plant it either in a planter or in the garden.
- The rosemary plants which you grow at your home from seeds tend to be healthier than the already-grown plants that you buy from the nursery. These plants are good for harvesting also.
- A healthy plant always gives good harvesting. To grow your seedlings at home, you have to push the seed deep in the soil of a container or in the garden. Then water it thrice a week to keep the soil moist and ensure that your seed gets enough direct sunlight for at least 4 to 5 hours a day.
- When the shoot comes out and grows at least a half-inch, you can replace it in the garden from the container.
Important tip: Plant your seed at least six weeks before the month of expected snow.
- Loosening the soil is also necessary so that air can get into it a little. Remember rosemary plants love soils that drain easily. You can mix some organic compost with your dense soil to make it airy.
- In any case, if you do not want to transplant the seeds to an indoor planter, then probably you should use a trowel for digging the soil occasionally without hurting the roots so that the soil can mix with the air.
- Choosing the right container is also crucial. Choose a container which is 12 inches in height and wide, as it will give your rosemary plant perfect room to spread its roots.
- Rosemary plants do not like wet soil, what they need is misting. So ensure your planter has the drainage holes to drain excess water as it will also make the plant healthy and ready for harvest sooner.
- To get well-flavored herb, after harvesting you need to apply fertilizer to your plant. For that, you can apply water-soluble fertilizer a couple of times in a year.
- For plants in containers, apply a small quantity of fertilizer as the fertilizer will take a longer time to neutralize as the soil of the planter is not exposed to erosion, unlike the garden soil which is vulnerable to heat, snow, and rain.
Things to consider when Harvesting Rosemary:
- If you want to use rosemary for daily purposes, then daily or weekly trimming can actually help the plant to keep growing so you can get more of the herb.
- It is best to harvest rosemary in the time of spring and summer when the plant is growing very actively.
- If you want to harvest rosemary for storing and using as a dried herb, then you must select the time when the plant is blooming, as at that time the plant contains the most oil and flavor.
- You cannot harvest from every branch. Before picking, make sure the branch is at least 8 inches in length.
- After selecting the branches from where you want to pick the leaves, use shears or scissors or clean knives to cut the sprigs. Cut no more than 20 percent or 1/4th of the branches.
- Leaving the 75 percent will give the plant enough time to grow and flourish again and present you with more herbs.
- When used fresh, rosemary plants have the most intense flavor and fragrance but drying and storing them for the whole year can give you the leverage of using it any time of the year.
- After harvesting, you need to tie the evenly sized branches together and hang them in someplace where they can dry themselves. Or you can sun-dry them also.
- When the drying procedure is complete, you can separate the needle-shaped leaves from the branches and store it in an airtight container. Now your dried rosemary herbs are ready for use in your favorite recipes.
- Another method to keep it fresh is to freeze the herbs. After harvesting, you can separate the needles and freeze them in the ice cube tray. When they are frozen you can put them in the plastic bag and freeze them again.
- You can enjoy the herb any time of the year in your sauces, soups, and stews. Rosemary flowers that bloom in the middle of the summer are also edible and can be used for garnishing purpose.
Bottom line: The fresh or dried leaves of the rosemary plants are used in Italian cuisine for a long time. Also, the plant is used for its fragrance and aroma in soaps, shampoos, and cosmetics. It also has medical benefits like it is used as a hair growth stimulator, a supporter of the circulatory and nervous system and to relieve spasm and muscle pain and in improving memory. Overall the rosemary plant is beneficial in every way. So if you have a small patio to garden then planting rosemary will be the best idea for you.