Today I’m harvesting herbs in my garden. I will dry them in the kitchen for use all winter long. This is Rhonda Ferre with University of Illinois Extension. Let’s look at a few of my favorite herbs. Lemongrass is true to its name. This plant has a very strong lemon scent and provides a nice subtle lemon flavor. My plant grew about two feet this year but the plant won’t survive the winter so I’m going to harvest it so i can use it this winter. Lavender is a perennial plant and it should survive a central Illinois winter but it does prefer a well drained soil and can die out in early spring if the roots stay wet for too long. Since i’m leaving all my plants in the garden I snip a few longer shoots off every plant and place them in a metal mesh basket to dry. The perennial sage plant is a staple of my herb garden. I use it fresh and dried. Dried ground sage is a required ingredient in my meatloaf and turkey stuffing. I’ve been using the fresh leaves this summer to make a sage tea. I also use the sage leaves to make a decorative wreath that i can use all winter long. I’ve been growing stevia in my garden for a couple of years. This natural sweetener is grown as an annual plant in our climate. Therefore I either harvest the entire plant and hang it upside down to dry or I harvest it and dried the individual leaves. We are going to show you how I dry and store my herbs here in my kitchen. I like to dry them in the form that i will use them later so this lemon grass for example I typically will cut up into little pieces because that’s how i’m going to use them and tease or in soups or something like that. And then I will put their name on a piece of paper towel like this as you can see I’ve already got the lemongrass one in there and I like to dry them in baskets just sitting on some paper towel. So I’ll just sprinkle that in there and let them dry for a few days and then once they’re done and their dry I’ll take them and put into a glass jar that I’ve marked in some way and you can see the ones that i did last year that were dry of that lemongrass. Similarly for stevia I like to use it for sweetening my tea especially and so again I prefer not to have the stems and so I’ll take just the leaves off and just kind of pulling this off making sure I don’t get any dead and I don’t really want any flowers so I’m going to just take those off and then I will also got the stevia written on there like remember what it is and then i’ll put it up in the basket and let it dry as well. You can see here’s the stevia from last year. And so on and on it goes. Similarly for the sage and and also for the lavender. You can find more information at our University of Illinois Extension website shown here or you can post questions and see other gardening tips at one of my IL River Hort social media sites serving Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell Counties.