Flower buds peaking out from the leaves of this lemon balm show it is at the peak of its flavor.

For use in every day cooking, just harvest herbs as you need them. Even the leaves of herbs that have barely germinated are aromatic. But if you want to harvest herbs for storage (dried, frozen, in oil, in vinegar, etc.), be aware that there is a specific time for doing so.

That’s because the taste of a herb is at its most concentrated just before it flowers. So when you see flower buds appear in your basil, coriander, chervil or thyme, that is the very best time to harvest them.

Dill seed capsules.

So much for herbs grown for their foliage. If you grow herbs for their seeds (often the case with dill, fennel, coriander, caraway, etc.), do so when the seed capsule starts to turn brown, but before it fully opens.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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