Written by Phyllis O’Beollain, Dayton Small Pets Examiner
Now is the time to start thinking about next year’s herb gardenHerbs are extremely nutritious for small pets as well as people, and pets find them quite tasty. Often a pet whose appetite has fallen off due to stress or illness will eat herbs when nothing else appeals. The vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and other valuable phytonutrients in herbs are of great value in boosting the immune system of your pet, helping a sick pet to recover from illness and assisting a well pet in staying that way.
There are quite a few perennials (plants that come back every year on their own) that are easily grown in the Dayton area. Clicking on the links below will take you to articles that explain each herb’s benefit to pets:
Greek oregano, Greek basil, (sweet basil is not a perennial, but Greek basil is; Greek oregano is the only oregano I can get to overwinter), lavender, lemon balm, mint, evening primrose, catnip, rosemary, parsley, thyme, sage, yarrow, garlic greens, and marigolds. Many other perennial herbs are not listed (such as marjoram) as they are very tender to the cold and must be restarted every year in a climate such as ours.
This would be the time to get your perennials well-established in your garden before the weather turns cold. The local farm markets MAY have a few herbs left here and there, but your safest bet would be Wick’s out on North Fairfield Road (they may even have them on sale already) or Siebenthaler’s on Far Hills Avenue.
Your small pets (and you) will enjoy tasty fresh herbs at least til November if you cover the plants with a blanket or plastic sheeting on any night when a frost is predicted. Mine always last until Thanksgiving (and at that point I have generally used up most of their leaves). If you have any left, they can be dried; some small pets enjoy eating the dried herb leaves, and others prefer a bit of cooled herb tea.
When you do finally put your herbs to bed for the winter, stuffing a terra cotta flower pot with fallen autumn leaves and then turning it upside down on your herb plant makes a nice protective mulch for the winter (the pot keeps it from blowing away, of course).
Get your herbs started now and your pets will enjoy tasty herb treats, better nutrition and better health with herbs!