basic question: herbs, winter

Hello, all.
I am a [very] novice gardener, and now that the weather is turning colder I have some basic questions regarding the herbs I've planted outside. (Everything else in my garden is a native species and I'm not as worried about those.)
I'd like to know whether they'll survive the winter; and, if they will, what I need to do to protect them and how far back I can cut them. I'd like to harvest and freeze as much as I can without killing the plants if they have a chance of coming back, but I wasn't able to garner that infromation from the faq....
The herbs in question are sage, parsley, chives, and thyme. I live in Urbana, Illinois (zone 5).
Thanks for the help! Cheers, Rosemary
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All of those will survive your normal winter. However, the parsley is a biennial plant, and it will die back in winter and re-grow in the spring, produce seeds and then die. You can let the chives freeze up solid outside, dig a chunk up and bring inside and stuff into a clay pot. They will produce chives for you all winter...then just re-plant outside next Spring! The Sage and Thyme are very hardy and can survive outside quite well.
Regards, Bill
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wrote:

Maybe there should be an FAQ by experienced herb-growers. "Perennial" is certainly open to interpretation. In my zone 7b experience, sage, chives, and thyme are genuine perennials, and I've harvested biennial parsley when snow-covered. Googling on the subject seemed to suggest a hardiness zone of 6 for these, but I *know* people grow them in colder climates. With protection? What sort?

Zone 8 or warmer, they say. :-)
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Hardiness is a tricky issue. Where I live (zone 5b), some sages and thymes are hardy and some are not. In general, the variegated ones are more tender. A lot depends on the particulars of the winter. When we get more snow, more things survive.
Hardiness is also affected by dampness around the stems. Some herbs, such as lavender, survive fine if their leaves are kept dry enough. They hate tree leaves drifting around them. They like sand and gravel in the soil and directly under their stems.
Hardiness is probably best addressed locally. Knowing your zone isn't really enough.
Regards, Dianna

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On Fri, 24 Oct 2003 23:13:12 -0500, Dianna Visek

OK. We've got 2 data points here. Let's keep it simple. 3 herbs -- sage, thyme, parsely. Hardiness experience -- 7b-8; winter hardy perennials. 5b marginally hardy -- common varieties more hardy than others. Parsley OK for both? Mine doesn't "die down" over winter.
This site:
http://www.palacenet.net/home/rlghm/garden/herb.htm
has info for zone 4.
It's certainly true that zones aren't enough info, but rough guidelines. What about protection? Does straw or leaf mulch help? How/when applied?
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almost certainly they will all survive. They will all die back except thyme and come back in the spring. Most varieties of sage are not hardy to Zone 5, but I trust you got the stuff that will survive there. Thyme is useful until very late in the season, red cabbage and carrot matchsticks with thyme vinaigrette is a november classic at my place.
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R Braun wrote:

If you have hard winters with snow and frost in the ground your thyme will survive the winter without trouble, but will die in spring when the sun melts the snow but not the ground. It'll die of thirst. Cover it up either now or when the sun has melted the snow that's been covering it. That's the Thymus vulgaris and other upright species. Groundcover thymes mostly die off, too, but because they have roots pretty much everywhere they touch the ground they bounce back the minute the ground thaws.
Sage sometimes dies in our winters, but inexplicably, generally survives the hardest ones.
Parsley and chives have no problems whatsoever with winter.
Henriette
--
Henriette Kress, AHG Helsinki, Finland
Henriette's herbal homepage: http://www.ibiblio.org/herbmed
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