Herb Series: Growing Rosemary in Colorado

Isn’t this Rosemary topiary gorgeous? I wish it belonged to me - I saw it on that trip to the nursery last week when I was experiencing winter-desperation and wanted to see vast amounts of plants all in one place. If you live in a moderate climate like California - feel joy because your Rosemary will live all year outdoors. For us in Colorado it is a different story. Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs and I use it constantly. Unlike Basil however - it really doesn’t grow that quickly so I tend to buy bigger plants (read: more expensive) because I hack away at it all year. To further complicate things, it really doesn’t overwinter outside here in Colorado zone 5a unless you lead a charmed life which maybe you do?! You can try and appease the rosemary gods by planting it in a micro climate like a sunny walled patio and mulch the heck out of it but that doesn’t guarantee it will survive. What I tend to do is keep mine in a container and bring it in right before the first frost. If you decide to tempt fate and keep your rosemary in the ground outside then take some cuttings from it and propagate them to start smaller plants as an insurance policy for if(when?) your big one dies. Rosemary needs plenty of light indoors 6-8 hours is ideal. Don’t overwater it. Waterlogged = root rot. If you water it too little the roots will dry out and start to die. I water mine when the soil is dry on top, but even then I have had rosemary die on me usually right after Christmas and I could never figure out why until recently I discovered that it is a humidity issue. By that time of year, our heaters have been running for quite awhile and our homes have become incredibly dry eliminating the moisture in the air that our Rosemary needs to survive! Enter the mister. My favorite is from Haws - the company that made the watering cans where the famed Peter Rabbit (Beatrix Potter) hid from Mr. McGregor. So yes, I have two of their watering cans and their brass mister which is great for Rosemary as well as for other plants like ferns. Drop me a line if you find success misting your rosemary this winter! I’d love to hear from you.

Rosemary Chicken Bacon Skewers (serves 4)

Ingredients: 4-5 small chicken breasts, 12 Rosemary stems (I save mine in the freezer as I use the leaves in other dishes), 12 pieces of thin bacon slices, 2 cloves of minced garlic, juice of 1/2 a lemon, olive oil

  1. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stems if you haven’t already, and cut sharp points on the ends. Soak the Rosemary stems in water for 30-60 minutes.

  2. Bash the extra rosemary leaves with a mortar & pestle. Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces and marinate in lemon juice, 4-6 tbs of olive oil, crushed rosemary leaves and minced garlic for 4 hours - up to overnight.

  3. Take a strip of raw bacon and push the Rosemary skewer through the bottom end then add a chicken piece and then continue to weave the bacon over and under more pieces of chicken tightly leaving one inch at the top and bottom.

  4. Grill or broil until the chicken is cooked through and the bacon is crispy.

  5. Serve with Caesar salad or rice and asparagus.

Christina Manning Lebek