How to grow a bay leaf tree

The very first tree I decided to grow inside my house was a bay laurel tree (Laurus nobilis). Unlike most other herbs, the bay leaf is actually an evergreen shrub. I looked for this little plant for several years before finally finding one at a local plant nursery. Since then I have been obsessed with it! 

It is now just under 2 feet tall, it lives in a medium sized pot, it spends its summers outside and its winters indoors.

Bay laurel plant growing in a pot indoors

The bay laurel tree is an aromatic evergreen tree with smooth leaves in the flowering plant family Lauraceae. It is a flowering tree, with pairs of yellow-green flowers blooming bedside each leaf. It blooms in spring.

Unfortunately the bay laurel is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers form on separate plants. So sadly, my single plant will never produce viable seed. Since the bay Laurel is native to the Mediterranean region it cannot tolerate our winters outside and therefore must be protected from the cold in winter. 

I call it a 'small' tree but it can actually reach a height of up to 59 feet tall! Obviously it can't be allowed to get that big inside my house! With proper pruning I shouldn't have to worry about it bursting through my ceilings anytime soon though. When grown in a pot, it is a fairly slow growing tree.

Make a winter compost bin

In summer, I use a large compost pile exclusively, and it works well. In winter though, I add a smaller compost bin near the house. There's far less yard material to be composted in winter, but there is still a lot of kitchen scraps. So a smaller bin near the house allows me easy access to the bin without having to trek through the cold or snow.

Compost bin in winter

Composting in winter is a little trickier than in summer, but still very possible. You'll have the weather to deal with and obviously the compost getting cold will keep it from cooking as well as in summer. However, as many compost items (like some vegetables) get mushy once frozen and thawed, it actually does help them to break down.

The bigger the compost pile you have, the less likely it will stop cooking in winter. My pile is kind of short, and it definitely takes a break from processing during the coldest months. I do still try to turn it monthly when possible.

Preparing your garden for winter

Well, it's almost over. Garden season, that is. It always goes by so fast, doesn't it? Next thing you know that vegetables are no longer producing and the flowers are dying. It's time to clean up the garden plot and put it to bed for winter. I have a bunch of garden chores I do every fall. It's takes some time, but it's worth it when your garden is ready come spring.

Dry garden in fall

There are a few of these tasks I look forward to in fall and one is the record keeping, actually. This is when I look back and decide what worked, what didn't and what changes I need to make for next year. I know lots of people do this during the cold days of winter but I prefer to do it now when it's all fresh in my mind and right in front of me.

Once I remove the plants and finish the other garden chores, well...I tend to start romanticizing the garden and looking through rose colored glasses for next year! lol Do you do this too?  

Now on to the fall garden chores! Most of what needs to be completed is a matter of cleaning up and covering up. This is how I like to prepare my garden for winter:

How to propagate herbs from cuttings

I'm a little sad as the garden winds down for the year. I'll miss having fresh fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers all winter long. I do like to grow houseplants though and luckily many herbs and flowers can grow indoors with very little effort....which is great because I honestly put basil in everything!

Herbs growing roots in water

The best part about growing herbs from cuttings though, is that they are ready to use so much more quickly than if you grow from seed! Plus then I don't feel so bad when the frost takes my herb plants away, since they can live on inside the house!

We've talked about growing herbs and greens using a Hydroponics garden. I use mine every winter and just love having fresh lettuce for winter salads. It can be expensive when getting started though, so it's not for everyone.

I also grow Coleus indoors as a houseplant to bring some color into my plant collection in winter! It seriously a sea of green inside my house, so I need that color to liven things up! 

Make your own Apple Butter!

As the harvest rolls in from the garden (and farmers market) it quickly becomes apparent that we just cannot consume all these fruits and vegetables right now! Some things are very simple to freeze for later but others need a bit more processing for long term storage. Like apples. Every year I make apple butter to use up some of the excess apples before they go bad.

Apple butter, homemade on toast

Apple butter is the very first thing I ever canned as it is one of the simplest preserves to make. All you really need is apples, sugar, lemon juice and some spices. It's pretty much an applesauce that's been cooked down to a thick preserve.

It's also really easy to water bath can apple butter, so if you're new to's a great way to get started without investing a ton of money.