Ask Burton: Q: My herb garden was productive last fall, but it’s burned-looking and dormant now. What needs to be done?

A: It’s a tiny bit more involved because of the 9-degree freeze last December, but not greatly so.

Perennial, evergreen herbs should get a hard shear as we come into Valentine’s Day to promote new, compact growth this spring. Rosemary, for instance, may have been burned by the deep cold snap last December, but isn’t likely to have been killed outright. A hard shear will remove dead material and allow a flush of new growth as things warm up. Cut back mint, thyme, and any oregano that didn’t freeze out sharply to encourage the same. Anything hugging the ground still has a good chance to be green and healthy. Don’t be shy – it’s fine to cut perennial herbs quite short if necessary!

Annual herbs that were left in place all winter may well be covered in dried, mature seeds. In particular, basil is not winter hardy but will freely re-seed itself if allowed to do so. Remove dead, dried stalks of basil and crush or shake the dried seed heads over the same area to release those seeds if you wanted to grow the same crop again this year.

Top dress the herb garden with a thin layer of manure compost or an organic fertilizer as we come toward the end of February. Don’t overdo it! Most herbs appreciate modest, steady nutrition rather than heavy doses of fertilizer.