Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Plant some herbs!

Plant some herbs!
by Bobbi A. Chukran

Fall is the perfect time in central Texas to plant new perennial herbs and some annuals. My "rule" is that if it's not freezing, I can plant herbs.  As long as they are watered well while getting established,  and as long as I don't plop them out into the middle of a blazing lawn with no shade, they'll do fine.  I also divide and move some of my perennials during the fall, too.

We use a lot of our herbs for cooking, but even if you don't cook, it's worthwhile to grow herbs because they attract and support our pollinators.   And they make gorgeous landscape plants when tucked in here and there with the roses or other shrubs.

Honeybee on blooming rosemary plant in a Texas garden

It's still in the upper 90's here, and a few days last week went over 100.  But herbs are tough, and some even like the heat.

Rosemary harvest for drying

This time of year, your best bet is to try and find plants in local nurseries.  It's a bit late to start plants from seeds, although people in central and south Texas can probably get a small crop of basil started and harvested before our first freeze.

Herbs and a small fig tree grow in raised cement block beds in a former garden.
Herbs do very well in raised beds since they don't like to get their "feet" wet.  This photo shows rosemary, a small fig tree, santolina, and potted herbs of various kinds.  The cement blocks were painted with a very thin wash of leftover latex paint.

Lavender in a Texas garden
Herbs like lavender especially like growing in containers and pots.  Be careful not to water them too much, or they'll turn to lavender mush. :-)

Sweet marjoram growing in a Texas garden

One of my favorite herbs is sweet marjoram.  It's kin to oregano, and is not quite as easy to find in nurseries, but is well worth seeking out.  I harvest it in the fall and dry it.  It's an essential ingredient in my secret Italian herbs mixture.  LOL.  OK, it's not THAT secret.  I usually use a mixture of sweet basil, rosemary, oregano and sweet marjoram, depending on what I have at the time.

I hope this has given you a little spark of inspiration to plant a few herbs.  If you're like me, you'll get obsessed with them and expand your garden over the years, adding new plants as you find them.

Feel free to leave comments and questions.  I'll try to answer them to the best of my ability.

Happy trails, and happy gardening!

bobbi ann