Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners

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The common herbs used in cooking are referred to as culinary herbs. Mild or savory herbs impart a delicate flavor to food, while the stronger or pungent herbs add zest.

Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners by Ernest Small, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Herbs are also planted for their ornamental value. Select a sunny, well-drained location. At planting, apply a slow-release fertilizer at the rate of 2 pounds per square feet.

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Herbs can be annuals live only one season or perennials grow back from their root systems each year. Annual herbs can be planted in an annual flower garden or vegetable garden. Some herbs can be established by planting the seed directly in the garden or by starting seed indoors for later transplanting to the garden. To save your own seeds, harvest the entire seed head after it has dried on the plant. Then allow the seeds to dry in a protected location that is cool and dry.

After the seeds are thoroughly dry, separate them from the seed heads and discard the trash. Store the seeds in sealed, labeled jars in a dark, cool, dry location. Some herb seeds such as dill, anise, caraway, or coriander can be used for flavorings. Perennial herbs can be propagated by cuttings or by division. Herbs such as sage and thyme can be propagated by cuttings. Chives can be propagated by dividing the roots or crowns.

Divide the plants every 3 to 4 years in the early spring. Dig them up and cut them into several sections. Or, cut 4- to 6-inch sections of the stem and place the cuttings in moist sand in a shady area. In 4 to 8 weeks, roots should form on these cuttings. Water as necessary during dry periods.

Generally, herbs need about 1 inch of water per week, either from rainfall or from irrigation. Mulch will help conserve soil moisture as well as reduce weed growth. Because mints prefer moist soil, they must be watered more often. The leaves of many herbs, such as parsley and chives, can be harvested for fresh seasonings.

Gradually remove a few leaves from the plants as you need them. With proper care, these plants will produce over a long period. To harvest rosemary and thyme, clip the tops when the plants are in full bloom. The leaves and flowers are usually harvested together. Basil, mint, sage, and sweet marjoram are harvested just before the plant starts to bloom. Parsley leaves can be cut and dried anytime. After harvest, hang the herbs in loosely tied bundles in a well-ventilated room.

You can also spread the branches on a screen, cheesecloth, or hardware cloth. Spread the leaves on flat trays. Cover the herbs with a cloth that will keep dust off but allow moisture to pass through. Many of the herbs we grow today are from the Mediterranean region, so hot, dry summer weather suits them perfectly. Herbs need good drainage they do best in a raised bed and the right exposure.

Most require full sun. Mints and a few other herbs grow well in shade or partial shade. Basil: This is one of the easiest herbs to grow, even from seed. However, basil is tender, so expect to lose it at the first sign of frost. Many varieties and flavors of basil are available. The most common is sweet green basil. More unusual varieties are cinnamon, Cuban, globe, holy, lemon, licorice, purple ruffled, Japanese sawtooth, and Thai. Not all are used in cooking.

Basil is the herb to use in all tomato dishes. It can be chopped fine and mixed with butter. Add fresh chopped leaves to vinegar, crushed garlic, and olive oil to make an excellent dressing for sliced tomatoes. It is also used in eggplant, pork, roast chicken, scrambled eggs, and squash dishes. Chamomile: makes wonderful herbal tea. There are two varieties: English and German chamomile.

The dried blossoms of either can be used to make tea. The tea can also be used as a hair rinse. To make tea, pour boiling water over about 1 tablespoon of chamomile leaves for each cup desired and let it steep for about 10 to 15 minutes. Filter it through a tea strainer, and add lemon and honey to mask the bitter taste. Catnip: Many cats like to roll all over catnip and any surrounding plants, so it may be best to grow this herb in a hanging basket.

Although it is sometimes used to make a hot tea, catnip is of interest mainly to cats. A tea can be made from the leaves or roots.

Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners

Lemon balm: is a member of the mint family and can be very vigorous. It can be started from seeds, cuttings or roots. Once established, it will spread and self-sow, so give it plenty of room. The leaves have a strong lemon odor; they can be used to make tea or flavor regular teas. Lemon balm is also added to fish dishes. Marjoram and oregano: are similar, but the flavor of marjoram is sweeter and more delicate. Varieties of marjoram include creeping golden marjoram, pot marjoram, sweet marjoram, and winter marjoram.

They are best grown from transplants or root cuttings. The most common types of oregano in Texas are Origanum vulgare, the low-spreading plant used in Italian or Greek foods, and Lippia graveolens or Lippia palmeri, the bushy shrub known as Mexican oregano. Marjoram and oregano can be used in the same foods—meats, pizza, soups, stews, stuffing, and spaghetti sauce. The leaves are best used dried. Mints: There are many mints. The easiest to grow is spearmint; peppermint is more difficult. Most mints are tough, hardy plants. Other mints include apple mint, pineapple mint, and orange mint, which is so vigorous that it soon becomes a weed.

All mints appreciate moisture and do best where they get afternoon shade.


A good place to plant spearmint is at the base of a downspout. Mints can be grown from cuttings, roots, or transplants.

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Mint plants cross-pollinate easily, so hybrids abound. Spearmint and peppermint are used as culinary herbs and to make teas. Rosemary: There are many forms of rosemary, ranging from a low-growing groundcover to a bush that grows up to 4 feet tall. Rosemary is a hardy plant that thrives in hot, dry climates. A strong herb, it often used in meat dishes, especially chicken. Use a branch of rosemary as a basting brush for barbecued chicken, or place a few leaves on top of roasts or baked chicken.

Chives: The smallest member of the onion family, chives are easily grown from seeds or transplants. Use this herb any way you would use onions. It can be use it as garnish or added to baked potatoes, cottage cheese, omelets, and sauces. Coriander is also known as cilantro or Chinese parsley. It is easily grown from seed and can sometimes be found growing wild.

To have a steady supply of young leaves, sow seeds every few weeks. Coriander is used in Mexican dishes. Use only young leaves; the older ones are too strong. The seeds have a flavor similar to orange and are used in pastries, sausage, and cooked fruit. They are also an important ingredient in pickling spice and curry powder. Dill is one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed. It will easily become a weed if the seed heads are allowed to dry on the plant. The large green caterpillars that eat dill will turn into swallowtail butterflies, so plant enough for you and them.

Dill is used in pickling. It can also be added to fish, cottage, cheese, cream cheese, salad dressings, and most vegetables. The dried seed can be added to bread dough for a caraway-like flavor. Parsley is probably the most used and least eaten herb in the world because it is used mostly as a garnish. Parsley is a biennial, producing leaves the first year and flowers the next. There are two forms: the flat-leaved or Italian parsley, and the curly or French parsley.

Many hybrids of each are available as seeds or transplants. The seeds germinate slowly, but parsley is worth the wait. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It can be battered and deep-fried, or browned with butter and garlic to make a basting sauce for grilled meats. Sage doubles as a durable landscape plant. It is very drought resistant and can be killed by overwatering.

Although sage is best started from transplants or cuttings, it can be started from seed. Varieties of sage include blue, clary, garden, golden, pineapple, and tri-color. All can be used in cooking.

How to Plant a Culinary Herb Garden! DIY Kitchen Garden

Sage leaves should always be dried before use. It can be used in black-eyed peas, chicken, egg and cheese dishes, pork, and poultry stuffing. When dried, leaves will keep their flavor for years. Thyme is a good ornamental in beds and rock gardens. There are more than species of thyme, including common, English, golden, lemon, mother of-thyme, silver, and woolly. Thyme is used in soups and fish, meat, poultry, and vegetable dishes. Add a pinch of thyme to a tablespoon of honey and mix with drained cooked carrots and onions. Thyme is a key herb in making Cajun gumbo.

Along with sage, rosemary, marjoram, and oregano, thyme should be considered a basic of every herb garden. Many people consider watering one of the most enjoyable jobs in the garden. However, many gardening problems—including diseases, bitter fruit, poor fertility, poor quality, sunscald, and poor yield—can be related to improper watering.

Do not water lightly several times a week, which causes poor root development. Instead, water thoroughly, soaking the soil to a depth of 6 inches, and only when the plants need it. An inch or two of water applied once a week is usually enough for most vegetable gardens in Texas. Determine when to water by examining the soil, not the plants.

If the soil surface appears dry, scratch it to a depth of 1 inch to see if the soil is moist. If so, do not water. Light, sandy soils drain quickly and must be watered more often than heavy clay soils, so check sandy soil more often. One of the best ways to water a garden is with a drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation controls the application of water by releasing it slowly over a long period. When the rate of drip irrigation is adjusted correctly, there will be no puddles, runoff, or saturated soil. Before laying out the drip irrigation hose, firm the soil in the rows to help the water move laterally in the soil as well as downward.

For the pre-plant irrigation, you may need to sprinkle the entire garden to settle the soil enough for drip irrigation water to move laterally, especially in sandy soils. Expect insect and disease problems. When they appear, the first step is to identify the cause correctly. To produce a good yield, protect the plants much as possible. Many pesticides can help protect vegetables from insects and diseases.

Before buying, read the product label carefully to make sure it is the right one for your intended use. Always follow the label directions carefully. Other techniques do not use pesticides; they protect the plants before they are damaged. One method is to protect the plants with covers that keep insects away. Insects damage plants by feeding on them, and some insects—including aphids, whiteflies, thrips, and leaf-feeding beetles—also transmit diseases.

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Although it is impossible to keep insects away from plants entirely, plant covers can help. Covers can be of clear plastic or a translucent, fabric-like material known as row cover or spunweb. Covers can be used on row crops but are easiest to use on plants that are caged, such as tomatoes and peppers. Install the cages around young transplants and cover them to the ground with the plant covers. Anchor the covers securely in the soil. Because heat can build up under plastic covering, ventilate it during the day if temperatures are in the high 70s or more.

Ventilate the cages by opening the top and raising the plastic 4 to 6 inches off the ground at the bottom. The cover will still protect the plants because most insects do not enter from the top. On cold nights, close the covers. Remove plastic covering entirely when the foliage begins to touch the edges and bunch against the sides of plastic. For tomatoes, this will usually be about the time the plant has marble-sized fruit.

Plants covered with spunweb never need to be uncovered. Used in the fall, spunweb also gives plants some shading from the hot sun. View Cart 0. This product is no longer available. All rights reserved. Quantity: Price:. Western Canada Stores Victoria Limited quantities. Account Info. My Store Selection Choose a province:. Store Address. Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners. Check All Stores.

Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners
Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners
Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners
Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners
Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners
Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners Culinary Herbs for Short-Season Gardeners

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