Garden Spaces: Grow These Herbs from Seed

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Illustration by Gayle Ford

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• Dill (Anethum graveolens). This herb is an annual with feathery foliage that reaches about 3 feet and sends up umbels of yellow flowers in the fall. Its seed, a kitchen staple for pickling, will establish itself every year in the garden.

• Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium). This delicate annual herb is grown mostly for its leaf, but when left to flower in late summer or fall, its seed will germinate in the spring and establish quickly. It reaches about 2 feet.

• Calendula (Calendula officinalis). A useful medicinal herb, this annual is grown for its bright, cheery ray flowers. It reaches about 1½ feet, blooms heavily and reseeds reliably. This is best sown when the seed is fresh, as it doesn’t sustain its viability much beyond its first year.

• Borage (Borago officinalis). This annual herb, which grows to about 3 feet, sports blue, star-shaped edible flowers and reseeds each year if the flowers are left to form seed.

• Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). This herb is perennial south of about Zone 6, often grown as an annual in other parts of the country; another form, the one most often found in the grocery, is an annual that bulbs at the base. It can reach about 4 feet when it sends up its flower umbels in late summer or fall.

• Caraway (Carum carvi). Sometimes grown as a biennial, sometimes an annual, this 2-foot herb has tiny, white spring flowers that grow in umbels. Every part of the plant is edible, but the ground and whole seed is the most widely used in cooking. Direct-seed where you want it to grow.

• Coriander (Coriandrum sativum). Known as cilantro when harvested for its leaves, this annual herb also produces coriander seeds for cooking. It grows 2 to 3 feet tall.

• German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). This is the annual chamomile, a heavy bloomer whose flowers are dried for a gentle, calming tea. It will usually reseed itself reliably in the garden, and freezing and thawing helps the seed germinate, so you can sow it in the fall. This garden favorite  grows to about 2½ feet.

• Flax (Linum usitatissimum). Small blue flowers grace this annual herb through most of the summer, followed by pods that yield the famed nutritious seed. Flax grows to about 1½ feet.

• Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). These annual early-summer flowers are always a welcome sight in the garden. The flowers are followed by pods that contain the culinary seed. Pretty and easy to grow, poppies can reach 2 to 2½ feet.

Kathleen Halloran is a freelance writer and editor living and gardening in beautiful Austin, Texas.

Click here for the main article,  Garden Spaces: Plant an Herb Garden from Seed .