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Growing Herbs in Texas: Fall Planting Update

11/20/2009 9:36:13 AM

Tags: Growing Herbs In Texas, Chamomile, Thyme, Lovage, Chervil, Lovage, Confederate Rose, Salad Burnet, Cynthia Meredith, Fall, My Garden

C.MeredithCynthia Meredith has been gardening with herbs, reading about herbs, and discussing herb gardening in Texas for more than 20 years. She has owned The Herb Cottage (www.theherbcottage.com) for over 10 years, selling herb plants to people all over our state.

Our unusually long and pleasant fall season continues here in south central Texas. I believe we are being rewarded for sticking it out during the challenging hot, dry summer we experienced this year. Warm season herbs still look good due to occasional rains and lots of sunshine. Today, the clouds have moved in and the forecast is for rain tomorrow. We could use a little rain, but no strong winds please. I do believe I'm getting spoiled by this near perfect weather.

So, what's going on in the herb garden since I last posted? Well, my helper and I cleaned out the one bed where I plant and grow only herbs... and the occasional patch of Coastal Bermuda grass and a few weeds. It really didn't take that long with two of us working. The Bermuda wasn't too entrenched. Mostly, there was spent purslane and new small grasses.

The borage that self sowed is looking very happy and vigorous.

Meredith Borage
Borage

After we cleaned the bed out, mulched it with Cotton Burr Compost and brought the wheelbarrow load to the chicken yard for the chickens and ducks to peck and scratch at, we planted some new herb plants.

Check out our three-step guide to composting.

The thyme varieties I planted are lavender, which is delicious in teas and baked goods; English, which is the more traditional flavor; French, which is a bit sweeter than English (in my estimation) and a little woodier shrub; and more lemon, which I believe you can't have too much of. I love thyme and, if planted in the fall in a well drained bed, it has a better chance to make it through the summer because the roots are well established. This year I want to remember to harvest and dry the thyme to use during the hot weather in case the plants do not survive.

Tiny thyme plants
Tiny thyme plants

I wanted herbs that I knew would do well in the cool and even cold weather coming up. Besides the thyme, chamomile, French tarragon, salad burnet, chervil and lovage went in. The lovage and chervil went in a spot shaded by a big climbing rose because here in our climate, even in the winter, they like some shade. The lovage likes moisture, so we mulched heavily around it. I've never tried lovage before, but since I had requests for it, I seeded it a couple of months ago for sales, and thought I'd grow some myself. In most places lovage (Levisticum officinale) is perennial. I think it will be difficult for me to keep it alive during the summer. We'll see.

Get to know lovage, which is a hardy, druable and delicious herb.

Lovage
Photo courtesy of HERBALPEDIATM 
Lovage

Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a favorite of mine. It grows ferny, finely cut leaves and delicate white flowers. The whole plant has a mild anise scent and flavor. It is not used a lot here, which I think is unfortunate. The flavor is light and not overpowering.

Read more about chervil. 

Chevril
Photo courtesy of HERBALPEDIATM 
Chervil

I used to have chamomile (Matricaria recutita) surprise me with plants all over the garden. But, over the years, I've dug and cultivated various beds so much that I lost my reseeded plants. I'm hoping to reestablish the chamomile in the herb bed. Aside from using the flowers for tea, the whole plant has a fresh and delightful fragrance. It's very hardy in spite of its soft look and feel.

Read more about chamomile. 

Chammomile flowers
  Photo courtesy of HERBALPEDIATM 
Chamomile flowers

I planted chamomile around a favorite herb that blooms in the fall: Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucida). It is a summer, heat hardy herb with a fabulous flavor and neat and welcome garden habit. The plant grows more upright than outward, and rewards us with edible, bright yellow blossoms each fall. When the weather turns cold, a freeze knocks it down. Come spring, it grows out of the crown with ever more stems.

Read more about Mexican mint marigold.

Mexican Mint Marigold
Mexican mint marigold

Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) is a cucumber flavored herb that grows best in the cool weather, but it will survive most summers. It has a mounding, rosette form with deeply cut leaves. The taste is refreshing in salads, herb vinegars, dips and spreads. It's quite attractive as well as tasty.

Salad Burnet
  Photo courtesy of HERBALPEDIATM 
Salad burnet

I couldn't resist a picture of my Confederate rose, which is really a type of hibiscus (Hibiscus mutabilis) that is only about 4 feet tall and has had big puffy blooms on it for a couple of weeks. The pink flowers eventually turn white then fade. Seed pods are formed where the blossoms were. It is easy to grow from either seed or cuttings.

Confederate Rose
Confederate rose

I hope you've been able to get into the garden these last few weeks. With the holidays coming up, there might not be as much time to work in the garden. I hope you plan to use lots of herbs from your gardens for your holiday meals. I am traveling to the San Francisco area to visit my family for Thanksgiving. You can be sure I'll write about the gardens I see upon my return.

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.



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