Get down and dirty in the garden
A norther, or a cold front, blew in this morning around 4 a.m. The wind is strong and the temperatures dipped into the 50s. It's quite chilly outside. It's not cold enough for the plants to suffer, and I believe they're enjoying the cool temperatures.
We've had a little rain in the last several weeks, and the place has really greened up. Compare the photos in this issue with the ones from a month ago. What a difference!
Even the pasture greened up!
Since the weather has cooled off, I've been refurbishing and replanting my herb beds. So far I've added salad burnet, winter savory, lavender, nasturtiums, bronze fennel, Mexican mint marigold, cilantro, parsley, sorrel, butterfly weed and white yarrow ... I think that's it. Oh, and I seeded some dill.
Newly planted herb bed.
A new-to-me herb I planted is Moujean tea (Nashia inaguensis), a lovely, fragrant shrubby herb with tiny shiny green leaves that is native to the east Caribbean islands, in particular the island of Inagua in the Bahamas, after which the species is named. The fragrance has been described as a mix of pineapple, citrus and vanilla. It is hardy to Zone 9a, so I'll have to protect the one I planted in the ground when temps dip into the 20s. The plant, also does not like to dry out, so I've been keeping it nicely watered. It's not very big yet, but it's supposed to grow to at least 3 feet or more.
Moujean tea (Nashia inaguensis) is tiny but strong.
Photos by Cynthia Meredith
To make tea from this herb, since the leaves are rather tough, the fresh leaves need to be steeped longer than most herbs—about 15 minutes. It dried well and is best then pulverized or ground for tea.
Fall is a great time to plant herbs if you're in an area with moderate winter temperatures. Even with the lack of rain in our area, everything I planted the last several weeks is looking good. Of course, I am watering almost daily until the small plants are established. Then, during the winter, watering about once or twice a week should do it. These plants are in the ground, of course, so any herbs in containers need to be watered more often and given more protection on very cold nights since the roots in a container are not as well protected as ones in the ground.
Cynthia 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 for over 10 years, selling herb plants to people all over our state.