Growing Herbs in Texas: Nasturtiums and Cilantro


| 10/29/2009 10:49:33 AM


C.Meredith

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 (www.theherbcottage.com) for over 10 years, selling herb plants to people all over our state.

As fall continues with more rain and still greatly fluctuating temperatures, some of the best herbs are really coming into their own. Even though we've had quite a few warm days in between some picture-perfect fall days of cool, dry, sunny weather, the cool season annuals are thriving.

Cool season annuals are herb or flower crops that do not succeed in our hot, humid summer weather. These varieties need the lower temperatures of our fall, winter and early spring to be at their best. The most commonly grown herbs of the cool season annuals are cilantro, dill, arugula and chervil along with the edible flowers of calendula, violets and nasturtiums. If you're going to grow edible flowers, as with the herbs, be sure they haven't been treated with chemical pesticides or fungicides.

nasturtiums
Photo courtesy of HERBALPEDIA™



Nasturtiums like cool weather but cannot take a frost. I always plant them in the fall just in case I can get some blooms before our first frost. Then I plant them again in the very early spring and grow them out until the hot, humid weather takes them out in early summer. These would do well in north and far west Texas if planted in early spring. Both the flowers and the leaves make a peppery addition to salads.  

The one herb many in Texas and among my Farmers' Market customers wait somewhat impatiently for is cilantro. This herb seems to engender either love or hate. There isn't much middle ground, as in: "Oh, cilantro's OK, I guess." People seem to either really love the flavor of this herb or they detest it. Cilantro is used in almost all Tex-Mex dishes. Even though it's found year-round in the produce department of the grocery store, often the bunches are large and one or two dishes a week doesn't use up all that is purchased and there is considerable waste... unless you have chickens to feed it to! Growing cilantro yourself allows you just enough for each dish you use it in. 

potted cilantro
Photo courtesy of www.ehow.com



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