Cool Weather Herbs

Bonnie Nowicki

Fellow gardeners, get a jump on spring. Why not start now planting some favorite herbs you like to cook with. Wouldn’t it be ideal to have those herbs growing fresh, right outside your door. Here in Quail Creek, we can plant herbs in February. Perennial chives, thyme, mint, oregano, and biennial parsley are all hearty herbs. Perennials live several years or more. Biennials grow the first year, bloom in the second year, and die after flowering.

Like most herbs, this selection I’ve chosen will thrive in well-drained soil that has been amended with organic matter. If planting in a container, use a three-gallon or, ideally, a five-gallon pot to allow enough room for good, attractive growth. Herbs will have better flavor and scent if they aren’t overwatered. Pinch or trim back leaves for a compact growth habit. Remember, you can also dry or freeze herbs for later use. Try freezing oregano or thyme in ice cube trays covered with water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews. Besides seasoning, I also use a variety of herbs as garnishes. The different textures really add a dramatic accent to a cheese tray or any dish.

I’d like to mention another popular herb, rosemary. Perhaps you have noticed the many rosemary bushes planted along Quail Crossing Boulevard. They certainly thrive in our climate and keep their lush, green color year-round. So, not only is rosemary a tasty perennial herb, but rosemary is also an outstanding landscape plant. I share my abundant rosemary cuttings with my neighbors year-round.

May I suggest a delightful project when your herbs are especially plentiful. Tie up a bouquet garni for friends. Quite simply, it’s a few fresh herb sprigs tied with string or twine. These little bundles of goodness can flavor many dishes and can be easily removed before serving. Your favorite recipes will be amazingly enhanced. So, pick one or two of your favorite herbs and plant them now. Happy gardening.