What is going on in your herb garden this season?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I notice there is interest in any herbal questions posted on this forum with many folks offering assistance.

I wonder if anyone would care to join in and chat about what is going on with their herbs this season.

Are you trying any new ones this year?

Will you be preserving herbs for the winter season? Drying or freezing or?

Or maybe just trying a new recipe including some of the herbs.

We would like to hear about it.

Comfrey...

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Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I'll get it started with a new plant this season. This year I planted some borage. The beautiful flowers attract the pollinators as well as me.


There are some herbs that I just love but they don't seem to like our zone or my growing conditions. But that hasn't stopped me. I treat those plants as annuals and enjoy them while I can. Tarragon, ornamental oregano, lemon verbena and lavender are ones that come to mind.

This year I placed a lavender plant (don't even think I recorded the cultivar) in a raised succulent bed. It receives blasting sunshine and little moisture. It has bloomed and is now clumping from the roots as well as sending out side shoots of new growth. Could it possibly be? My fingers are crossed. Kristi

Borage

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Grosse Pointe Shores, MI(Zone 6a)

Hi Kristi,

I'm relatively new to DG and to this forum, so this post may serve as a kind of introduction.

I have tried a variety of herbs over the years, all in pots, as I garden from a wheelchair. I have not had any luck bringing rosemary in for the winter, so last year I simply stuck the pot (it had oregano with it) under a small ledge on my potting table and left it for dead over the winter.

Imagine my surprise when I hauled out the pot to discover both plants had survived! Granted, we had a very mild winter. How exciting! But I don't hold out hopes for a it surviving a normal winter here in zone 6.

Then I read on this forum about rosemary 'Arp' as being the most winter hardy. I searched for it and found a place to purchase it and French tarragon (also inspired by this forum). I just received them the other day and they are very small. I hope I don't kill them! I think I am going to train the rosemary as a standard, just for kicks.

Every year, I like to grow flat leafed parsley (it often survives until really cold January), and last year started some cilantro, both of which do well for me. But I have gotten so confused by all the varieties of basil, I simply don't know which to choose. So this year I have started several varietes: lemon, lime, Italian, sweet, and mammoth. I bought a Genovese plant, and then I spotted a standard-trained Greek (columnar) basil in my favorite nursery, and I just had to have it because it was so cute! I figure this way I can sample them all and decide which is the variety I most like and use.

I think I'm going to throw some dill in the back of my butterfly garden for the BFs. I have never had much luck growing it in pots. Oh, and I have several lavendar plants, but I didn't realize they are herbs!

Oh! and I have chives in two glazed pots that are posted on either side of the birdbath/fountain. They're both in full bloom right now. They are like cast iron...had them for years!

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!

Katherine

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

HI Katherine! I am glad you have joined me. I do a lot of the herbs in pots here because it is easier to control the soil and watering. And sometimes easier to control a plant that may want to be unruly.

Congratulations on your success with the rosemary. Here it does well in ground. I have an upright and a trailing rosemary. I tried for a topiary with the trailing one but changed the bed and am just letting it run where it pleases. I am located south of Arp by about 100 miles where that rosemary was discovered and I think it is neat that it is more hardy. Odd but I love the structure of the plant and the fragrance of rosemary and don't really care to use it in cooking. Perhaps you can overwinter it next season in a garage or enclosed porch or cool basement?

I have been told oregano will be hardy for you although keeping it in a container may make the roots more frost sensitive.

Ahh.. the basils. I would bet that you love them all. LOL I went through that phase myself. I still try a new one or two each year but the mainstay basil for me is Pistou. It is small leafed with great taste. I am also hooked on licorice but also loved the cinnamon basil. Tis an illness ~ beware. By the way, I'm sure you know that if you chose to save seeds from basil they will cross freely. I ended up with lemon lime basil. Kinda good though.

Fixed salads with chives and dill tonite. Yum!

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

I cleaned out the herb bed last October when I decided to use it for a veggie bed. Even after tilling and then mulching over the winter some tarragon and chives came back up lol. I now have herbs in pots. Rosemary, garlic chives, greek oregano, thai basil, italian basil, marjoram, and thyme. My italian basil died tho. Got some kind of wilt fungus.


-Vaughn

Grosse Pointe Shores, MI(Zone 6a)

Kristi, is Arp in a cold spot in Texas? We have a couple areas in Michigan that are low, and they get considerably colder in the winter than surrounding areas. I love the smell of rosemary, too. My first plant was a topiary I bought near Christmas for a school fundraiser when my kids were small. And I've been loving then killing them ever since! I'm hoping I can get the Arp to make it here...that would be fun.

I only have one recipe that I actually use rosemary for. It's a pressure cooker recipe for beef. The rosemary gets a spell in the mortar and pestle before going in the pot. Yum!

Vaughn, my second chive-in-a-pot plant was actually in the ground here when we bought this house in 2009. But it was in a very inconvienent place, so I talked DH to digging it up and dumping it in a matching pot. Now they make a very pleasing statement in my garden! Luckily, nothing of it survived in the bed.

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Hi all. A few years back I transformed my old veggie garden to an herb garden and it is now really starting to take off. I find most herbs to be pretty robust plants needing lots of space. I've had my troubles with lavender, rosemary, and tarragon. I'm not a huge lavendar fan so can live with that as an annual - it either dies for me over winter or ends up really scraggly the next year. Rosemary I am trying to get established - a friend has one that is the size of a shrub so I know it is possible. Tarragon, hmmm. My goal is to fill the entire garden so there is relatively little weeding to be done.

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Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Vaughn ~ Hi, glad you joined us. I had not heard of a basil with wilt but am not surprised. I think if I were you, I'd leave the volunteer herbs in the vegetable bed. I interplant herbs to attract the pollinators and distract the bad bugs. Just a thought.

Katherine ~ I don't think Arp TX is particularly cold. When it was discovered and cuttings were taken, the cold hardiness was tested from the cuttings. I will hope it will endure your winters. Last I read indicated cold hardy in the Washington DC area. I know you are more so than that.

I have both garlic and regular chives. The garlic chives are definitely hardy but tougher blades to eat.

Hi Bonehead ~ it is always fun to see you post and the beautiful photos of your herb gardens. Are you on the wet or the dry side of the mountains? If wet, your rosemary might struggle. I placed my plants in a higher bed which receives only limited moisture.

I like the lavender fragrance and was hoping for enough to make sachets for the linen closet. Fingers crossed here.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

This year I have started a plethora of herbs, basically as insectaries for the garden. Some have already died in starter flats because of delays in getting my new garden spot ready. One that bit the dust is borage, although I have plenty more seeds. I grew it years ago and it self-seeds nicely. Has a cucumber-like taste.

I don't remember most of the ones I've started without going outside to look, but wormwood and anise are among them. Some are culinary but unfamiliar to me, like green shiso and fenugreek. Started lots and lots and lots of chives and garlic chives to plant around my veggies... they keep small furry critters like squirrels and rabbits away, so I've read. I've also read they repel moles and voles, but who really knows?

Of course, I also grow my fav culinary herbs... French tarragon, dill, French thyme, basil, flat leaf parsley, chives, rosemary... My 2 rosemary plants actually survived our mild winter, unheard of here!

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

HEY! Don't y'all know that if you start replying to Podster you get infected with things like the basil bug? When will you learn... ;)

My rosemary is probably 2 1/2' tall and 4' across; I have eradicated the 20' herb circle I put in a few years ago because dealing with the San Augustine grass became a fulltime job. Sigh. I am thinking of building up a small herb spiral. In the meantime I have genovese basil going nuts with the marigolds, parsley growing in a relatively shaded area, oregano, sage, French and English lavender, and Texas tarragon (Mexican mint marigold) growing in various little beds. I am looking forward to redoing the back yard and maybe making the entire area into a potager. IF I can figure out how to defeat the San Augustine. I don't want to use Roundup! But I have tried weed cloth, newspaper, cardboard, even drywall! Maybe it is remembering some kind of grass Alamo or something. Sigh. It is my bane.

I had a very nice comfrey in a huge pot, and transplanted it into a raised bed and oh, my gosh! Anyone need any comfrey? The leaves are almost as big as elephant ears! And I have volunteer rose geraniums growing all around; it seems to love the comfrey bed.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

brigidlily, you could always try Grass-Be-Gone. It only kills grass, so there isn't the collateral damage of Round-up.

Honesty, though, if St. Augustine runs the way bermuda does, it's about the same work to pull this week's crop creeping over your edging as it is to spray it.

Back to the original topic, I have used herbs a lot for landscaping, including rosemary, purple sage, thyme (several kinds, in many spots), valerian, juniper (not a botanical herb, I know), Dittany of Crete oregano, provence lavender and artemesia. Also sassafras, wild ginger, lungwort and wintergreen. For my more traditional herb bed, I have oregno, roman chamomile, thyme, french tarragon, white sage, garden sage, stevia, parsley, chervil, feverfew, rue and patchouli (which probably will not survive the winter.) I still have an empty spot waiting for lemon thyme.

Then, I have an area for the real thugs, which has catnip, tangerine mint, KY Colonel mint, spearmint and horseradish.

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

Kristi, I did leave the volunteers in place. Hopefully they will attract some bees! The Basil Downy Mildew is apparently new to the US. Glad the basil was in a pot and not in the ground. Basil, soil, and container deep in the woods, I'll spray it with bleach/water solution before I re-use the container.


-Vaughn

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Darius ~ so interesting you mentioned insectaries. I had just found and reread a couple of old links I'd saved on the same. If one is not familiar with it, it is a means of attracting the good bugs to eat selected types of bad bugs by planting certain types of plants. Most interesting, I hope you will post as to your successes and lessons learned.

I didn't much care for the borage taste and I am afraid my borage bloomers have fallen flat on their faces. Not sure why.
I did like them for their ability to lure the pollinators.


Brigidlily ~ don't you be telling all my secrets. lol Tell me, what are you using your comfrey for? Do you make a comfrey compost tea or till the dead leaves into the soil?

Do you still have your ladies (chickens)? Perhaps you might get a duck or two if they could only eat the St. Augustine grass. How thick were the layers of cardboard? Have you tried solarizing with black plastic and sweltering summer heat for a month or two? The drought this past summer has made erradicating my grass a whole bunch easier. lol


NicoleC ~ thugs LOL! I love them and catnip could be one if the cat collection didn't keep molesting the plants. I have to keep wire baskets over the catnip plants to save them. They will abuse valerian the same way.

I guess the only challenging herbal thugs I've got are Estafiata ( a type of Artemesia ) which has an incredible root system and Epazote only because it reseeds freely.


Vaughn ~ that really scares me to hear about Basil Downy Mildew. Most people wouldn't be as knowledgeable or careful about trying to control it. Had you bought the plant with it or did you get it in the soil?

Kristi

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

BTW, one more comment. The herb spiral would be pretty cool and another type of raised bed that would be convenient for herbs (and vegies) is the keyhole garden. Is anyone here using either one? I'd love to see your photos and hear your opinions. Kristi

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

podster, the neighborhood cats are too preoccupied trying to catch the hoard of wild rabbits to creep under the fence to find the catnip. But my geriatric indoor kitty *loves* it when I bring some inside.

Now epazote... I planted it at my old house and I refuse to do it again. Anything that gets to be 8' in diameter from a tiny sickly seedling in one year is a big *too* vigorous for me. Besides, I don't care for the taste and I eat enough beans that I don't have the... erm... fragrant side effects that epazote supposedly helps.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I've not used it in cooking yet although I intend to dry some and use it in various bean dishes. It is reputed to enhance the flavor also.

I love the reddish color the plant has taken on but I really love the shock effect when I take a visitor on a 'rub & sniff' herbal tour. It is fun to see their reaction to the odor of the Epazote. Don't recall where I read it but someone called it their diesel plant. Kerosene is a very apt description. lol Kristi

Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4b)

I have both annual and perennial herbs, some as ornamental plants or to attract butterflies, and some for culinary uses. Tarragon, lemon thyme, regular thyme, creeping time, flowering thyme, orange thyme, French tarragon, apple mint, orange mint, chocolate mint, ginger mint, spearmint, Monarda, anise hyssop, a couple kinds of sages, catmint, chives, garlic chives, lemon balm, and winter savory. Then I have as annuals (in my zone) lavender, rosemary, several kinds of basil, oregano, marjoram, arugula, parsley, German chamomile, fenugreek, fennel, dill, dock, salad burnet, summer savory, borage, leeks, nasturtiums, and lovage. I don't have much sunny space for herbs, so I stick them in where I can or grow them in pots. There are probably a few I'm forgetting.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Kristi, I had planned a tomato keyhole garden this year, but with some major house projects going on, I may not get to it.

l6blue, other than the mints, I have most of those on your list... my summer savory seedlings died before they were an inch tall, and I couldn't find any winter savory seeds.

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Borage reseeds itself prolifically for me and I allow one plant randomly about every 10-12 feet. Otherwise it would take over. It is a bee magnet.

Strangely, I seem to have lost my catnip this year, although it may well pop up somewhere else. Perhaps my cat finally rubbed it to death.

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Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4b)

darius,
I bought a winter savory plant from the local farmers market, but several online sources sell winter savory seeds. I'm giving my herb beds some extra protection this fall, otherwise I'll never be able to over-winter the winter savory in zone 4. And, bonehead, I always keep my borage in pots for that same reason, although somehow I always find myself removing volunteers from my beds.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

My catnip never made it out of the seedling flat... my cat dug it up even though they were just tiny seedlings! I usually grow it in a hanging basket, out of her reach. Otherwise, she'd rub it to death, just like bonehead's!

My tall purslane needs to get planted out... I just need to pick a spot.

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

I'm still holding out hope. This was an old well established plant with some serious roots to it. I'm thinking it may just pop up somewhere close by. The cat definitely prefers the catnip vulgare form to any of the other more decorative catmints.

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Saint Paul, MN(Zone 4a)

This year I have (from the gaden store) Sweet Italian Large Leaf basil, Santo cilantro, and some kind of upright rosemary. I planted seed on the 11th. Basils: Shiso Perilla, Napoletano, Italian Genovese, and Lime. Dill: Tetra (Dukat?), Boquet (Anthenum graveolens) and some kind that has been growing wild around my house since we moved in 15 years ago. Fennel: Florence Finocchio. Most of the basil has sprouted except the Shiso, the fennel just showed the first one today. All this except for the wild dill is in pots on my deck.

Also there is lemon balm, some kind of mint and cat mint growing where ever it wants to whether I like it or not. lol. I do use the mint in mojitos.

Last year I harvested 20 cups of basil and made 10 cups of pesto. It was a bit of a chore blanching that much but it was well worth it!

Although I grow these to cook with, I don't mind sacrificing the dill and fennel to my beautiful Eastern Black Swallowtails!

Lumberton, TX(Zone 8b)

pod, I kind of have the comfrey just in case. The leaves are EXCELLENT compost, of course.

I do still have one chicken. I had adopted a couple of dogs and after they killed one, I found them other homes. Miss Jane rules and the cats are scared of her! :) I have thought about getting a couple of Indian Runner ducks, but I am not sure I'm ready for the mess they make, and keeping a water feature for them. It's still something to think about.

I have used black plastic to solarize; I think I have done everything. The cardboard was several layers, possibly not thick enough. Part of the problem is that I am too lazy to keep on pulling and pulling and pulling. And of course every break you make in the root develops a knot that sends out five more shoots. Sigh. San Augustine grass and fire ants. If only they made good tea. But then I probably couldn't grow them... ;)

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Brigid - depending on how much property you have, two ducks can be manageable mess-wise. They are wonderful in the PNW for eating slugs, which you likely don't have down south. No clue what your San Augustine grass is, but if the ducks would eat it, may well be a good option.

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

Kristi, The downy mildew was hopefully in the "re-used" potting mix I put the plant in. I started the basil from seed and donated a few plants so i hope it isn't seed borne.

-Vaughn

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Wow! Lots of distance has been covered today while I was slaving at work.

Welcome I6blue and mjaorhyn. Interesting that you are both from MN and both with a fantastic selection of herbs. How far along in the growing season are your herbals? Amazing to hear the ones that are considered annual in one location and perennial in another.

Vaughn ~ I will hope you are correct on the contamination. Have you started more of those seed?

Darius ~ I'd like a keyhole garden but no good location with enough sun for growing anything. You mentioned 'tall purslane'? How tall?

Too much shade makes me wonder if anyone has good suggestions for shady herbs?

I was given some lemon catnip seed that was not supposed to have the same allure that regular catnip does. Well, we test drove it and it was as well liked as the conventional catnip. Bonehead, what ornamental catnips do you find the cats leave alone?

Lemon herbs... I love them but don't have anything but lemon grass growing this season. I like a sun herbal tea made with lemon balm.

Cedarhome, WA(Zone 8b)

Podster - when my N. cataria was healthy and robust, the cats seemed to leave my catmints alone (other than to lay in them occasionally) in favor of the stronger catnip. I have N. sibirica and N. mussinii for catmints - I've seen the cat lay on the mussinii but not the sibirica. I'll have to see what happens this season.

For a shady spot, I have found hydrastis canadensis (golden seal) to be a very cool looking plant, but a bit finicky. Cimicifuga is another good shade herb, I had to move both of these out of my sunny herb garden because they were getting burnt. Cowslip is another that gets rather crispy, would probably like more shade.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Kristi, I don't remember for sure how tall the purslane gets, but I think 12"-18". I wanted golden purslane too, but I have enough to deal with this year!

(I think "Tall" is just to distinguish it from the shorter portulaca / moss rose. Of course, there are a few other differences, like edibility.)

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

Kristi, I have not sowed any more of those seeds. I will this weekend and see what happens

Vaughn

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Bonehead ~ thanks for the shady plant suggestions. I will have to check into them and see how suited they will be for this area.

Darius ~ I was curious as to how tall because I planted my first purslane this year. It is rather draping and I wonder if it will sprawl or grow tall. Neither if I keep grazing it. 8 )

Vaughn ~ I will hope you keep us posted.

I read an article last week on the authors' ten top herbs they couldn't live without. That would be tough to pick ten. I know I would choose these although maybe not in this order. Bay, Allspice, medicinal aloe, basil, dill, pineapple sage, roselle, fennel. I have others I love but not sure about not being able to live without them.

What are y'alls choices? Kristi

Coon Rapids, MN(Zone 4b)

Just ten, Kristi? I'd have to go with, in no particular order, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, marjoram, summer savory, fennel, dill, chives, and arugula.
You had asked how far along my herbs are. I bought plants this year for many of my annuals, so they're coming along nicely. Of my perennials, my fennel, chives, and thyme are all far enough along to harves as I need them.
And I have good luck with mints and anise hyssop in partial shade.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Kristi, are thinking only of favorite herbs/spices we can grow in our gardens?

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

I don't grow all of these but my favourites would be: Cilantro/Coriander, fennel, thyme, rosemary, sage, bay leaves, parsley, chives, oregano, and dill


Vaughn

Magnolia, TX(Zone 8b)

Rosemary, chives(onion and garlic), thyme, sages, basils, oregano, mints, I know that's actually more than 10, so I only listed the type. Love sweet and white potatoes with Rosemary and thyme chopped and cooked in, yummm, and am looking for cutting celery,

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

The article did specify plants that we can grow but included herbs for cooking as well as medicinal.

Now as to growing in the garden, some of those I grow would not overwinter in this zone like aloe and allspice.

One that I grow and love... but I could live without it is soapwort. It is one of those heirloom passalong plants from a friends' mother in law. But I don't use it for lathering... only for the pretty foliage and blooms.

I6blue ~ will you overwinter any of your herbals indoors or will those that are winter hardy survive MN winters?

Vaughn ~ how come you don't grow all you favorites? Yet? lol

Kittriana ~ Hi. Glad to see you posting here. When you say you are looking for cutting celery, I think that is what I know as par-cel. I may have some seed if you are interested, dmail me.

Durham, NC(Zone 7b)

Kristi, lol I have not had any luck with cilantro. it gets a couple leaves and then bolts. same with dill. The rabbits get the parsley before I do lol. I will try fennel though!

Vaughn

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

C'mon now... you're supposed to plant enough extra for the rabbits too.

I've not had good luck with fennel bulbing but I like the foliage and love the seeds. I like to soak the seeds in hot water. Then I use the water and the seeds in a wheat bread recipe. I love the taste of it.

Stamford, CT(Zone 6b)

Every year sage and oregano grow hardy here and the dill usually reseeds itself. Lemon and lime balm have filled in so much they are almost invasive, and I think they crowded out the dill so I purchased some more. Each year I buy more basil and rosemary.

Additionally I always add nasturtium, both the mixed jewel and empress of india. I carefully plant them in a large hole without disturbing the roots, which they don't like. They always perform nicely, growing and blooming. This year I decided to put them into a window box, and to my surprise, they are extremely happy. The plants were the same size, purchased at the same time and planted together. As you can see, the jewel mix has just taken off. I never knew the leaves would grow that large. It will be interesting to see how they bloom

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Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Kristi!!! Good to 'see' you!!! You know I love my fragrants so Lavender and Rosemary have always been a part of my yard. Over the past year I've been learning the medicinal properties of various plants - making tinctures and such. Of course flavored oils and honeys are rewarding as well. I absolutely adore one particular type Tulsi/ Holy Basil - Vana - Ocimum gratissimum. This makes THE best flavored honey ever!! Drizzled over vanilla bean ice cream....ohhh the angels smile!!

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