Raising Herbs

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Cary Sims
Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.

Growing herbs isn’t just for the salad lover. Herbs are fantastic in meats & sausages, fritters, beer & wine, beans, dips, stews, pastries, sauces, butter, omelets, candy, beverages, and more.

Herbs used in cooking are simply plants that are used as flavoring agents. The common herbs used in the kitchen are referred to as culinary herbs. Mild or savory herbs impart a delicate flavor to foods, and the pungent herbs add zest.
For most herbs, the part of the plant that is used is the leaves. The seeds or roots of some herbs can also be used. Because herbs are used in small amounts, only a few plants are usually needed to provide enough fresh and dried herbs for an entire season.

How to grow and use culinary herbs will be covered at the next Homegrown to Homemade DIY seminar hosted by the Angelina County Extension Office on Monday, March 16 at 6:30 pm.

Herb gardening is popular throughout Texas. New enthusiasm for “natural” foods has heightened this interest. In addition, most food recipes can be accentuated with the proper use of culinary herbs.

Herbs may be grown in flower beds, in rock gardens as borders, or as container plantings. Some herbs are annuals, meaning that they grow from seeds and complete their life cycle in 1 year; others are perennials that return year after year.
Many gardeners establish a small herb garden near the home. Generally, a 6- to 10-foot square or rectangular area is sufficient.

For annual and biennial herbs, plant the seeds directly in the garden or start them indoors for later transplanting to the garden. Obtain seeds from your local garden center or seed catalog, or save the seeds produced by the herb plants for next year’s crop.

Care for your herb garden as you would a vegetable or flower garden. Choose a sunny, well-drained location. Apply a balanced fertilizer but do not use too much nitrogen fertilizer. Most organically derived fertilizers should work very well.
Water the plants as necessary during dry periods. Generally, about 1 inch of water should be added per week if it is not supplied by rainfall. Mulch helps conserve soil moisture and reduces weed growth as well.

In general, most herbs have few insect or disease problems. Although most herbs tolerate minor infestations of feeding and chewing insects, do not allow the insect populations to explode.

Plants outgrow insect feeding or damage if they are growing vigorously and are fertilized and watered properly. Harvest the herbs regularly to help keep insect pressure at a minimum.

Diseases are a more serious problem on herbs because the damage is already at a serious stage once it becomes visible. To reduce disease pressure, plant the herbs in suitable areas with proper air circulation and water drainage.

The DIY educational program on Monday, March 16 is $10 and starts at 6:30 pm at the Angelina County Extension office.

Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for agriculture and natural resources for Angelina County. His email address is cw-sims@tamu.edu. To receive a monthly newsletter about local Extension educational events and other offerings, e-mail Angelina-TX@tamu.edu.

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