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Herbs in Texas


Motochef
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I am planning on adding an herb garden (raised bed style) to my backyard.

In the past, I have always had a "potted" herb selection to make cooking with fresh herbs as easy as walking out to the back patio with a pair of scissors. Unfortunately, after a move, the "potted" herbs did not do so well. They lacked the fresh flavor I had become accustomed to over the years. My guess is that is was the Western exposure combined with an inconsistent watering schedule. I can combine a raised bed with my automatic sprinkler system. I'm thinking about a Southern exposure that would receive sun from morning until late afternoon.

Does anyone have any experience to share? Suggestions? Best time to plant? Plant seeds vs. started herbs?

Basil (Holy, Sweet and Lemmon), tarragon, oregano, sage, chervil, flat leaf parsley and rosemary are my primary interest.

:unsure:

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It has been a while since I have had a yard to plant in but I have always had an herb garden of some kind. I can say that I have had the best success with a raised bed arrangement. First I would have to advise the bigger the better. Once you get started with this kind of thing it gets addictive. You go into the nursery and see that variety of basil or thyme you never heard of and have to have it. Pretty soon, you are finding room to tuck that pretty plant into the flower bed. Then that bay tree or rosemary bush actually makes a nice shrub at the corner of the house. You can see where this is going.

But, the dedicated herb bed is a delight. One thing to remember in our climate . . . While all of the herb books usually say full sun, most plants will absolutely cook in our climate. I have found that a spot with early sun that gets some semi-shade in the hot afternoons is ideal. Most herbs even do ok if they are actually in the shade in the late afternoon or evening. That hot west sun is just too brutal.

Well drained is key, therefore a raised bed. Use a good garden soil with some sand in it to give it weight. Fluffy potting soil is a killer. Sprinklers are a Godsend, just don't overdo it.

Now to seasons . . . You are out of luck for basil until it gets warm in the spring. Basil is fun because it reseeds itself pretty regularly and the inevitable crosses are fun. Parsley and thyme will do ok in the cooler weather and may die out when it gets hot. I have actually just scattered seeds and gotten good stands. But I do succumb to the plants at the nursery. Maas will get some interesting varieties in the spring. We can't really do tarragon here very well. I use Mexican Mint Marigold. I generally use bay and rosemary as a shrub but the prostrate rosemary is pretty hanging over whatever you use to elevate the bed.

Lots of luck. I am still procrastinating on doing my pots. I have the insulating urethane foam pots, the right soil. Now I just need to find the damn plants. And the time to do it. :laugh:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I am from Texas, but moved to North Carolina several years ago...which is almost the "California" of the South... You plant it, and IT GROWS. The heat and sun exposure in TX is a factor to reckon with. While it is necessary to place most of your herb plants in full sun, I would not expose them to full sun all the time. It would prove too much. Try to place your raised garden where the plants enjoy sun most of the day, but have a rest as the sun sets. I have never had a sprinkler system, always prefering to water "by hand" in the early evening, close to the roots and always with a glass of wine as I walk around. Herb plants have a sort of "language" and I like to think we are discussing upcoming "projects"... But then, I am getting too deep! Anyway... Always feed them regularly, and keep the new growth harvested, lest you wind up with these leggy, bitter things. I used to hate to pinch the plants back, thinking I was committing some SIN, but have learned that this needs to happen to promote the best plants with the best flavor--which is our goal, right? If you don't have time to harvest and either use them or dry them, then do keep the plants lush and not "leggy". I am NOT an expert, but just sharing some experiences. Oh! Also watch for caterpillers! I lost my entire planting of italian parsley in ONE NIGHT because I failed to notice their presence in the garden. I went to bed with handfuls of parsley and woke up to stems. Best of Luck to you!!!

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Welcome to Texas Mz. Jeannie. I love this . . .

. . . always prefering to water "by hand" in the early evening, close to the roots and always with a glass of wine as I walk around. Herb plants have a sort of "language" and I like to think we are discussing upcoming "projects" . . . 

Yes, caterpillars can get you. But . . . For a couple of years I kept big fennel plants growing in the back of a big flower bed. The ferny leaves were used occasionally but the real purpose was for the caterpillars of the Pipe Vine Swallowtail, a black swallowtail. During the season, I let the pretty caterpillars munch their fill. Then every morning for a while, I would have a new butterfly just emerging and spreading its wings. That was my treat with my coffee for many mornings.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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My globe basil is still growing well (small leaves) and is tastey. I would add a bay laurel somewhere--mine does well and fresh bay is so nice. Lemongrass thrives but has such a limited appeal for me--beautiful grass though. Agree on Mexican marigold-good tarragon substitute. My chives are doing well after weathering the summer heat. Oregano, thyme, and marjoram (creeping) just keep going and going and going-- Regards, Bill

Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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Thanks Bill . . . You are right about the globe basil. Mine seem to hang in there longer than the others, which promptly went bye-bye when we got down to about 45 degrees.

I forgot about the star of my garden for about 3 years. It was this HUGE African Blue Basil. As you can see, it isn't a "true" basil. It grew over the first year into a 6 foot by 6 foot monster. We had mild winters and it never froze back. It was probably the most beautiful shrub in the garden with its long flower spikes and purple colors. The bees and butterflies loved it. While the other basils were sleeping, I could use it in cooking. It wasn't the best basil flavor but it was better than nothing and the leaves looked pretty in a salad.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I have a enormous oregano that I've had for several years, as well as a very large rosemary, both in a raised bed. The basil I planted last spring is still doing well - I made a pesto just a couple of days ago. My chives thrive well in a planter, but the mint in a planter dies off every summer - too hot, but is coming back now, and will stay nice all winter.

Stop Family Violence

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Dana . . . First, I am so glad to see you back. I am hoping that you have survived the Rita chaos well. I don't have any doubts. We Texans seem to spit in the face of storms.

Anyway, I would like to address the mint question. At my previous house, I had a helluva time getting spearmint and peppermint going. Actually, it never really did. I had a moist rather shady spot that should have done well but it never did. Then, in a very slightly sunnier area, I planted some Apple Mint. DO NOT EVER plant this evil weed where it might grow. It isn't all that tasty and became rampant. At one point, I feared that it would attack my 75 pound basset hound.

At my sister's place in NW Houston, we have never been able to get mint established. We don't know why. There are several micro-habitats that should be good but it just languishes and dies out.

At the new house, I am thinking of directing the condensation from the air conditioner to a small area of the yard, able to divert to a holding tank, in order to provide a habitat for mint.

Does anyone have any ideas about that?

WOW! Would I love to have a multi-year oregano.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I don't really have any ideas about the mint- what I grow had better survive naturally because I can kill most plants faster than you can shake a hoe - except to say that my Mom, who lives in Kansas, has a backyard full of the stuff. No known water scource, and I don't think she waters it much if any. The summers there are at least as hot as they are here, but of course they don't have the humidity, and summer doesn't last as long. I don't know what the secret is.

Yes, we made it thru Rita, 10 days without potable water, 16 days with no power, longer for the cable TV. Luckily, we have gas hot water and a gas cooktop, so we really ate pretty well, considering. Little damage to the house. If I never see another hurricane, it will be too soon!!!

Stop Family Violence

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have an herb garden that I planted this Spring. I live just N of Dallas. I added compost to the bed and mulched. So far, the plants seem very happy with that. I have a soaker hose in there too. I have Thyme, Lavender, Oregano, Mexican Oregano and Rosemary. I still have to see how they make it through the Winter. I was pulling out some weeds a few weeks ago and saw a lot more earthworms in the bed than when I first planted... another good sign. BTW, I'm working towards getting my Texas Master Composter certification, so if you have any questions about compost, mulching, etc. I can probably answer them or get you to someone who can.

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I live in Kansas, which has similar qualities to Texas when it comes to growing herbs. The only thing I would add to this discussion, is that you might plant the basil where it will get the most water, and the rosemary where it will get the least. My rosemary died out this year, and I think it was because it got too much water at certain times. Pots are so extremely convenient, but must be watered by hand. I'm still debating what I'm going to do with my herbs next year -- return to pots, or plant them in the ground. We have bindweed, so anything planted in the ground is subject to it, and I spend the whole freaking summer fighting it. It grows faster than I can grab it and pull it out. I have a feeling it's going to take a nuclear holocaust to kill the **** stuff.

Next spring we're going to go look at model homes in a development where we're considering building a house. I've added "bindweed-free" to my list of things like "large kitchen" and "ample storage." :laugh:

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My rosemary has been in the ground now for 4 years on the west side of the house in a sprinklered bed. Last spring we topped that bed with some compost from the mushroom farm. But it just keeps on a growing. The basil is gone now, freeze got it. the chives go into hibernation, the sage just keep on a growing, the thyme has never had to be replanted. The mint, we put in pots because it is invasive if planted in the ground. The tarragon has come back out with cooler weather. My location is Tulsa, halfway between Texas and Kansas. The only thing I really have had trouble with is cilantro and rabbits. lol.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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At my sister's place in NW Houston, we have never been able to get mint established. We don't know why. There are several micro-habitats that should be good but it just languishes and dies out.

Soil drainage or pH, maybe. Also what are surrounding trees/plants? Members of the pecan family are famous for the toxic-to-plants components exuding from their roots.

At the new house, I am thinking of directing the condensation from the air conditioner to a small area of the yard, able to divert to a holding tank, in order to provide a habitat for mint.

Does anyone have any ideas about that?

Sounds like a winner, and if there is a sufficient amount of sunlight, it should also be a great spot to grow ginger, cardomom, galanga, and tumeric. Plus other not eaten member of the ginger family ... some have exquisite flowers.

Theabroma

Edited by theabroma (log)

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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. . . . .
At the new house, I am thinking of directing the condensation from the air conditioner to a small area of the yard, able to divert to a holding tank, in order to provide a habitat for mint.

Does anyone have any ideas about that?

Sounds like a winner, and if there is a sufficient amount of sunlight, it should also be a great spot to grow ginger, cardomom, galanga, and tumeric. Plus other not eaten member of the ginger family ... some have exquisite flowers.

Theabroma

Heh heh . . . You are onto my plot!!! Closer to the drain hose will be cool because the condensate is pretty cold. Further out in the drainage pattern I figure the ginger family will be very happy. I should get enough sun for them. Here, gingers do better in dappled shade with a few hours of sun in the morning (better) or evening.

Yeah, we checked the soil and don't have any toxic trees. Still no clue as to why mint doesn't like the place.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have been growing my herbs for a couple of years

The ones that did survived so far are mint, rosemary, thyme and chive

I never had succes with cilantro and defenitely don't want to deal with parsley and " the accesories" it comes with ... :blink:

I also have lemongrass and i don't know what happened to my lavender:(

Hope i could be of some help

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We live in the Heights. Our herb garden includes Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Sage and Mexican Marigold (in lieu of Cilantro). All thrive, albeit at different seasons.

This link is a brochure on herb gardening prepared by the Jefferson County extension office of the Texas Cooperative Extension Service.

There are a couple of books specifically about herb gardeing in Texas. I think one even has that title -- "Herb Gardening in Texas".

I think there is a chapter of The Herb Society of America in Houston. They may have some info as well.

"As far as I'm concerned, bacon comes from a magical, happy place" Frank, John Doe

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I have been growing my herbs for a couple of years

The ones that did survived  so far are mint, rosemary, thyme and chive

I never had succes with cilantro and defenitely don't want to deal with parsley and " the accesories" it comes with ... :blink:

I also have lemongrass and i don't know what happened to my lavender:(

Hope i could be of some help

I have giant lemongrass--will it die out and come back? I'm 70 miles NW of Houston.

Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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