Although the weather is still quite warm, it's time to think about your fall garden. Adding new plants is one way to change things up in your landscape setting. If you are thinking about new plantings, why not plant something both aromatic and useful. Herbs are easy to grow and can be used in a variety of ways around your home. These plants grow almost year round in our area, thriving both indoors and out. Having fresh herbs right in your own backyard is a dream for most cooks. Coriander is one of the most versatile herbs because both the foliage and the seeds can be used in recipes. Fresh coriander foliage is cilantro, an addition to salsa, soup and many mexican recipes. The seeds are aromatic and must be dried after harvest before use. Fennel is another herb that thrives here in central Florida. This plant has the flavor of licorice and is used to flavor food. There are two types of fennel: Florence fennel and common fennel. These plants are similar in appearance with yellow stems and fine, wispy foliage. Other popular herbs are garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary, dill, anise and basil.
You don't need a lot of extra room in your garden to grow herbs. Since you only need a few plants of each type, you can put them almost anywhere. Consider planting them in groups, keeping the annuals and perennials in separate areas. If you have limited outdoor space, consider growing them indoors in containers. Biennial and annual herbs are typically grown from seeds, however perennials should be started in plant beds and transplanted to containers or your yard after they are well-established. Herbs are similar to vegetable crops, thriving in well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight. Ammending the soil with organic matter is a good idea if your soil is sandy. Refer to the seed packet for planting times and overall care. The University of Florida IFAS extension website has a wealth of information on plant care, specific to your growing area. You will get the most flavor and aroma from your herbs is you harvest them at the right time. Seeds should be harvested when plants reach maturity and the foliage goes from green to brown. Be sure to dry them in the sun for a few days before storing to keep them from molding. Young leaves can be removed for use at any time. You can dry the leaves and store them for use in future recipes. It's best to use cardboard, glass or metal containers for storage. If you use glass jars, store them in a dark room, away from sunlight to preserve the flavor of the herb. Growing herbs is a great way to always have fresh, delicious herbs on hand. These plants also make attractive additions to any yard or garden. Planning ahead for your fall garden is essential to keeping your landscape setting looking its best for spring.