Autumn may have swung into full gear, but that doesn’t mean you have to put away your gardening gloves for the season. Cooler fall temperatures are a great time to establish an herb garden.
In addition to their beauty, herbs have been known throughout the centuries their culinary and medicinal properties. Many are drought-tolerant and can often be watered sufficiently by hand or with water from a rain barrel. Annual herbs, such as cilantro and basil, can be used to punctuate seasonal color in your flower beds, while perennial herb species such as rosemary, oregano or mint provide both form and function to established landscapes.
Good drainage is key, but many herbs are known for their hardiness in this area. Here are a few species to plant in the fall in North Texas:
- Chives: A member of the onion family, chives have been cultivated as a culinary herb for thousands of years, and used in companion planting as an organic form of insect and fungal control. Bees also love the delicate flowers produced by this perennial. To keep chives growing throughout the year, plant in containers and keep in a sunny location. Bring chives inside when expecting a freeze.
- Cilantro: Folks either love it or detest it. For cilantro-lovers, this clean-flavored herb has a lightly citrus flavor that goes well in a variety of dishes, from Mexican food to Indian and Thai cuisine. For a constant supply, seed this tender annual regularly in your garden and keep in full sun.
- Mint: Some mint species are considered easier to grow in this area (such as spearmint or peppermint), but the mint family is generally considered one of the more frost tolerant herbs. Plan the location for your mints in a moist area with afternoon shade (consider a location that gets runoff from your downspout or near the overflow hose from your rain barrel!). Unless you’re confident you want your mint to return and spread year after year, plant in a container.
- Rosemary: This is a hardy perennial that does well in our North Texas climate, and can be propagated from sprigs. Like its common culinary partners sage and thyme, rosemary is drought-tolerant, needs little maintenance, and will grow prolifically. Pruning may occasionally be necessary.
Some herbs are more susceptible to freezing temperatures than others. For your more frost-sensitive species, protect them by covering with a frost cloth, or bring them indoors. Many gardeners find herbs especially well-suited to container gardening – where locations can be adjusted for sunlight or moved indoors in the event of a frost. In fact, many will grow just as happily in a bright windowsill as outdoors, giving you access to delicious-tasting herbs no matter what the weather outside.