Plant these herbs during Tucson’s cool season – Arizona Daily Star


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Plant these herbs during Tucson's cool season

It’s time for cool-season planting in the Sonoran desert. There are lots of herbs you can plant this month. They’re a great way to add nutrition and flavor to your cooking.For the most part, herbs prefer sunny areas, so choose spots in your yard that will give them enough sun so they don’t get too leggy. Don’t over-water them — their flavor will be less strong. If you plan on drying herbs, remember that their flavor will be more concentrated, but you will need to keep them in a dark, cool place.Herbs with larger leaves, such as cilantro, mint, dill and parsley, should be used as a garnish for maximum flavor, rather than cooked.Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum): Also known as coriander (the seeds), cilantro refers to the fresh leaves of the plant. Cilantro originated in the Mediterranean, and is used in cooking in various parts of the world. It doesn’t like hot soil, so winter is the time to grow it in Tucson. It can be sown as seeds or transplanted this time of year. Pick it regularly to keep it from bolting. If you use a lot of it, sow seeds every six weeks or so to keep a steady supply.Dill (Anetum graveolens): Dill is best grown from seed, but you can also get transplants. If it starts to bolt and set seed, collect the seeds to re-sow in your garden. Alternatively, you can just let a patch of it flower and seed and leave it alone to reseed on its own. It’s native to Asia.Parsley (Petroselinum crispum): This European native grows slowly and has relatively low germination rates, so it’s best to get transplants. It needs a good rich soil, too, so make sure you give it lots of nutrients (like compost). If you want to try growing from seeds, pre-chill them in the refrigerator for 24 hours and then soak them in water for another 24 hours to stratify the seeds.Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens): This plant is more lemony than European oregano. It’s a fast grower, so it can be planted as seeds or transplants. It likes full sun and well-draining soil. In colder parts of town it may not survive a frost, so keep it protected.Sage (Salvia officinalis): Sage is native to the Mediterranean. It’s actually a perennial plant, but tends to get woody after a few years, so will need occasional replacing. It’s a great herb for Italian cooking, particularly with poultry. There are various varieties, and it’s an attractive landscape plant in its own right. It’s best grown from transplants.Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis): Like sage, this plant is a perennial and is best grown as a transplant. It, too, is an attractive landscape plant, and has attractive small white or light blue flowers that pollinators like. It provides a great scent to your garden, too. It loves full sun and well-draining soils.Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): Another great smelling Mediterranean perennial, thyme is also best grown as a transplant. It’s related to mint, and is low growing. It likes hot, dry, sunny spots. It does not like rich soil. It may go dormant in our winter when temperatures get really cold. You can let it flower without losing any of the flavor, and bees love the little flowers.Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Chives are easily grown from seeds, but can also grow from transplants. They like well-drained sunny spots with soil somewhat enriched with organic matter. They can also take part shade, but full dappled shade makes them droopy and unenthusiastic. They are perennials, and will flower when they are happy. If you let them go to seed, they will happily reseed without causing problems in your yard.Mint (Mentha spp.): Mint prefers partly shady, moister spots with rich soil, and is best planted as a transplant. Watch out, though — it’s pretty thuggish and will take over a spot completely if it’s happy there. It’s best to plant it in containers so you can control its spread. It is toxic to dogs, cats and horses, so if you have pets who tend to nibble on vegetation, it’s safer to give this one a pass.Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus): Tarragon is grown from transplants but you can also get cuttings from friends if you prefer. Growing from seed is challenging. It's a perennial that does best in part shade. It’s native to Europe and Asia. It's fairly drought-resistant, and doesn’t like moist conditions.For more gardening information and articles on gardening in the Tucson area, subscribe to the free Tucson Garden Guide newsletter!Do you have any gardening topics you'd like to see covered in the Tucson Garden Guide? Email me at [email protected] with your suggestions and questions. Thanks for reading!

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