Kick Off Gardening Season Early with These Cool-Weather Herbs
Start your gardening early this year with herbs that can handle the cold.
Spring fever. Only your kids have it, right? If you long to garden in March, consider planting herbs that love cool weather, such as parsley, cilantro, chives, dill, or chervil.
About a week before the last frost, plant them in good soil, in a spot where they’ll get full or partial sun. Cover them with a clear sheet of plastic to encourage fast-track seed germination. They’ll need good drainage, too.
If you can’t get into the garden just yet, start the seeds in pots and then transplant them to a frost-free outdoor garden soon after they germinate. Either way, you’ll cure that case of spring fever.
When the frost returns in fall, be sure you have enough dried herbs to last through the winter. Dried herbs retain their taste longer if stored in a cool, dark place. Happy gardening now, and delicious cooking adventures later!
Parsley has vitamins A and C, and it also contains the minerals calcium and iron. More than just a garnish, parsley, whether flat-leaved or curly, is an excellent garden companion for tomatoes and a nice addition to the tomato-based dishes you prepare for your family.
Cilantro, another popular herb, is a wonderful pollinator. You may know this plant with its white or mauve flowers as coriander. Whatever you call it, it’s a common ingredient in curries, salsas, chutneys and guacamole, and it can add a little kick to your casseroles. When the weather gets too hot, expect this herb to bolt (flower and go to seed).
Chives, like cilantro, can be planted a second time in late summer. Look for pretty purple flowers. In the late fall, bring chives inside the house and create a winter garden on the kitchen windowsill.
Dill, an old standby, can go right into your spring garden. Early in the growing season the leaves are used to season food like salads and soups. Late in the season, dill is harvested as a spice. Here’s an added bonus: A butterfly resting on dill in the garden is a beautiful sight. (Find out which herbs have healing powers.)
Chervil, with its little white flowers, shares some of parsley’s aesthetic qualities. Use it to season veggies, chicken, turkey or even seafood. The leaves also work well in salads, egg dishes and as a garnish. Expect to taste just a whisper of licorice.