One of the best ways to enjoy year round gardening in Florida is to plant an herb garden. Herbs are easy to grow, they require very little care, and they don’t take up much room. Even if you don’t have a large backyard, you can still grow herbs successfully. A small garden bed, a window box, or even a few clay pots, can provide you fresh, aromatic herbs year round. Herbs are rapid growers, and they have a wide variety of uses in the home. They can be used either fresh, or dried, and when dried they’ll keep for long periods of time.
My information on herb gardening was provided by Extension Vegetable Specialist Dr. St. Olson, of the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Herbs are fairly easy to grow. A good garden soil that’s free of weeds and close to a water supply will keep your herbs healthy and growing rapidly. If you can, plant herbs on a narrow strip of land, preferable at the border of your vegetable garden. This will keep your herbs easy to reach if you scatter them across a wide garden plot, you’ll end up having to walk over the plants to reach and gather them unless you provide some pathways within your garden. Of course, if you’re growing herbs in window boxes or clay pots, this won’t be a problem.
Herbs vary considerably in their needs for sunlight and cool or warm temperatures. For specific information you’ll need to check in an herb culture book you can find at almost any bookstore or on the backs of seed packages.
Dill is probably the easiest and the hardiest herb you can grow. It’s usually planted in late fall and early winter because of its ability to withstand cool temperatures. If may also be planted in the spring. Dill isn’t particularly fussy about its soil and all-purpose soil that’s suitable for your regular garden vegetables is fine for dill. Another plus, dill is rarely bothered by any diseases or insects. Fresh dill leaves add excellent flavors to salads and cream sauces and as a dried herb, dill is well known for the distinct flavor it gives pickles.
Another popular herb enjoyed by Florida gardeners is Sweet Basil. This herb is an annual, and it can be replanted in the same area year after year.
Basil is also used both fresh and dried it is widely used as flavoring for soups, meat and fish. One word of caution: don’t over plant this one. A few basil plants will usually provide more leaves and flowers than an entire family can use in a year.
Sweet Marjoram is also easy to grow and quite popular. It adds unique flavor to soups and salad dressings, but the overwhelming characteristic of Sweet Marjoram is its fragrance. When the herb is dried, it is often used as a sachet to sweeten linen closets, and clothes storage chests.
Obviously, the list of Herbs which grow very well in Florida is quite lengthy, so we won’t be able to go into all of them here. If you can keep in mind just a few points about her gardens maybe you can find out the virtues of some of these other herbs yourself. Remember that herbs are generally very easy to grow and can be adapted to either outdoor gardens or indoor container growing condition. And for just a small amount of effort, growing herbs can provide you with year round gardening satisfaction.
For more information on growing herb gardens contact the Gulf County Extension Service @ 639-3200 or visit our website: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu or www.http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu and see IFAS Publication CIR 570.