Herbs make for happy late season gardens

In the late summer and up into the fall, some of gardeners’ favorite plants are the annual herbs.
On top of many lists of annual herbs are basil and dill. These herbs are aromatic and really easy
to grow… Plus they’re delicious!

Dill is perfect with salmon, cod and grouper. Placing the frilly fronds on the fish during cooking
imparts a pleasant licorice flavor. Another favorite use is adding fresh-cut dill to eggs for
breakfast.

Dill also is a forage plant for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars, so make sure to have enough to
share.

Basil is another wonderful plant that is also a great addition to the edible ornamental landscape.
It offers a great range of aromas and flavors from licorice to lemon and lime. Cooks love to use it

to make different types of pesto and, of course, to whip up refreshing basil mojitos on a hot late
summer afternoon.

There’s a wide variety of basil available for the garden. Selections come with beautiful green,
red and variegated foliage.

Always harvest fresh herbs in the morning, as the essential oils -- which is what supplies the
herbal bang -- will be at their highest concentrations then.

For annual herbs like dill and basil, it is important to pinch off developing flower heads. We want
foliage, and flower production signals the plant to stop foliage production and favor seed
development. Deadhead the dill plants and save the flower heads for homemade dill pickles.

There are always exceptions to these rules. Late in the year, let a few plants flower and collect
the seeds. It’s as easy as waiting until the seed heads have turned brown, collecting the seeds,
and storing them in a labeled envelope. Saving some seed this year will help your garden next
year as well. COVID-19 has fueled major growth in gardening, which is causing shortages of all
seed supplies. Saving some herb seed this fall could make 2021 a tasty year.

Of course, you don’t have to save seeds in an envelope. Just let the seed heads disperse
themselves and enjoy the surprise of where the herbs pop up the following year.

Annual herbs like dill and basil are really easy to grow in containers, which is many gardeners’
preferred growing method. Remember to use a good quality, peat-based potting mix. Container
herbs don’t take up as much room, which is perfect for maximizing the number of herbs growing
on a porch or patio.


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