Most of the herbs we enjoy are grown primarily for their flavorful leaves. Here are four herbs that break that rule by providing edible, aromatic seeds you can harvest from your garden.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare dulce) is a perennial that grows to about six feet high in full sun. Although individual plants are short lived, it forms a self-perpetuating cluster. In the vegetable garden, grow fennel where you’d put cabbage, onions, or lettuce. It likes well-drained soil and a sunny spot. Most fennel varieties are unhappy in shallow containers. Plant them in pots at least ten inches deep.
Dill (Anethum graveolens) is an heirloom annual herb that grows quickly from seed to five feet tall with fine green foliage. To encourage healthy growth, water dill during dry periods. When purchasing, look for ‘Bouquet’ dill, a dwarf version of heirloom dill that grows only to about three feet, blooms early, and produces large seed heads.
Caraway (Carum carvi) is a biennial herb with finely divided feather leaves on stalks growing 2-3 feet tall. The small white to pink flowers appear the second year and are followed by clusters of aromatic seeds. This herb is not well suited to container growth and should be kept in the garden bed.
Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is an annual herb that grows one to two feet tall in full sun. The round leaves grow in groups of three, reminding one of clover. Sow early in the year and keep the soil evenly moist as this herb does not do well in hot, dry conditions. Seed pods 3-7 inches long appear after flowering.
For all these seed bearing herbs, wait until the seedheads or pods just begin to turn brown before harvesting. Clip and place them upside down in a brown paper bag for about two weeks to finish ripening. Then remove seeds from the seedheads by rubbing them between your fingers. Blow gently on the remaining seeds to remove chaff. Store finished seeds in an airtight container.