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Early Spring Herbs

December 9, 2016 Back to Picks >

Late winter is the perfect time for Texas gardeners to get a jump on spring by putting in a few early spring herbs. To help you get started, here’s a profile of four herbs you can plant and grow now.

First on our list of herbs is Italian parsley (Petroselinum crispum). Plant it in full sun to part shade. Space plants about 12 inches apart. Keep parsley regularly watered to ensure healthy growth. Fertilize two or three times a year when grown in the ground or monthly when grown in containers. If you see evidence of insect damage, spray with insecticidal soap.

Our next herb for early planting is onion chives (Allium schoenoprasum), a somewhat grassy herb that forms tight clumps of onion-like bulbets. This plant is hardy in Texas and grows about 12 inches tall with hollow, tubular leaves. In late spring it produces lavender pom-pom flower heads. Plant onion chives anywhere you have full sun to part shade and good drainage. Garden spots that tend to stay soggy after a hard rain will eventually rot the bulbous roots. Light purple chive blossoms appear in late spring to early summer.

Here in Texas there’s no better time than now to plant cilantro (Coriandrum sativum). In the early stages of its life cycle it produces medium green, finely divided leaves on stalks that rise from a central base. It will continue to produce flavorful leaves until the weather warms into the 90s.

Cilantro seeds can be sown now directly in the soil where you want them. Allow two weeks for seeds to germinate. Thin seedlings so they are 8 to 10 inches apart. If you purchase young cilantro plants, take care to avoid damage to the central taproot when you transplant them. Water regularly and fertilize about every six weeks to encourage healthy growth.

Last on our list is chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), a cool weather herb that grows in a 1-2 foot tall clump of leafy stems. Some say chervil resembles a small fern, making it a good edible to grow side by side with ornamental flowers. In early summer, chervil sends up flat-topped, umbrella-shaped flower heads of tiny white flowers that can be clipped and dried for everlasting arrangements.

Sow chervil seeds directly in place because this herb can be finicky about being moved. Allow two weeks for them to germinate. Once they are 3 to 4 inches high, thin the young plants to about 10 inches apart. Chervil should be placed where the roots will get plenty of moisture. Water regularly and fertilize about every six weeks to encourage healthy growth.

It may be chilly in Texas but you can still satisfy your need to garden. So get a head start on spring this weekend by planting these four flavorful herbs.