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Out in the yard: Lemon garden

By Micah Shanks

One interesting thing to do in the garden is to plant a “theme.” Themes can be anything. You can plant an area with different flowers of all one color. You can plant an area or container with nothing but lemon scented herbs which is one of my personal favorites. I plant lemon verbena, lemon balm and lemon thyme all in one container. I love to run my hand across it to release the fragrance whenever I walk by.

One very popular theme for culinary herb growers is to plant for your favorite cuisine. Plant one or all in your garden for four different flavors- Italian, Asian, Tex-Mex and French.

For pasta lovers, include both sweet and Genovese basil,  oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme. All of these are very easy to grow in our area. Just give them a sunny location and well drained soil.

Asian herbs include lemongrass, cilantro, Thai basil or lemon basil. Thai basil is different from sweet basil in that it has a purple stem and has a strong licorice and mint taste.

For Tex-Mex, consider epazote, also known as goosefoot. Be careful with this one. It is a weed and can quickly take over, so plant in a container. Also, you will want cilantro/coriander and Mexican tarragon sometimes called Mexican mint marigold. Keep in mind that in our area, parsley and cilantro are cool weather plants, so harvest before the summer heat sets in. Although not an herb, peppers are easy to grow and are staples in Mexican cooking. Tuck some into a corner and enjoy the harvest.

To season your French inspired recipes, grow chervil, lavender and French thyme. These particular herbs are used in combinations to make fines herbes, bouquets garnis and herbes de Provence which are all used heavily in French cooking.

With a little research and imagination, you can harvest fresh herbs for your recipes a few steps from your door!

For more information, contact Micah Shanks, Jefferson County Master Gardener at mshanks52@gmail.com or call Texas Agrilife Extension at 409-835-8461.

About Roger Cowles

Roger Cowles is the editor of The Port Arthur News. Born in Port Arthur, he grew up in Groves. He is a graduate of Port Neches-Groves High School and Lamar University, where he was editor of the University Press. Cowles is married to Celines Del Valle, is a member and past president of The Rotary Club of Port Arthur and serves on a number of boards for local agencies, including the United Way of Mid and South Jefferson County and the Salvation Army.

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