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OUT IN THE YARD — Autumn weather good time to plant

Cooler weather is finally here! Those hot, sweltering summer days took a toll on our gardens.

Now that autumn has taken hold, it is time to start thinking about plants that will withstand our mild winters. Several herbs, such as cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley and lemon balm will grow well during our winters.

Many people complain that they cannot grow cilantro. Part of the problem is they plant cilantro in the late spring and summer when the heat kills it. Cilantro can be planted by seed sown in a sunny location.

Follow the directions on the seed packet and mix a slow release fertilizer into the soil. Pat the soil and water until the soil is moist. It should be ready to harvest after about five weeks.

Parsley is an herb that grows all year, but prefers the cooler months. It is a biennial, which means it will grow for two years. During the cooler months, it will look full and beautiful, but during the summer, it will look sick and puny.

Parsley can be planted in the sun, but is slow to germinate. If you don’t want to wait for it to sprout from seeds, plant a transplant. Dig a hole in well-drained soil the size of the plant’s pot and work some slow release fertilizer into the soil. If the soil is not already moist, then water the plant thoroughly.

Dill is a perennial in our area that will grow all year. In the winter, dill loves the sun, but during the summertime, afternoon shade will help keep it from dying in the sweltering summer heat. Dill can easily be grown from seed or transplants.

Fennel is a perennial that will grow all year. It can be planted by seeds or transplants, but it is easier to buy a plant. Fennel is an herb that is best planted away from other herbs. It is known to stunt the growth of or kill other herbs.

Lemon balm is a very fragrant herb that can be planted from seeds or transplants. It looks like mint, but grows in a mound instead of sending out runners. It has a very fragrant lemon scent and is great for cooking when you want to add a lemon flavor to your food.

After planting your herbs, make sure to water them when the soil dries out and cover them if the temperatures dip below 25 degrees. However, there have been times when herbs could withstand the freezing temperatures without being covered, especially if they are planted near a building.

Enjoy the cool temperatures this week and plant some herbs.

You can reach Jefferson County Master Gardener Melissa Starr at melynstarr@hotmail.com or at the AgriLife Ext. Office, at 409-835-8461.