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Now is the time to plant that herb garden you’ve been wanting

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As temperatures cool down, our winter planting season has started in the desert and it’s prime time to plant herbs, even if you aren’t planning a major vegetable garden.

This cool planting season will last through mid-November and herbs that will grow easily now include cilantro, dill, chervil, borage, chamomile and parsley, according to experts from the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior.

Another key planting season for herbs is in the spring — mid-February through March — when it’s prime time for lavender, rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, tarragon, parsley, chives and mints, including basil.

While many culinary herbs, like rosemary, are perennials, some are annuals and can be grown only in the cool or warm season, according to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

Chives and tarragon may disappear for the winter and then resprout from their roots and grow the next spring. Basil is often an annual in other regions but can last and last if protected from frost.

Many home gardeners prefer to grow herbs in pots so that they can easily move them in and out of the hot sun or the winter cold. When using containers, mix commercial potting soil with perlite or pumice. Use organic potting soil only and fertilize lightly.

Once herbs flower, their leaves often become bitter so keep pinching them back.

Jay Harper of Harper’s Nursery in Scottsdale also has a long list of herbs that can add to flavor and growth of other plants in a veggie garden. For example, basil can improve the growth and flavor of tomato plants.

He also recommends planting:

  • Borage with squash, strawberries and tomatoes to deter worms.
  • Chives with carrots to improve their flavor.
  • Dill with cabbage but not near carrots.
  • Marjoram near any vegetables to improve their flavor.
  • Rosemary near cabbage, beans, carrots and sage to deter moths, beetles and flies that can plague these vegetables.

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