Garden to Table: Growing Winter Herbs

Garden to Table: Growing Winter Herbs

Multi-cropping at a Gainesville, FL organic garden.

As we go into the winter here in the Panhandle the following herbs will do well: cilantro, parsley, fennel, thyme, chives, oregano, sage and dill.  Basil is a popular herb but will need to be inside by a kitchen window this time of year.  It will drop leaves below 40 degrees F.

Cilantro: Needs full to partial sun, excellent soil drainage, and can be sued at 6 inches in height.  The dry seeds are used to make the spice Coriander.

Parsley: Loves the cool weather and will bloom in the spring.  Parsley likes afternoon shade.  The seeds do take longer to germinate so do not give up on this plant.  The root has a strong flavor and is used in holiday dishes.  Parsley is beneficial to your health and contain vitamins A, C, K and is also high in calcium and iron.

Fennel: Needs full sun and moist soil.  Fennel should not be planted near dill or cilantro because it will cross pollinate and reduce seed production.  Fennel is good for digestive health and the shoots, leaves, and seeds are all useful in cooking.  This plant also is host to the black swallowtail caterpillar.

Thyme: Needs full sun, well-drained soil and is extremely drought tolerant.  Thyme does very well in a windowsill.  This plant is highly attractive to bees and creates a delicious honey.

Chives: Prefers sunlight and well drained soil.  This can be used for an onion or garlic flavor to your dish.  It will need to be divided every couple of years since it grows so well here.  Also, very good mixed into butter or cream cheese as a spread.

Oregano: This is the most widely used culinary and medicinal herb.  It has tiny purple flowers that bloom all summer.  It needs full sun and well-drained soil.  Its best flavor is when you harvest the leaves as the flower buds form.  The stems can be cut and dried and used in the cooking as well.

Sage: This herb needs full sun and very well drained soil.  It is a small silvery leaf plant that is a very popular seasoning during Thanksgiving for turkey.  It is also good on other poultry.

Sage. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham.

Dill: This herb likes full sun as well and serves as a host plant to the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.  It is a very aromatic herb used both for its leaves and the seeds.

When harvesting herbs look for leaves that are young and tender with good color.  Wash your herbs and pick them as you need them for best flavor, unless you plan to store them.  When storing fresh herbs, it is important to know that they lose their flavor over time.  They will store in the refrigerator from 1-3 weeks, freezer, and if dried can last up to 3 years.

Source: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/edibles/ vegetables/herbs.html

Garden to Table: How to Use in Your Recipes

Garden to Table: How to Use in Your Recipes

 

Women making vinegar at a class in Starke

Herbs are often underutilized in our cooking. There are many benefits of growing and using herbs. They add flavor to foods and beverages and reduce the need for salt, fat, and sugar. Herbs are also easy to grow at home and low maintenance!

Herbs can be used fresh, dried, and frozen. There are several tips of how to use herbs in your kitchen. You will need to adjust recipes depending on how the herb is prepared.  For example, 1 tablespoon of finely cut fresh herbs equals 1 teaspoon of dried herbs and is equivalent to 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of ground dried herbs. It is always best to start with small amounts and add more to taste. Dried ground herbs can be used on meat, soups, sauces, and vegetables to name a few.

In hot dishes fresh herbs should be added near the end of the cooking time. If they are delicate herbs, you could do it in the last 1 to 2 minutes and less delicate herbs in the last 20 minutes of cooking. In cold dishes, herbs should be added several hours before serving or overnight. Each herb has its own flavor profile, so experiment and see which you like best!  Some common herb and food combinations are basil and tomato products, rosemary and meats, sage and poultry, and mint and desserts. Have fun trying different combination of herbs and food and remember to start with little and add as needed for the desired taste!

Source: Minton, Emily and Maddox, Martha. 2018. “Cooking with Fresh Herbs.” UF/IFAS Extension. FCS8932/FY1209: Cooking with Fresh Herbs (ufl.edu)

The North Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide

The North Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide

As you garden this fall, check our the North Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide, compiled by UF/IFAS Leon County Extension.

As you garden this fall, check out the North Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide, compiled by UF/IFAS Leon County Extension.

 

Getting into vegetable gardening, but don’t know where to start?

Even experienced gardeners know there’s always more to learn. To help both beginners and advanced gardeners find answers to their questions, the UF/IFAS Leon County Extension Office put together the North Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide. It incorporates multiple resources, including articles, planting calendars, photos, and UF/IFAS EDIS publications.

The North Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide covers the many aspects of vegetable gardening, including how to get started, site selection, insects and biodiversity in the garden, soil testing, composting, cover crops in the garden, irrigation, and more.

You can click here to view the digital version of the guidebook. We also have physical copies of the guide available at the UF/IFAS Leon County Extension Office (615 Paul Russell Rd., Tallahassee, FL 32301).

Happy fall gardening!

Plant Preparation for Changing Seasons!

Plant Preparation for Changing Seasons!

As October gets by us and November quickly approaches, I would like to include the preparation on What to Plant? And What to Do? Some great annual plant choices are digitalis (foxglove), petunias, and Shasta daisy. There are many daffodil bulb varieties for North Florida including the following: Carlton, Fortune, Silver Charms, Thalia, and Sweetness. We will be getting into more of the cooler days, so this is a good time to start bulb onions and salad crops such as arugula, lettuce, and spinach. Dill, fennel, oregano, and sage are all herbs that can be planted throughout the fall months.

Start preparing now so your fall garden will be full of dark leafy greens, multi-colored lettuces, and root vegetables of all shapes and sizes. Photo by Molly Jameson.

In lawns there are a few key things that can be done in October. It is possible to control winter weeds before they appear. This is the time to use preemergent herbicides when nighttime temperatures are between 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit for four to five days in a row. If a green lawn is desired, you can overseed with annual ryegrass when the daytime temperatures are in the low 70s. Remember, the lawn will still need to be watered and mowed to maintain a healthy ryegrass. Watch for fungus like brown patch and large patch disease. This can become active when the soil temperature is between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hollies also attract bees to the landscape.
Credit: Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County

And last but not least as you prepare for winter around the corner you can plant evergreen hollies that will make it through the cold and provide a splash of color with red berries. Gather pine needles that are dropping and use as a natural mulch, and this is the last month that strawberry plants can be established in a bed or a large container.

Beginning Beekeeping Publications from GIP Live

Beginning Beekeeping Publications from GIP Live

We hope that you enjoyed the live Q&A with the University of Florida Extension Agent Evan Anderson and Research Coordinator Chris Oster of the UF Honey bee Research and Extension Lab. Below are the questions with the publication links that were provided during the discussion.

What is the best way to get started with a 0.25 acre, residential yard?
How to keep the bee colony in the winter?

How much room should I have for a couple small hives? How many hives should I start with…3?

How much time is involved in the care of the bees and their hive?

Is there a small hive available for a tiny back yard?

What equipment is needed to get started?

Does placing bee hives a certain minimum distance apart help to reduce honey bee colony mortality?

Does Dr. Leo Sharashkin’s Russian concept of horizontal hives fit the environment of the Florida Panhandle?

What is the best treatment for varroa mites?

Identifying behaviors displayed, in order to split the hive. Best time to add supers?

What are good plants for honey bees?

I live near farm fields that use commercial pesticides, can I still bee keep? What are the concerns and how do I mitigate them?

As a first year beekeeper, does all of the rain we’ve experienced this year create any problems that I should be looking for?

Should we be worried about the Asian Giant Hornets in the Florida Panhandle?

We have identified honey bees, cutter bees and carpenter bees in our garden. Should we provide a bee house?

Any killer bees in the area?

Garden to Table: How to Use in Your Recipes

Fall Preparation in the Garden!

Carrots need enough space so as not to compete for light, nutrients, or moisture. Photo by Full Earth Farm.

Photo by Full Earth Farm.

Yes, that’s right! We made it through the hottest part of the year and we are looking ahead to fall just around the corner!  I am excited to be discussing September and what we can do to prepare for fall in the garden.  As the nighttime temperatures start to cool down, we are given many more options.

For annual color plantings in September, try Ageratum, Celosia, Zinnias, and Wax Begonia to add fall color to your landscape.  Bulbs will also add color, texture, and pattern to a bed.   If you have some extra space, a variety of elephant ears could really accent a bed or you could always go with the classic calla, narcissus or zephyr lily.  Popular vegetables to plant in North Florida in September are broccoli, carrot, cabbage, and collards. See Vegetable Gardening in Florida This is also the time of year to establish strawberry plants.  Some great herbs to get started are Mexican tarragon, mint, rosemary, and basil.

Strawberries growing on "plastic" to protect them from water splashed fungal spores found in soil. Image Credit: Matthew Orwat UF/IFAS Extension Washington County

Image Credit: Matthew Orwat UF/IFAS Extension Washington County

There are many things that can be done in your lawn during September.  Monitoring your lawn for its health and potential insect pests is important this time of year.  Common insects to scout for are fall armyworms, chinch bugs, mole crickets, and sod webworms.  The last fertilizer application should be done by the middle to end of September.  Make sure you choose a fertilizer with little to no phosphorus unless a soil test shows differently.  To maintain a healthy lawn, avoid weed and feed products and only apply herbicides in areas with high infestations of weeds. Weed and feed products are not recommended because the timing of when to fertilize and the timing of the weed killer is not always the same. The best management practice is to use a separate treatment for weeds and when possible spot treat weeds.

If you already have bulbs in your landscape from previous growing seasons, this is the time to divide and replant those that are big.  You can also add organic matter to new planting areas. Continue working on your vegetable plants and prepare them for either transplants for a fast start, or plants seeds for more variety.  Throughout your landscape, it is important that plants are getting the right amount of water as we go in and out of wet and dry weather this time of year.

October will be here before we know it in just a couple of weeks. Look out for the next article to come.  We will be getting into the cooler nights and more options for planting vegetables and herbs!