Herb Day is next weekend, on May 7 – a community garden party where you can learn about herbs, buy herbs and eat herbs.
There’s a lot to love about herbs: They’re fragrant, delicious, good for bees and butterflies, and among the most forgiving plants you can grow.
Well, at least the vast majority of them are. When you’re doing your shopping for them this spring, there are still a few things to remember about growing them in Wichita. Lisa LaRue, a member of the Herb Society of South Central Kansas, helps us out.
Herbs you shouldn’t grow in Wichita: Well, you can certainly grow them, but they aren’t as easy or forgiving as others. They are cilantro and lavender.
Cilantro, “beccause they don’t like our hot summers, though there are some varieties that are slow to bolt,” LaRue sayd. “It gives you a little more time till they’re gone. Most people don’t realize you can replant in the fall. So you can reseed and have another crop in the fall. But it doesn’t coincide with our tomatoes, and people want to put it in their salsa.
“The other thing with cilantro is that even if it goes to seed, the seeds are coriander. So it’s a double-duty spice and herb. You can use seeds or replant them.”
And then lavender: “It doesn’t mind our summers here; it’s our winters. If the winter is wet and it’s clay soil, their crowns will rot. So you need a really good drained soil, or slightly elevate the crown, and mulch with gravel. They like a leaner soil, and in Kansas where the lavender farms tend to be is on hillsides and rocky limestone-y soils. ...
“An alternative to that is I grow the Goodwin Creek lavender in a container and I bring it in, and I have the same plant here blooming in my office all winter. This will be its fourth summer. It’s in a southern-facing window. It helps to have bright light.”
Herbs you’ll have to share with the caterpillars: fennel, dill, parsley, rue. Be sure you buy more than one plant so there’s plenty to go around for you and them.
Herbs that should go in pots: mints. Mint spreads like wildfire in the yard. Keeping it in a pot will help contain it. Herbs do equally well in pots or in the ground, depending on your preference. “I do almost all my herbs in containers,” LaRue says.
Herbs that will come back year after year: rosemary, oregano, chives (both garlic and regular), sage, lemon balm, lavender, rue, winter savory, salad burnet, oregano, marjoram. Fennel will come up reliably from year to year if you plant it in the ground. Parsley is a biennial, and dill has a tendency to reseed.
Herb Day, will be from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 7 at the Extension center at 21st and Ridge Road, and admission is free.
It will include seminars and demonstrations; plant sales by the master gardeners, the Hosta Society of Wichita and the Wichita Rose Society; lunch for sale by the Herb Society; garden-magazine sale; and vendors selling herbs and other plants and garden-related items. The Kansas Grown Farmers Market will be going on in the parking lot.
Lenora Larson, a master gardener and butterfly advocate from Marais des Cygnes, will be in town to give two talks – “Got Milk? Gardening for Monarchs,” at 9:30 a.m., and “Butterflies in Your Vegetable Garden” at 11 a.m.
Extension agent Rebecca McMahon will give a seminar on peppers at 8:30 a.m., and there will be a demonstration on cooking with peppers at 10 a.m.
Here is the complete list of seminars and demonstrations:
In the Sunflower Room: 8:30 a.m., peppers by extension agent Rebecca McMahon; 9:30 a.m., gardening for monarchs, by Lenora Larson; 11 a.m., butterflies in your vegetable garden, by Larson.
In the Demonstration Garden: 8 a.m., composting demonstration; 9 a.m., container gardening for bees and butterflies; 10 a.m., cooking with peppers; 11 a.m., the licorice herbs: anise hyssop, French tarragon, fennel.
Herb Day is sponsored by the Sedgwick County Extension Master Gardeners and the Herb Society of South Central Kansas.