GROW YOUR OWN HERBS
Garlic and Ajo
Garlic is a condiment often used for flavoring and seasoning in prepared food products such as soups, sausages and pickles. It is also frequently used in salads and many Mexican dishes. Garlic salt is made from pulverized, dehydrated garlic cloves. In some countries, the green tops as well as the bulbs are used.
Garlic does not produce true seed but is propagated by planting cloves which are the small bulblets or segments making up the garlic bulb.
Garlic in Texas should be planted in the late fall. The plant is extremely frost hardy, and if planted in October, may have tops showing above the soil and be well rooted by November. The crop matures in June. The growing period is too short for satisfactory yields if planted in the spring since bulbing and maturity are considerably hastened if temperatures are high.
When tops of fall-planted garlic are partly dry and yellowed, garlic is usually ready for harvest. Bulbs are pulled and dried. The foliage or tops are arranged to protect the bulbs from the sun, and the garlic is left in the garden for a week or more to dry (cure) thoroughly. Curing can also be accomplished in a well-ventilated shed. Thoroughly dry the bulbs before storing.
Cumin or Cuminos
Cumin is native to the Mediterranean area and a member of the parsley family. Plants are low growing, untidy-looking with small dull-colored flowers. Cumin is grown for its aromatic seeds which are an important ingredient in chili and curry powders, therefore an essential condiment for many popular Mexican dishes.
All that is required for successful cultivation of this herb is a mild climate and a fairly long growing season. Plant seed in a sunny location after the soil has warmed in the spring. Plant the seed about 1/4 to inch deep at the rate of 16 to 20 seeds to the foot. Thinning is usually not necessary due to the plant's small size.
When the umbel or flower heads begin to turn brown, harvest the plant and tie in small bundles or spread on a screen to dry. When thoroughly dry, seeds can be easily separated by threshing and then cleaned and stored in paper bags, cartons or some other suitable container.
Coriander or Cilantro
Coriander is easy to grow and should be seeded in rows at least 3 feet apart. Plant six to eight seed per foot at a depth of about 1/4 inch. After the plants have emerged thin to about 6 to 10 inches apart. This herb prefers full sun but does fairly well in partial shade.
Coriander is grown for both its fresh leaves as well as its seeds. Leaves may be picked at any time but preferably after the plant gets at least 6 inches tall. When the plant matures, it is topped by clusters of pink flowers which ripen during summer into seeds resembling peppercorns. Cut the plants for seed when these fruits have turned brown but before seed drop occurs. Tie the whole plant in bundles or spread on screens to dry. As soon as the plant is thoroughly dry, remove the seed and store them in bags or other types of closed containers. A single coriander plant produces 1/4 cup of seeds or about cup of leaves.