Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) This is an easy to grow herb for our area. Grow it in a container because, as a member of the mint family, it will spread. It is a perennial in our area and spreads by seed. Lemon Balm will grow in sun or partial shade. This herb is good in herb teas served either hot or cold and the leaves are good in fruit and green salads, cold soups and vinegar. It also works well with citrus juices and spices as a marinade or sauce. Try a few leaves in pesto for a lemony surprise.
Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucita) Neither a mint
nor a marigold, this Texas native is our substitute for French
tarragon which doesn’t grow well here. Plant from transplants or sow seed after danger of frost has passed. Depending on the severity of winter weather, it may come back in the Spring. Use this herb in dishes that call for tarragon or when you need a sweet, anise-like flavor. Enjoy the yellow flowers in late Fall.
Coriander/Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) This annual plant is easy to grow from seed but doesn’t like to be transplanted. It is attractive to pollinators in the garden. The leaves are the herb Cilantro which is a go-to herb for Mexican food. Use it with your salsa or pico de gallo. As the Summer heats up, Cilantro turns bitter and goes to seed. Let it do so because the seeds are the spice Coriander. Use ground coriander in Middle East and Asian foods or in curries and pickling spices. It is also a good addition to your favorite grilling rub.
Thyme (Thymus spp.) This perennial herb comes in a variety
of types, each subtly different. It makes a great container
plant if grown in a sunny location. Use sprigs to flavor sauces, marinades and oils, or scrape off the small leaves to use in rubs for grilling, salads or stuffing. Try English, French, Lemon, Lavender, or Nutmeg thyme. One favorite recipe is to pan sear a steak in butter with garlic and several sprigs of thyme then finish in the oven.