By Debbie Roland and Emmy Ulmschneider
When you are a gardener, winter can be frustrating! It gets dark earlier, and you miss the evening hours designated for watering and enjoying the West Texas sunset.
Just because the days are shorter does not mean you have you give up. Consider a herb garden. Some herbs grow in cold weather.
Don’t underestimate parsley. It grows more slowly in the winter but it self-seeds so it will produce even if you do not replant.
Rosemary is a sturdy perennial and can be grown year-round. It is delicious and packs a punch so try it with beef and lamb.
Thyme will survive with little upkeep. Be careful not to cut the old growth since that will prevent it from growing new leaves which will take away the reserves needed to survive.
Mint. What can we say about mint? It’s just like a weed – hard to get rid of. It needs to be grown in a pot to keep it contained and will grow throughout the winter. Mint is full of iron and Vitamin C.
One of the most popular herbs in the world, Basil contains antioxidants and antibacterial properties. As one of the ingredients in pesto sauce that can also be used in salads, it is rich in potassium, calcium and Vitamins A and K. Basil is winter tender and one of the first to go. Oregano grows year-round and cilantro is an early spring herb. Chives will last just about all winter
If you do not harvest too much, these herbs will grow through the winter and give you a little bit of what you miss during the summer, harvesting your own food.
Herbs are not the only things that can grow year-round. With some knowledge and a little effort, you can grow food and eat from your garden year-round! We consider ornamental cabbages as the perfect winter accent, but why not grow other related edible crops as accent plants? Mustard, kale, broccoli, spinach, and chard will survive a winter with little or no protection.
With some row cover material, ½ inch PVC pipe, and large binder clips you can make your own easy to use row covers.
To make the row cover support, bend the PVC pipe into an arc and push the cut ends into the ground to hold the arc. Space the arcs about 3 to 5 feet apart. If you are having trouble pushing the PVC pipe into the ground, you can pound in a piece of rebar and slide the pipe over the rebar. Pull the row cover over the top of the PVC pipe arcs and use the large binder clips to clip the row cover to the PVC supports. If the weather is warm during the day, fold the cover back to expose the plants to full sun. Row cover can be purchased online in varying lengths and widths and weights.
If you have questions, please call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700 for more gardening information. Additional information is available at https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu and westtexasgardening.org.