" IT'S OUR GARDEN " By Elizabeth and Crow Miller

Growing Kitchen Herbs

Some herbs capture our hearts and taste buds because they produce such delicious seeds. Anise, Caraway, Coriander, Dill and Fennel all produce savory seeds that add unusual flavor to soups, salads, cheese, pickles, pastry, vegetable and fish dishes. While they please your palate, they can also soothe your stomach and aid digestion.

These herbs are all members of the Umbelliferae (carrot) Family, so called because its flowers grow in flat topped clusters known as umbels. They are easily started from seed, and once established, will normally reseed themselves.

Anise requires at least a 120-day growing season to ripen its seeds. As soon as the soil is warm, sow fresh seed where they will remain, since the delicate taproots will not transplant well. Plant in full sun, space closely in clumps, or hill them with soil to help them stay upright.

Caraway is a 2 to 3-foot biennial whose feathery foliage survives most of the year, making it a valued green in late fall and early spring. The chopped licorice flavored leaves add zest to fresh vegetables. Caraway does well when grown in loamy soil with full sun or partial shade. To prevent disturbing the long taproots, plant seed directly in the garden in early spring where the plants will remain. Thin to 8 to 12-inches apart. During the first year, only carrot-like greens will appear. The following year white flower umbels will form. Shortly, the crescent shaped brown seeds will mature, after which the entire plant dies. Ripe seeds need to be harvested promptly before they fall, but a few seeds are bound to escape and will self-sow.

Coriander is often scorned for its fresh scent, but when dried, it turns into a pleasant, clean smelling herb reminiscent of lemons. To start Coriander, An annual which grows 2 to 3-feet high, sow seeds shallowly in early spring. Seed germinates easily in about 2-weeks. For best results, cultivate in a light, well-drained soil with full sun. Space plants 8 to 10-inches in a permanent spot. When in bloom, the umbels are lovely with pinkish flowers, and the delicate foliage is a welcome garden addition.

Dill seeds remain viable for 3-years, germinating in 7 to 14-days. They should be sown in a sunny, well-drained, rich loamy soil. To insure fresh dill-weed all summer long, make successive sowings from mid-April until the end of May, at 2-week intervals. When planted in single rows,

this 3 to 4-foot annual tends to fall over, so plant in patches. If necessary to transplant, do so in the evening, only when plants are several inches tall.

Fennel is a tall, 5-foot perennial. It's foliage is similar to dill's but is bushier and more branched at the base. Because of this fullness and its delicate yellow green leaves topped by numerous umbels of gold, it makes an attractive back ground plant in a border. Fennel may live for years, we have fennel plants that are 3 or 4-years old, and each spring volunteers appear around this stately herb. Sow 12 to 18-inches apart in a light, well-drained soil in full sun, where they are to grow.

Copyright · 1996 / Crow Miller, Syndication / Herb's / / #62 /