Joe’s Journal: Winter Edition – Seeds of Change, part 3

Previously, we went over types of seeds to plant and how you can combine them to greatest effect. Here are some other options to consider for your garden.

Consider biennials, perennial herbs and flowers in your gardening plans. Perennial plants have several advantages, among a few include:

  • Plant once
  • Add interest to your garden
  • Increase diversity in the garden helps to:
    • Increase pest control by repelling or disorienting pests
    • Attract beneficial – pollinators, predatory wasps and parasitoids

Some Perennial Herbs to Consider in the Mix – a Bakers Dozen

1. A perennial herb which prefers soils that are 6.5 to 7.0 in pH, that can be started from seed or from crowns. Locate asparagus in full sun, in well drained soils amended with ample amounts of compost.

2. Chives and garlic chives. Chives (rounded stems) are closely related to bunching onions, whereas garlic chives (flattened stems) are more closely related to leeks. Both are aromatic herbs that contain sulfur compounds which are repellent to a number of garden pests.  Grow in full sun, in well- drained soil.

Garlic chives
Garlic chives

3. Chrysanthemums are herbaceous, perennial plants in the Compositae, with autumn bloom. cinerariaefolium, (pyrethrum) is cultivated for its insecticidal properties.

4. Echinacea or Purple Coneflower is a hardy perennial, with a prolonged bloom that attracts pollinators. It prefers full sun and well- drained soil.

5. Lavender hyssop is a cold hardy mint, attractive to pollinators and predatory wasps; prefers well drained soil and part to full sun.

6. Though technically a biennial, it is usually treated as an annual.  However, left to form an umbel and if allowed to go to seed, will self-seed the second year.  In flower, it will attract beneficial insects. Parsley will grow in partial shade or full sun.  Plant with tomatoes, potatoes and asparagus.

7. Peppermint and spearmint: of all the aromatic herbs, these mints are the easiest to grow, and in fact can be invasive. They are useful as culinary herbs and leaf extracts are insecticidal. In flower, they attract pollinators and beneficials.

8. A large perennial herb that like asparagus, enjoys a bed well prepared with compost. Give this herb plenty of room, it will need 2 to 4 feet between plants.


9. Rosemary and Oregano are herbs from the Mediterranean, prefer full sun and well-drained soil. Some of the newer cultivars of rosemary are hardy to Zone 5 (with winter protection) such as, ‘Alcalde Cold Hardy’, ‘Arp’, “Madeline Hill” or ‘Athens Blue Spire’.  If you live in a marginal zone, take cuttings in late summer and replant in spring when all danger of frost has passed.

10. Winter hardy, with winter protection in colder zones. A culinary herb, it is often treated as an annual. Like rosemary, cuttings maybe taken in late summer to overwinter indoors, and planted out when all danger of frost has passed.

11. Low growing herbs in the rose family. The Garden Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) may be planted using crowns in spring. It will put out flowers and runners the first year, which ought to be removed to allow the mother plant to store nutrients.  Harvest the second year after planting.  Strawberries do best in full sun in well-drained soil. Prepped the planting bed with ample amounts of compost and mulch with what else? Straw! The straw will keep the berry from coming into contact with the soil, and help to reduce the incidence of rot.

12. Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is a perennial in the composite family, prohibited in some states on account of its invasiveness. Much like pyrethrum, it contains active metabolites that are insecticidal, including 1-8 cineole.  It has been used in companion planting and interplanted with potatoes to repel Colorado potato beetle.  To control its spread, prune flower heads (buttons) before it sets seed.

13. Winter hardy to zone 5; evergreen in warmer regions. Thyme prefers full sun and good drainage. It is a low growing ground cover with a trailing habit, and ideal as borders in raised beds. Plant among strawberries.

In the next installment, we’ll consider indoor seed starts and tips to get a jump start on the growing season.

~ Signing off for now, Joe