PHOTO: Jessica Walliser
July 27, 2017

While many gardeners focus their planting efforts on the spring months, many crops can be planted in the late summer for fall harvests. Kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, radish and other cool-season vegetables are prime candidates for late season planting, but there are also many fast-growing herbs that are perfect for autumn picking.

The following five fast-growing herbs are easy to grow from seed and perform well when planted in the late summer or the early spring. They all favor cool temperatures, and many will overwinter in the garden and go on to continue growing the following spring.

  1. Cilantro/coriander (Coriandrum sativum). Grown for its highly fragrant leaves (cilantro) and its dried seeds (known as coriander), this fast-growing herb much prefer the cool temperatures of spring and fall to summer’s heat, when the plants quickly bolt. Leaves can be harvested just a few weeks after sowing the seed, and often the plants will survive the winter without any added protection.
  2. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum). Parsley is a classic among fast-growing herbs, with a distinctive flavor and many culinary uses. Used fresh as well as dried, parsley plants often overwinter. As biennials, they’ll flower and set seed in their second season of growth.
  3. Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium). Grown for its parsley-like leaves, this herb does great in the fall weather. The leaves have a mild licorice flavor that’s excellent in salads, and also on sandwiches, wraps, and as a garnish on soups and egg dishes.
  4. Anise (Pimpinella anisum). Grown for its seeds, this herb produces white flowers that develop into licorice-flavored brown seeds. You can also harvest the leaves and use them fresh to add a licorice kick to salads, omelets, and other dishes. Harvest as many as half of the leaves in the fall to improve the plant’s chances of overwintering. If it survives the colder months, it will return the following spring.
  5. Caraway (Carum carvi). A common herb whose seeds are used to make rye bread and sauerkraut, caraway is the perfect candidate for fall planting. Because it doesn’t flower until its second seasoning, fall plantings easily overwinter in most gardening zones. Come spring, the plants flower and the seeds can be gathered a few weeks later. You can also harvest some of the leaves throughout the autumn months. They are feather-like and mildly flavored.

Tips For Growing These Autumn, Fast-Growing Herbs

  • Select a planting site that receives a minimum of six to eight hours of full sun per day.
  • Protected and sheltered planting areas will improve the chances of overwintering success.
  • Keep the seeds well-watered until germination, and then make sure the plants receive ample moisture throughout the rest of the autumn.
  • When in flower, some of these herbs might need to be staked to keep them from flopping over. Use a wire tomato cage or surround the plant with some bamboo stakes and twine to keep them upright.
  • Add a few inches of compost or another organic matter to the planting site before sowing the seeds. If you amend the soil as such, there’s no need to provide supplemental fertilization throughout the growing season.
  • For added winter protection, mulch the plants around their root zone (but not on top of their crowns) with a few inches of straw or shredded leaves.


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