La Voz Latina - Su puente a la comunidad Hispana de Georgia y Carolina del sur

Save Money and Savor Taste: Grow Your Own Traditional Herbs

  • A portion of pipicha. www.specialtyproduce.com
  • Anne Randle.

Herbs are a fantastic way to introduce familiar flavors into a meal. Unfortunately, some of the herbs that set Latino cooking apart can be hard to find in grocery stores, especially when fresh. Even though these herbs may be hard to find in this region, they are easy to grow in our climate and will produce enough to enjoy and share with neighbors.
Epazote, papalo, and pipicha are excellent choices for the home gardener because seeds are not too hard to find. Johnny’s Select Seeds, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Native Seeds/SEARCH, and Las Cañadas, among other companies, are all great sources for ordering seeds online. These plants can all be grown in the ground or in containers, making them appropriate for homeowners with big yards or those with just a little space. They are also tolerant of drought and pests, so they don’t require too much attention once they start growing. (Note: because some of these herbs go by many names, the scientific name is provided in parentheses.)
Growing epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides)
Eapazote prefers well-drained soil and full sun, although it will survive with a little shade. Make sure not to overwater. Seeds will take 7 – 14 days to germinate after planting, and should be sown shallowly, just barely covered with soil. Epazote seeds actually require some light to germinate. Plants should be spaced with about 10 cm between each clump to allow room to grow. In best conditions, it may reach 1 m in height. It should begin producing seeds in about 1.5 months.
Growing papalo (Porophyllum ruderale)
Papalo prefers full sun, but will tolerate a little shade. Seeds should be barely covered with soil and will take 7 – 21 days to germinate, so don’t forget where you planted them! Plant about 15 seeds per 25 cm, and be sure to leave plenty of space around these plants. They may grow up to 1.5 m tall. Snip off the tops of the plants to make them grow wider instead of taller. This plant will reach maturity and begin producing seeds in about three months.
Growing pipicha (Porophyllum tagetoides)
This plant grows almost identically to papalo. It prefers sun to part shade and takes 7 – 21 days to germinate. Plant about 15 seeds per 25 cm. Plants will reach about 1.5 m tall, and should begin producing seed in about 3 months.
All three of these hardy herbs should be planted after our last frost, which typically occurs around March to April 20th in our area. Winter frosts will kill these plants, but they can be brought inside in pots and will survive from year to year. Seed can also easily be harvested from these and saved or shared for another year’s crop. The best harvests will be achieved by applying fertilizer about 4 – 6 weeks after germination. To make sure you apply the correct amount of fertilizer, contact your local Extension office about taking a soil test.
If you have questions or run into problems in your garden, remember that the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is a free resource for you. Please contact your local county agent at extension.uga.edu with any home gardening questions.
Anne Randle is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent for the University of Georgia’s Cooperative Extension program. For more information on this or other home gardening topics, she can be reached at 706-653-4200.

Issue Month: 
Wednesday, May 31, 2017