How to Grow Mexican Herbs

Overview

One of the things that make Mexican food so popular is the wonderful array of herbs that are frequently used to bring out the best in each recipe. Growing a Mexican herb garden is very simple and will provide you with a quick harvest. These herbs are drought-tolerant and can grow in almost any soil as long as it has good drainage. They are also well suited to all USDA hardiness zones.

Step 1

Select your Mexican herbs by taking into consideration how you plan to use them. For cooking, good choices are cilantro (Coriandrum sativum), achiote (Bixa orellana), ajonjolí (Sesamum indicum), cominos (Cuminum cyminum) and epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides). These are among the many herbs used in authentic Mexican recipes.

Step 2

Choose a garden location that receives full sun at least four to five hours per day.The soil should be well-drained. All herbs grow better in dry soil conditions. When planting your Mexican herbs outside, till the soil with a hoe and sow your chosen herb seeds in shallow rows, about ¼ inch deep. The plants should be 6 to 8 inches apart and the rows need to be 1 foot apart. Make certain to plant herbs that will grow tall in the back row and the shorter herbs in the front row. This will help keep the larger plants from overshadowing the smaller. Firm the soil over the seeds by patting down with your hands or the back of a shovel.

Step 3

Cover the seeds with newspaper or burlap and mist with water from a spray bottle. This will keep the soil moist enough for germination and protect the delicate seeds. Within 10 days, the herbs will begin to sprout and you can remove the paper. Keep the paper moist until that time.

Step 4

Apply light amounts of a water-soluble fertilizer when the plants reach 2 inches in height. Using fertilizer regularly will create larger plants and the flavor will be weaker as a result. So do so only if the plants are not thriving. Herbs are also drought-tolerant and there is no set amount of water required. Only water your herbs if the soil feels very dry to the touch.

Step 5

Harvest your herbs after 45 days. You may be able to sooner if your herbs are growing quickly. Herbs tend to self-sow and it is important to keep any flower heads cut off. Not doing this will cause the herb leaves to lose its potency. Be prepared to freeze or dehydrate some of the herbs because even a small herb garden is more than most cooks need.

Tips and Warnings

  • Herbs rarely have problems with insects and diseases. That is because their herbal scents tend to drive insects away. Keep your Mexican herb garden free of weeds and avoid overcrowding. Your herbs need plenty of air circulation and not too much moisture to avoid mildew.

Things You'll Need

  • Mexican herb seeds
  • Hoe
  • Shovel
  • Paper or burlap
  • Spray water bottle
  • Water soluble fertilizer

References

  • "The Herb Garden Cookbook: The Complete Gardening and Gourmet Guide;" Lucinda Huston, Cooke Photographics; 2003
  • West Virginia University Extension Service: Growing Herbs in the Home Garden
  • Burpee Seeds: All About Cilantro

Who Can Help

  • Mexconnect: "A Culinary Guide to Mexican Herbs: Las Hierbas de Cocina," Karen Hursh Graber
Keywords: mexican herb garden, mexican herb instructions, grow mexican herbs

About this Author

Yvonne Ward began her professional writing career in 2004 with the publication of "Pickin' Cotton Sure Is Hard Work" in the book "Golden Short Stories Volume 1" for the Dahlonega Book Festival. She has since written a true crime book published in 2010, with contracts for two more. Ward is pursuing a Master of Arts in history and culture from Union Institute and University.