Central Kansas, solidly situated in the middle of the country, has a climate suitable for growing many herbs. It’s not located next to any large oceans or lakes, and can be windy because of its plains location, but its USDA growing zones encompass 5 and 6, like Ohio. Cold-hardy herbs withstand the weather extremes of central Kansas well, and herbs native to warmer climates successfully grow as summer annuals.
Native to the Mediterranean region, basil is grown as an annual in middle Kansas, just like in most other states. Gardeners prize it for its distinctive, sweet flavor. Dried and fresh leaves are used as ingredients in Italian dishes and salads. It grows easily from seed, started outdoors after all danger of frost has passed, or inside at an earlier date. Different basil varieties have different physical characteristics. Leaves, for instance can be bright green or dark purple. Plants grow best in well-drained, light soil that receives full sun. Flowers should be pinched off to prolong harvesting. They usually grow up to 18 inches in a rich soil.
Mint is also grown for its leaves, which have a cool, refreshing flavor. They are often used in desserts, crushed into mixed drinks and served in salads. Plants can grow out of control, however, and threaten the growth of nearby plans. Containment involves frequently cutting back branches, or sinking plants into the ground with pots. Peppermint and spearmint grow as perennials in middle Kansas. Plants can grow up to 18 inches and prefer full sun. They thrive in well-drained soil, rich, slightly-acidic soil.
This aromatic perennial herb grows best in well-drained, light soil that is not too fertile. Also a Mediterranean native, it prefers full sun. Care is simple; the herb requires watering only during dry periods in Kansas, and fertilizer applied sparingly. Harvesting can occur all year, although it is best done during the summer. Thyme is often used as a dried spice in meat rubs, soups and other dishes. Plants can grow up to 1 foot, but some varieties are shorter and grown as ground covers.
Common dill is an annual that can grow to 3 feet tall, so staking is necessary for plants to withstand Kansas’ wind. Dwarf varieties can also be grown that don’t need as much support. This herb is used in salad dressings, pickling and dips, and its feathery foliage makes an attractive garnish. Leaves are easily dried and the seeds extracted, or the leaves themselves dried and eaten. Plants grow best in rich, loose soil and full sun. Areas that are seeded by plants and are left undisturbed may see new growth the following spring.
These members of the onion family grow as perennials in Central Kansas. The hollow leaves, resembling grass, are snipped at the base of the plant and used in salads, dips and other dishes. These herbs are also grown for their round, lavender-colored flowers that bloom in early summer and are also edible. Chives grow best in well-drained, moderately fertile soil and full sun. They prefer to grow in soil that does not completely dry out or is not extremely fertile.