Springtime is fast approaching — the season of great weather and freshly blooming flowers. With that being said, springtime is also an ideal season for gardening here in Southern Arizona. At Pasco, we have a passion for local, fresh ingredients and that includes even the smallest ingredients on the plate – the herbs and spices.
We harvest most of our herbs and spices from the Main Gate Square Garden, located behind the restaurant, which is expertly gardened year-round. From our garden to yours, we would like to share some tips on how to garden your own springtime herbs and spices.
Basil – Ocimum basilicum
- March is the perfect climate for planting Basil seeds, a few months before the temperature turns warm.
- Well drained soil with a pH balance between 6.0 and 7.0 is ideal for this plant which must also have approximately 6-8 hours of sunlight a day. In the high intensity sun we get here in Tucson, the basil plant does well with a little afternoon shade.
- The plant should be watered regularly, about every other day to ensure that the soil does not dry out.
- When the plant reaches about six inches tall, you must start pruning. Start by pruning off the top leaves and pinching out any flowers that may pop up as they can lead to a bland plant if left on.
Sage – Salvia officinalis
- This aromatic herb grows best when planted in well-drained soil, with a pH balance between 6.5 and 7.0.
- If you are planting in a garden, you might consider planting the sage near other Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary and basil, creating a fragrant variety of herbs.
- Young plants should be placed outside in a sunny spot and must be watered regularly until full grown.
- Every spring, the sage plant must be pruned to remove the old growth and promote new growth.
Cilantro – Coriandrum Sativum
- Cilantro grows fast in the cool weather of the spring and, by the time the weather gets a little warmer, the cilantro plant sprouts their flower stalk.
- The plant should be potted in well-drained soil with a pH balance between 6.2 and 6.8.
- In most cases, the cilantro plant should be grown in full sun. In cases like ours, in the intense Tucson sun, the plant will likely tolerate light shade.
Jalapeño – Capsicum annuum
- The growing process for jalapeños is best when started indoors. Using sterile-seed starting mix in a container, add a couple of seeds and cover with a light layer of soil. It takes approximately 3-5 weeks to germinate chili pepper seeds.
- The plant must be exposed to light – indirect sunlight from a window is idea.
- When there are about 4 leaves on the plant or it has reached approximately 2 in. tall, the plant must be replanted in a larger pot.
- Before the jalapeños are moved to tougher weather conditions of the outdoors, the plant should be “hardened.” This can be done by placing a small fan nearby to blow directly on the plant for a few hours a day.
- Once outdoors, the plants should get about an inch of water a week.
Ancho Pepper – Capiscum annuum
- The Ancho pepper requires fairly warm climates to start the germination process. Therefore, the plant does best when started indoors. A heat mat, available at most home and garden stores, is a great way to ensure these warm conditions for the young plants.
- Place the plant near a window or somewhere with a southern sun exposure.
- The ancho pepper plant will be ready to move outdoors when the weather has become a little warmer, at which point it should be planted in a location with plenty of light and heat.
- Plant the anchos in well-drained soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0.
- The ancho pepper plants should receive a steady supply of water.
These herbs and spices can be used in so many delicious ways and we encourage you to try your hand at gardening, who knows, maybe you will discover that green thumb of yours! In the meantime, stop by Pasco for one of these delicious options that incorporate the fresh herbs from our garden!
Jorge’s Famous Shrimp Ceviche – Fresh Sweet Shrimp Marinated in Lemon with Fresh Cilantro, Avocado, Lime, and Tomato, in a Jalapeño Tomato Sangrita, with Anita’s Street Tostadas and Spicy Mayo
Sweet Potato Bruschetta – Cubano Sage Butter and Roasted Garlic Goat Cheese
House-Made Potato Chips & Cilantro Dip – Crispy Arizona Potato Chips seasoned with Spicy Spice, House Cilantro Ranch, and Sea Salt
Pasco Veggie Grinder – Lemon Aioli, Fresh Mozzarella, Roasted Red Pepper, Arizona Tomato, Marinated Cucumber and Onion, Fresh Basil, with Light Vinaigrette on Grilled Focaccia
BBQ Chicken Flatbread – Organic Flour Flatbread Dough, Mexican Cheese, Ancho BBQ Sauce, Stewed Chicken and Roasted Jalapeños
Chorizo Ravioli – Fresh Pasta Rolled Daily and Filled with House-made Beef Chorizo, Topped with Brandy Braised Mushrooms, Parmesan Cream Sauce and Fried Sage