Why Grow Herbs from Seed?
1. You can grow lots of herb plants at once. You can keep some for yourself, and give away or sell what you don’t want. I know quite a few gardeners who make extra money from selling the herbs they have grown from seeds.
2. It’s easier to buy a wide range of different types of herbs as seed. Some herbs are not easy to obtain as plants. For example, I currently have twelve different varieties of basil seed, but my local garden outlet has only two varieties of basil plant.
3. It’s much less expensive to establish a herb garden if you grow lots of your herbs from seeds rather than buying plants.
Growing Herbs from Seeds Isn’t Difficult
However, lots of the people that visit my herb gardening website complain that they find it extremely difficult to grow herbs from seed. I understand their frustration. It’s not at all satisfying to spend a lot of time planting and watering your herb seed pots or trays only to find that none (or very few) of your seeds germinate.
But growing herbs from seeds is not difficult. There are a few “secrets” to being successful, but once you have understood and followed these secrets there’s no reason why you should’nt become very successful at growing your herbs from seeds.
In this article I have provided some simple steps for you to follow for growing herbs from seeds. However, before you start you should create a Herb Garden Plan so that you can be sure you have the right herbs planted in the right places at the right time of the year.
If you’re growing herbs from seeds start doing your planning in November and December so that you’re ready to go the following year.
It can be really fun growing your own herbs from seed, and it needn’t take up a lot of your time and effort. If you follow the five steps I’ve outlined below there’s no reason why your first attempts at growing herbs from seed shouldn’t be a great success.
Choosing your Herbs
Before you start growing herbs from seeds make a plan. Herb seeds aren’t expensive, and its easy to get carried away and buy more seeds than you need, and sometimes these seeds will not keep well from one herb-growing season through to the next. You probably already have some favorite herbs you’d like to grow – start with these. When I started growing herbs from seeds Growing Basil from Seed because I wanted lots of fresh basil to use in my cooking.
Other herb gardening beginners I know started herb growing with parsley, chives and sage; herbs which they already use in their cooking.
But don’t just stick with the herbs you know. Do a little research and find some other useful herbs that are less familiar to you. If you need to get some ideas, send of for some illustrated seed catalogs or carry out some searches for herb seeds using the the internet.
You’ll also find my eBook on Herb Gardening useful in providing ideas.
Garden centers are useful places to visit when you’re starting your herb gardening. They usually have special display areas for herbs. You can touch and smell the herbs and get ideas on herbs you’d like to grow.
As well as basil, I now grow parsley, chives, sage, oregano and borage. All of these herbs are frequently used in the preparation of meals, salads and drinks. They are all good choices for you when you start growing herbs from seeds.
You Can Start with Herb Seed Collections
The selection of herb seeds illustrated provides excellent value for money at around $12. If you chose to purchase the individual packets of herb seeds, it could easily cost you twice as much.
Go to “herb seeds for sale” on Amazon to look at this and other special deals for growing herbs from seeds.
What You’ll Need to Start Growing Herbs from Seeds
It won’t cost you a lot of money to create your herb garden, but if you’re growing herbs from seeds there are a number of things you’ll need to get hold of.
1. One small bag of soil-less growing medium to sow your seeds in. Avoid using garden soil – its texture and nutrient content might not be good for growing seeds and it may be contain the traces of plant diseases which will kill-off your young herb seedlings before they get a chance to eastablish themselves
2. Some seed-trays or pots (clay or plastic). It’s not difficult to find places where you can buy seed trays that are divided into separate compartments or cells, and have transparent plastic covers. You can get the “seed starting kit” illustrated from Amazon for around $25. The covers protect the seeds and help keep the soil moist during germination.
You’ll need two or three of these seed trays to grow a selection of twelve herbs. Just buy one if you only want to start with a small number of herbs. If you intend to use clay or plastic pots that you already own, clean them thoroughly first and disinfect them to get rid of any traces of plant disease
3. Kitchen or fine garden sieve. You’ll need this to prepare your soil-less growing medium so that it’s fine enough to sprinkle over your seeds once they are sown.
4. Water spray (like the ones used for spraying insecticide on roses) or a small watering can with a watering attachment that has very fine holes
5. Flower pots for transplanting your herb seedlings once they have grown, unless the pot you intend to sow your seeds in is the one in which you want to grow your herbs. I grow all my basil and herb seeds in large clay pots and thin out the seedlings carefully when they are large enough (although if you’re careful with the herb seeds when you are sowing them this may not be necessary and you’ll avoid disturbing the seedlings when they’re still young and vunerable.
Five Steps to Follow When Growing Herbs from Seeds
- Fill your seed trays or pots with the soil-less compost. If you are using pots fill them with the compost to within about an inch of the top
- Use the water spray or watering can to wet the surface of the compost, but don’t make it too wet
- Place two or three seeds in each cell of the seed tray or, if you’re using pots, distribute the seed across the surface of the soil in the pot (ideally, ensure a quarter to a half an inch sepeartion between each seed)
- Cover your seed trays with finely sieved soil-less compost (Don’t bury your herb seeds too deep – the smaller the seeds the thinner the compost covering required)
- Spray or water the trays lightly with water again and cover them with their plastic covers. If you are using pots, stand your pots in pot trays and fill the trays with water.
- Label your trays or pots so that you know what herbs they contain
- Cover the trays with black polythene or newspaper and put them on your window-shelf or in a green house. If you are using pots with pot trays seal the pot and the tray completely in a clear plastic bag
- Check regularly and keep the soil-less compost moist. If you are using sealed pots you should’nt need to do this this. The sealed bag will keep the soil moist until your herb seeds germinate.
- Watch carefully for the seeds to germinate.
- When seeds have germinated take the coverings off your herb seedings
- Put the trays in a light place (but not direct sunlight)
- If you are using seed trays replant your seedlings in the 3 inch plastic or clay pots when they have grown into firm young plants (1 to 2 inches tall). Do this by a) filling each 3 inch pot three quarters full with the soil-less compost, b) making a large hole in the soil at the center of each pot, c) transferring each plant (and the “root-ball” of soil) to it’s own pot, and finally d) firming the soil around the plant afterwards.
- Keep the pots in a light ventilated area and water regularly
- If necessary replant your herb plants in your herb garden or patio herb container when they have grown into strong young plants 2-3 inches tall
Harvesting your Herbs
The herbs you’ve planted should be ready for harvesting in early summer.
When you harvest them, don’t remove too many leaves at one time, so that your herbs still have the strength to regrow quickly. You will want to continue harvesting them again and again throughout the summer and into the autumn.
During the summer period you’ll be able to enjoy your home-grown herbs, and have something to boast about at your next dinner party when you use the herbs you’ve grown in your favorite recipes – all as a result of growing herbs from seeds.
Happy herb gardening,