Herb Starters ~ Looking to jump into the world of growing herbs? Then you’ve landed in the right spot. Herb Starters will get you growing the herbs you’re most interested in using. This post shares simple, effective ways to begin growing from seed.
Growing Herbs From Seed
Growing herbs from seed is simple and fun…as long as you choose an easy-growing herb! There’s the catch-22 — how do you know which one’s are easy? Honestly, in the beginning I didn’t know and began my herb adventures with small plants purchased from my local IGC (Independent Garden Center). It was a great way to get started, and I don’t regret it at all! But, after a few seasons of purchasing herbs, the array of herbs available through seeds began calling my name and I knew it was time to rethink my strategy.
The first season I purchased a lot of different seeds. They all sounded so wonderful, the pictures on the packages were beautiful, and what was a couple of bucks? Right? I had a lot of fun, but not everything I planted grew. I learned that herbs typically grown as annuals germinate pretty quickly. Those that are perennials, particularly those with woody stems, take MUCH longer and are far fussier. To save you the time and trouble, here’s a list of easy-growing herbs you may want to try:
Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Carawa, Catnip, Chives, Cilantro/Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Nasturtium, Purslane, Savory, Sorrel, and Sunflower
I also learned that while the front of seed packages are beautiful and enticing…
Don’t let all that tiny print scare you….it’s great information that will make your journey into seed starting successful. The back of the package will tell you if the herb is better started indoor or outdoors, the time of year to start it, how long before it germinates, how deep to plant the seed, and other pertinent growing instructions. It’s amazing to me how much info they can fit on the back of one of those small packets! Google be gone! Read the packet!
Once you’ve selected your seeds, you’re just getting rolling. You’ll also need soil-less seed starter medium. The seed starter medium should be a light, airy mix that drains well to get your seeds off to a good start. And don’t forget to locate a container (or several) to plant in. I like to plant my seeds in large, flat trays no more that a couple inches deep. But, I know many gardeners who use an assortment of containers: coffee cups, yogurt containers, washed meat trays, flat bins….the list goes on and on. Whatever you use, make sure it’s sanitized before planting in it. I’ve found a solution made of water and 10% chlorine bleach works very well. Finally,make sure you have something to label your seed trays with. I use good old-fashioned popsicle sticks, but there are a variety of seed labeling sticks/methods on the market.
Steps to Indoor Seed Planting
Now that you’ve gathered all your supplies, it’s time to start growing:
- Poke holes (lots of them) in the bottom of your container.
- Moisten your soil-less medium with water and let it sit for 20 – 30 minutes.
- Fill each container with the pre-moistened medium to approximately 1/2 inch to the top.
- Consult the seed package for the right seed planting depth and spacing ~ this is important for germination.
- Lightly cover your seeds with growing medium. Again, consulting the seed packet is very helpful. You may find some seeds don’t need any covering medium.
- Moisten your planted seeds. You can either use a spray bottle and mist the entire tray with water OR you may want to water from the bottom. To water from the bottom, place the entire tray in a flat container of water. Leave the planted seeds on the tray of water only until the soil at the top is moist.
- Throughout the germination period, you’ll want to make sure your seeds don’t dry out. I found it’s easiest to cover them with a plastic lid. You can also wrap them in plastic wrap. Once the seeds sprout, you can remove the lid.
- Continue to keep the soil of your growing seedlings moist, but not soggy. This is where watering from the bottom becomes a great choice. It prevents dieback and promotes deep root growth for your new seedling.
- Herbs typically like a lot of light and warmth to grow properly. Many herbs need 14 to 16 hours of light daily. I put mine under full-spectrum florescent lights. Additionally, I’ve found warming grow-mats to be helpful, but aren’t essential.
Steps to Outdoor Seed Planting
Some herbs like borage, parsley, and nasturtiums don’t like to be transplanted, so it’s best to directly sow them outdoors in soil with good drainage or in outdoor pots. As with indoor seeds, you’ll want to make sure they receive adequate light and water through their germination period.
That’s all there is to it. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. My guess is that it won’t take you long to get the hang of it!
And remember those woody/perennial plants that I said were hard to begin from seed? The next post in the Herb Starters series will explain just how simple it is to propagate many of those from cuttings.
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