An herb garden or culinary garden is one of the most popular types of indoor or outdoor gardening adventures that combines gardening with cooking. Whether you live in an apartment or a large estate, you have room for an herb garden to complement your kitchen. The best place to start is with seeds.
Benefits of Planting from Seeds
When you begin herbs from seeds, you gain two major advantages: control over the seedlings’ environment (and thus their overall health) and a greater selection of herbs and simples to choose from. The beginning days of a plant’s growth are crucial to its later health and wellness. A sickly plant at the beginning means low production and inferior taste later. By controlling the environment, the seed is nurtured when it becomes a seedling, which is important for the overall success of a garden.
Choosing the herbs you’d like to grow is another challenge, but if you’re limited to transplants, so will your selection. Especially if you’re choosing organics. Seeds are widely available, can be purchased at any time of year, and can be bought and shipped from just about anywhere. This means a larger selection, lower prices, and more availability at all times of the year.
Which Herbs Grow Well from Seeds
Most herbs grow very well from seeds. The popular herbs for kitchen gardening, such as chives, cilantro, and basil, are all easily started from seed. In fact, there are few herbs that do not grow well when started from seed. Those that are difficult are generally pretty rare regardless. The greatest difference between herbs will be in what type they are and what type of climate you live in.
If you’re growing out-of-doors, in the ground, or in an immovable bed, such as a very large pot, then you’ll want to find out if the perennial herbs you’re planting (such as rosemary) will survive outdoors throughout your region’s winter. Most likely they will not. Growing in pots or portable containers changes this and allows you to cultivate indoors during the harsher months.
Most popular herbs are relatively small, so space is not a constraint. This means a year-round season. If you live in an apartment or condominium, you will probably be growing on a porch or in a window.
How to Grow Herbs from Seeds
Starting herbs from seed is similar to starting any other garden plant. Carefully choose the right seed bed beginnings and the rest will take care of itself. If growing or starting in seed starters or containers, use a well-rounded potting mix with a good base nutrition. If making your own, use equal parts sand, well-done compost, and clay-heavy soil. Forgo the sand if the soil is already of good quality and just do a 50:50 compost-soil mix. Once planted (plant the seeds according to the package specifications), the seedling should sprout through the soil within a couple of weeks.
Water daily, but very lightly (skip this step if they receive rainwater) and do nothing more. Most herbs have few (or no) pests to deal with and many are actually pest repellents. Do not fertilize herbs until after harvest or between plantings (after harvest, but before planting new seeds). Most are sensitive to sudden soil change and may react badly. If you are container-gardening your herbs, add liquid fertilizer twice a year: once after harvest and once mid-way through their growth.
Be aware that many herbs can be aggressive growers and will take over your garden if allowed to do so. This is especially true of mint, dill, and fennel plants. The same goes for rhizomes and other self-seeding varieties. Use physical barriers or container separation to keep this under control.
Nearly all herbs are very easy to grow from seed, so your only concern should be which ones to plant rather than how to plant them!
Want to learn more about growing herbs from seeds?
Don’t miss these websites:
Starting Herb Seeds Indoors from University of Illinois Extension
News: Horticulture Educator Offers Top 10 Tips for Planting Herbs from Ohio State University