Growing Herbs from Seed
- Created: 31 July 2014
Growing herbs from seed can be very rewarding. Each viable tiny seed has the potential to grow into a healthy mature plant. Seeds are high in enzymes and nutrients, essential for the vitality of a mature herb. (A reason why seeds are so good to eat!) Watching your herbs germinate and grow is also a very educational means of connecting and learning more about that particular herb.
Herbs in general are quite easy to grow from seed. Deciding on what propagation method to use might be harder to decide as some perennial herbs are best propagated from either cuttings or root division. Trial and error is a good means of learning though and as I have said to many people, write down what you do and it will prevent you making the same mistakes twice.
Annuals are best grown from seed and this is the most economical option. Annuals have a limited lifespan and need to be sown each year. Germination for many herbs is usually between 10 to 14 days and planting is generally done in late spring or early summer. The majority of annual seeds can be scattered over a good quality seed or multi-purpose compost. If the seed is quite small then it is best left uncovered and the seed tray covered with glass. Remember rodents like to eat seeds. Calendula, borage and basil are examples of annual herbs. Some seeds might require darkness to germinate in which case cover trays with newspaper, others will tolerate the light.
Many biennials will flower and produce seed in their second season. These are usually planted in late summer or autumn. Depending on where you buy your seed, many seed companies put full details on planting on their packaging. Parsley and angelica are examples of biennial herbs.
Perennial herbs can be grown from seed, though they are usually propagating by vegative propagation. Germination is much slower with some trees requiring 12 months in the post before the seed germinates.
Tips for growing herb s from seeds are:
• Buy fresh viable seed, stick to reputable seed companies.
• Use sterilized seed trays or pots.
• Use good quality seed propagating medium.
• Water pots well before planting and leave uncovered for 30 minutes to absorb the water.
• Leave small seeds uncovered, otherwise cover with sieved compost to a depth twice that of the seed diameter
• Use a propagator or cover seed trays with glass
• Remove the glass as soon as the seedlings appear
Growing Herbs Indoors
Certain herbs can be quite easily grown inside, though they may require more attention than those grown outside. If you are a keen cook who likes to use fresh herbs, then it may be well worth the effort. Herbs in the house can be decorative; some herbs are repellent to pests and bugs, some have a wonderful aroma and of course not to forget the ability of plants in the house to help lift the spirits.
In general herbs in the house can be treated like any houseplants, though some herbs such as basil will require more precise watering. Basil is prone to wilt if it becomes too dry and it can rot if it becomes too wet, it does like the kitchen though and is quite happy as long as it has enough water and not too much.
If you are choosing to grow your herbs indoors then it is essential to choose the correct place to grow them. Window sills are a good place to start as they will be warm, sheltered and still have enough light to grow.
The kitchen is often not the best place for herbs as the temperature within that room will be prone to fluctuating. Fumes from gas stoves, fridges and other appliances may also have a detrimental effect on the herbs. Herbs like a temperature above 15 Degrees Celsius, with no draughts and as much sunlight as possible.
Bathrooms are often good growing rooms, as are conservatories. It is essential the growing area be well ventilated with fresh air, but no draughts. From time to time the herbs do enjoy an outdoor airing. I tend to place my indoor pots outside when it rains to give then some rain water, as well as some fresh air. They certainly enjoy it.
The space needed will be dependent on the volumes of herbs being planted. The aim is get a good balance between heat and light. Too much of either will produce sickly seedlings. Not enough light will produce leggy seedling with small leaf growth and long stems. Too much heat will cause drying out and once again sickly seedlings will result. It may be necessary to weigh conditions up and wait for when the time is right.
Herbs to consider for growing inside the house are:
Basil Bay Chervil Chives Coriander Dill Fennel Hyssop Marjoram Mint Parsley Rosemary Sage French Tarragon Thyme