Imagine being able to tell people that the lunch you are serving started out as a seed in your garden. A culinary herb garden can give you the chance to claim that unique privilege of feeding your guests with the results of a tiny seed. They don’t take much room, and the yield can be astounding!
Whether you decide to create a windowsill herb garden, grow a few herbs in pots or dedicate a corner of your garden to growing herbs, starting herbs from seed is probably the most flexible way to start your garden.
3 Benefits Of Starting Your Herb Garden From Seed
1. Save Money by Starting Herbs from Seed
My motivation for starting an herb garden from seed was the $4.99 price tag on a bundle of dying basil. It had been harvested, packaged, shipped, refrigerated, stored, and then offered for sale. While I knew it would be better than dried basil, I also knew I could do better. A package of basil seeds is about $1, and I already have pots to plant in.
You could even start making money with your herb garden! It’s not unusual for the healthy garden to produce far more than you can use yourself, and you may be able to sell the overage to health food stores if you are an organic gardener. At the very least, it can make a nice change for people at the office is you bring in fresh sage rather than tones of squash, right?
2. Grow Interesting Varieties from Seed
One thing I did find out is that I can finally grow some of the more interesting varieties of herbs – the ones I cannot usually find in my local market.
Lemon Verbena, for example, is a fascinating plant that tastes like lemon sherbert. These are fabulous in summer cocktails and ice cream, and there’s nothing like snipping a few leaves to infuse into the mix.
This herb plant is a perennial herb that grows into a good size shrub when planted in the ground – it can grow to 6 feet wide. If you give the plant a nice spot in the back border, you will have a garden full of its delightful lemony scent. You can also easily grow this herb in a pot and keep the growth to a nice manageable size.
The soft, crinkly leaves of perilla are a beautiful addition to any herb garden, with bright greens and purples mixing to add fascinating texture and a ready-made riot of colors.
The flowers and leaves of this herb give soups and salads a touch of cinnamon, cloves and cumin that you just don’t find with any other herb. And, guess what? You hardly ever find this great, rare herb in seedling form. You can, however, find or order seeds and grow them yourself.
Starting herbs from seed allows you the freedom to pick and choose the most interesting varieties. The website Botanical Interests is a great source to find unique herb seeds. They carry organic and untreated flower, vegetable and herb seeds that you just won’t find in the local home improvement stores.
3. Starting an Organic Herb Garden from Seed
One of the best qualities of planting your own herb seeds is that you know that the entire process can be totally organic. You select the type of fertilizer and pest control, and your fresh herbs can be as pure as the sunlight that warms the soil in which they grow.
Pest control in an organic herb garden can be accomplished with dedication and plenty of attention. Once the plants have germinated, they may start attracting pests that will weaken them. If the plant becomes stressed during the growing system from things like too much or too little water, it can attract pests.
Watch the seedlings for aphids, which will appear to be tiny specks on the stems or leaves of your young herb plants. Aphids can suck the life right out of your herbs. Spider mites and white flies will kill your herbs before you ever notice them. Just take care to keep your plants healthy, and you should not be troubled with too many pests.
One of the most effective organic pesticides is simply a teaspoon of liquid dish soap mixed with a cup of vegetable oil. You shake it up really well to mix it, and then pour it into a quart of water.
Spray your herb garden every 10 days, and you can protect your plants from most pests. This pesticide will wash right off of your plants and is not absorbed by the leaves. It does, however, have to actually touch the bugs, so think regarding spraying bugs, not plants.
Speaking of pesticides, pyrethrin is a substance derived from plants and has a synthetic version. When used according to directions, you can control pests with pyrethrin. Lime Sulfur is another traditional pesticide from organic farming. It is one of the most popular treatments for ornamental plants, vegetables, and herbs.
Storing Herb Seeds
Most gardeners get a little addicted to buying seed packets. It’s hard to resist picking up a few extra packets while you are out shopping or while browsing your favorite garden seed website.
You will also likely not use the full packet the first year. Most seeds will last a few years when stored properly. Here are a few tips to keep your seeds fresh.
- In general, unused seeds should be stored in a cool, dry place. Household storage is normally fine for a year or so.
- A temp of 40 degrees or less is recommended for long term storage.
- Don’t expose the seeds to direct sunlight. If you store them in a mason jar or old pill container, place them in a dark cupboard or drawer.
- Humidity is the dormant seed’s downfall, so do your best to keep them out of areas prone to moistness like the kitchen or garage.
- If unopened, your seed packet may last for 2-3 years. Opened seed may not last as long, but be sure to test it before you do a full planting.
- A germination test can be performed easily with the wet paper towel/baggie method. Just place a few seeds in a damp paper towel or coffee filter & seal them in a plastic baggie. Your seeds should germinate within 10 days or less. If you see no signs of growth – it’s time to go shopping!
Check out this stylish seed storage bin to the right. There are monthly dividers so you by sort your seeds by growing month which comes in handy especially during planting season.
An old shoe box can also work for seed storage as well, but this is much cuter! Once you get the hang of growing from seed, it is always hard to walk by the seed racks without picking up a few extra packets, so it’s good to setup an organization system, so you don’t forget what you already have!
Some additional tips when growing herbs from Seed
What are some Easy to Grow Herbs From Seed?
Most herbs are very easy to grow from seed. Dill, basil, and other annual herbs actually do better when started from seed. Cilantro, parsley, sage, and oregano are also great, fragrant herbs that do well from the seed.
How do I start my herb seeds?
Whether you are planting a container garden or a large garden bed, the same techniques will help your herb seeds to germinate, develop a strong root structure, and support new growth. Make sure they have good soil and give them time to germinate. Some herbs like Parsley can take as long as three weeks to start growing. Soaking seeds like this for a few hours before planting or even overnight will speed the process. See the article on growing herbs from seed for more information on starting herb seeds.
How long will it take for my seeds to grow?
Depending on the variety, your herbs will be ready for their first harvest in 30-60 days. Just be patient, and you will be rewarded for your efforts. Once they do take off and start growing, you can start feeding your guests with delicacies that grew from just a tiny seed in your garden. That is one of the best benefits of starting herbs from seed; you will have plenty to share them with friends and family.
Click here to find many more fun & interesting types of herb seeds to grow in your own culinary herb garden.