If you regularly use herbs in cooking or on salads and would like to have easy access at home to an abundant supply of fresh herbs, why not try growing your favorite herbs from seed in your own garden or home? Even though you may be just a herb gardening beginner it needn’t take a long time before you enjoy the satisfaction of having freshly-picked herbs to use in your recipes.
If you choose to make a start on growing your own herbs from seed this year, the seeds you sow in the spring will produce plentiful supplies of summer herbs that can be used immediately. And when you take a final harvest of herbs at the end of the summer, this harvest can be stored away for use over the winter.
Herb Gardening is not difficult or Expensive
Growing herbs from seed will not take up a lot of your time or require a lot of effort. Also, you won’t need to spend a lot of money to get good results. In this article I have provided you with:
- A list of the things you’ll need to grow your own herbs from seed
- A simple five-step herb growing plan.
If you follow the plan and the advice I have given in this article, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get results that are as good as those of any professional herb grower – even though you are a herb gardening beginner.
Choosing the Herbs to Grow
You probably already have ideas about herbs you’d like to grow. Many years ago when I was just starting to grow herbs I grew basil from seed because I wanted fresh basil to use in my cooking. Other herb gardening beginners I know started with herbs like parsley, chives, and sage because they already used them for their favorite recipes.
But don’t just work with the herbs that are very familiar to you. Carry out some research to produce a list that includes these and some less familiar herbs. Get hold of some illustrated Seed catalogs; you’ll find that they contain lots of useful information. Also, visit the gardens of other people you know that grow herbs and go to your local garden center and see what herbs they are offering for sale.
Recommended Herb Growing Materials
I said at the beginning of this article that being a herb gardening beginner wouldn’t cost you a lot of money. It won’t, but I do recommend buying or getting hold of a few items from a reputable growshop in Polokwane that will help you get off to a good start. I recommend you to borrow or buy:
- One small bag of soil-less growing medium to sow your seeds in. Avoid using garden soil because its texture and nutrient content might not be good for growing seeds
- Several seed trays are divided into cells and have a plastic domed top (to help keep the soil moist when the seeds are germinating). You’ll need between three and six of these depending upon how many herbs you choose to grow
- A kitchen or fine garden sieve. You’ll need this to prepare some really fine soil-less medium to go over your seeds once you have sown them
- A water spray (like the ones used for spraying insecticide on roses) or a small watering can with a very fine rose attachment
- 10cm plastic flower pots to plant your small seedlings in once they have grown.
The Herb Gardening Beginners Five Steps to a Flourishing Herb Garden
Once you have bought your herb seeds and essential equipment, you’re ready to start with the first step.
- Fill your seed trays with the soil-less compost
- Use the water spray or watering can to wet the seed trays (don’t make the soil-less compost too wet)
- Place two or three seeds in each cell of the seed tray.
- Cover your seed trays with finely sieved soil-less compost. (Don’t bury your seeds too deep)
- Spray or water the trays lightly with water again, and then cover the trays with the domes
- Label each tray 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
- Check regularly and keep the soil-less compost moist
- Watch carefully for the seeds to germinate.
- When seeds have germinated take the black polythene/ newspaper covering off the seed trays
- Put the trays in a light place (but not direct sunlight).
- Replant your seedlings in the 10cm plastic pots when they have grown into firm young plants (5cm tall). When you replant:
- Fill each 10cm pot three-quarters full with the soil-less compost
- Make a large hole in the soil at the center of each pot
- Transfer each plant from the seed tray to the pot
- Firm the soil around the plant afterwards.
Keep the pots in a light ventilated area and water regularly. Replant the herb plants in your herb garden or patio herb container when they have grown into strong young plants 5 – 10cm tall.
Harvest your Herbs
Now that the hard work is complete, you will be able to start harvesting your herbs in the early summer. When you do this don’t remove too many leaves at one time. You want each herb to continue growing after harvesting.
Providing you follow this simple harvesting rule you can harvest the herb again and again throughout the summer and into early fall. During this period you will be able to enjoy the satisfaction of having your own fresh herbs and will be well on the way to becoming an established herb gardener. You will also have something to boast about at your next dinner party when you are complimented on the flavor of the food you have prepared using your own home-grown herbs!