Herbs are one of the easiest of all productive plants to grow, but as with all plants there are various ways of establishing plants. Growing them from seed is a cheap and effective way of getting lots of herb plants.

Most Herbs can be grown from seed, and in fact it is the best way to produce your annual herbs.
Generally speaking you will find a much greater selection of herbs in seed form then as seedling/plants at your local retailer.
You will also find an even greater selection of herb seeds from mail order retailers which can be located on the internet or in magazines.

Seeds can either be directly sown into the ground where they are to grow (this is referred to as sowing insitu) or they can be started in small containers and transplanted into the ground once they have grown to a reasonable size.

Direct Seeding
Generally annual herbs benefit from being directly seeded into prepared garden soil.
Herbs such as basil, dill, cilantro/coriander, chervil, parsley, fennel, and anise will do better if germinated where they are to grow. The root disturbance that occurs when they are transplanted will often cause them to “bolt” into flower so direct sowing ensures longer leaf production.

How to grow herbs by germinating seeds insitu.
• Prepare your garden by improving with compost and well-rotted animal manures.
• Cultivate the soil is a fine tilth (fine and crumbly)
• Create a shallow trench by running the corner of a hoe along the length of the garden bed.
• Scatter seeds evenly through the trench.
• Cover the seed lightly with a shallow sprinkling of fine soil or seed raising mix. As a rule of thumb, cover them no deeper than twice the seed diameter.
• Firm down the soil for good seed-to-soil contact.
• Water well using a fine spray to avoid washing the seeds away.
• Label the rows with their name and the planting date.

As the seedlings germinate and develop their true seed leaves, thin the plants to approximately 3 to 6 cm to avoid spindly plants that crowd one another.

For good germination results when direct seeding summer growing annual herbs, wail until the soil has started to warm up. Often this is well into spring, depending on where you are growing and the prevailing weather conditions.
Jackie French always insisted on sitting on the ground for 5 minutes, if her behind gets cold then the soil is not warm enough to direct sow you summer seedlings.
If this seems a bit extreme but you are still not sure if your soil is warm enough, do a trial with just a few seeds. If they do not come up in the expected time wait another couple of weeks.

corrinader seedlings

Producing seedlings for transplanting.
Herbs can also be started by germinating seeds in punnets or tray for transplanting later.
Seeds can be planted in small containers such as peat pots, jiffy peat pellets, cell packs, or other containers designed for growing seedlings.

How to grow herbs by germinating seeds for transplanting.
• Start by selecting a good quality seed raising mix.
• Fill your pots.
• Firm down the mix.
• Place seeds on the mix at least 1cm apart or if very fine scatter evenly.
• Cover with a little seed raising mix again about twice the depth of the seed.
• Water well using a fine spray to avoid washing the seeds away.
• Place pots in a warm protect spot where they will get adequate light, but not full sun.
• Label the pots with their name and the planting date.

Annual herbs seeds will generally germinate when temperatures are between 18 to 25 degrees C. If your soil doesn’t warm up quickly in the spring try germinating them inside on a window ledge and popping them outside during the day.
After the plants have germinated and grown to 2 to 4 pairs of true leaves, harden off by moving the plants into different spots to gradually expose them to a little more sunlight, wind, and normal outdoor conditions.

At this stage make sure you protect seedlings for slug and snail attack and watch for other insect damage. Young seedlings can be decimated overnight by any of these pests.

Keep moist and apply ½ strength liquid fertiliser twice a week to get them growing strongly.

When the plants have between 6 to 8 pairs of true leaves, transplant them to prepared beds, herb garden or large container.

Maintain your herb plants regularly and harvest leaf from them when needed.

When they are coming to the end of their productive life let a couple of plants flower and go to seed. The flowers will attract beneficial insects into your garden and the seeds they produce will hopefully self-seed the following season and give you lots of plants with very little effort or you can save the seed for sowing.

So why not have a go at producing  some of your herbs from seed, it really is easy.

Next week other methods of propagating herbs.

Happy Gardening Kathy

For more information on starting your productive backyard, check out the website.
If you give any of these tips a go, I would love you to let me know about it via my Facebook Page, Pinterest or Instagram!