Herb Seed

 
Types of herb seed
 
Whether you enjoy sprinkling parsley and basil in Italian dishes or prefer fragrant herbs, such as lavender and thyme, planting herbs can add a lot of joy to your garden at very little cost. Growing herbs from seed is very affordable and annual herbs grow quickly. You can start them from seed inside or sow them directly outside. The easiest method is to buy young herb plants and grow them in containers or plant them in the garden. Once they have grown and matured, you can harvest and preserve your herbs for use in the kitchen or in craft projects for months afterwards. Before you buy herbs, consider the following:
 

• Are you growing herbs primarily for cooking or craft projects?
• Do you have the right environment to start seeds in your home?
• Will you dry the herbs to preserve them for later use?
• Do you want your herbs to grow back year after year?
• Which works best for you – seed packets, kits or container gardens?


Types, Growing Tips, Harvest, Preservation and Selection


Before buying herbs, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the different types of herbs and what they are used for. The most common use of herbs is in cooking, although certain herbs are used to create aromatic crafts, such as wreaths or sachets. Like other plants, herbs are also categorized as annuals, biennials or perennials. Each type has advantages and unique requirements for planting and growing. Regardless of which types of herbs you decide upon, you will need to learn about planting requirements and determine if you need to start seeds indoors, sow them directly into your garden or buy plants in containers.
 
Types: Herbs are used most often in the kitchen, although aromatic herbs have other uses, such as potpourri. Herbs also play an important part in flower and vegetable gardens by keeping pests away and providing a beautiful backdrop to other plants. Some people plant entire gardens composed of herbs, such as the age-old knot garden, which has been around since medieval times. Herbs are classified as annual, biennial or perennial. Annuals only last one season and perennials return every year, often forming the backbone of an herb garden.
 

• Annual herbs grow very quickly and are best started from seed
• Continuously harvest annual herbs throughout the summer by pinching off the tops
• Biennial herbs, such as parsley, grow for two years before going to seed
• Perennials can be started from seed but it’s often easier to buy them as plants
• Plant aromatic herbs, such as rosemary, near walkways so they release fragrance as you brush past            


Growing Tips: You can start annuals from seed about six weeks before it’s time to plant them outside. Plant the seeds in pots or flats with moistened seed-starting mix and cover with plastic to keep moisture in until sprouts appear. Keep the seedlings in the sun, if possible, and transplant into pots when they are 2" tall. Transition plants outside after the danger of frost has passed. Some herbs are easy to grow, such as basil, cilantro and dill, so you can plant them directly into warm garden soil.
 

• Purchase herb seed that is hardy for the zone where you live
• Most herbs grow best in full sun or six or more hours of daily sunlight
• After planting, lightly mulch to conserve moisture and control weeds
• Herbs work well for container gardens if you have poor soil or limited space
• In cold weather, grow herbs in containers in a cool, sunny window


Harvest and Preservation: Some gardeners locate herb gardens right next to the kitchen so they can easily snip a few leaves for whatever is bubbling on the stove. You can also keep fresh herbs in the refrigerator for a week or so. To keep harvested herbs for later use, dry or freeze them. To dry herbs, remove and wash the leaves, tie the stems together and hang them to dry. You can hang them inside a paper bag with the stem ends at the opening of the bag or lay them flat on screens in a warm, dry location in your home. Herbs that are lying out in the open may require 2 to 5 days to dry, whereas it may take up to 2 to 5 weeks for bagged herbs. Keep drying temperatures under 100 degrees for the best flavor.
 

• When harvesting herbs, do not remove more than 20% of the plant’s leaves
• Freeze herbs in plastic bags and just drop them frozen into sauces while cooking
• Store dried herbs in airtight containers in the dark to retain flavor and color
• Once dried, crumble dried leaves for cooking or keep them whole for crafts     


 Herb Selection Chart
Herb Used For Garden Usage Planting Considerations
Basil Culinary – Italian dishes and sauces, dressings Repels flies and mosquitoes • Plant in rich, moist soil
  in full sun
• Germinates in 7 - 10
  days
• Space 12" apart
• Grows to 18"
Borage Culinary – salads, soups Repels the tomato worm – plant alongside tomatoes, squash and strawberries • Plant in rich, well–
  drained, fairly dry soil in
  full sunv Germinates in
  7 - 10 days
• Space 10" apartv Grows
  to 24"
Chives Culinary – salads, soups, tasty onion-like garnish Plant with carrots • Plant in rich, moist soil
  in full sun
• Germinates in 10 days
• Space 16" apartv Grows
  to 12"
Dill Culinary – both leaves and seeds used; leaves used in soups, salads, potato and fish dishes Plant with cabbage, but not carrots • Plant in rich soil in full
  sun
• Germinates in 7 - 10
  days
• Space 4" apart
• Grows to 2-1/2'
Lavender Aromatic – used to perfume linen chests and for sachets Plant in flower gardens • Plant in moderately
  fertile, well-drained soil
  in full sun
• Germinates in 14 days
• Space 12" apart
• Grows to 24"
Mint Culinary – Middle Eastern dishes, with lamb, fish or in jellies or teas Repels white cabbage moth – plant near cabbage and tomatoes • Very hardy - plant in
  any soil type in sun or
  shade
• Germinates in 10 - 15
  days
• Space 12" - 18" apart,
  depending upon the
  variety
• Grows to 24"
Oregano Culinary – tomato sauces, meat, fish and marinades Plant near any vegetables • Plant in any soil type in
  full sun
• Germinates in 7 - 14
  days
• Space 8" - 12" apart
• Grows to 24"
Parsley Culinary – soups, sauces, roasted vegetables garnishes and salads Plant near asparagus, corn and tomatoes • Plant in medium-rich soil
  type in sun or partial
  shade
• Germinates in 21 daysv
   Space 6" apart
• Grows to 18" - 24"
Rosemary Culinary – poultry, lamb, tomato dishes, soups and vegetables and chopped into breads and custards Repels cabbage moth, bean beetles and carrot flies – plant close to beans, carrots and sage • Plant in soil that is not
  too acidic
• Germinates in 2 - 3
  weeks
• Space 6" apart
• Grows to 3' - 6'
Sage Culinary – cheese dishes, stuffing, soups, beans, peas and salads and for salt-free cooking Deters the cabbage moth and carrot fly – plant near rosemary, cabbage and carrots, but away from cucumbers • Plant in well-drained soil
  in full sun
• Germinates in 14 - 30
  days, less time if
  indoors
• Space 12" apart
• Grows to 24"
Thyme Culinary – soups, casseroles, egg dishes, potatoes, fish and poultry seasoning Repels cabbage worms –plant near cabbage • Plant in fertile, well-
  drained soil in full sun to
  partial shade
• Germinates in 21 - 30
  days
• Space 8" apart
• Grows to 12"

Features


Straight Seed Packets: You can buy herbs in seed packets, which list most of the important information you need to know about planting, growing and harvesting. The instructions will also tell you if the herb is hardy in the zone in which you live. Check the package date to ensure the seeds are less than one year old and also look for a germination rate above 65%.
 
Seed Kits: Some herbs are sold in collections, according to a type of cuisine or with several popular herbs grouped together, such as herbs for tea, herbs used in Italian cooking or herbs that attract butterflies. A kit will usually include different seed varieties, a planting guide, stakes, garden labels and a design guide.
 
Window Sill Herb Gardens: These types of gardens are typically sold in small, decorative pots or containers, which you can fit on your window sill or countertop for a year-round supply of fresh herbs. In the garden kit, you will find herb seeds, growing medium, pots or containers and growing instructions. Some even include a recipe booklet.
 
Plants: Herbs are also sold as seedlings. Planting an herb as a seedling means that you can use the plant immediately. For example, when you buy a basil plant, the leaves are already mature enough to chop up and use the same day. Planting instructions vary for mature plants so check the tag that comes with the container to ensure you follow the correct directions for soil type, sun exposure, watering recommendations and spacing.