Growing Herbs From Seed

Get tips on how to easily and inexpensively grow herbs from seed.

The catalogs list many thousands of different seeds and make for stimulating reading — especially over the winter months. Many are easy to grow and it is an inexpensive way of expanding your collection with basic and unusual herbs.

Larger Seeds

1. Seed of this size is the easiest to handle. Check the instructions, make sure your palm is dry, and gently scatter at the correct spacing (Image 1). Use just enough and return the rest to the packet.

2. Planting depth and light requirements vary for each type of herb. Follow the packet's instructions and scatter an appropriate depth of vermiculite over the seeds (Image 2).

3. Use a waterproof pen to label the pot (Image 3). It can be useful to record the date of sowing so you can check for germination at the supplier's suggested times.

Dibbing Holes

1. For seeds that need to be accurately spaced and at a greater depth, use your fingertips to make indentations in the compost at a suitable depth and distance apart (Image 1).

2. With big seeds, place one or two in each hole; but with smaller seeds, put in a few more each time (Image 2). Try not to drop them from high up as they can bounce and be lost.

3. Cover with a 50/50 vermiculite and fine compost mix (Image 3). Gently firm, label, and water carefully. Place in a warm, light place. Keep barely moist and check regularly for germination.

Fine Seeds

1. Lightly dust the seed from your palm or "pinch" a small amount between finger and thumb and carefully sprinkle (Image 1). Don't sow more seeds than will be happy in a single pot.

2. Finer seeds need a lighter covering of vermiculite using a finer grade and some may need to be left exposed (Image 2). Be careful watering as too much can flush all the seeds into one corner.

3. Remember to water your seedlings and grow on in a bright place (Image 3). If the right numbers of seeds are sown in the right container, no pinching will be needed — just transplanting when older.

Sowing Plugs

1. Trays come in a range of sizes from four large plugs to many hundreds of small 1/2 in (1 cm) squares and are ideal for sowing seeds where you only need one or two plants to grow in each module (Image 1).

2. So you don't lose track of where you are, sow larger seeds on the surface of all the modules and then press them down to the correct depth before covering in one go (Image 2).

3. Pinch out excess seedlings, leaving the strongest with plenty of space to grow on (Image 3). Transplant into a larger container or plant out when the plug is well filled with roots.

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