It’s easy to get root cuttings or small potted up plants for herb starts. Once planted, herbs tend to thrive if they have enough sun.
For a new garden challenge, try growing herbs from seed instead. With a few successes you may feel that your herb garden is really yours, and you gain confidence to keep growing and using new plants, or standard plants in new settings. And the cost is so much lower.
Here are some useful herbs that you can use as seed rather than root starts. In some cases these are true perennials, and in others the mature plants will self seed and the result is the same:
- Culinary sage
- Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia, or winter purslane), a spring tonic
- Chamomile (German is annual and self-seeding, Roman is perennial)
- Cardoon (not an herb, but a multi-year wonder that looks like artichoke)
Read the seed packets carefully. Some seeds stay viable for many years, which means you don’t have to use all the seeds in one year (chamomile seeds are tiny!). Also, check days to sprouting, which tells you how long to wait before getting worried.
In addition, some seeds are direct sown into the soil – the packet tells you when – while others need to be planted first in flats and babied until they are big enough to transplant into permanent beds (mist, mist, mist to keep seedlings moist). Don’t be surprised if all the seeds don’t make it; even a small percentage, though, can create a lot of vegetation.
As you plant your new herb starts, be sure to label what goes where. Many little spouts look the same…like weeds. You should use plant labels that last through several seasons.
My practice is always to plant out new specimens in several different locations in the garden. Where they do best I plant more of the same; where they fail to thrive I don’t bother repeating there.
Finally, patience. While potted herb starts take off fast, it may take a year or more for herbs-from-seeds to develop to maturity.