What versatile plants the herb family produces. They add color to the landscape, scent our homes with a wonderful fragrance, heal our wounds and please our taste buds.
Most herbs are easy to care for and can be grown in borders, beds, containers, flower boxes and gardens. Herbs grow best in fertile, well-drained soils, so a garden bed that has ample organic matter will increase your chances of producing a lush crop of herbs.
Prepare the beds by tilling or spading the soil, turning it over several times before raking it smooth. Sprinkle the seeds evenly and thinly on the surface of the soil. Keep the soil evenly moist until the herb seeds have sprouted. Herbs that have sprouted to close together should be thinned out once the seedlings have produced 2 or 3 leaves. By thinning the seedlings, this will give the remaining seedlings room to grow.
For fresh use, harvest the leaves as needed. For annual plants and those who go to seed easily, monthly sowing of new seeds will ensure a steady harvest all summer and into autumn. Be sure to purchase enough seeds of basil, dill and cilantro for an extended harvest.
Before planting herb seeds check the frost free dates in your area. For example: It would be alright to plant parsley or chives as soon as the ground could be worked, like late March, early April. For the more tender herbs, such as basil, dill and cilantro, wait until the nights are warm, the first or second week in May would be best.
Sometimes the best information can be found on the seed packet. Most seed packets will have a map of the U.S. with outdoor planting dates. Simple instructions like this: Sow seed in sunny location after danger of frost has passed. Thin seedlings when they are 3 inches in height, with a final spacing of the herb plants 6 inches apart.
Also written on the back of the packet are sowing instructions:
Days to germinate- 10-15
Depth to sow-1/4 inch
Seed spacing- 4-5 inches
Growth height- 12 inches or taller
Type – annual or perennial
Next I’ll write about starting seeds indoors, so you can get a “jump start” on having little herb plants ready to go in the garden in late April. Spring is about a month away, so now would be a good time to order seeds, or buy them in garden centers, pick up some peat cups and seed starter mix.
Until next time, stay warm and have sweet dreams of an early spring.
~ Meadow Walker