Learning to grow your own herbs is so much fun, but it can also be a challenge! Not only does it allow you to have access to fresh herbs whenever you need them, but you can control the growing environment, harvesting, and storage of your herbs in order to have the highest quality herbs possible. Unfortunately, growing herbs isn’t for everyone.
Now I’m not an expert when it comes to growing herbs. In fact, I’ve just started growing my own, but I will say, I’m learning a lot! The reason I’ve started to grow my own herbs is because I want to be a bit more self-sufficient. I’m not an end-of-the-world, dooms day, apocalyptic prepper kind of person. I simply want to have access to herbs if I can’t get them online or in a local store as easily.
Today I want to give you some basics of growing herbs at home. Things you need to know, some how tos, and where to find great seeds!
Finding Herbs To Grow
When it comes to finding herb plants to grow at home, there are two options. First, you can find pre-grown plants or you can buy herb seeds and grow them that way.
If you decide to buy pre-grown plants, you have a few options.
- Find a friend with herb plants
- Transplant them from the wild
- Buy them from someone who grows them
Any of these options will be the easiest, quickest way of getting your own herbs at home.
Many plants can be pulled up by the roots and transplanted. I did this for several herbs such as calendula, lemon balm, comfrey, echinacea, lavender, rosemary, sage, yarrow, and bee balm (bergamot). All you need to do once you pull your plant out of the ground is to wrap the roots in newspaper and keep the roots moist. Do your best to plant them where you want them within 24-48 hours so they don’t die.
Before you plant, do a little research on the herb to find out what kind of area it thrives in. Does it like full sun, shade, moist soil, dry soil, etc. Once you know where to plant them, simply dig a hole big enough so the roots can spread out nicely, throw in some compost, sit your plant on top, and cover with dirt. Lightly water the soil and move on to your next plant.
Now some people like to keep their herbs in nice, neat little beds, free of weeds, but I don’t. Here’s why. Like I mentioned in the last post, herbs that grow in the wild have higher levels of plant chemicals than plants that are cultivated. Why is this? Well I’m not sure on the exact science of it all, but from what herbalist Jim McDonald says, plants that have to fight for survival tend to be better quality as far as the medicinal properties go. (Herb Mentor, 2010)
Once your plants are in the ground leave them be. They may fall over, die, or look puny and pitiful, but they will come back the following season in full glory! If you’re planting them without some sort of barrier, it may be a good idea to use plant markers so you can locate them. I love these herb markers I found on Etsy!
If you’re not up for transplanting pre-grown plants and you have a green thumb, you can always start your own herbs from seed. Simply purchase organic herb seeds (these are my favorite) or have a friend that grows herbs save you some seeds.
There are many ways to start plants from seed, but before you begin, it would be best to research the herb your trying to grow so you have a better idea of how to get it off to a good start. For example, some plants don’t like to be transplanted from seed pots therefore they need to be directly sown right where you want them to grow.
Another example would be growing seasons. When growing plants from seeds you have to start them 6-8 weeks indoors before they’re ready to go outside so knowing the growing season for each herb will help you know when to transplant them from your pots to outdoors as some prefer cooler weather while others want warmer weather.
If you’re looking for a good herb to start with, check out this post where I talk about growing your own calendula plants.
If you decide that this is the way to go, all you need are seed trays, organic seed starting soil, your herb seeds, and a small spray bottle to keep the soil moist. If you live in an area where starting seeds is difficult due to the temperature, these grow lights or heating pads work well.
To start, fill your seed trays 3/4 full of seed starting soil. Place 2 herb seeds in each planting space, sprinkle on a little extra soil to barely cover, and spritz your soil until moist. Cover with plastic wrap or plastic tray cover that comes with seed tray and place in a sunny area. Be sure to keep the soil moist, not damp or too wet or the roots of your new plant will rot.
Once seeds have sprouted, continue to keep the soil moist by spritzing it daily. As your plants begin to get taller, make sure you turn your seed tray 180 degrees each day so the plants grow up tall and straight.
Once the plants have grown their first set of “true leaves” you can remove the plastic cover so they can “harden off.” This means that the plant will be exposed to the wind and direct sun which will make it stronger as it grows.
When the plants have grown big enough to be transplanted (this varies among plants), carefully remove them from the seed trays and put them in bigger pots or plant them directly into the ground. Be sure to water the ground every day for a week or so after transplanting seedlings into the ground.
After that… it’s time to watch and wait!