Growing herbs from seed such as basil, thyme, and parsley is a simple, inexpensive way to get started with herb gardening. All you need is a packet of seeds, a spot in your garden that gets full sun, a trowel and some water.
Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow, and growing herbs from seed is probably the easiest – and definitely the least expensive – way to start your own herb garden. Parsley, basil, and thyme are all common culinary herbs that will find their way into many recipes you cook for your family. They are also nutritious herbs that you can feed to your chickens, as you pinch back and trim your plants, so be sure to plant plants for everyone to share!
Growing Herbs from Seed
Directly sowing seeds outdoors right into your garden is much easier than starting seeds indoors and then transplanting them, although you can lengthen your growing season considerably by starting seeds indoors well before they can be planted outside. Growing seeds outside eliminates having to monitor and water them indoors or having to transplant them once the temperatures warm up. Many plants just don’t transplant well at all, so if you can, wait until it’s time to plant outdoors.
Parsley is a cold-hardy herb that is one of the first you can get into the ground each spring. Plant the seeds directly into your garden outside about two weeks before the last frost is predicted for your area in the spring. Just barely cover the seeds with 1/4″ of rich, moist soil, spacing them 6-8″ apart. Soaking your parsley seeds in warm water overnight before you plant them can help them germinate.
Parsley likes full sun and well-drained soil. Seeds take 2-3 weeks to germinate and your plants should be mature roughly 75 days after that. Cutting the plants back throughout the growing season will result in more compact, less leggy plants.
While parsley is most common as an edible garnish for dishes, parsley uses range from a great addition to soups and stews, to a wonderfully nutritious salad green. You can even make parsley pesto. Parsley helps to freshen breath, so it’s often an ingredient in homemade dog treats as well.
Growing basil is very easy as well. Basil is not very cold tolerant, so you should wait until the soil has warmed a bit and can be easily worked before sowing your basil seeds. Basil seeds are very small, so planting them to a fairly shallow depth of just 1/4″ and spacing them out about an inch apart, then thinning them to about 8″ apart will result in the best crop.
Basil also likes full sun and well-drained soil. Seeds take approximately two weeks to germinate and your plant should be mature in about three months. Pinching your plant back on a regular basis will help it from becoming tall and spindly. Basil is a traditional flavoring for sauces and other Italian dishes, as well as the customary base for pesto. Basil comes in a wide range of varieties, including lemon and mine, purple Thai and cinnamon.
Thyme can be planted around the same time as parsley, but established plants are far more hardy than either parsley or basil plants, and in fact thyme is a perennial, so it will come back year after year. Plant thyme seeds in full sun to partial shade to a depth of 1/4″, spaced out about six inches apart. Thyme isn’t particularly picky about the type of soil it’s grown in. Thyme seeds will germinate in 3-4 weeks and be mature in about 70-80 days. Trimming back the plant throughout the growing season – which should last from frost to frost your second year – will result in a bushier shape.
Thyme is a robust seasoning for soups and stews, meats, fish or egg dishes, either fresh or dried.
Growing herbs from seed is simple to do and only requires a bit of time and effort to result in an attractive herb garden that not only adds to your cooking but looks attractive and smells heavenly when you brush up against the plants as you’re weeding or harvesting your herbs.
Do you have success growing herbs from seed in your garden? If so, what are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.