Weigh the benefits and cost of herb seed starting compared to ordering potted herbs from a reputable herb plant supplier.
As we start growing herbs for the new the gardening season, there are two ways which we might arrive at the moment when we carry our new potted herb seedlings to our awaiting herb garden. The effort and expense needed to start your own herb seeds, or to simply buy potted herbs online from one of the many online herb suppliers is vastly different when comparing the two. Both are logical steps to a successful herb garden. Moreover, it is true that when the harvest rolls in, one plan is as good as another.
For many lacking the time, space, energy, skill, or patience, ordering potted herbs is simpler than germinating your own herb seeds.
Many herb gardeners have found that some popular herbs are next to impossible to grow from seed. Passionflower is an example of a popular herb best ordered as a seedling. The mints and tarragons are other good examples. Even with a heated greenhouse, experience has taught many herb growers that some herbs are still best ordered as potted herb plants which have been started by professional herb growers.
Finally the big day arrives as the UPS or FedEx delivery person rings your doorbell and hands you a box of potted herbs.
Gently remove the herb seedlings from the box.
Water the freshly unpacked herbs well, without soaking. Submerge any wilted herbs in water, drain and place with the other herbs.
Let your herbs adjust to the surroundings and rest for a day.
Harden off your herb plants.
Plant your herb seedlings in the herb garden.
Hardening off your Herb Seedlings
When your herb plants arrive, if nature has cooperated, the outdoor weather will be warm, the gardening season will have begun, and transplanting your herb plant seedlings to the garden can begin — but only after a period of hardening-off. Tender seedlings grown indoors need to be acclimated to the direct sun, winds, and changing temperatures. For most herbs this process should be performed a few days up to two weeks before planting in the garden.
When weather is warm and settled, and nighttime temperatures average around 50 degrees F, set your seedling containers outdoors in a lightly shaded and sheltered location. Gradually increase the time outdoors until seedlings spend a half day, then up to a full 24 hours outside. Keep the seedlings well-watered and protected from winds. Begin with just a few hours of direct sun and increase to a half, then a full day in the sun before transplanting seedlings to their permanent spot in the herb garden.
Transplanting Your Herb Plants
After seedlings are hardened off, the most satisfying ritual arrives: Time to transplant the herb plants into your herb garden. To make the adjustment as mild as possible for the plants, pick a late afternoon or overcast day. With the herbs neither too moist nor too dry, carefully remove the plants from their seed flats or pots. Dig the hole in your herb garden about twice as large as the soil mass around the roots. Fill the hole with water and let it soak in. Pick plants up very gently by their stems, trying to keep soil around roots as intact as possible. Set each plant in the prepared hole, up to its first true leaves and press the soil firmly around it. Water it well to get rid of air pockets and assure good root-to-earth contact.