For an Early Start in your Herb Garden, Germinating Herb Seeds may make sense.

Growing plants from seeds can be a rewarding hobby and allows home gardeners to grow herb varieties that may not be available from herb plant growers. Many garden herbs may also need a jump on the growing season by pre-starting the herb seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last spring frost in your herb garden.

Germinating herb seeds is not for all gardeners or even the herb plants. Some annual herbs are better planted directly into your herb garden and do not benefit from the time and effort of germinating herb seeds early.

Before you invest the time and expense of starting the herb seeds early, review your stock of herb seeds and determine for sure which of your tender herb seedlings will successfully replant into your herb garden.

Starting Herb Seeds and notes of caution.

Starting Herb Seeds for your Herb Garden

Starting Herb Seeds successfully requires good timing, good herb seed starting medium, light, moisture, temperature and patience!

Depending on the herb seed, plant seeds from four to ten weeks before the last spring frost date. Sowing seeds at the proper time indoors allows them to grow into robust seedlings ready to plant into your herb garden when outdoor weather conditions and temperatures are right.

Most gardeners time their plantings relative to the average date of the last spring frost. A quick phone call to your local Extension Office is a great way to find the historical average date of the last spring frost in your area.

The above mixes, have little fertility. Seedlings must be watered with a liquid soluble fertilizer solution soon after they emerge.

Starting Herb Seeds in sterilized pots or seed flats containing a sterile seed starting medium is critical to the health of your growing herb seedlings

Sterilized potting Soil: It guards against plant diseases carried in soil and on containers. Cleanliness and sterilization of pots and containers materials is also important. In addition to killing disease organisms, many weed seeds are also killed by sterilization.

The seed starting mixes may be sterilized directly in the pots or flats in which they are to be used. If you are starting herb seeds in plastic seed flats or plastic pots, first sterilize the seed starting soil in a metal baking dish.

While the soil bakes it may give off a strong odor, so some ventilation may be needed. The length of time necessary for sterilization depends on the amount of soil and its moisture content.

  1. Cover the seed germination medium with aluminum foil, sealing the edges.
  2. Poke a hole in the foil and insert a meat or candy thermometer into the soil so that the bulb is about at the center of the seed germination mix.
  3. Warm the pan in an oven at 200 to 250 degrees F, but not warmer! Warm the soil until the thermometer shows a temperature of 160 to 180 degrees F.
  4. Remove the metal seed germination container and allow it to cool. Following the sterilization process, move the cooled seed starting medium to plastic seed starting flats or pots.

Do not put plastic seed starting flats or pots in the oven!

After the soil has been sterilized, make sure that containers and tools are also clean and sterile. Clean soil can be easily re-infected by dirty containers and pots. Drop used pots or trays in a weak bleach solution for a few minutes, remove and rinse thoroughly.

Containers and Growing Conditions for germinating seeds

When germinating seeds, containers should be clean, sturdy and fit into the space available for the growing plants. The proper type of seed germination container will help get seedlings off to a good start and will save work when transplanting seedlings.

Planting your Herb Seeds

With dedication, the right supplies, and a bit of herb gardener's luck, you can germinate herb seeds that will develop into strong, young, herb plants and do your herb garden proud. Again, the key is: good information, quality seed and supplies, a good plan, and that "gardener's luck" we spoke of. With the above, you will find that germinating herb seeds is one of the more rewarding facets of growing herbs in your own herb garden!