January 13, 2023    

For those who love gardening and growing herbs, spring can’t come soon enough.
In January the days are slowly getting longer and returning to the light. To content ourselves, we can get started growing herbs from seeds indoors.
By springtime, you’ll have be ahead of the game with healthy herbs ready to go in the ground and produce a harvest.
Thyme, sage, basil, parsley, mint, lemon balm (also a mint) and oregano are all good seeds for an early start.

Starting herbs from seeds can save you money. Plus it can be difficult to find the specific herb you want to grow, so ordering it from a seed catalog may be your best bet.
If you’re looking for something like horehound or lovage, it can be tough to find that at a local gardening centre once spring is out in full force.

Plan Early

Get out a seed catalog or go to a herb gardening website like Richters (based in Ontario, Canada) to decide what you want.
Richters has an excellent selection of herb seeds, so if you wanted to grow Stevia or Jacob’s Ladder, you won’t be disappointed.  Plan everything you want.
Shipping will take some time so get started early to avoid disappointment.
Thnk about what you will do with your herbs when they are ready to go outside. Perhaps you want to plan an Herbal Theme Garden.

Get Supplies

You’ll need a potting mix, pots and potting trays and grow lights to provide warmth along with light.
Choose a soil less seed starting mix for best results. Add water to the soil and mix it in until it is damp.

Planting Seeds

Don’t poke a hole as it can be too deep and take longer for the seed to germinate.  Sprinkle a few seeds on the seed cup or cell, then cover with soil.
When you need to water, it is better to mist the seeds with a light spray. Do this until the seeds have sprouted. Then add water to the tray the seed starting cells sit in to allow the seeds to absorb what they need.  If you have pots or cups, put them in a shallow dish with water.

Add Heat and Light

Most seeds won’t germinate unless there is enough heat. Putting them on a cold windowsill won’t get seeds started.
Get faster germination rates by starting a seed starting heat mat. These mats go under the trays and add consistent, gentle heat.
Next you’ll need bright light as this is what herbs require to grow. Most herbs love sun and its heat.
In winter a southern or west facing window should be plenty to get seeds started.
Add grow lights that are about 4 inches away from the seeds for best results.
These could be fluorescent lights or LEDS.  As seeds grow, pinch off the top et of leaves so the herbs will grow nice and bushy.
You might need to transplant into bigger pots as the herbs grow. When spring arrives, you will be all ready to put them outside. But remember to harden them off and slowly take them outside for a few hours at a time every day before transplanting.

This article was first published in the Herbal Collective Jan’2023 issue.  Sign-up to get your free sample magazine and get notified of new online issues.