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 that I want to be a bit more self-sufficient. I’m not an end-of-the-world, doomsday, 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 wet 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 it 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. As 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 about 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 alone. 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 you are 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. Knowing the growing season for each herb will help you to know when to transplant them from your pots to your garden bed 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 a plastic tray cover that comes with a 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!
Do you grow your own herbs? If so, share what you’re growing along with your tips and tricks in the comment section below.
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19 thoughts on “Using Herbs: How To Grow Your Own Herbs”
Some herbs are so hard to grow. I have failed to grow rosemary and st john wort from seed many times. I tend to propagate herbs from others since it just seems easier–like rosemary.
All mints are so easy.
Yeah, starting from seed is hard. I’ve mostly just planted small plants and let them grow that way; however I did grow some calendula from seed, but I think it’s one of the easier ones to start from seed.
I don’t have any growing right now, we don’t have a yard at this time. I used to love growing thyme, rosemary, mint and cilantro. I’m looking forward to being able to grow them again.
I tried growing fresh culinary herbs for a few years and loved having them. For me, they do better when they’re planted in pots and left outside so I don’t have to remember to water them. If I have to remember to water them, they die. Maybe if I keep trying I’ll get better at it!
I would love to grow my own herbs! I have tried a few different ways/kinds, but end up not being able to maintain them :-/ Good to know about “letting them be” and (hopefully) having hearty plants… I will have to give that a try!
Thanks for sharing Sarah! I too hope that my plants thrive when left alone. So far they’re off to a great start!
I’m not that great at gardening or looking after plants, but I do like the idea of starting small with simple herbs. I may just give it a go!
Same here Jolene… in fact, I have a brown thumb. I will say that my new outdoor herbs are doing great, but that’s no thanks to me since I don’t have to remember to water them!
I do not have a lot of gardening experience, except my herbs that love Oregon, the deciduous ones, are so happy- rosemary, thyme and mint. I love gardening and hope to get better at it in the future. It is so life giving to have herbs growing! Thanks for your post.
You’re welcome, and I totally agree. There’s something about being able to look outside and see all my herbs growing in my yard. I feel like our land is so productive and a bit more self-sufficient!
This is one of my goals this year! Great tutorial! Thank you!
Good luck Renee! You can do it, and then you can share some of your delicious recipes with us that use your newly grown herbs! Yum!!
Everything dies in this house, I was given Rosemary,sage and thyme in pot, it did not survive. I even use filtered water…. But……I made fire cider recently and potted some leftover horseradish roots….Mm it growing! It’s too cold up here to start my herbs… But….. For my birthday I got an indoor garden to start my lettuce seeds in water.. Watch my water will freeze.. Any ways I won’t start yet, until next month, I’m still on break.. Giggle giggle Oh by the way, Calendula are hardy annual, they grow up here by their seeds from last year.. My greenhouse is still sleeping, it said not yet.. So I’m waiting patiencely…. 🙂
PS nice write up… Thanks
I can totally relate to everything dying Monica… it’s the same way here so I’m definitely excited to see which herbs come back in the spring from my fall transplants. I can’t wait to harvest a ton of calendula. I have echinacea too, but I think I have to wait for 3 years to start harvesting it. Anyway… we’ll see how it goes! I’d love to get a greenhouse up here sometime!
Meagan are your herbs in the raised bed covered with plastics? I’m excited to see if mine will come back too. Yes your echinacea has to be 3 years old. Mine was this pass Fall and I did harvest and dried the whole plant. It turn out well but hard to clean the roots. I will start a raised bed for horseradish.. Recently I learned fire cider good for candida yeast, which has the horseradish in it. I notice the cider really got my circulation going on these freezing nights. Now is 3 degrees.. Brrr
I grow many herbs right amongst my vegetables in the garden. They make great pest repellents for my veggies! I grow enough to harvest fresh but also enough to preserve for use over the non-growing season (quite long here in Wisconsin). I do bring in one plant of each herb (except mints) to grow indoors for some fresh all year round. Rosemary’s roots tend to rot and do better in clay pots that allow the roots to dry a bit. Mints will take over your garden if you don’t corral them! LOVE growing/using/sharing herbs!!
Thanks for sharing Heather. I left my small rosemary bush outside this winter so if it dies I’ll know to bring next years in.
I do not recommend transplanting any native plants from the wild. I have lived most of my life on a prairie where most plants are gone. I have been a grower of native plants for many years in a native plant nursery, I know what I’m talking about. We should never dig native plants(herbs). You can however go to the DNR and pay for seeds you have collected from the wild but remember some plants are rare and collecting the seeds is not advisable so find out ahead of time. Happy growing!
Very interesting Penny. I’ve never heard that it was bad to transplant plants before. Are there specific reasons why one shouldn’t do it? Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!