We have a large selection of medicinal, scented, and culinary herb plants at the farm. We do not ship plants at this time.
How to Grow Herbs?
Growing your own herbs is easy and fun. You will need a well-drained location, and most herbs like lots of sun. Add a mild compost when preparing the soil and bone meal (makes soil more alkaline), as herbs prefer a neutral pH. Be sure to mulch your plants.
Most common herbs can be propagated by the usual methods of plant propagation such as seeds, cuttings, division or layering.
Annual Herb Seed
Because they are quick and easy to germinate, annuals are quite rewarding to grow from seed. Annuals refer to tender plants that typically live one season, produce seed (bolt) and then decline. Some annuals can be sown directly into the garden under a drip watering line after the last frost date. Plants from the umbelliferae family such as dill and chervil should be sown this way thus discouraging a premature bolting. Other examples of annuals that can be direct seeded would include cilantro, rocket, nasturtium, dill, and summer savory. Basil is best seeded into flats and then transplanted out into the garden. Annual Herbs often reseed themselves into the garden and can be transplanted to desirable locations after they develop true leaves.
Biennial Herb Seed
Biennial Herbs are plants sown in the fall to flower the next spring or Summer. Notable biennials include parsley, caraway, foxglove, mullein, and evening primrose. These plants will often act as perennials if the flower stems are clipped before seeding or if the plants do not experience dormancy with freezing weather.
Perennial Herb Seed
Perennial Herbs can be a bit more challenging than annuals to germinate. They often take more than ten days to germinate and should always be started in seedling flats. Some of the easier varieties to germinate are catnip, English thyme, chives, lemon balm, feverfew, burnet, yarrow motherwort, sage, French sorrel, wormwood, fennel, anise hyssop, Roman chamomile, tansy, boneset, goji, and lovage. Some perennials can be quite sporting to germinate such as rosemary, ginseng, black cohosh, elder, schisandra, and many of the medicinal herbs. These seeds may require special treatments like freezing, sanding, soaking (possibly with bleach), and even cutting notches into the seed coat to help stimulate a timely germination. Mints are not true to their parentage if grown from seed and should only be propagated by division or stem cuttings.
How to Propagate Herbs from Seed
• Seeds should be purchased from reliable seed houses to insure freshness. Store excess seeds in a cool, dark place in an airtight container
• It’s best to seed into flats with individual plug departments to reduce transplant shock that occurs when roots are pulled apart. Fill the tray with sterile soilless medium that has been purchased at a garden center. The medium should be fine, low in peat and have a neutral pH. Flats should be watered thoroughly before seeding.
• Have labels made up before seeding begins so that you can label as you seed. Two or three seeds should be dropped into each hole(15 or so for chives). Try to seed annuals in a separate tray from perennials as they will germinate and need transplanting at different rates. Seeds must be covered as deeply as they are large. In other words, something tiny like Greek oregano is barely covered with medium; huge seeds like borage or sage are covered deeply.
• Seedlings must be watered gently or misted so not to disturb the medium. A rose sprayer will break up the water stream from a hose. It is critical that the herb plugs stay wet consistently until seeds germinate and establish roots. If they are “soppy” wet they may rot, however, if there is no moisture present at the moment of germination, the seedlings will perish; the whole process takes constant attention.
• Typically seeds need warmth to germinate. 70-80 degrees is usually the optimal temperature for germination. Exceptions to this would include violas and larkspur that prefer cooler temperatures around 60 degrees for germination.
• After germination, the seedling need moderate amounts of light immediately. If the seedlings look stretched or washed out, they probably need more light. During this period, the watering is cut back. The seedling should only be watered as the medium approaches drying out. Always check the medium before you water because it can look dry on the top while being quite wet below. Air circulation is also important at this time to prevent the herbs from contracting wilt or rot.
Transplanting Herb Seedlings
After the true leaves begin to develop and the roots become sturdy, the plugs are ready to transplant into pots to harden off. The plugs should be removed gently without tearing the roots. Hardening off occurs when the plants are slowly exposed to the elements. It’s critical that this process is gradual. Even chives, a very hardy plant, will drop dead if exposed to freezing temperatures without an adjustment period. Little seedling are also susceptible to wind and direct sunlight. After a couple of weeks of hardening off, they're ready to plant into the garden.
Harvesting Medicinal Herbs-Ethical Wildcrafting
The most rewarding aspect of growing herbs is the harvest. While herbs for seasoning can be harvested throughout the growing season, medicinal herbs should be harvested at the optimal time to produce an effective medicine. As with all things herbal, there are exceptions to these guidelines and always keeping wildcrafting ethics in mind; you do not ever want to overharvest a wild stand of herbs.
The tops of plants including leaf, bud, and flowers, should be harvested just as the flowers begin to open. Soft stemmed plants such as basil and echinacea can be pruned more severely than woody plants. Woody plants such as rosemary and thyme will not survive if they lose more than half of their woody mass with leaves. Harvest should occur before midday, especially if you are trying to preserve essential oil content. If the herb is to be dried for storage, the harvest should be timed after the dew dries off of the leaves. When harvesting in the wild, only forage ten percent of the existing crop; the rest will produce seed for future generations.
Roots are typically harvested in the fall when the nutrients and energy have descended into the roots of the plants. Shake the earth that has adhered to the roots back into the hole and smooth out disturbed areas and cover with leaves or mulch. Only abundant wild crops should be harvested for the root of the plant.
This is a process best demonstrated by a skilled herbalist. Trees can heal themselves, so long as small amounts of bark are taken during a time when the tree is not stressed by drought. Cuts should be up and down the tree rather than around the tree; if the bark is removed all the way around the trunk, the tree will die.
It can be quite tricky harvesting seeds in a timely manner. Gardeners are often competing with birds that are paying more attention than we are. Often seeds can be harvested before they completely mature and allowed to dry in a well ventilated sack. Another method to try involves tying panty hose around the seed head in the garden until they mature. Heavy rains would be a setback to this method, as the seeds may rot.