Janice Brown, of On the Grow, tells us how to get our herb gardens started before the Fall planting season.
Herbs are an easy addition to any garden and an easy endeavor for beginning gardeners. They don’t require lots of care and many of them actually thrive from a little neglect once established in the garden. The traditional times to plant herbs outside on the Gulf Coast are around February and October. Around these months, it’s safe to plant transplants outside to let them get established before harsh weather sets in. If you want to get some transplants ready for fall planting, you can start some seeds inside now.
Starting Seeds Indoors
The key to starting seeds indoors is getting your light and spacing right. To get off to a good start, I suggest planning these out before you plant your seeds. If you’re strictly growing indoors, I suggest getting a grow light to mimic natural light. Using a grow light will ensure short, stocky plants, as opposed to thin, spindly plants that are caused by seedlings reaching for the sun from a window. Set the lights on a timer for 14 hours a day and keep the lights 2-4 inches away from the tops of the herbs.
Spacing is key to keep seeds from being too crowded as they grow. To help with spacing, using small plastic starter pots helps. The temptation with larger pots is to put too many seeds in them. Keep in mind that each seed equals one plant that is going to get large. Ideal starting pots are 2 inches in diameter. In a pot this size, plant 2-3 seeds as far apart as possible. Once they germinate, pull out the 2 weakest seedlings, leaving the healthiest to grow into a mature plant. You can transplant the seedlings you pull out if you like. If you covered your seeds with plastic, remove the plastic once the seeds germinate.
Hardening Your Plants
Once seedlings reach 3-4 inches, start hardening them off by putting them outside for 2-3 hours in the mornings or evenings when temperatures are cooler. Put them in a sheltered location, out of strong sunlight. Gradually increase the time they spend outdoors each week. Bump plants up to larger pots when they get branches and reach about 4-5 inches in height. After 3-4 weeks of hardening off, your plants should be able to withstand the outdoors in a shaded location with regular watering. Now, when late September or October comes, you’re ready to plant that herb garden!
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About the Author
On the Grow is a garden coaching service launched by Janice Brown to teach people how to be successful gardeners in the sometimes difficult, Gulf Coast climate. On the Grow provides garden education for the home gardener, children in outdoor classrooms, neighbors in community gardens, and employees in workplace gardens. Whether you want a new idea for a girls’ night out, a new way to engage children in nature, or want to implement a fresh wellness program in your company, On the Grow is here for you. Your coach will take you step by step teaching you the basics, while presenting you with a fresh perspective by helping you experience the healing benefits of gardening. Our mission at On the Grow is to help everyone experience the joy of a garden and build a greater connection to Mother Earth. Connect with One The Grow on Facebook and Twitter!