Starting Herbs at Home
Last week we looked at window planters for herbs, now lets talk about getting your herbs started. Yes its January, and there is no way we will be starting these outside. Most of us have been led to believe that in order to start herb seeds, you need fancy equipment and lots of time. While its true that when growing plants from seed professionally, having lights, multiple flats with cells, special soils and maybe even warming pads work wonders, the truth is that before commercial sprouting of seeds, folks started their own seeds in their homes for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years and we can too.
Get the pot or planter you selected (because you read last weeks blurb on planters and went out and bought some that will fit on your window) and put some stones in the bottom for drainage, put a little fabric over the stones, and add some moistened commercial seed starting mix-ha ha small joke, not so easy to get that. Make your own by mixing 50% peat moss with 50% potting mix and fill your pots/planters with this stopping one half inch to one inch from the top of the pot.
Next, sprinkle your seeds lightly over the soil. For a 4- 6 pot, you can sprinkle 3-6 seeds just to give you an idea of distribution. If you use less you run the risk of failed germination, more will give you a whole lot of sprouts, which is the lesser of two evils really. Cover the seeds with maybe an eighth of an inch of soil mix. Press the mix down with your fingers, and gently water or even spritz with water (you dont want to drown the soil and have the seeds float to the top).
Take some saran wrap or similar product and cover the pot over. Seal it by putting a rubber band around the pot to hold the plastic wrap down. Next, set the containers in a sink filled with 2 inches of water until beads of moisture appear on the soil surface or until you are sure the soil is good and soaked. If a self watering pot, fill the well to capacity. Put the pot in a saucer if you did not get a self watering pot, and water the plant daily by filling the saucer with water or less often if there is still water in the saucer the next day. Seeds need moisture to germinate!.
Make sure you have the pot in a nice south facing window, or at least one that gets a few hours of sunlight a day, as the seeds sprout, they will look for light and you will want to cut back on the water somewhat. Probably you will want to water half as often, but this really is determined by how fast the soil dries, more soil can wait longer, less will need more frequent watering. When the seedlings touch the plastic, remove it. When the seedlings reach 2 inches tall, thin those started in small pots to one seedling per pot, or one seedling for every 2-3 if a larger pot, by snipping off all but the strongest-looking seedlings.
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