Growing Herbs from Seed

Parsley with dill on white background | Adobe Stock

Herbs are a fantastic addition to any garden and landscape because, not only are they beautiful and aromatic, but they thrive on neglect, so they require very little effort. They are also the bright spot in countless recipes from across the globe. Fresh herbs are so easy to grow that you can skip buying them at the store!

Hot summers are just fine for herbs like rosemary, lavender, mint, thyme, sage, and oregano. And, although you generally have to plant these herbs from seedlings, they are hardy perennials that will hang around for years. But some herbs that are annual or biannual not only thrive in the chill of
early spring, but can be planted from seed.

Parsley
Whether flat or curly-leaved, is a culinary favorite and thrives in the garden. Although it is biennial, the flavor of the leaves of the second year’s harvest can be a little bitter, so it should be replanted every year.

Parsley is tough, so go ahead and direct-sow the seeds in rich, moist soil about three weeks from the last frost date. Plant the seeds about ten inches apart in full sun, although they don’t mind a little light shade. They are slow to sprout, so soak the seeds in warm water for a day before planting.

Cilantro
You either love cilantro or you hate it. And if you love it, you’ll want to grow your own. Growing cilantro is all about timing. As soon as the weather turns warm, it bolts, which means that it goes to seed. Of course, that seed is coriander, which is a fantastic herb for baking, but still, the real action is in the leaves, itself. Like parsley, cilantro sprouts slowly, so don’t give up!

Plant the seeds a few inches apart in rich soil and then plant new seeds every few days so that when one plant goes to seed, you have another right behind it. Don’t fertilize cilantro. Just let it do its own thing.

Dill
The feathery leaves of the dill plant add an incomparable flavor that’s delicate and subtle, yet instantly identifiable. They take up a bit more space in the garden, and branches can be a bit spindly, so you may have to stake them to protect them from the winds of summer storms. Whereas parsley and cilantro can be planted from seedlings as easily as from seed, dill does not like to be transplanted, and prefers to be direct-sown.

Plant dill seeds twelve to eighteen inches apart. Like cilantro, plant progressively every few days to ensure a constant supply as they bolt over the summer.

Pest Management
Cilantro is fairly pest-free, so it makes for a carefree planting. Parsley and dill, however, are favorites of the parsley worm, which can be quite ravenous. That said, these worms eventually become gorgeous swallowtail butterflies, so be kind. Either remove them by hand or, as many gardeners choose to do, plant a patch of parsley and dill that is JUST for the parley worms!