Herbs Growing Guide
Herbs are of great value to the kitchen gardener, because in addition to attractive greenery and flowers, they add scents and tastes that boost our moods and improve just about every type of meal. How ironic, then, that they're among the easiest of plants to grow! All they need is sunlight, soil, and a modicum of water to produce lush, useful foliage and flowers.
|Herb||When to Sow||Sun/Part Shade||Seed Spacing||Row Spacing||Planting Depth||Spacing After Thinning||Days to Germinate||Days to Maturity|
|Basil||When soil workable||Sun/Part Shade||¼ inch||30 inches||½ inch||12 inches||7-10||78|
|Borage||When soil workable||Sun/Part Shade||12 inches||24 inches||1/8-¼ inch||10-12 inches||7-14||50-60|
|Bread Poppy||When soil workable||Sun||1 inch||24 inches||1/8 inch||6-8 inches||7-10||85-120|
|Calendula||After last frost||Sun||½ inch||24-36 inches||¼ inch||10-15 inches||10-14||65-80|
|Catnip||When soil workable||Sun/Part Shade||1 inch||18 inches||¼ inch||18 inches||7-21||85|
|Chives||When soil workable||Sun/Part Shade||1 inch||12 inches||¼ inch||4 inches||10-15||80|
|Cilantro||After last frost||Sun||1 inch||15 inches||½ inch||8 inches||15-20||60|
|Dill||After last frost||Sun||1 inch||2 inches||¼ inch||8 inches||10-15||40|
|Fennel||When soil workable||Sun||1 inch||2 inches||¼ inch||10 inches||12-18||80|
|Marjoram||After last frost||Sun||1 inch||18 inches||¼ inch||12 inches||10-15||70|
|Oregano||After last frost||Sun||1 inch||2 inches||1/16 inch||18 inches||10-20||90|
|Parsley||When soil workable||Sun||1 inch||15 inches||¼ inch||3-6 inches||20-30||60|
|Peppermint||When soil workable||Sun/Part Shade||1 inch||18 inches||1/8 inch||8 inches||10-12||85|
|Sage||After last frost||Sun||1 inch||18 inches||¼ inch||15 inches||10-20||90|
|Thyme||After last frost||Sun||1 inch||18 inches||¼ inch||8-12 inches||14-28||50|
|Valerian||After last frost||Sun/Part Shade||12-18 inches||18-36 inches||1/8 inch||18-36 inches||7-14||2 years|
Soil and Fertilizing
To find your frost date to determine whether the soil is ready, click here. Most of the herbs listed above do best in well-drained but moist soil, enriched with a vegetable fertilizer. Some even prefer average to poor soils.
Thin plants to suggested spacing (see chart) when they reach around 2 inches high.
Be careful not to overwater. Normal rain and an occasional watering should be enough to keep your herbs growing. In fact, most of these herbs do well with very little water. The exceptions are listed in the Special Notes Section below.
Most of the herbs listed here can be harvested as needed. Use a pruner to remove sprigs or individual leaves, and never harvest more than a third of a plant all at once. If you wish to dry your herbs for later use, do so in a cool, dry, dark place.
Basil: Pinch back or prune the tips to maximize the plant’s bushiness.
Bread Poppy: Mix seeds with a cup of sand or other inert material and broadcast over planting area.
Calendula: For earlier blooms, start indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost.
Catnip: Needs a moderate amount of water.
Dill: May require staking. Tastes best when harvested in mid-summer.
Marjoram: Pick the leaves after the flowers bud, but before they open.
Parsley: Soak seeds for 24 hours, then plant as soon as soil can be worked.
Sage: For earlier harvest, start seeds indoors in March.
Thyme: Don’t water at all. Pinch back or prune the tips to maximize the plant’s bushiness.
Valerian: May need staking. Harvest valerian root for tea when the plant is over 700 days (nearly two years) old.