With Nashville’s recent dusting of snow and more snowfall in the forecast, we don’t need Punxsutawney Phil to tell us next week whether or not winter is here to stay: we can feel it right here on the farm. But just because we’re still bundled up for winter doesn’t mean you can’t pull out the gardening gloves and get to work now starting your own herb garden!
When I returned to farm life in my 40s after years in the corporate world, I knew I wanted to grow my own fresh herbs. (You can read more about my story with herbs in this blog post I wrote a while back.)
I love cooking with herbs, but I knew there were so much more to herbs than just making our food taste delicious!
Herbs are great for your garden because they attract beneficial insects—insects that will help keep away other harmful insects & parasites that will damage your garden. If you want to grow a garden without harmful pesticides, you have to have beneficial insects! And herbs help attract them!
Herbs also have powerful medicinal benefits. If you missed last week’s email, we shared with you natural herbal remedies to treat the cold & flu. You can read it here on the Stoney Creek Farm blog.
I am a huge fan of master gardener & herbalist Cindy Shapton (also known as the “Cracked Pot Gardener”). I’ve learned so much from her about growing herbs, both through her book The Cracked Pot Herb Book: Simple Ways to Incorporate Herbs into Everyday Life and through classes she has taught at Stoney Creek Farm.
You can grab a copy of her book at the Stoney Creek Farm online store—it is rich with information… I think you’ll learn just as much as I did!
Now let’s get started with tips for growing your own herb garden!
Get started with your own herb garden.
Since it’s winter, you’ll want to start out growing your herbs indoors before transplanting them to an outdoor garden when spring arrives. Keep in mind that herbs usually take their time when it comes to germination compared to other plants. They also generally have a lower germination rate, meaning that you’ll usually see less plant come up compared to the amount of seeds you sowed.
But using a good seed provider will increase your germination rate. We love Johnny’s Selected Seeds when it comes to supplying our herbs & organics—they are a 100% employee-owned company!
Check out this chart to help you choose which herbs to begin growing in these winter months—some herb species grow better as transplants, whereas others grow better when sown directly into the soil outside. Choose herbs like mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, and others to begin!
This chart will also tell you how long each herb takes to mature, as well as if the herb is an annual (must be replanted every year) or perineal (come back on their own year after year).
You’ll want to keep in mind that some herb species are invasive and will want to set out to take over the world… or, at least, your garden. Check out this blog post for 9 common invasive herb species, like mint, catnip, lemon balm, and chamomile.
To successfully grow your herbs indoors, you’ll want to invest in a grow light. A grow light allows for plants to grow short and stocky—these will then grow better when transplanted outdoors. Otherwise, put your seedlings in front of a window that gets plenty of sun.
Keep your home around 70 – 72 degrees for ideal growing temperatures.
A seed starting potting mix is also an ideal soil for the tiny herb seeds because it is a lighter soil than regular potting mix.
And we DO mean that most herb seeds are tiny. Because they are SO SMALL, I’ll usually plant a few seeds on top of the potting mix, sprinkle just a little bit of the mix on top of the seeds, and then use a spray bottle to mist them until they germinate. This, of course, can take several weeks as you see from the chart, but don’t give up! Growing herbs, like anything in agriculture, is an act of patience. Your new herb plant will eventually pop up!
A misting of a liquid organic fertilizer weekly is just what your seedlings need to stay happy and growing and green.
Once your herbs are too large for their pots, they’ll be ready to be transplanted to their permanent home in your outdoor garden!
Create an herbal compost tea.
Did you know your garden enjoys tea time as much as you do?!
Using comfrey, I make an herb compost tea that I use to water my garden in the spring and summer months. You won’t believe how much my plants love this! Check out the video below to see my process.
Healing Evergreens Herb Class
Who knew evergreens could be an herb?!
In our upcoming Healing Evergreens Herb Class on Saturday, February 9, instructor & master herbalist Julia Stowe will show us the uses of the 126 different spices of pine tree!
You’ll enjoy a sampling of pine-infused herbal remedies, blend your own delicious, immune supporting evergreen tea, and make a unique pine aromatherapy locket during this wintery adventure into the art of herbalism.
Recipe booklet and all class materials included. You can get your ticket here.
WHEN: Saturday, February 9 // 10am – 12pm
WHERE: Stoney Creek Farm in Franklin, TN
I can’t wait to see you there!