Question: "I am trying to grow herbs. Tried the seeds, but they all died. Would it be better to grow them outside then bring them in for the winter?"
Answer: Most herbs, particularly annuals (they grow and produce seed in one year and do not come back every year) can be grown easily from seed. You can either sow them directly into the garden or start them indoors. Some annuals, such as borage, chervil, coriander, and dill, do not transplant well and should be sown directly into the garden outdoors.
Whichever method you use, to be successful you need to follow the packet instructions. Some seeds require light or darkness to sprout (covered or uncovered). Sometimes other special treatments, such as soaking or chilling prior to planting are necessary. Some seeds such as perennials (those that come back year after year) can be a little more challenging to start from seed.
All seedlings need moisture to get started and usually need to be kept moist until they are well established. When two to four true leaves have formed, you need to acclimatize them to the outdoor environment by setting them outside each day for increasingly longer periods for about a week before planting into the garden. Don’t rush the transition outdoors because herbs generally do not thrive in cold soil. At the time I set them into the garden, I apply a weak 1/4 -strength transplant fertilizer (10-52-10) to help get the roots off to a good start.
If you have trouble starting plants from seeds, purchase transplants that are ready to go into the garden at the garden centres. To ensure success, read the label and give your herbs the conditions they like. Most herbs prefer a sunny location and do not thrive in the shade. Like all seedlings you still need to give them some TLC them once they are planted until they are well established.
Answer provided by Veronica Sliva, Regional Director, Garden Writers Association.
This column was originally posted on the Foodnetwork.ca Eating Well site.
Gardening Advice is featured on Style Sheet on Tuesdays.