The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Starting herbs from seed

Lovage seeds

Spurred on by the permanent flower/herb beds I'm adding against the newly skirted sides of our trailer, I decided to branch out into some additional herbs this year, and also expand our planting of thyme. (Because there's never quite enough thyme on our homestead!) While most perennial herbs are best purchased as plants, I always like to test my green thumb against minuscule seeds, so I filled a flat with chamomile, Greek oregano, thyme, fennel, lovage, and poppies.

Thyme seedsOf these, the chamomile is a self-seeding annual and the middle four should establish themselves as long-lived perennials. Poppies, on the other hand, are typical annuals that are planted in our main garden each year as a matter of course. So why include them in the herb flat?

The trouble is that my planting calendar says to seed poppies outdoors now, but our weather forecast has promised us at least a week below freezing with an ultimate low of -16 degrees Fahrenheit. Sure, I could just put off planting the poppies the way I have the lettuce and will the early peas. But I often end up thinning and resetting garden-seeded poppies, so I figured I'd test them out as transplants instead this year.

Onion sprouts

Will the herbs be our first garden sprouts of 2015? Not at all! Onions started in flats at the beginning of February are beginning to send up green leaves at the moment. A perfect visual tonic for a February cold spell!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I started my herb and veggie seeds back about the beginning of January. Why? Well I had a conversation with some of the folks who sell veggies and herbs at the Jonesborough Flea Market and they tell me that's when they start their herbs so that by March the plants are large and sturdy and ready to be sold and put in a garden. So, I've experimented with doing the same. I have my flats on heating pads and florescent lights close to the soil. They're coming up beautifully now!!!! I'm so pleased since I've always had trouble with getting them to germinate and they will now - finally! - be ready to plant in March.
Comment by Na Yan Tue Feb 17 11:53:57 2015

I have several things started inside,,, but all this ice and snow is bumming me out!I need to start more herbs too , thanks for reminding me with this post,, same here never enough thyme! A tree fell and crushed my Hugh tunnel I was planning to plant peas in early this year.. so looks like I'll be putting that off for a few weeks... I'm so spoiled with being able to plant early... but the winters we've had the last two years are making me have to rethink! btw, do you grow artichokes or rhubarb?

Comment by angie silvera Wed Feb 18 11:39:19 2015
Angie --- We grow rhubarb, but not artichokes (since the latter is on my "eh" list culinarily). Relevant to the subject of this post, you can start rhubarb very inexpensively from seed, which is how we started ours!
Comment by anna Wed Feb 18 19:01:27 2015

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