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Herb Propagation

by Owl

Any good gardening book will explain basic growing techniques, so I'll lightly touch on the basics:

GROWING FROM SEED:

First, start herb seeds 6-8 weeks before they are to go in the garden.

Choose clean, small, 2-4 in. deep containers with drainage holes in the bottom. .. Here's a chance to use up all those old margarine tubs you've been saving ... just poke some holes in them. Empty Egg cartons work well also, but you'll have to transplant sooner if the roots get too crowded.

Use a sterilized potting soil, or sterilize your own soil by sifting and placing a layer of dirt on a shallow baking pan. Heat your oven to about 350 degrees, then turn it off .. place the dirt filled tray in the oven .. and let it "steep" until the oven is cool. .. Use lots of tin foil to protect your oven from spillage.

Next, fill your containers about 3/4 full of soil and poke a shallow hole in the dirt .. you can use a small beverage straw, then put a couple seeds in each hole. Cover lightly with additional soil and water thoroughly.

Now, cover your container with plastic wrap .. again poking a few small holes to allow air circulation. Make sure the plastic does not touch the soil.

Place the container in a warm sunny window ... at this point, it is the heat that matters most, not the sunlight. Watch for the moisture beads on the plastic .. and make sure that the soil is kept moist.

When the seeds have sprouted, remove the plastic and place the containers in a spot with full sun. Be sure to water the seedlings frequently. At this point, if your containers are small, the plants should be transplanted to a four inch pot so that their roots can spread.

After all threat of frost has passed, you can harden off the plants by placing them outside in a sunny, but protected area during the sunlight hours, bringing them back in at night for about a week. ... Then you can safely transplant them to the garden, or a larger container which can be left out overnight.

The most common mistake when starting seeds, is controlling the moisture of the soil. An easy, and economical way of dealing with this is to take two plastic containers .. a large and small margarine tub works nicely. Cut a whole in the lid of the larger tub, big enough to hold the smaller tub suspended within the larger tub about an inch and a half. .. Poke a hole, the size of a large drinking straw in the bottom of the smaller tub. Cut an 8 in length of wick material (you can get this at any garden supply store), placing it inside and around the bottom of the small tub with one end pushed thru the hole so that at least 2 inches extend into the larger tub. Put about an inch of water in the large tub, then insert the smaller tub into the opening. Make sure the wick is in the water ... then plant your seeds as instructed above.

Herbs that are most likely to be successfully started from seed are:

Annuals:

Anise, Basil, Borage, Calendula, Chamomile, Chervil, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Garlic, Mustard, Nasturtium, Summer Savory, Sweet Marjoram

Biennials:

Angelica, Caraway, Parsley, Wild Celery

Perennials:

Catnip, Chamomile, Chives, Fennel, Feverfew, Hyssop, Lovage, Marjoram, Marshmallow, Onion, Oregano, Rue, Sage, Salad Burnet, Sorrel, Thyme, Winter Savory, Wormwood.

 

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