This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Herbs - to grow from seed or to purchase?

Two types of thyme (including lemon) and oregano.
Herbs... plants I've more recently become interested in. Fresh herbs make a real difference to food so I've decided to expand on herb growing this year, and add a few new plants to my small collection. I used to think all herbs were much the same but there are many different lovely smells and flavours. I'm hoping to study up on herb uses this year... which herbs go best with chicken, beef (basically how to use them). This week I saw some bushy herb plants for sale 3 for £5 so decided to purchase these to add to my collection.
I'm wondering is it worthwhile growing herbs from seed?  The centre plant is thyme grown from seed last Spring. It is still quite small coming into its 2nd year, compared to the two thmye plants I purchased.
Lavender grown from seed a couple of years ago, looks a bit shabby but hopefully will fill out come Summer. 
Mint sleeps over Winter but will happily grow with warmer weather.
My star plant, Rosemary, purchased last Spring, and has stayed green all Winter. 
I was speaking to a well known chef today and he recommends the following herbs for cooking: tarragon, dill, thyme and fennel.  I will need to check these out. 
(The only one I have is fennel but I rarely cook with it.)

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.


  1. Not only can you cook with herbs, but many can be used as healthful teas. I made Basil tea for a sore throat and it seemed to work well. Like you, I must study up on herbs. Looks like you have a good start on them! I do know that a sprig of Rosemary on roasting chicken and on potatoes is great and in my potato soup recipe, I put Rosemary and it makes it very delicious!

  2. Kelli, my opinion is that most herbs are NOT worth growing from seed, with some exceptions. Many herbs grow quite slowly, so if you can get a plantsman to do all the hard work for you and look after them until they are mature (and still sell them to you at 3 for £5!) then that is the best approach. Exceptions include Parsley, which grows much quicker and doesn't generally transplant very well. There is also this: when you buy a pack of seeds you will normally get 100+ seeds. Do you really NEED 100 plants? Better to buy just one or two when you need them.
    Jane and I are very keen on using herbs, and they feature in almost every meal we cook. My advice is not to stick too closely to convention, and to experiment. However, for what it's worth, the received wisdom is that Tarragon goes best with Chicken, Mint goes with Lamb, Sage goes with Pork, and Horseradish goes with Beef! :)

  3. I agree with Mark - I only grow herbs from seed if I want a kit such as parsley.

    As for lavender once you have a plant I think it's better to go for cuttings rather than seed

  4. Cilantro, dill, chives and parsley are easily grown from seed. The others aren't worth the effort.

  5. I have so many plants of herbs that I really don't need to buy any more - I always buy plants rather than sowing from seed as they are so cheap.

  6. Hi Kelli.The annuals(?) eg dill,parsley,coriander ,tarragon and basil all seem good bets from seed ,as a packet costs less than one plant.Last year I grew dill early on but should then have done some successions into the summer.This year I have salad and herb blocks planned..we'll see ....
    Not sure about it's culinary attributes, but I've grown Clary Sage from seed.First year not much to show but last year it had fabulous flowers and I'll now split it for the borders..

  7. I planted herbs in pots last summer, hoping that they will come back this year. I decided to pot them because some of they can spread so aggressively. I have dug out a lot of mint over the years, so I am glad to see that you have yours contained. From seed? I don't know; we will wait to see how yours do. Good luck.

  8. I'm a recent convert to herb growing too, I'm hoping to add a couple more to my collection this year.