3 Ways to Grow Culinary Herbs

Save money—both on plants and on herbs—by growing and propagating your own using one of these three methods.

by Jessica Walliser

3 Ways To Grow Culinary Herbs - Photo by Jessica Walliser (HobbyFarms.com) 

I’m always on the prowl for ways to save money in the garden. Growing as much as I can from seeds, cuttings and divisions instead of purchasing plants is one way I keep more cash in my pocketbook.

Some of my favorite plants to grow via these techniques are culinary herbs. I use dozens of bunches of herbs every year, both fresh and dried, and buying herbs at the grocery store is expensive. It saves me a lot of money when I grow my own. Use these tips to grow your own thrifty kitchen herb garden.

Herbs From Seed

The good news is that most herbs are super simple to start from seed. Many annual herbs, such as dill, chervil, cilantro, borage and chamomile, don’t need any coddling. Simply tossing a few seeds onto the bare soil as soon as the danger of frost has passed is all you need to do to grow a healthy crop.

Other annual herbs are a bit more fussy, requiring a jump start on the season, including basil, parsley and sweet marjoram. Sow these seeds indoors, under grow lights, four to six weeks before planting outside. Although they require a bit of forethought, they’re still very easy to start from seed by simply following the instructions on the seed packet’s label.

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Perennial herbs, including lavender, oregano, sage, chives, tarragon, fennel, thyme and mint, require some patience if grown from seed, but if you’re willing to wait a full season before harvesting, it’s a great way to get started.

Herbs from Divisions

Most perennial herbs can also be grown from divisions of established plants. Find a neighbor, friend or relative who grows these plants and ask them for a small division. Most herb gardeners are happy to help get a new gardener started. Plus, it’s good for the plants to be divided every few years.

Herbs from Cuttings

You can also propagate most perennial herbs by taking a few stem cuttings. Again, you’ll need to find someone with an adult plant, then just follow these directions to root some of your own cuttings.

To root your own herb cutting, use a clean, sharp shear to cut off a terminal portion of stem containing two or three leaves and the growing point. It should be about one to two inches long. Cut off the lowest leaf and dip the bottom 1/2 inch of stem into a rooting hormone (available at most garden centers). Insert cut end into a clean pot of new potting soil about 1 inch deep. The soil should be firmly around the plant stem. Water and let drain.

Place the pot into a clear plastic bag sealed with a twist-tie to keep the humidity high until the cutting forms roots. You probably won’t have to water very much while the plant is in the bag, but do water it if necessary. Place plant on bright windowsill (but not in direct sunlight) or under grow lights. Roots should form in four to five weeks. At that point, remove the plastic bag and any yellowed leaves. You can start fertilizing your new plant with compost tea or diluted fish emulsion when it’s about 8 weeks old.

Read more about growing herbs on HobbyFarms.com:

  • 5 Soil Amendments To Grow Better Herbs
  • 4 Herbs Not At the Farmers Market (And You Should Sell)
  • 8 Healing Uses For Farm-Grown Herbs 

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