Direct seeding

plantinellen(5)February 19, 2009

We have a raised bed all along our driveway -- a "gift" from the previous homeowner that's been largely a wasted space/weed incubator apart from spring daffodils and fall mums;-)-- that I want to turn into an herb garden. There's a hedge of althea directly behind the bed, blocking afternoon sun, but it gets both a healthy dose of morning/noontime sun and reflected heat from the driveway pavement. Moisture control is I think the big plant maintenance issue....keeping plants adequately hydrated.

I've already transplanted some perennial herbs from my previous residence into the south end of the bed (which is actually the more shady end of our front yard) and want to work my way north, toward a relatively dry and sunny north end. I am going to be amending the soil as I work my way down.

I have the best luck with store-bought herb plants, and I don't have a good place indoors to start seeds, but I'm wondering if there are any herbs that might take well if direct seeded into amended/prepared soil.

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

A good soaker hose can help with the watering. Its not one that would spray water on foliage. I use these in my 2000 sq. ft. vegetable garden and have always had good luck. As mentioned in recent other post, Cilantro and Dill are two that should be directly planted as seeds oustide. They don't transplant very well. You could even sprinkle some dill seeds right now and cover them with a tin layer of soil, and they should wake up once it gets a bit warmer. Starting plants from seeds indoors isn't very difficult. They do sell combo trays, lights, and heat mats that allow a tray or two to be started in a small space. I dislike getting store bought plants as most are either shocked by their forced growth in greenhouses, or are mismarked. Bought brussles sprout plants and had a nice crop of cabbages instead, something I didn't want. Even had herb plants die after arriving from Richters, at least they credited me for the losses. There, I would buy French tarragon plants as its not from seed, but instead from rooted cuttings. Besides that, most nurseries simply dont have the wide variety of plant types. Growing paste type tomatoes and things like red pimentos are not something you see in any garden shop.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 12:16PM
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francescod(6b/7a VA)

Herbs that can tolerate dry conditions include: Thyme, Rosemary, Lavender, Tarragon, Culinary Sage, Chives. Keep in mind though that any plant will need to be watered more frequently until it gets established.
It may be more convenient to sow seeds of dill and cilantro directly, especially since they are short lived. Plants purchased at nurseries are often at the end of their lives anyway. However, relatively young plants transplant very nicely. It is true that many nurseries don't know the first thing about herbs and the suppliers to the mass merchandisers seem to make a lot of mistakes when it comes to correctly labeling plants. But, if you find a nursery in your area that specializes in herbs and/or grows their own, you will find good quality plants. You may even find paste tomatoes and red pimientos there as well.
As for "forcing" plants in greenhouses, how do you think a Canadian company, with a very short growing season, like Richter's produces plants? Being grown in a greenhouse doesn't necessarily mean the plants will be of lesser quality. It just means that they will be available earlier than if they were grown outside, and that you can get plants that may not be cold hardy in your area. Of course, I am one of those that grows herbs and veggies in the greenhouse very successfully.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 2:25PM
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leira(6 MA)

As a child, I direct-sowed oregano, sage, and thyme in a zone 5 garden, and all came up and did well that season. For whatever reason, only the oregano made it through that first Winter, but that reseeded itself and took up residence in nearly every one of my grandmother's numerous and quite sizable gardens (oops). I have a descendant of that oregano in my garden today.

These days, I'd undoubtedly start these things early, indoors. However, direct-sowing did work.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 3:37PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

My successes with direct sowing include:

basil
cilantro
dill
borage
sage
thyme
chives
calendula
anise
fennel
lemon balm
echinacea
sheep sorrel
french sorrel
shungiku (edible chrysanthemum)
parsley
feverfew
marshmallow
salad burnet
clary sage

I'm sure there's more but those are what comes to mind at the moment.

FataMorgana

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 12:21PM
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