Questions from a newbie

maroongolfMarch 3, 2011

Hi, I am very new to gardening and I just decided to start some herbs from seeds. I have been trying to read as much as I can about seed sowing, but I have a few questions. First of all, I planted some Basil and Cilantro seeds last week. They seem to be doing well as I am starting to see a few of the basil plants coming through. I used one of the Jiffy greenhouse kits from Lowes. Like I said I have never done this. After reading some of the posts here, I have read that cilantro doesn't transplant well. That being said, what do I do with them once they are ready? Can I keep them indoors? Also, this goes for both the cilantro and Basil, can I bring them indoors when it gets cold out and keep them alive over the winter? thanks

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I know Cilantro as Coriander. Both basil and coriander are annuals, and when their life-span is over, they die. Simple as that.

Coriander's life-span is particularly short. In a hot climate, it can go from seed to seed in as little time as 2 weeks, which is why most people recommend sowing just a few seeds where you want the plants to be, and sow successive crops ever 2-3 weeks for a continuous supply. In a cooler climate, they will last a bit longer, but are still short-lived plants.

You MIGHT be able to exend the life of your basil plants a little by taking them indoors and providing the perfect 'Mediterranean' conditions for them - but they'll die soon enough come winter.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 4:26PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Here in the North, cilantro does take a bit longer longer to mature and bolt. And it takes most of my growing season to go from planted seed to mature plants that you can harvest coriander seed from. But even so, I too would need multiple plantings if I'm looking to harvest the leaf. I agree completely with Daisy, direct sow your seed into your outdoor garden and plan for multiple plantings.

Basil. How to make it last more than 1 season is a very common question and desire here. And while you can maybe stretch it a bit, it will die in short order as well. If you are starting basil indoors, also plan on direct sowing some outdoors as well. This way it will mature later than your indoor starts, stretching out your basil season. Direct sow your basil when it is warm enough for tomato and pepper plants. If it works for me in Western NY State, it will certainly work for you in zone 7.


    Bookmark   March 4, 2011 at 8:36AM
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you can keep "traditional" basil alive through winter by constantly removing flowers but you will definitely hit a point of diminishing returns and imo it's more trouble than it's worth... best solution to that is getting greek columnar basil (also known as lesbos basil)... flavor is very similar (if not quite as strong) and it doesn't flower so you can grow all winter long indoors...

multiple plantings is the ticket for cilantro and even then i only get decent results in april-june and september-october here in virginia. the rest of the time it bolts too quickly, which is fine if you want fresh coriander seed... first time i harvesed coriander i was amazed at how much flavor it had home grown as opposed to from the store- almost a different taste "citrussy"...

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 7:10PM
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opal52(z7b GA)

Hi Marrongolf,

Where are you located in 7B? I'm in 7B Georgia.

I have several things started in the Jiffy pots also, but mostly things like tomatoes now. Herb wise, I'm have planted chive seeds already.

When the basil and cilantro are "ready", you will need to transplant them to larger containers, or an in-ground garden spot. In GA, I have had no success growing cilantro, or parsley for that matter. Both of these, I believe do better as fall, or early spring plants since they do not like our intense heat and sun. Basil LOVES our summers here. It needs full sun and plenty of moisture. Given that, and adequate fertilizer, a few plants will give you more basil that you can imagine. It's also important to keep it harvested or cut back. Otherwise, it will flower and seed, and then it is basically shot.

I direct seed basil in May in Georgia. It really wants warm soil to do well. You can get ahead of the game by starting a few indoors and transplanting. You can also extend your season by starting new plants throughout the summer. For us, basil lasts outside until first frost (it has to be a real frost, not just a light one to kill it), usually late October. I have actually had pretty good success having basil indoors through out winter by starting a new container of it late in season and bringing it indoors before frost. I have a very sunny location indoors where it can get plenty of light. As biscgolf mentioned, you do have to be vigilant about keeping the flower buds pinched. For me, since we love FRESH basil, it is not too much trouble.

Common sage is easy to grow from seed, as well as Thyme. You may want to give these a try also.

If you are using the Jiffy Dome and you have it in even a small amount of direct sun, be sure to vent it during the day. I use Jiffy Domes, but have learned from experience that they can cook your plants very easily.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2011 at 10:19AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

In zone 7B you can transplant cilantroes right now. They just love cool spring weather. But for Basils, you have to wait. Like Fatamorana said, if you can transplant toms, pepps,then you can transplant basils. Good thing about direct sowing is that the plants can figure it out what to do and how to cope with the elements. They will grow on their own terms rather than ours.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 6:44AM
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