Starting herbs from culinary seeds?

fauzieApril 26, 2009

I wonder if any herb can be started from the culinary seeds from supermarkets. I would like to have caraway but the seed suppliers don't sell them. There is a lot of them in the supermarket sold for cooking, so I would like to try to plant them. Is there any herb that can be started this way? Coriander? Anise? Cardamom? Mustard? Sesame? Any experience?

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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Not usually. You never know the age of the seeds, or their viability. Some are heat treated to kill off insects and any bacteria. That was the case with Szechuan peppercorns soem years ago. They were infested with bugs and were banned from inporting until a means was developed to kill any bugs. All you can do is try. You have not mentioned the specific herb or seed your wanting to grow. Some are tropical, and come from very big trees, you need to find more info before attempting this. Coriander and mustard can be grown from seeds, but as mentioned, unless they are whole and fresh, you will not get much success. Herb seeds for growing are not expensive, unless your wanting to grow some Saffron..

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 2:56AM
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Well ... especially caraway, anise, and mustard. The seed suppliers here don't have them.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 11:19AM
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Try it! Do a germination test, see the Growing from Seed Forum.

I've had good luck with fenugreek (many years old, even since I bought it) and fair results with coriander. Cardamom, probably not (the white pods have been bleached, but maybe the green ones would still be viable). My guess is that dill, caraway, etc. are definitely possible.

I just started some plants from hot pepper seeds that were in dried peppers in my cupboard for a couple of years. They
are off to a good start.

As for saffron, it is sterile and doesn't make seeds. But I was in the garden this AM digging corms to divide and replant, and it makes offsets like crazy, so once you get some going, it's easy to propagate.

Good luck. Osage

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 12:18PM
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I tried coriander seed from the grocery store last year and none germinated. I assume they had been heat-treated. Maybe if you found a market where they are sold in bulk or a health food store? You may find some that are sold for sprouting, like fenugreek. But I agree with the other posters that you should just try and see what's viable. If they don't grow you will still have what's left to cook with.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 1:30PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Yes, my saffron has multiplied under ground. I plan to dig it up in late fall after it flowers and, seperate then. I added some bone meal last fall and some bulb fertilizer, so they produced a few more blossoms that I harvested. A seed packet is cheaper than a jar of seeds. You are usually guaranteed germination from seed packets.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 2:24PM
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I've had good success over the years with seed bought from the Herb and Spice section of the supermarket.

Fenugreek, cumin, sesame, anise, coriander, fennel, dill, mustard, have all germinated for me.

You won't get success from seeds which have been processed, such as peppercorns or vanilla beans.

If you can't buy the propagating seed, it's definitely worth a try with the culinary seed, despite the extra cost (which isn't all that much, really! If you get one plant, you can always get more seeds from it!)

Don't forget, you can also propagate root veges from supermarket-bought produce. Members of the onion family (including garlic, leeks and shallots), ginger, turmeric, green potatoes (which should never be eaten) will often sprout if they haven't been pre-treated to prevent it; and you can often use fresh herbs as cuttings.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 6:46PM
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Most of the articles and back of seed containers for caraway suggest planting in the fall.

Much of the sesame have had the outer coat removed so not certain that the light colored seeds would work.

When I used to do this I used the cheap seeds in the small 1 1/2 containers. Then they cost 50 cents or less last time I bought herbs they were up to 89 cents. Probably even more viable are the clear packets that you find somewhere in the corner of your produce isle.

Cardamon is hard to start from seeds according to some middle eastern friends. Ask at your middle eastern or Indian store if they have any customers growing cardamon and that you would like a plant. May open up a brand new world of plants that you are not aware of. The seeds sold as basil in Indian stores is a fuzzy leaved plant that only remotely looks like what it is "supposed to look like". It is normally used as a toasted seed in cooking.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 10:40PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

fauzie>Well ... especially caraway, anise, and mustard. The seed suppliers here don't have them.

Try some of the seed retailers. Many have those seeds and many send free catalogs if you don't like on-line ordering. Try one of these:

Horizon Herbs
Nichols Garden Nursery
Pinetree Seeds
Johnny Seeds

As far as using seed from the spice aisle, I wouldn't. It may be cheaper but 1.) as ksrogers said, the seed may not be viable due to a number of reasons; 2.) the seed may be from hybrid plants and so will not come true or produce like the parent; 3.) if you are going through all the time and effort to plant seeds, spend a tiny bit more money and get good quality seeds - you'll be happier for it.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 8:24AM
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Thanks for all of your replies. I'll try some of them and post the result. As noinwi said, if it doesn't work, I can eat what is left :p

I have different varieties of peppers, both hot and sweet growing in my garden from cooking leftover. I also have 3 turmeric plants growing strong. Have no luck with ginger, scallions and onions. I wonder what I did wrong. Gingers never sprout, they just rot. Scallions and onions grow for a while, but dies after a few weeks. Will try garlic soon.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 10:47AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

The scallions from store bought are not suitable for replanting. I have grown scallions and they usually do well if they ae grown from thin starts. I also grow a walking onion with a stronger onion flavor greens. Not sure, but you may have the signs of damping off, which can easily kill plants if they been grown for consumpton as opposed to seed/set planting. Some seeds are treated with Captan which reduces damping off issues, as well as other fungal issues. Not sure what plating zone your in, but if its 7-4 the garlic should be hard neck types. These have that stiff stalk in the middle when you seperate the cloves. Soft neck is suitable only for the zones 7 and above. I havenever had any luck growing soft neck garlic, so I like to grow the hard neck Music type, which has huge cloves and only one layer of them. Garlic needs a fall planting, and doesn't do as well if planted now. The hard neck sends up a stiff stalk (scapes) that should be cut off before it opens. Allowing them to remain will take energy away from the cloves. I pickle the scapes in dill and vinegar. Great in salads.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 11:33AM
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leira(6 MA)

fauzie, I have succeeded in sprouting ginger before, but it took a very long time. I will admit that I was also living in the desert at the time. I planted it in a sandy potting soil in a terra cotta pot, and then I waited...and waited...and waited. Eventually it sent up a stalk. It needs to not dry out, but it shouldn't be too damp, either. It can be done, so if you're inspired, you should try it again.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 2:50PM
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When I was a kid my sister and I would germinate mustard seeds we bought from the super market that we had used for cooking. Even though the seeds we found in the back of the cupboard were quite old the majority of them still germinated! We didn't even use soil - just between two damp paper towels or even on a sponge works too. It's actually fun to experiment - so give it a try!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 5:28PM
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I always plant store bought cilantro. I buy them in a 4 oz bags( for a buck), Not those expensive fancy bottles. And they always germinate and produce perfect crop. Because it
is so inexpensive , I never bother to make my own seeds. The other stuff I don't care to plant.

Of course, for culinary use they would just put every seed in the package, even some of then are not fully develoed.
To cope with that just sow little more. I wanted to plant sesame. In Asian market the were all roasred but I found one brand which does not say "ROASTED". Tomorrow I am going to plant some of that. I am also going to plant some cardamons , star anise ,chick peas and lentils, all store bought.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 4:09AM
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What a timely thread. Cumin seems to have gone up in price and I just purchased some whole spice seed to see if I could grow some myself. Our mediterranean climate I think will do, I just hope the seed is viable.

I've germinated other grocery seed before with good effect. Namely coriander, lima beans, and garbanzos. Also fava beans. And taro root once for the stream. They grew a bit, but our weather isnt right for them to florish.

I look upon growing things from the grocery as experimental fun.
I know if it does not work, I can just go buy what I need at the store. :-)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 10:35PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Coriander doesn't like heat or lots of sun when growing.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 12:19AM
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