Garden Spaces: Plant an Herb Garden from Seed

Think of the future: Try this carefree garden for a riotous self-seeding bed, year after year.

| April/May 2010

  • Click on the IMAGE GALLERY for the planting key.
  • Click on the IMAGE GALLERY for the planting key.
    Illustrations by Gayle Ford

• Design Plans: Grow These Herbs from Seed 

• Online Exclusive: Seed Sprouting Tip 

Many herbs have their future built right into their growth habits, providing the next generation without any help from the gardener. And in the process, many will offer up seeds to spice up dinner or sprouts to add to salads. If you’ve got an extra little plot of dirt and want to plant for sustainability, try growing herbs for their seeds.

Annual or biennial herbs that are reliable re-seeders can create a riot of flowers long after they’ve surrendered to the seasonal cycles. This can be a bit of a headache in a perennial bed, because if left unchecked they can claim far more space than the gardener is willing to give them, meaning the flowers must be deadheaded regularly and new seedlings yanked out to control their rampant ways. That’s the beauty of giving them their own space, as in the carefree little garden illustrated here, where prolific flowers create the setting for a piece of garden sculpture.

Weeding and deadheading are usually found on the “chore” list, but harvesting is a joy, so a bit of attitude adjustment is a handy tool. Take the poppy, for example: A beautiful flower; a useful seed that’s a staple in the kitchen; and if you grow it once, you’ll always have it. You can deadhead it until just before the season’s end to prevent it from spreading too much, or you can just let the flowers go to seed pods to harvest for baking; either way, the seeds won’t get out of control.

All the plants on this list are easily grown from seed. Some of them, including those with taproots, such as dill, caraway and fennel, are easier to sow and let grow (in situ) than to propagate and then transplant; they resent transplanting and may sulk for a bit before they recuperate and grow, or not.

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