Herbs and Sprouting Seeds

Learn more about herbs and sprouting seeds with our thorough plant guide that shows you when to sow and harvest, plus the best conditions for these plants.
From: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Vegetable Gardening

Related To:

  1. Gardening
  2. Herbs
  3. Plants

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Vegetable Gardening ©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Parsley 'Plain Leaved 2'

A fine French parsley, with soft, flat, rich green leaves that have a good, strong flavor. Easily grown as an annual indoors or outside, although parsley is biennial and hardy enough to persist in most gardens.

Sow: Early spring to late summer
Harvest: Year round
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Parsley 'Envy'

Handsome and vigorous, this variety produces a mass of tightly curled, bright green, full-flavored leaves. Parsley seeds may be slow to germinate, but be sure that the soil is soaked after sowing.

Sow: Early spring to late summer
Harvest: Year round
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Basil 'Sweet Genovese'

Large-leaved and intensely aromatic, this is the basil to use in Italian dishes. The tender plants will grow in a sunny spot outdoors, but often do best on a bright windowsill or in a greenhouse. Pinch out young leaves regularly.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Year round
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Basil 'Magic Mountain'

With its glossy, purple-tinted foliage and tall spikes of lilac flowers, this tender herb makes a pretty garden plant in its own right. The leaves have a delicate aniseed scent, which makes them suitable for Thai cooking.

Sow: Early spring to midsummer
Harvest: Year round
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Thyme 'Silver Posie'

The tiny gray and cream leaves of this compact and low-growing thyme are intensely fragrant, complementing the flavors of chicken and fish. An evergreen hardy perennial, it has clusters of pink flowers in summer.

Sow: Early to late spring
Harvest: Year round
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Thyme 'Doone Valley'

The vibrant yellow variegation of this thyme’s evergreen foliage, combined with a flush of purple summer flowers, makes it a beautiful plant for a pot or herb garden. The lemon-scented leaves taste good with fish or in stews.

Sow: Early to late spring
Harvest: Year round
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

A pungent Mediterranean herb often used in Italian cuisine and reliably perennial in freely draining soil. Its rounded, yellow-green leaves and low-growing habit make it an attractive garden plant, useful for edging paths.

Sow: Early to late spring
Harvest: Year round
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

This shrub bears the tough, narrow, strongly scented leaves that combine so well with lamb. As an evergreen, rosemary provides useful structure in the herb or vegetable garden, and can be pruned to maintain its shape.

Sow: Early to late spring
Harvest: Year round
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Elegant and airy, fennel comes in green and bronze forms and may reach 6 feet tall. It is a good-looking perennial in ornamental borders, where its aniseed-flavored leaves, and later its seeds, can be harvested as required.

Sow: Early to late spring
Harvest: Late spring to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Apple Mint (Mentha suaveolens)

Delicious, but invasive, this mint is best confined to a pot in small gardens. It is perennial and each spring sends up new shoots clothed with soft, furry, sweetly minty leaves, perfect for cooking with new potatoes.

Sow: Early to late spring
Harvest: Late spring to late summer
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Partial or dappled shade

Spearmint (Mentha spicata)

Spearmint's clean, crisp flavor is ideal for adding to salads, desserts, and drinks. The pointed, deep green leaves are glossy and appealing, but this is also an invasive perennial, so keep its spreading shoots in check.

Sow: Early to late spring
Harvest: Late spring to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil, moist soil
Sun or Shade: Partial or dappled shade

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

The clumps of these easy-to-grow perennials have spiky leaves topped with purple pompon flowers, making them an excellent path edging. The delicate onion flavor of chives suits soups, salads, and quiches.

Sow: Early to late spring
Harvest: At any time
Soil Preference: Moist soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun, partial or dappled shade

Cilantro 'Cilantro for Leaf'

A lush, leafy annual, bred to yield several cuts of spicy leaves, rather than seeds. Sow successionally every six weeks to ensure a constant supply and keep plants well watered to stop them from rapidly running to seed.

Sow: Mid-spring to early fall
Harvest: Early spring to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Common Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Ornamental, with many culinary uses, this aromatic shrub has pale green leaves covered in an attractive gray down. Encourage bushy growth by pinching out growing tips, but replace old plants every five years.

Sow: Mid- to late spring
Harvest: At any time
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citratus)

Tropical and tender, this grass needs to be kept above 45 degrees F in winter. The stout, citrus-scented stems can be slow to bulk up in cool climates, but form clumps from which stems can be separated and used in Thai dishes.

Sow: Mid- to late spring
Harvest: Late spring to early fall
Soil Preference: Well-drained soil
Sun or Shade: Full sun

Alfalfa

A nutritious, crisp sprout, with a slightly nutty flavor, alfalfa is delicious in salads and sandwiches. Soaking the seeds for eight hours before sprouting helps speed up the process. Sprouts should be ready from trays or jars in 4–5 days.

Sow: At any time
Harvest: At any time

Mung Beans

These tiny green beans burst rapidly into life to become the well-known white Chinese bean sprouts, so often included in stir-fries. Soak the beans for 8–12 hours, before sprouting in ajar, tray, or sprouting bag for 2–5 days.

Sow: At any time
Harvest: At any time

Garbanzos

Sprouted garbanzos (chickpeas) are a tasty snack or addition to a salad and require only 2–3 days in a jar, tray, or sprouting bag before they are ready to eat. Soak them in water for 8–12 hours before sprouting, to ensure that the seed coat is softened.

Sow: At any time
Harvest: At any time