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Guide to growing herbs


Basil is frequently thought of as Italian or Mediterranean, but basil originated in Africa and southern Asia. There are many varieties, and they vary in flavor.

  • Plant in well-amended soil and fertilize with fish emulsion when planting.
  • Space plants about 12 inches apart in full sun.
  • Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  • Regularly harvest the tips of the stems to promote bushiness and prolong the plant's life. Pinch off any flowers as soon as you see them start to preserve the best leaf flavor.
  • Allow flowers to develop only if you want seeds or to attract beneficial insects.



  • A robust full grown cilantro can be up to 14 inches wide, so give those seedlings some space when you plant.
  • Cilantro is quick to bolt in warm weather and with increasing day length, so to keep your supply going all summer, plant a few plants every one to three weeks.
  • Don’t put cilantro in your hottest spot. In a hot microclimate, partial shade is better, but otherwise it requires full sun.
  • Cilantro needs consistently moist (not soggy!) soil to develop a robust plant. Dry soil or irregular watering causes the plants to bolt.
  • Harvest fresh leaves any time after the plant is 6 inches tall.
  • If you see any flowers, pinch them off for best flavor in the leaves.



  • When spacing seedlings,keep in mind that parsley grows 12 to 18 inches wide.
  • Once established, water deeply once a week. Don’t let the soil dry out completely.
  • Little fertilizer needed; top dress with compost at planting and again two months later.
  • To harvest, snip out the stalks close to the ground, using the outer stalks and allowing new growth from the middle.
  • Parsley will continue to grow through the winter (keep harvesting!), but will send up flower stalks and need replacement next spring.


Culinary Sage

  • Unlike most of the plants in our sale, sage is a perennial, meaning that it will produce for several years. The plant tends to get woody, so after three or four years, you may choose to replace it.
  • Plant seedlings 18 to 30 inches apart in full sun. In hot areas consider afternoon shade. Take care not to crowd the plants, sage is prone to mildew and good air circulation can avoid that.
  • Generally, sage is low water once established; wait until soil is dry before watering. Overwatering can lead to root rot.
  • Harvest lightly the first year; harvest when leaves are dry.
  • Trim in spring starting in the second year to avoid a woody center and keep tender shoots coming.
  • Does not like heavy frost.


Sweet Marjoram

  • Generally plant full sun, 18 inches apart, but variegated leaf varieties prefer afternoon shade.
  • Culinary marjoram is generally watered a moderate amount; the plant can tolerate periods without water.
  • Cut woody stems near their base in winter or very early spring, leaving a low set of leaves, to keep the plant from becoming woody. Vigorous growth resumes in warm weather.
  • For best leaf flavor, do not allow plant to flower. Harvest marjoram to dry in spring before flowering.
  • Sweet marjoram is frost-sensitive, so treat as an annual, or keep in a container you move indoors if you get freezes.