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Starting From a Seed?

Hi everyone! I'm planning on starting a type or two of herbs, and my question was on the soil. I have never really grown anything, so I'm going to be reading a lot on here, and probably asking quite a few questions. My first is, should I get that seed starting stuff that I've heard of in the stores, or should I just get potting soil? Or do I get the seedling stuff and then switch the plant later to the potting soil? Sorry if this sounds completely stupid...also, what are some really easy herbs for a beginner like me? I was thinking of something like oregano or lavender, but am open to others. This is more for fun than anything. Thanks in advanced to any answers! :oops:

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I just use a good, fast-draining potting mix to start seeds, but I'm sure you'll get many different answers to your question about that. I thoroughly moisten the potting mix first, and after I've planted the seeds, I use a spray bottle to keep the soil moist. You don't want the soil to be too wet, though. If you can provide good air circulation, it can help avoid problems like damping off, which is caused by a fungus. When the seedlings are a couple of inches tall, I transplant each one into its own container, using the same type of potting mix.

As for the kinds of herbs to grow, I can tell you that lavender, while it is possible to grow it in a container, much prefers to grow directly in the ground. Also, lavender seed takes quite a long time to sprout, so I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner's first effort.

Your location, and the growing conditions (light intensity, day and night temperatures, and humidity) you can offer will play a strong role in determining the types of herbs that might do well for you. I have always found it easy to grow basil, chives, rosemary and thyme. You might want to consider one or more of those. Oregano might be easy, as well, but I haven't ever grown it in a container. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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Herbs aren't too fussy about soil. Meditteranean herbs can thrive in poor soil (think limestone, pebbles, sand) while some others prefer a slightly richer soil, but either would work. You shouldn't use seed starter mix as most of this contain an extraordinary amount of peat, which can be harmful to delicate plants unless diluted. Instead, I suggest you use a fine-textured organic potting mix (not potting soil or topsoil). No nutrients should be necessary for those herbs as they grow in the wild pretty well, but a little won't hurt. Good potting mixes usually contain up to 2-3 months worth of nutrients. If after that time, they look weak and hungry, and you have been doing everything else right, then add a small amount of low nitrogen, liquid hydrolyzed fish fertilizer.

The tricky part is watering herbs; new gardeners tend to overdo it and/or be inconsistent with it. For Meditteranean herbs, make sure to only water when the top inch or so of the soil is dry every couple days. Some other herbs like chives, prefer more water. Most herbs like temperatures below 75 F and low humidity, but there are exceptions.

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Thanks a lot you guys! Your replies are greatly appreciated, and I'm sure they'll help me to start. :)

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