4 Things I Wish I Had Known About Gardening [Herb Garden Series]

The herb garden is doing great! At this point at least two of each type of herb we planted has sprouted, so that’s awesome! I think I can tell the difference between the spearmint and the rosemary, but I’m not 100% sure. Once they grow a little bigger I’m sure it will become obvious. 🙂

4 things I wish I knew about gardening
It’s almost time to transplant some of these babies!

I’ve learned a ton and I’m pretty thrilled with how the garden is turning out so far, but there are definitely some things I wish I had known (or paid more attention to) as I was starting out. So I’m going to share these with you in the hopes that if you want to start your own garden you can learn from my mistakes.

    • Seeds need warmth and water to germinate, not sunlight: This is like gardening 101, and all of my research told me this. Plants don’t actually need sunlight until they have leaves that can soak up the sun. But my instinct was still to put the seed trays in the window where they would get sunlight as well. The problem was that our weather was still a bit chilly, so the seeds weren’t actually that warm. If I could do it over again: I’d put the seed trays on top of our refrigerator (the heat output makes it super warm up there, just ask the cats!), and then I’d move the trays to the windowsill once they had sprouted.
    • Follow instructions: On a related note, the little seed trays we purchased are designed to keep the seeds warm and watered. They came with a full set of instructions on how to use them, but I got freaked out and didn’t follow them 🙁 The instructions said to leave the clear lids on the trays until the plants touched the lids. About 5 days after planting, a few tiny catnip seedlings germinated and then immediately turned brown and died the next day. I did a bunch of research and got totally freaked out that I had over-watered them (catnip likes to be fairly dry). I thought that the lids were doing too good of a job of keeping warmth and water in the trays (remember from the first lesson, this is EXACTLY what they’re supposed to do) so I took the lids off. At this point all of the plants have sprouted, so it turned out okay, but if I could do it over again: I’d follow the instructions and leave the lids on until the plants grew too big for them. (Which, by the way, is right about now, five weeks later. The dill is just tall enough that it would hit the lid if I’d left them on.)
Dill seedlings, almost ready to transplant
So tall!
  • Choose the right size pots: I got really excited about growing this garden, so I bought pots before the seeds had even sprouted! Silly, I know, but I was excited to have six pretty pots of the same size, all decorated the same. I have learned since then that, just like with thinning your seedlings, your plants need ample room to grow in whatever pot or container you put them in. These 6″ pots will work fine, but instead of being able to plant 3-4 seedlings in each like I had planned, I will only be able to plant 1-2. Unless you have a 10″ or 12″ or larger container your seedlings will crowd each other if you plant (or transplant) more than one or two in each. If I could do it over again: I’d wait to see how many seedlings sprouted and grew strong, then I’d choose containers and pot sizes based on how many I wanted to transplant.
  • Don’t freak out! The most important thing I’ve learned since starting this garden is that plants are pretty hardy. Not that you couldn’t kill them if you tried, but they do really have a desire to keep on growing, and if you don’t purposely mess with them they’ll probably be fine. I read a ton of research that said basil needs at least 6 hours of sunlight every day, or that catnip likes to be fairly dry, or that the pH level of the soil should be 6.0 to 7.5 for growing dill. But I’ll tell you right now that the south-facing window we put our plants in only gets 2 hours a day of direct sunlight (a few more hours of indirect sunlight as well), we water all of the plants together the same way, and I have no idea what the pH level of the soil is! If I could do it over again: I would save myself some of the stress and stop freaking out about the plants being perfect. They are doing just fine even though I’m not being careful about the pH levels 🙂

I hope some of this helps you if you start your own garden. Best of luck!


This post is part of a series about growing herbs indoors. You can see the rest of the posts in the series here.


I link up at these awesome parties

Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Jessica @ Stay at Home-ista says

    12 years ago

    Um, I needed this a few weeks ago! I built an outdoor raised bed, planted stuff, then it rained and got windy, I lost half of them, I added more, now I realize I have too many plants and not enough space! Oh well, I guess I can transplant some. These are great tips!


  2. Rachael says

    12 years ago

    HA! I am trying to learn how to have a green thumb too. It's hard, but last year I had a great garden, this year will hopefully be as good. Good luck to you!

  3. Ashley Gault says

    12 years ago

    We are growing our first herbs ever right now on our patio. Luckily they were already started for us from Home Depot, the hard part was done! =) They're doing really well in full sun most of the time! The cilantro is my favorite, it's doing the best! I've never had a green thumb, so I'm suprised! New follower, hope you're having a good week! =)

  4. Lauren @ The Well Crafted Home says

    12 years ago

    One trick that I heard from my boss when I started my indoor herb garden was to cover the pots that they were in with plastic wrap until they sprout. This creates sort of a greenhouse effect for them and helps the soil stay damp.

    I did notice that they grew a little bit of fungus pretty soon after they sprouted and I don't know if my mini greenhouse had anything to do with that but I also do NOT have a green thumb!

    It worked for getting them sprouted! Keeping them alive was the tricky part 🙂

  5. Jessi W says

    12 years ago

    That is too funny Kendra! I've heard that before; they say that your plants grow sturdier stems if they have to withstand a little wind. Our plants actually do get wind though. Because of our weird windowsills we can keep the inner windows shut but leave the outer one open so the plants are actually "outside". Thanks for the tip!

  6. Kendra says

    12 years ago

    This makes me smile!
    It looks like your plants are at the size where if you want to lavish some love and attention….. Try this 🙂
    It's called petting your plants, you lightly brush your hands over the tops of the plants a couple times a day. It mimics the wind and even though right after you "pet" them they may lay down a bit, the plants will become stronger and sturdier because of it. Funny, right?

  7. Jessi W says

    12 years ago

    🙂 I'm lucky that my plants seem to be of the leave-me-alone-and-I'll-thrive variety. I think I'd be in trouble otherwise, but I'm trying to not freak out and futz with them too much. I imagine they wouldn't be happy if I kept switching things around on them.

  8. Katie says

    12 years ago

    Yeah…so the first year I did the garden, I planted all my plants and scooped out little hollows around them so they were all sitting in the center of little depressions. Which is how I always learned to plant plants growing up…

    …in a desert. That helps a plant take advantage of scarce water in a dry climate by pooling it all by the roots. In a humid climate, it's a recipe for rot, disease, and slow death by fungus.

    Oops. You live and you learn!

    These are good lessons, Jessi! Plants are frustrating, because sometimes you lavish love and attention and carefully calibrated ph levels on them and they just up and die anyway, and sometimes you forget about them for weeks on end and they thrive. And vice versa. So there's just no winning.

  9. Jessi W says

    12 years ago

    Thanks Mom!

  10. audrey says

    12 years ago

    #4 (don't freak out) is the most valuable lesson you will ever learn and it applies to so many things…..! The trick is to keep it in mind. Nice garden btw!

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