Growing herb plants presents many challenges. Almost all are species plants and have their own requirements for germination, growth, and peaceful establishment in someone’s garden. When The Growers Exchange decided to grow only herb plants, we quickly found ourselves pretty much all alone in our commercial greenhouse community. When growing more common plants, we could always call around and find extra plants when needed.
Not so with many herb plants! Finding fresh seed for basil, cilantro, parsley, and all the popular culinary herbs is easy. But if we run out of plants, our neighboring greenhouses will be full with geraniums and other flowering plants. If we run out, then we are out! But this inconvenience is small compared to consistently finding seeds for the less known herbs such as White Sage and Holy Basil. Only a few seed companies sell rare herb seeds. Once certain seeds have been located, they must also be viable. Meaning they must be fresh enough to germinate.
Finding fresh seed for rare herbs is always chancy, and we watch closely to see that we can try again if a batch fails to germinate. To even the odds that we sow fresh viable seed, we have grown our own herb plants in a garden next to the farm office. Seeds are harvested and dried in an old smokehouse. We still must buy seeds, but we also have the seeds we grew, which are very fresh. This doesn’t solve all the problems, but helps plenty and gives us a proactive way to keep a fresh supply of seeds.