What did I do during the cold dark weeks of winter? Buy seeds of course! And I recently indulged myself as I started making plans for a Medicinal Herb Garden that would also double as the bee border around my veggie beds.
The idea here is to plant up a calendar year of constantly flowering plants for bees to forage on through all the seasons, to keep them coming back and pollinating my fruiting crops.
I found a neat wee supplier of herb seeds via a random Facebook group: Carol’s Heirloom Garden. No website that I can find although she sells on TradeMe. However, as it is a small business, she prefers to deal direct which is more personable and avoids her having to pay fees. At about $2.50 per packet, the seeds are very affordable, but she was able to sell me 20 packets of seeds for $40.
Here’s a list of what I bought:
- Bergamot Bee Balm (Monarda fistulosa)
- Borage (Borago officinalis)
- Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
- Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
- Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
- Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
- Dill (Anthum graveolens)
- Elecampane (Inula helenium)
- Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
- Hyssop (Hyssopus officialis)
- Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
- Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea)
- Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)
- Sage (Salvia officinalis)
- Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
- St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Thyme (Thymus officinalis)
- Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
I had some mixed success in germinating the seeds in trays. Admitedly, I did this in my kitchen with little temperature and light control. Some like chamomile, coriander and dill were quick to sprout. Others, like hyssop, yarrow and evening primrose took a bit longer and even longer still was the Echinacea and Skullcap. Still, I have had no luck with the delicate Elecampane seeds, which are refusing to germinate.
I’ve potted most of these on in to larger pots now and I am starting to harden them up outside overnight. I made the mistake of leaving the catnip seedling out among the other seedlings this week and Jenny came home to a stoned delinquent kitten rolling about on top of my baby plants. Fortunately, most of them survived.
As wonderful as it is raising plants from seed and watching them mature, this lot are still some time away from providing an abundant supply of bee nectar for the bees. I think I’m going to have to find some larger flowering plants to populate the herb garden this summer, while this lot mature.