Here in Central Vermont, Spring Equinox arrived with clear blue skies, revealing the sun again after last week’s snowstorm. We’ve got a few extra feet of snow, but the chickadees are singing in the trees, and greens are growing in the greenhouse.
Equinox: equal, balanced.
Though this time of year may be filled with starts and stops, the equinox reminds me of the possibility of balance. It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or snowy, if it’s calm or stormy—no matter the weather, the equinox arrives and balances day and night.
It’s a gentle reminder that we can do the same. No matter how many balls you’re juggling, no matter how much feels out of control, you have the possibility of balance. Inhale. Exhale.
Take a deep breath in. Hold it for a moment. Slowly let it out.
I do my best to remember this as we turn up the greenhouse and start seeds. Some crops are fast growers—radishes, salad turnips, lettuce—others take their time. Perennial herbs, though steady and reliable once they’ve emerged, are slow to start.
I love growing perennial herbs.
I love their reliability, their fragrance, the way they balance gentleness and strength. We’ve cut back, pulled up, and mowed over oregano, and still it comes back, reaching up with delicate leaves and unfurling along the edge of our market garden.
These herbs remind me that gentle doesn’t mean weak—their roots are hearty, resilient, and persistent.
That said, they’re not speed racers. So despite the snow and the 30º F temps, it’s time to start these perennial herbs by seed. I call these kitchen herbs, because they’re lovely to have growing outside your kitchen window, in a garden plot close by the house. We use these herbs often in our cooking, both fresh and dried.
4 Perennial Kitchen Herbs to Seed Now
Sage requires 14 – 21 days to emerge from seed to sprout. Sow sage 8 – 10 weeks before your last frost date (for us, that’s May 28).
Thyme seeds take 14 – 28 days to emerge. Sow thyme 6 – 8 weeks before your last frost date.
Oregano seeds take 10 – 21 days to emerge. Sow them 6 – 10 weeks before your last frost date.
Marjoram seeds take 14 -21 days to emerge. Sow marjoram 8 – 10 weeks before your last frost date.
How to Sow
While all 4 of these perennial herbs can take quite a long time to germinate, their growth speed can vary slightly, which is why you’ll see a difference in the number of weeks before last frost.
With the exception of sage, these seeds are TINY. We sow them in open flats, and using our fingers, make gentle indentations in the soil, where we sprinkle the seeds in a line.
Because these seeds are so tiny, they don’t want to be buried. Instead, sprinkle vermiculite over the seeds to keep them from drying out. If you don’t have vermiculite, you can lightly cover them with soil.
Keep the soil moist, but don’t waterlog it. To make sure the seeds don’t dry out, you can use a clear plastic propagation dome, or lay a moist paper towel over the flat. If you go the paper towel route, be sure to keep it moist by watering with a spray bottle.
Here’s a look at organic thyme growing in open flats:
Seeds just emerging:
Grow, thyme, grow!
Beyond the seedling
These herbs will be ready for transplant in 6 – 10 weeks (refer back to the number of weeks before last frost). You can either up-pot them into a larger container, where they’ll grow on your windowsill or porch, or you can transplant them out into a garden bed.
Sometimes I do both, just to have the fragrance of the herbs inside, and a bountiful harvest outside.
What are your favorite perennial herbs? Let me know in a comment below.