Herbs are an excellent accompaniment to a meal, transforming flavours and bringing your dish to a new level.
When you’re looking to cook some lamb chops and want to add rosemary, you might go to the herb section and buy a bunch for $3. Another recipe might call for some oregano and thyme, so you spend another $6. This really adds up quickly!
A week later, you might check the fridge and see a sad half-bunch of oregano that needs to be thrown out. Maybe fresh herbs aren’t such a good idea after all.
But wait – there is a better way! Insert cheesy advertising jingle here
Instead of buying that bunch of rosemary from your local supermarket, you could buy a whole plant for around the same price! This isn’t just a special price either; you can buy just about any herb plant on the cheap, and it will provide you with “farm-fresh” herbs for a long time to come – many years, in the case of perennial plants. All it takes is a small effort ahead of time, and buying a couple of small supplies (only about $5-10 for everything depending on your situation, I promise).
Buying your herbs
Start your herb garden by choosing the herbs that you want most – you can just choose two or three that you are sure of, or you can go all out and get everything you could conceivably use. After all, if you have it you are much more likely to use it, and that can only be a good thing for your home-cooked meals.
Punnets are a cheap way to start, but you can spend a little extra and get a more developed plant if you want to use some in the near future.
Planting your herbs
Do you have a patch of ground in your garden that you can use as a herb patch? Great! Then all you need to do is grab your shovel and plant away! Sprinkle a little bit of compost over the soil after planting, and water it in.
Total setup cost: About $4 for the compost
If you don’t have space to make a herb patch, you can always buy some pots! Prices start at $3 for a pot, and potting mix costs around the same as compost.
If you’re like me and will likely forget to water sometimes, then self-watering pots will save your life (or at least your plant’s life)! Starting at $4 for a single pot or $14 for a beautiful wide pot for several herbs.
Total setup cost: Starting at $3-4 for the pot, and $4 for compost. $8 all up
Lastly, if you live in an apartment or can’t get your plants outside for any reason, that’s not a problem! Many herbs can be grown indoors just fine. Just keep your pots in a nice and bright space. As an added bonus, indoor plants are excellent for your wellbeing!
Reaping the rewards (literally)
After a little while (usually just a month or two at the longest), your herbs will be ready to start harvesting. At this point, you can simply grab as much as you need whenever you want to use the herb – unlike a store-bought bunch, the rest will still be fresh when you come back! This is the magic of home-grown herbs.
Now that your herbs are easily within reach every time you’re cooking, you might find yourself coming up with more excuses to add it to your meal. Think your pizza or pasta could do with a bit more flavour? Add some basil!
After a while, you’ll likely find that you have more herbs than you can use. This is a perfect opportunity to play with different ways to use and store them, or giving some to friends and family. We decided to try our hand at making pesto, which goes well on just about anything. You can also air-dry them, or mix them in with butter for freezing.
So even if you don’t have plans to cook with herbs this week, now would be the best time to invest in your very own herb garden.