#986 Grow Your Own Fresh Herbs

9 Nov

A bunch of basil at the grocery store that will have a shelf life of barely a week will cost you somewhere between $0.99-$3.00. A potted basil plant that will yield basil for as long as you can keep it alive will cost you between $3.00-$4.00. A pack of seeds to grow your own basil will cost $0.99 to $1.29, and yield a whole lot more basil. If you’re cooking for yourself, in an appropriately health way, than it regularly includes fresh herbs.

parsley sprout in eggshell

Parsley is easy to grow. If you grow herbs from seed, you can plant many varieties not available in the store. Photo via flickr by Anthony Rossos.

If you’re like me, you use a fraction of the bunch that you bought at the store and then the rest gets spotty, shriveled and yellow or brown before you toss it out. Potted herb plants provide the ability to pick fresh and only pick the exact amount that you need. Given the slight price difference, you would only need to use your plant one to four times to break even and anything more than that would be saving money. Growing your own from seed would save you money as soon as the plant was big enough to use.

The best herbs to grow are basil and parsley as they are called for in a lot of recipes and are hardy. Cilantro is another good one if you like Mexican, Thai or other ethnic cuisines that use cilantro regularly. Herbs don’t really have to be babied in any way to survive. We had a basil plant that stayed in the pot we bought it in and was regularly dehydrated, chronically jaundiced in its lower leaves and then put outside to freeze when we thought it was too scraggly to survive. The thing kept on living and producing fresh basil for months. Thankfully for us there is no PETA organization for the abuse of plants. Point is, herbs are hardy and pretty hard to kill off.

rosemary plant

This massive baby grew from a tiny plant.

As long as potted herbs have some good sun or light source and are watered occasionally, you should get a long lifespan out of them. Even better care or growing them outside in warm climes or in the spring/summer ensures an almost unlimited life span. We grew a rosemary plant from a single tiny plant and it kept growing and growing. We took it inside when it got cold and put it outside when it was warm. The branches got thick and gnarly. It grew into a massive bush after three years of casual watering and consecutively larger pots. One horticulturalist valued our now massive plant at $70-$80. And all this from a greenhouse purchase that was less than $5. We had unlimited fresh rosemary and a nice houseplant.

Herbs love to be cut back to encourage all the undergrowth to grow in and thrive so there are no worries about using the plant at will. If you want to make something like pesto, you would need a lot of basil, but for regular use in cooking, one to two pots of basil are sufficient and one parsley plant is more than enough.

It’s proven that people who cook with fresh herbs are more likely to eat well, eat adventurously and eat healthfully. If you grow your own herbs, you know the herbs you are using will always be organic. basil plantIt might be surprising, but adding in herbs to your cooking does add vitamins and minerals to the meals.

It’s even cheaper to grow your own herbs from seed, but the potted variety are inexpensive as well and have the added benefit of being usable immediately. Growing your own herbs would take anywhere from 60-90 days before you could start using the plant.

3 Responses to “#986 Grow Your Own Fresh Herbs”

  1. Lablasco November 13, 2012 at 3:34 am #

    Hi! I’m a recent subscriber of 1000thriftythings, thank you for sharing. Great advice, we’ve got few herb plants from the supermarket while we search for a ‘seeds exchange’ in London were we could get some non-GMO seeds not owned by monsanto. Also thinking about planting our own mushrooms, any tips about that? Cheers!

    • 1000thriftythings November 14, 2012 at 11:10 am #

      Thanks for following. I think growing mushrooms is a great idea and easy to do in an apt. even if you have no outdoor space. I haven’t done it, but know other people who have. It’s easy and relatively quick – I would start by ordering a mushroom kit that’s basically “just add water” and once you get a feel for it, go out on your own. Spring through fall is great mushroom gathering time in the country if you can go with someone who’s an expert. A local community or government organization focused on nature might be able to point you to someone. Both with mushrooms and herbs, once you get strains going that you like you can perpetuate them for a long time by letting some herbs go to seed to replant and once mushrooms are happy, they continue producing and “seeding” themselves if you give them the right conditions. Good luck!

      • Lablasco November 14, 2012 at 11:54 am #

        Wow, you’re so kind. Thank you indeed! :D

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