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Grow Some Herbs!

You can hardly get more green than gardening, right?  But, I'm always thinking about the cost of "going green," and there is some debate as to how cost-effective it is to grow your own vegetables.  For instance, in the book pictured below, an avid gardener details how his adventures in gardening led him to unwittingly grow tomatoes that cost him $64 a piece.



The frugal idealist in me wants to believe it IS possible to grow vegetables more cheaply than buying them at the grocery store, and I'll be monitoring my gardening costs this summer to see how it turns out.  But, I'm also "diversifying my portfolio" with the belief that growing herbs will be a sure-fire way to save some money over buying them at the grocery store.  Organic parsley and cilantro sell for about $1.50/bunch, and herbs like organic Tarragon, Rosemary, and Chives sell for $2.50/bunch.  A "bunch" is about 3oz, which means we're paying over $13/pound for fresh herbs! To make matters worse, the bunch inevitably spoils before we're able to use it up, so we don't even get our money's worth.  On the other hand, herb seeds are fairly cheap- even the organic, non-GMO ones.  For instance, the seed packs pictured below are only $1.59 a piece.  Now, at this point I should admit to you that I am NOT an expert gardener, and in fact am only in my second year of gardening, but my understanding is that herbs are typically not that picky about soil conditions, fertilizer, pot size, etc.  So, this spring I found some cast-off planters under our patio stairs, filled them with basic soil, and planted the seeds according to the packet directions.  According to the seed packets, a once/week watering is typically sufficient.  Some herbs, like Tarragon, prefer dryer conditions, and other herbs, like Rosemary, are able to withstand virtually any abuse or neglect that comes its way, including 6 months of only occasional rainwater because it's been forgotten behind the hot tub (that was last year- I'm sure I won't be so forgetful this year). Since my goal is to save money by growing the herbs,I'm doing my best to limit my equipment expenditures- resisting the temptation to buy new pots, garden gloves, etc., which will quickly wipe out any monetary advantage to growing our own herbs.  My start-up costs so far are low:

 

  • $1.59/seed packet
  • used planters (free)
  • $3 bag of soil (of which I only need half)

If my only other cost is weekly watering, then I should, theoretically, be able to grow some delicious, fresh herbs for significantly less than $13/pound.  I'll let you know how it goes.

The Daily Citron is a blog containing tips for frugal living, money management practices, ideas for living "green," thoughts on parenting, and recipes that tie it all together.