Grow your own herbs at home and save a lot of money on groceries

This story is part Tips for the houseCNET’s collection of handy tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

It makes sense to find ways to save some money these days. After all, inflation is skyrocketing and gas price are high and utility bills are expected to skyrocket this summer. One method I suggest to save money is to change your habits at home.

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You can save money doing laundry in an energy-efficient way and making your own coffee instead of buying from a cafe, but I also recommend save money on groceries. Specifically, I suggest planting and growing your own herbs. They are growing well on the inside and outside. And that ultimately translates to fewer trips to your local grocer.

Plus, a splash of fresh basil or rosemary on your pasta, poultry, roast meats and vegetables will enhance the flavor of any dish. Growing your own herbs isn’t difficult (so don’t worry if you have a black thumb). All it takes are the right materials, planting pots and a workable plan. Here’s what you need to do. (You can also check to see if it’s cheaper to buy groceries online than in-store, and if meal kits are more cost-effective than buying individual ingredients.)

Read also: Cut costs around the house now. here’s how

1. Choose jars

A huge appeal of a home herb garden is that it’s always ready for action. Need to spice up pasta or a roast chicken? Just take a few leaves of basil, sage or a sprig of thyme. With a pot, you can place your herbs in convenient places, like on your porch, patio, or kitchen counter.

The material of your container may vary. Clay, wood, resin and metal are all options. The most important thing is that it provides sufficient drainage. Any pot or planter you use must leak excess water, which is why most planting pot bottoms have holes.

Mason jars are pretty to look at, but they don’t make the best herb gardens. Without proper drainage, your herbs will eventually rot the roots.

Choose a container that matches the size of the herbs you will be growing. Choose something too big and your plants will expend excess energy growing their roots. A cramped planter will cause your herbs to root (in other words, the pot gets bogged down). This will hinder their nutrition, stress them or even kill them.

Flat-leaf parsley is easy to grow and has a lot of flavor.

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2. Choose your herbs

If this is your first time trying to grow herbs, just start. Parsley, mint and basil are good options for container growing. They all tend to grow prolifically and don’t mind frequent harvesting. Here are some examples of basic herb varieties and their characteristics.

Basil

Relatively easy to grow, basil prefers sunny locations. It also thrives in rich, well-watered soil.

mint

With an aggressive growth rate, mint does best in its own container and above ground. It can tolerate shade but is better suited to strong sunlight.

Oregano (Greek)

This herb has small tasty leaves. It requires full sun and plenty of drainage. Greek oregano is also a tender perennial that you will need to bring indoors during the winter months.

Parsley (flat leaf)

Chefs prefer flat-leaf parsley to curly leaf because it has more flavor. Parsley grows best in moist, well-drained soil and can grow in partially shaded areas.

Thyme

This herb has very fragrant leaves and prefers less water. You should expose thyme to full sun and well-drained soil.

Rosemary

The resinous leaves of rosemary are very aromatic. Grass requires cool climates with lots of sun and moist (not wet) soil. It is also best to bring rosemary indoors for the winter.

3. Forget seeds, use starter plants

Unless you are an experienced gardener, use starter plants for your herbs. This will save you two to three weeks of growing time and increase your chances of a successful harvest.

Still don’t know where to start? Learn more about best places to buy plants online and the best indoor garden for every type of gardener.

4. Get the right soil

When it’s time to plant, use potting soil — no garden soil. The potting soil drains water more efficiently. The former is lighter and porous, while the latter is dense and traps (or blocks) moisture inside containers. If you don’t have one, get one garden trowel. They are good at digging holes, manipulating soil and remove weeds when it’s necessary.

outdoor sprinkler

Don’t forget to water your herbs regularly.

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5. Maintenance and harvest

It takes constant and regular care for the herbs to thrive. This means that you need to water them on a regular schedule. You will also need to harvest them often, as this prepares them for new growth. Just be sure to match any processing of your herbs to their specific strain.

Want to learn more about growing your own food? Read our guide to grow your own vegetables and our tips for grow your own indoor garden.


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