You have planted your herb garden with all your favorite herbs.
They are thriving; you are enjoying the zing and zest they are adding to your meals. You are also reading all you can about different ways to use them. In fact, you are getting downright passionate about herbs!
So… why not make some money with something you love?
It really will not matter whether you are more interested in medicinal herbs or culinary herbs; let me assure you there is a growing market for both of them! There are several ways you can profit from your passion, and it really will not matter which you decide on. What is important is that you start out small.
If you love seeing the new plants spring up from the seeds you sow in spring, and often have more than you can use, then the most obvious choice is to sell seedlings. Lots of people would rather buy healthy seedlings already in pots than grow their own.
Consider which herbs you have the most success with, and which people use the most.
Is it basil, that popular and sought-after culinary annual? Perhaps your interest is exotic herbs that are not available locally, or scented herbs for teas. Think about which herbs people would likely use and buy, as well as which are easy to grow, or have multiple uses. One example is thyme, which is a culinary, medicinal and tea herb that also is a great landscaping plant.
Begin by just letting people – friends, neighbors and family, know you are starting a small home business venture selling organic locally-grown herbs. Word of mouth is often the best advertisement. Put out the word in flyers, or on community bulletin boards, and talk to local businesses to see if they will allow you to post advertisements.
Another way to start selling is to set up a small roadside stand with colorful signage, where your seedlings can be bought on the honor system. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that herb and garden loving customers are very honest about paying.
Investigate whether your area has a farmers market or local flea market, and if so, set up a table there with your plants and seedlings. Lots of people love to visit these weekend markets, and most expect to buy items worth a few dollars. Have some business cards printed up before hand, and give them out to everyone you talk to.
You will need to start your herb plants in late winter or early spring. Start with just one or two varieties and micro-manage them so your crop of seedlings is lush and healthy.
A few weeks before you are ready to sell, transplant individual seedlings into pots so they have some time to ‘settle in’. You want satisfied customers who will come back next year to buy from you, and who will also pass the word along.
Next, you could expand into selling your dried herbs, attractively packaged and extolling their freshness and purity. Many people will not be bothered to plant their own herbs, let alone dry them for future use.
If you offer herbs organically grown and dried with care from your own garden, you probably will expand your customer base quite a bit.
These are just a few ways you could make herb growing a profitable side business.
Nicki Goff is a former teacher and school librarian who built a successful photography business with her husband. An avid and ‘down and dirty’ gardener, she has landscaped her cliff top home with rock gardens, shrubs, perennials and fruit trees. Her herb and vegetable gardens both contribute to her gourmet cooking.
Photo. Sorapong Chaipanya