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Save Money and Grow Your Own Herbs
By Monica Resinger

I'm sure you have noticed the high price of dried herbs for cooking at the 
grocery store; a small bottle can sometimes run $4 or $5 or more. Why not save 
some money and enjoy the fresh taste and grow your own? It's simple, provided 
you have a sunny area to grow them.

How to Grow Them
To grow herbs, all you need is a sunny area, fertile soil and a little of 
your time. If your soil is clay or sandy, you will need to add organic material 
such as compost or manure to get the best results. Once your herbs are planted, 
make sure they get at least an inch of water each week and keep the area 
weeded.  If you have added plenty of organic material to the soil prior to 
planting, you probably won't have to worry about feeding the plants for a 
while. All 
I do is work in a layer of compost around the plants each season and my herbs 
grow fine.

If you don't have a whole area to devote to herbs, that's okay, you can 
squeeze them into your flower beds or vegetable garden. Herbs make a pretty 
combination to flowering plants and some will actually benefit nearby plants by 
repelling insects. Just be sure the area gets plenty of sun and the soil is 
and weeded. 

You can also grow them in containers provided they get enough sun. If you do 
this, you will have to water on a daily and sometimes twice daily basis. Be 
sure to check the soil often to see if it is drying out. You will also have to 
fertilize the plants often because as you water, the nutrients get leached out 
of the soil.

What it Will Cost You
An herb plant at the local nursery will cost you between $1.99 and $10 
depending on the size of the herb. I usually purchase the smallest size to save 
money because I usually don't need a huge amount right away. If the herb is a 
perennial, it's going to be there year after year supplying you with fresh 
for cooking and will be growing bigger each year which will allow you to 
propagate plants by division, cuttings or seed which means more herb! If the 
you purchased is an annual, that's okay because it will supply you with enough 
herb to still make it worth the purchase. You can also propagate annual herbs 
by collecting the seeds or by taking cuttings. If you'd like to save more 
money yet, you can start the herbs from seed or get a division or cutting from 
friend, neighbor or relative. 

How to Use Herbs
Through the growing season, you can use the herb fresh which has a much 
better flavor than dried. If your recipe calls for one teaspoon of dried herb, 
substitute one tablespoon of freshly chopped herb. 

Drying and Storing
You can dry your herbs for winter use or convenience. To dry them, cut them 
early on a dry day after the dew is gone. Bundle 8-10 stems of the herb with a 
rubber band at the cut end and hang them upside down in a well-circulated area 
out of direct sunlight. 

I have a piece of lattice hanging on one of my kitchen walls for this purpose 
and I also use a pegged, wooden coffee cup holder which is made to hang on a 
wall. They both make pretty decorations with all the herbs and flowers hanging 
from them drying. 

In about a week or so (or less if weather is hot and dry), check the leaves 
to see if they are crispy to the touch and no moisture remains. If so, remove 
the leaves from the stem, crush and put into a lidded container, label and 
store out of direct sunlight. When removing the leaves, it helps to do it over 
piece of paper so you can catch any fallen leaves. 

Growing my own herbs has saved me a bundle of money and has provided an 
enjoyable hobby, fresh taste and something to offer my friends and family. You 
even make your own herb seasoning mixes to bottle in pretty jars to give as 
gifts as an additional way to save money. I'm sure you'll find it worth the 
small effort too.

Monica is the founder Homemaker's Journal E-publications, the growing home of 
many fun and informative home and garden e-books, tip sheets, articles and 
Get a FREE Slowcooker Recipe E-book when you subscribe to Monica's FREE 
e-zine for homemakers!  To subscribe and receive instructions for picking up 
FREE e-book, just send a blank e-mail to:  

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