Herbaceous on a Dime

Watch any show on the Food Network and more often than not, the chef de jour will reach for a fistful of herbs as part of demoing the dish. It never seems like a big deal, save for the chef always urging viewers to add herbs.



You wouldn’t think those slender, green, leafy stalks would cost a bunch but they do, the really do. I would actually love to find out what the Food Network spends every year on herbs. I am betting, unless they have an herb farm tucked away in the Hamptons somewhere, that all those herbs are costing them a mint.

Case in point. You watch Ina or Bobby or Guy make something that includes the humble parsley. No problem, you think, I can make that. In fact, its perfect for my little dinner party Saturday night. And it is just parsley. You head to the store and get yourself some parsley, it costs you a budget flinching $3.99 for a tiny bouquet but no problem, you will surely use it all up. You even wrap what you don’t use carefully in damp paper towels and place it in your crisper.

Three weeks later…

Trying not to gag, you extract a slimy rotting mess of parsley from your crisper. You just threw away $3.

Now, repeat that at least twice a month for a year and that’s another $72 you threw away. Or, a week’s worth of groceries, a new pair of shoes, another chunk in your emergency savings.

It clearly adds up.

Contrast that with a modest herb garden in your yard, balcony, or window sill. You need parsley? Grab your kitchen shearers and snip away. And you have ended up wasting? Absolutely nothing. You harvested what you needed, nothing more.

Herbs are ridiculously easy to grow. They need no care, little water and unlike a lot of plants, herbs actually thrive on neglect, making herbs the dream plant of any one with a black thumb. You can use nearly any container that you can punch holes in to drain to grow them and any plain old dirt will do. Best of all, for runners like mint, just ask a friend to give you a stalk or two and, after sitting in a jar of water on your kitchen counter for a week or two, it will happily grow in just about any pot you plant it in.


I never throw away the white roots of green spring onions. I toss them in shallow water for a couple of days and then plant them. Free onions. Dill grows really well from seed and I’ve grown sage that way too although some plants are easier when you buy small starter plants. I’ve also given away countless stalks rooted from my rosemary bush when I prune it. The more you grow, the more you save. So, grow your own and show those celebrity chefs what for. herbs-1140763_1920






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