This is a guest post from one of my readers. Enjoy her story and be inspired!
It was March 2019, and I was at my wits’ end.
I stared down at the forgotten, slimy box of mint leaves I’d just dug out of the back of my refrigerator, and I knew something had to give.
How many times was I going to waste upwards of five dollars on a package of herbs for a recipe, only to use a sprig or two and let the rest go bad?
Not only was I wasting my own money on overpriced food that I wasn’t using, but I was buying it in plastic containers that were far from eco-friendly.
So, I decided to step WAY outside my comfort zone and considered something I’d never thought possible for me: starting my herb garden.
One week, several internets deep dives, and two shopping trips later, I was kneeling on my back porch, scooping various starter plants into earth-filled pots.
If I wasn’t excited, I was at least curious to see how long this experiment would last.
Little did I know that the pet project I started on a whim all those months ago would be one of my favorite hobbies, stress relievers, and secret budget weapons!
Why Have a Herb Garden?
You might already have some idea of the financial benefits of growing your food – for starters, that you can avoid paying for much of your products for a few seasons out of the year.
But even if, like me, you’re not ready for the commitment of an all-out vegetable garden, simply growing herbs can bring many benefits to your life, such as:
- Saving money on store-bought herb packs
- Cutting down on plastic waste
- Encouraging time spent outdoors and with nature
- Stress relief
Starting an herb garden on your patio can also be easier than you’d expect, and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
I was determined to start my garden with minimal investment upfront, and I was pleased to find that I didn’t need much to get started. I ended up only buying:
- Herb starter plants
- Potting mix
- Garden trowel
And the best part was, I was able to use pots I already had at home. (But if you don’t have any lying around, you can always get creative).
I’ve never been good at growing plants. The only thing I’d kept alive before this experiment was a low-maintenance succulent (and even that had some rough patches at first).
So, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to discover that my herb garden was impossibly easy, even for someone like me!
I set up my little herb garden on our back porch, making sure the pots were on a sturdy table out of reach of our rambunctious border collie mix.
At first, it was hard to get into the habit of maintaining my little plants, and I was impatient to be able to start using the cuttings.
I was worried that I wouldn’t use what I had, and I found myself stressing over my weekly meal plans to make sure I included recipes that called for those specific herbs.
However, after a few weeks, I settled into a rhythm.
I found that taking care of my herbs was easier than I’d feared; they just needed to be watered every 2-3 days.
I also stopped worrying so much about making sure my meal plan incorporated the herbs because I saw that we were using them more frequently than we ever had when we were buying them from the store.
We would cut a few sprigs of mint for mojitos, which were suddenly our new favorite cocktail.
We’d find ourselves experimenting with homemade pasta sauces, made so much more flavorful with fresh oregano from the garden.
And don’t even get me started on our overly generous use of cilantro!
If we thought we’d used a lot of it before, when it came dried out of a jar, it was nothing compared to the insane zeal we had for fresh cilantro.
Every taco, piece of avocado toast, and a bowl of guacamole was garnished beautifully with our new favorite herb.
Verdict: Did My Herb Garden Save Me Money or Change My Life?
Yes, to both!
I admit that I started this whole experiment mostly out of spite, with a little curiosity thrown in. I didn’t have high expectations for the impact a small herb garden would have on me.
I am positive that the garden has saved me money, not only from giving us much cheaper herbs than the boxed version at our grocery store.
It’s also helped us save money on food overall.
How do you ask?
I quickly noticed that once we got used to having the herbs at our disposal, we found it much more exciting to experiment with new dishes at home.
We were eating out less and eating in more – simply because the dishes we were preparing were more flavorful and felt so much more gourmet.
I was amazed to discover how such a small tweak could impact our eating (and spending) habits!
But the herb garden did so much more for me than just save me money. It also significantly improved my overall quality of life.
I found myself spending more time in my back yard, caring for my plants, even though they truly are low maintenance;
I just liked the excuse to be outside.
A quick trip to the patio with a watering can turn into a quick game of fetch with my dog, or a few minutes lounging on a patio chair with a book.
My husband and I would enjoy sitting outside in the evenings with a glass of wine, breathing in the fragrant herbs behind us and chatting about our day.
Astoundingly, my herb garden has turned me into someone who spends less money at grocery stores and restaurants, and more time outside, away from screens and the usual stressors of life.
Who knew one little row of plants could do so much?
About the author: Nicole Replogle is a blogger and content writer for hire specializing in personal finance and health. When she is not creating converting content for businesses, she can be found playing with her rambunctious border collie mix, marathon training, or experimenting with new methods of brewing coffee.