I love to cook using fresh ingredients and this usually includes fresh herbs. I probably bought fresh herbs at least three times a week. I love to use fresh basil, coriander, parsley, thyme and many others but these tiny little bunches usually cost around $3 per bunch. So let’s do the maths, $3 x 3 times per week x 52 weeks per year = $468. Now that’s a lot and, when I thought about what I could do with that money, I decided it was time for a change.
So when Christmas was coming up last year and my family was looking for ideas, I asked for pots, punnets of basil seedlings and potting mix. They all thought that was a very boring gift but it was definitely practical and what I really wanted.
Well, I’m happy to report, I got what I asked for and, for the last 5 months, we’ve had a steady supply of gorgeous basil. Love it … beautiful fresh herbs, straight from my own garden!
So, a few things I’ve learned about growing my own basil:
- I’ve saved a lot of money.
- It’s been very rewarding growing something myself … nurturing and caring for these little plants.
- Basil typically likes sunlight, however, I’ve successfully grown my basil in pots on the back deck in full shade but with loads of light. You don’t need big garden beds, just a couple of pots will do the trick and give you a steady supply.
- I bought a really good quality potting mix from a landscape supplier but if you’re not sure what to buy, head to either Bunnings, Masters or your local plant nursery and ask for advice.
- A little bit of liquid fertilizer every 6 – 8 weeks has helped keep my basil plants healthy and lush.
- Basil doesn’t really like the frost but I live on the Gold Coast and grow it all year round without too much trouble.
- I water my basil every day but just give it a light watering and try not to drown it. Basil grows best in a well-drained soil so make sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom.
- I’ve learned not to be afraid to cut my basil plants. I used to just grab some leaves from the sides and bottom figuring that if I cut the top where the new growth was happening I would stop the plant from growing and producing … I was wrong. Now I cut the stalk off a couple of sets of leaves from the ground. Two new branches will eventually sprout off the side of the stalk that’s been cut and the result will be a bushier plant that will last a lot longer. I’ve also learned to prune off any flowers when they appear (before they turn to seed) and the plant will last longer. Also, by picking my basil often that encourages more growth as well.
So there you have it … don’t be afraid to give it a go because it won’t cost a lot of money, is a bit of fun and will potentially save you a lot.
And it’s a great example of the thing with saving. It’s about examining everything we do on a daily and weekly basis, doing some homework and making some changes. The changes don’t necessarily have to be big because, more often than not, it’s the little savings that don’t seem very significant that can really add up.
Now that I’ve had such a great result with basil, I’m going to try growing some coriander … wish me luck!
So tell me, do you grow your own herbs and, if so, what have you had the most success with?