Growing Herbs for Fun and Profit
Growing herbs is a lucrative business idea for teenagers. Due to the growing demand for freshly grown herbs, teens have the opportunity to make a decent income from their efforts.
Before you delve into your herb growing business, read up on the different types of herbs on the market and their ideal growing conditions. There are many books available on the subject that will give you the knowledge you need to succeed, so browse your local bookstore or library for ones that will help you the most in your quest.
The last thing you want to do when growing herbs is to choose ones that don’t grow well in certain kinds of soil or certain lighting conditions. Like vegetables and fruits, certain herbs need a specific environment in order to grow properly and produce the correct flavor associated with them. So choose wisely.
It can be a daunting task to decide which herbs to grow even after you know what will grow best in your area. Some common beginner herbs are winter savory, rosemary, sage, sweet basil, dill, mint and sweet marjoram, to name a few. Once you’ve tried your hand at some of these herbs, you can move on to others.
When choosing your herbs, it’s important to decide if you want annuals, biennials or perennials. Annuals will need to be replanted each year, while biennials need to be replanted every two years. Perennials don’t need to be replanted at all and will return year after year.
After you’ve read up on herb growing basics, check with your local small business office to find out what licenses and permits are needed in order to run your business. That office will be able to provide you with all applicable information.
Once you have that squared away, decide whether or not you’re going to grow herbs in the summer only or all year long. There are things to consider with each option.
If you plan to grow only during the summer months, you’ll want to have an area cleared outside of your home to grow your herbs in. A traditional kitchen garden is 20’ x 4’. Each herb plot within the garden should be between 12 and 18 inches. If you plan to grow a wide selection of herbs, you’ll want a larger growing area.
You may also want to consider drawing out a diagram beforehand that lists the herbs you want to grow and where they’ll be planted in your garden. Some herbs need to be planted apart from others to prevent cross-germination and other factors.
Others, like parsley and purple basil, make wonderful border herbs, so planning ahead is a good idea. If you choose to plant mint, you’ll want to contain your plants in a number 10 can or a bucket to prevent them from overrunning your other varieties.
If you have limited ground space, you can grow your herbs in planting containers, window boxes, number 10 cans or even hanging baskets. Just be sure to have plenty of soil and composting material on hand for your plants.
If you’re planning on growing herbs year round, you can grow them inside under a heat lamp or on a windowsill where there is access to plenty of light, usually in a south or west-facing window. Indoor plants will require more watering than outdoor plants since they don’t have access to rain, so be sure to water your plants as needed.
If you have access to a greenhouse, that’s another great way to grow herbs all year long. But, again, you’ll need to make sure you keep them hydrated.
Once you’ve grown and harvested your herbs, you need to decide if you’re going to sell them as is or dehydrate them. If you choose to dehydrate them, there are several methods to choose from, including using a dehydrator or the oven. If you decide to dehydrate, you’ll also need a mortar and pestle to grind up the herbs once they dry. You can then store them in canning jars, which can be found at any local home and gardening store, or often on Freecycle.
When it comes to advertising your herbs for sale, there are several options available. You could post flyers at local indoor farmer’s markets, or local grocery stores. Be sure your flyers include your contact information and a list all of the herbs you sell and whether or not they are dried. Also include business cards when possible so potential clients can pass on your information to others who may be interested in purchasing from you.
If you live in a highly populated area that sees a lot of traffic, you could even setup a roadside stand in the same way that you may have set up a lemonade stand when you were younger.
Also, let your friends and family know you have herbs for sale, and ask them to spread the word. People like supporting a teen in business, so once people know what you have to offer, your sales will begin to grow.
Growing herbs does involve work. And it will require you to be diligent and dependable in caring for the plants, but if you follow through with it, you can create a successful business in the herb growing industry and have a lot of fun in the process.