Most herbs are easily grown from seed, root division or cuttings, throughout the year and throughout the growing season, so they do not have to be expensive to produce. You can sell individual herbs or consider combinations such as kitchen herbs, fragrance, cosmetic or medicinal combinations and many work well for fairy gardens. Several varieties of the same herb family make a great display, especially if they have different colored or textured leaves. Holy Basil, Thai Basil, Purple Ruffle Basil, Sweet Basil, Lemon Basil are all possibilities, especially for a Pesto themed garden. Sage, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley, Chives, Basil and Rosemary work well for a Pizza themed garden and the arrangement offers a variety of textures and colors, or any herbs you would typically find in an Italian seasoning and for a bonus, plant some garlic cloves, that will sprout and grow midst the herbs. Peppermint, Spearmint, Pineapple mint, Variegated mint, are all good options for a Mint Julep Garden.
Haunt your local thrift store for inexpensive and unique containers. You'll need to make drainage holes if there are none but old watering cans, colanders, metal tins, mugs, teacups, bowls, woks, bail handled pans, kettles and small buckets, old suitcases, tackle boxes, tool boxes, all make great containers and something attractive to display the herbs in. Around Halloween, the plastic pumpkins and witches kettles work great for herbal displays, especially for medicinal herbs or cosmetic herbs; think pumpkin spice theme if selling during the Autumn season. At Easter time, there's a huge array of baskets and spring containers available, but those are easily found in a second hand store after each holiday or occasion for a small fee. Baskets work great for Cosmetic and herbs typically grown for fragrance.
You can make your own containers with wooden slats, chicken wire, bark, and even PVC pipe or make hypertufa, or use concrete blocks and bricks (the type with holes in them. So upcycling and recycling of materials you may already have laying around are great options. You can re-use old containers you have, but be sure to wash and sterilize to prevent plant or soil borne diseases from spreading to the new plantings. You can spruce up the containers with paint, burlap, rope or jute.
For Fairy Gardens, you can find small objects, rocks and pebbles at the dollar stores and thrift stores. Rosemary makes great trees and shrubbery, as it's easily trimmed and looks similar to a conifer, creeping thyme works well for ground cover, Chamomile with it's small daisy like flowers or low growing Sweet Violets, adds a floral element. Of course these will all outgrow the container if they are not maintained to keep them small. Twigs and bark work well for fences, arbors and walkways. The gardens are only limited by your imagination. You might even add a small set of sheers or a tag with instructions for maintenance.
The more creative your herbal plantings are, the higher the price and attraction there will be for your marketing efforts. Don't overlook variegated or gray plants, they add a lot of interest to containers. Be sure to label the containers with the varieties, and if there is any special maintenance required. Plastic forks come in a variety of colors, and work well as place tags, for the labels to slip into. Your labels should be of heavy card stock, so they hold up to packing and unpacking the herb containers at market, whether that is a local farmer's market or an organized plant show.
What you need:
Decorative Container (upcycled-reusable)
Screen or Mesh Wire or Landscape fabric
Small Garden tools
Prepare your container with drainage holes if there are none. Line the bottom of the container with screen, mesh wire or landscape cloth to prevent the soil from leaching out of the drainage holes. Add soil to about half way of the top of the container. Scoop out a cavity in the soil to accommodate the roots of the plant. Add water and your chosen fertilizer to the hole, allow to drain. Spread the roots some and if they are in a tight ball, loosen the roots, so they do not girdle and are allowed to spread. Place the plant in the cavity, then add soil around the root zone, and tamp it down firmly. Add your middle growth plants around that central taller plant. Then add the lower growth plants and finally the trailing plants, using the same method of scooping out the cavity, adding water and fertilizer, spreading the roots, and adding soil and tamping down. As your working with the plants, stand back a bit so you can actually see how the arrangement is developing. Try to vary color, with the boldest colors in the center and outer edges, or if the colors are similar, then try to layer them, from darkest to lightest. Grey leaved plants such as Lavender blend well with greens and other flowering plants and textures. Adding a top layer of moss will help to maintain moisture in the soil and will cover the soil to make the arrangement more aesthetically pleasing.
When all the plants are in place to your liking, water thoroughly. I prefer to set the containers in a tub of water, so they can soak completely through, but they can be watered from the soil line, just make sure they are watered thoroughly. Herbs do not require a lot of water once they are established, but they need ample water when transplanted into containers to prevent loss of moisture through the leaves and roots. Water only when they appear dry or you place a finger into the soil to about an inch depth and it feels dry or only slightly damp. Never over water or water when the soil is soggy or you will risk root rot. My deep watering method works well and assures that the plants are actually getting water into the root zone, rather just on top of the soil. If you're attempting to grow the plants indoors, you will need to provide humidity, either by a spray bottle to the leaves or set the container in pan, with a bed of stones and add water.
Herbs are not often bothered by insects, however if you notice soil flies or spider mites, use a sprayer with water diluted dish soap to dowse the plants around the stems, and soil line to discourage the pests.
Keep your herbal arrangements sheltered from wind, harsh weather, parching sun or heavy rains. To winter over, place in a garden shed, garage, cold frame, hoop house or greenhouse. Make sure they are well watered, when they are placed in shelter, then allow them to dry out some, with just minimal watering through the winter season. Cover with plastic sheeting, shade cloth or cardboard boxes to protect from deep freezing. If you know that there will be an extended period of deep freezes where the temperatures do not get above freezing day or night, then water the plants thoroughly to prevent freezing at the root zone. When weather is consistently above 40-50 degrees F., allow the plants more sun to encourage new growth. Note, some herbs can only be grown as annuals in the coldest regions, start seeds indoors or in a cold frame in late winter and transplant when the weather is mild and consistently 50-55 degrees F. You can attempt to grow indoors, if you have a sunny window or grow lights.
Keep the herbs trimmed. Never trim more than one-third or it will be difficult for the plants to recover before they are ready for the next sale. Keep the flowers pinch off from basil, oregano and thyme. You want to maintain flowers for Chamomile, Calendula, Lavender, Nasturtium, Violas and other known flowering herbs, so simply remove spent flowers from those, to encourage new buds and blooms.
Research the herbs you grow or intend to grow. The more you know about those herbs the better, trust me, you will be asked about the plants you offer, so the more knowledge you have the more informed you will be and can be of value to your customers. Talk about the plants you grow, to reinforce your knowledge of them, and if you do NOT know or able to answer a clients questions about those plants, find out. Carry a laptop or notebook with you so you will have the information at your fingertips. Don't just say you do not know, you will lose credibility it you avoid answering the questions. Having a portfolio with quality photos and information about each of the herbs represented will allow customers to peruse the information while you're helping others make selections. There's no way we can know every single thing about all herbs, but you should be well versed on the ones you are growing and offering for sale. The more knowledge you have the more confidence people will have in purchasing your product. The definition of an expert, is knowing where to quickly locate information. It does not mean someone knows everything off the top of their head, and I've noticed the term *expert* loosely used for people that sadly only know where to locate information, rather than have the knowledge. So have the knowledge AND the ability to locate accurate information.
Note: The rule of thumb when planting all containers is to plant your tallest plants to the center and back of the container. Then gradually built the arrangement of plants from medium to low and then trailing at the edges. You will need to do a little research into the herbs you intend to use, so you know which grow the tallest, which spread the most and which will stay low without having to prune too often. Another rule is to plant in 3's, 5's or 7's. You can add a single variety, then surround it with the ratio of 3's, to balance the arrangement. This is the same rule as assembling a floral arrangement.
Tip: There are many free sources online for labels of all kinds that you can print out, or create your own with blank templates. You can purchase card stock or poster board in many colors at your local stationary store or craft outlet. Make sure any labels you use are copyright free or prepare to pay for a license of usage. If you are making herbal blends or herbal preparations for re-sale that are not of your own mixture but rather one you're using from a copyrighted website, you MUST obtain permission from the site owner and be prepared to pay a license fee for usage. It's best to create your very own blends. We all work hard to have original material and you can lose your hard earned reputation if you are simply taking original material from others and reproducing it. Word travels fast through social media these days and you could lose all privileges if you do not respect copyright laws that cover products, text and photos.
Tip: If some of your herbal container arrangements do not sell, be sure to keep them watered and trimmed, so they are ready for the next market. Pinch off flowers from basil, oregano and thyme, so they do not go to seed. If these plants flower its a signal that they are done producing, and you do not want that to happen, so keep those deadheaded (pinch or cut off the flowers). In addition if any plants look tattered, trim them, remove any shriveled or damaged leaves, or replace those plants, so the arrangement looks fresh and ready for market. The bonus is that you can use the clippings for your own culinary, medicinal or cosmetic herbs, between market days.
Tip: If you use herbs for culinary, teas, crafts or cosmetics, you can package the trimmings in herbal blends to sell as a byproduct of the herb growing efforts. Small spice jars, mason jars or recycled jars all make great containers for herbal blends, and the dollar store is a good resource for small decorative containers that work well for cosmetic or fragrant blends. You can paint lids, add raffia, ribbons, burlap or lace to jars or tins to make them aesthetically pleasing. Infused Herbs, Herbal Salts, Herbal spice blends, Tea/Tisane Blends are all possibilities as a byproduct of herb growing and marketing.
NOTE: Check your local restrictions about marketing pre-made consumable products, before you start the venture so you know what you are allowed and not allowed to produce or sell to clients. Some areas are very strict, while some are extremely lenient, so you have to check your own state, city, county regulations to determine what you can or cannot do. A friend in the next state over may have no restrictions, while you may be prohibited, so check it out and never assume what goes in one state or county is acceptable or allowed in your own. And if you travel to sell your products, you must know the individual regulations for states, counties and city ordinances that apply to your products. You may even need a license or certificate to sell your products that is either state, city or county issue.
Craig's list is one way to advertise free, to reach a large audience within your region or state. There are many categories to choose from. If you have a Farmer's Salve or herbal blend, you may want to advertise under farms and livestock. If you'll be attending a local farm market you can let people know where to find you at that market, along with times and dates. Monitor the ads, and keep them up to date. Ads get old and stale so people quit looking at them unless you change them now and again with new and interesting photos and a little different text to attract and maintain interest. You may or may not want to include a phone number, email or refer them to your website or social media page for contact information. Just be wise, there are many scams through Craig's List, so don't fall victim to those that are less than honest.
Another niche may be an online store to sell your dried herbal products. To compete, you need to be unique. Theme based marketing tends to work well, so if you name your business something like mine, *Urban Spice*, (actually a play on words; herb and spice) then create a theme around that business name. *Sage and Roses* and *Craft Cottage* is yet another name used by a relative for their business. Sticking with a theme related to the name of the business, helps people remember who you are and products you offer. There are commission based online stores to look into such as Etsy.
Social Media and Website:
Having a way to advertise will help keep your business in the minds of prospective clients. Having a Facebook or other media page and a user friendly website, will make it easier to market your goods either at farm markets or online and will help you establish a customer base without costs involved. There are a variety of free website options, so research until you find one that suits your needs and offers themes that are suitable for your unique business profile. Note that I said free, however most also offer a premium service that does cost, but the free version should get you by for awhile until your customer base grows or until your product base increases. Take good, quality photos of your creations, whether that is a container planting or a unique herbal preparation. Make up a portfolio or slide show, that you can display at markets, especially if you can't manage to bring all your products with you or display all the products at once. Use those photos for your social media page and your website. Note, you can never have too many photos, the internet is visually driven, so no matter how much text you may write, it's the photos that make the most impact and make you memorable. While on the topic of photos, make sure you copyright those photos, or they are considered free domain and will be used by others without credit to you. If you keep a social media page and a website, make sure you proof read before posting. And make sure your text is understandable. Check your Auto-Correct feature, that is notoriously putting words in your mouth and they may not be words you intended to use at all.
Disclaimer and Precautions:
You may need to label your goods as not tested or approved by the FDA and a disclaimer to use at your own risk, to prevent legal disputes for your own protection. Herbs are safe for most people in moderation, but may be unsafe for those with compromised immune systems, children or pregnant females, so it's very important to include your disclaimer if you do have an online store or attempting to sell through any/all media sources or local venues.
Word of Advise:
If you have a website, I have one word of advice, avoid pop up advertising, and keep any advertising to the sidebar of the page. It is annoying to me and many others when trying to read a post and an advertisement divides the text or pops up in the middle of what you're reading. Any advertising should not bog down the page when it's loading. So if there is any really sound advice I can give about creating a website this would be it. Many people will avoid any website that has click for pay advertising within the body of the text and you could lose potential clients because of that. I know you will lose my interest and I'm far from the exception. I also object to being redirected when I go to a website for the recipe or project, I expect that to be on the page I accessed, not a few words, then redirected elsewhere to view. It's okay to direct to related topics, but it's not okay to re-direct for the project that you are leading people to view. It's a quick way to lose potential clients when click baiting is used. Outside advertising helps cover time and expenses and that's an acceptable addition when it is tastefully done, but keep it minimal, and keep it in the side bar so it is not interfering with the subject matter that led others to your website in the first place.
Additional related topics:
Refer to the link for recycling and upcycling objects for containers:
Refer to the link to make your own Hypertufa containers: justfowlingaround.weebly.com/earth-friendly-projects/hypertufa-containers
Refer to the link to make your own potting soil:
Refer to the link to propagate herbs: justfowlingaround.weebly.com/pioneer-gardens/propagating-herbs
Refer to the link for making your own rooting hormone: justfowlingaround.weebly.com/earth-friendly-projects/willownatural-propagating-hormone
Refer to the link for Natural Garden Pest Control:
Refer to the link to make your own Green Manure fertilizer:
Chicken Coop Chatter© All Rights Reserved 2011-2017
CREDENTIALS: Certified Oregon State Master Gardener since 1998. Horticulture degree 2001. Study of Herbs and Horticulture Therapy, heavy research and continued study of all plants and herbs. Gardening a lifetime.