Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Can I make a profit growing herbs?

Herbs for Profit 

Herbs are addictive. Oh, not in the usual sense, but when folks discover the joy of growing, gathering and working with glorious herbs, they want to learn more, do more, until invariably they wonder,

“Could I make money growing herbs?”

The answer: You likely can.     Read More....

It’s difficult yet doable to launch a successful herb-crop venture, but easier to grow an herb business greenhouse—growing herb plants for gardeners, offering workshops, making and marketing herbal crafts or products, or selling fresh herbs to natural health practitioners and upscale chefs, or at farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
Before you decide, investigate. Read and pick the brains of other herbal entrepreneurs. The resources are out there; here’s where to find them.
No matter what sort of herb business you’re thinking of, contact ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas) or visit their site to download their herb growers’ publications, especially Herb Overview: A Horticultural Systems Guide. A toll-free call to ATTRA will get you a free, custom-assembled packet of information tailored for your needs.

P.O. Box 3657
Fayetteville, AR 72702
(800) 346-9140

Find links to downloadable ATTRA publications, plus links to hundreds of other small-scale farming resources.

Plop herbs into average, everyday garden soil and they’re happy. In fact, herbs grown in super-enriched soil produce low-flavor foliage. Herbs are simple plants, but they won’t tolerate soggy soil, although a few, like mint, prefer fairly moist digs. If your soil is heavy, rocky or damp, consider a raised-herb garden (see “Raised Herb Beds” below). Once you’ve chosen a spot for your herb garden, cultivate the soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches, tossing stones, dirt clods and other debris; then spade or till in three to four inches of organic compost—homemade or from the gardening store. Voila, that’s it!

Next, you’ll need plants. While herbs can be grown from seed, cuttings, root divisions or by layering, today’s garden centers market a mind-boggling array of herb seedlings that are ready to be popped in your garden. They’re a beginning herb grower’s best bet.
Herbs are classified as annuals, biennials or perennials. Some are more frost-sensitive than others. When selecting potted herbs, choose compact beauties with healthy-looking foliage and sturdy stems. Small plants transplant best. Unless the plants were displayed outdoors all day at the garden center, they will need to be “hardened off” before being planted. Beginning a week to 10 days before planting, carry them outdoors to a sheltered, shaded spot for a few hours each day, gradually leaving them out longer and longer. Water them in the evenings and bring them indoors overnight.
To prevent transplant shock you’ll want to plant them on an overcast or drizzly evening, not a sunny day. Plant annuals and tender perennials after your area’s last spring frost. Water the herbs right before you begin.
Scoop out a hole deep and wide enough to accommodate your plant’s root ball. Gently pinch its stem, upend the pot and tap the bottom until your herb slips out. Arrange it in the hole so its roots aren’t crowded and it sets at the exact depth it did in the pot. Carefully backfill around the plant’s roots. Coax soil around them and lightly tamp it in place—you want to eliminate air pockets. Take care not to pack new soil atop the stem.
Gently pat to firm the surface around your herb, give it a slow, deep drink, and move on to the next plant. Water your transplants daily until new growth sprouts. After that, an inch of rainfall per week is sufficient.
Pinching off tips helps herbs like basil grow bushier, and pinched tips make mighty fine eating. Begin judiciously harvesting herbs as soon as the plants are established.

For the USDA take on herb businesses, visit:

Herbs: A Small-Scale Agriculture Alternative
And don’t miss their “Herbs and Herb Gardening: An Annotated Bibliography and Resource Guide
And get acquainted with the Herb Growing and Marketing NetworkA discussion board, classifieds, and a comprehensive “herbalpedia” are a few of the goodies at this site.