You've always loved cooking and gardening. Now you're considering how to put your two hobbies together in a business venture. Growing and selling herbs might be just the opportunity for you to do what you love and make money at the same time. Before you start digging up the lawn to put in extra herb beds. however, there are a few things you should consider.
Find out what licenses you'll need. Check with the state, city and county. You will most likely need a business license and sales privilege or tax license. The county may require a food handler's license as well. Herbs growing in a pot aren't considered a food, but a package of dried herbs used for seasoning may be. If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner's association check their rules; some associations forbid businesses in the home.
Research the market to see what herbs are in demand. Visit farmer's markets and gourmet grocers to get an idea of what sells in your area. You may find out that more exotic herbs have a better chance of selling. Talk with the produce manager at your grocer to see what sells best. Check with the local agricultural university extension as well; many of them offer information on how to sell produce.
Select the herbs you want to grow. Consider your geographic area. Most herbs are not fussy and will grow anywhere they can find a bit of soil and sun. Others may not be so hardy and may wilt at the first sign of cold weather. Choose varieties that aren't commonplace. You'll find green basil sold just about everywhere but not many people offer purple-leafed basil, lemon thyme or chocolate mint.
Plant the herbs in rich soil in a sunny area. Use organic fertilizers. Control insect pests by picking them off, using a spray of water or a insecticide that can be used 24 hours before harvesting. You don't want to miss selling at the local farmer's market because you just sprayed your herbs with insecticide.
Fence the area if you have children or pets. Their romping can put a dent in your potential profits if they damage your herb bed.
Choose how you will sell and package the herbs. Fresh bunches of herbs, dried herbs, seasoning packets of herbs and herbs growing in pots are alternatives to consider. Think about what other products would sell well with the herbs. Herb-scented candles, soaps or hand creams will fill out your product line.
Make your herbs special. You should strive to offer the healthiest and greenest herbs of course. Consider what else you could add to make customers seek out you. It could be a collection of herb recipes, a newsletter that tells how the herbs are used in potpourri or the aromatherapy values of the herbs.
Package the herbs so they stay fresh. Consider keeping the stems of the harvested herbs in water so they don't wilt. Zip lock bags are another choice but they're not as attractive to customers. Grocery stores sell herbs in clear plastic containers. If you're selling herbs in bulk, locate a wholesale source for the containers.