It makes sense. Even a small windowsill garden offers a bounty of flavor for far less than what you’ll spend at the supermarket—a small package of herbs costs $3 to $5. So when I heard that Washington National Cathedral was hosting its annual Flower Mart, I turned Marron’s challenge back on him. Including plants and pots, could we put together a cook’s garden on my small patio for less than $40?
We stop at a stand run by the Four Seasons Gardening Club, a local group selling several varieties of basil and mint as well as chives, parsley, and rosemary. With plants priced at $3 each, the Flower Mart isn’t the most economical shopping spot—at most nurseries, potted herbs sell for about $2—but we conceded the extra dollar in the name of charity (the event raises funds for the cathedral grounds).
Marron and the gardening-club gals debate which plants would best be given my lack of a green thumb. He decides we’ll plant chives, parsley, rosemary, basil, the slightly spicier globe basil, Kentucky mint, and orange mint (grand total: $21). I get explicit instructions on what to keep separate: the mint, which can overtake everything else, and the basil, which needs more room to grow. Marron says the chives will grow rapidly, so I shouldn’t worry about cutting back the stalks. The other herbs, however, will need a little time to get going. With that, I head to the hardware store to pick up a few planters.
The remainder of my gardening budget goes toward four plastic planters—one long rectangle and three small round pots. They’re not very pretty, but at a total of $17.72, they keep me on budget. And thankfully, I still have quite a bit of Miracle-Gro potting soil stashed away from my last gardening attempt. Back at home, I plant my lot and cross my fingers in the hopes that I might have unearthed some latent gardening skill—and future Frugal Foodies might receive an herbal boon.