My Story: Basement Herb Garden

contributed by Ellen in PA

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I would like to share one of my ideas for bringing fragrant warmth into the house.

I make a lot of soups and stews in the winter. I keep a fresh herb (and flower) garden in my basement. It takes up about two by four feet of space. When I add the herbs to the soups and stews, the fragrance of fresh herbs infuses our home, and feels so good, too, when eaten.

This is how I do it:

  • I have a four-foot shop light outfitted with cool white and warm white fluorescent tubes. I hang the shop light from a wooden frame. You could hang them from the ceiling joists, too. (You might want to staple a piece of plastic to the wood to keep debris from falling from the floor above onto the plants.)
  • The lights are plugged into a heavy-duty timer, set for 6am to 8pm.
  • I water once a week.
  • The six-inch wide round pots were saved from some geraniums I bought about four springs ago. (Each fall I take cuttings and have plants for the next spring).
  • I put a coffee filter in the bottom of each pot, so the soil does not run out the holes in the bottom of the pot and the water does.
  • I bake the soil in the oven in a large pan for an hour at 250 degrees. I add water to the soil mix before filling the pots.
  • I set the pots into a large (28-quart) shallow plastic bin.

The four-foot light will accommodate three bins, and each bin will hold six pots comfortably. The geranium colors provide a happy reminder of spring, fall, and summer.

The herbs that I plant are rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, parsley, chives, dill, and more. I get the herbs in my grocery's produce section for $2 a pot. Repotting them really helps them to grow and flourish.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by

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