Learn how to Start a Herb Business or Herb Farm

Be a professional herb grower - this is an intensive course of study that is designed to provide the student with a solid grounding in herb growing and the herb industry.
Half of the course deals with general herb culture, including identification, soils, mulching, feeding, watering, propagation, pest and disease control, harvest, storage, processing, companion planting, nursery management and herb farming.
The remainder of the course involves detailed studies of major groups of herbs such as: mints, thymes, lavenders, scented geraniums, garlic, roses, artemisias and parsley.


Who Should Do this Course?
If you work or hope to work in the herb industry, do not have sufficient time or money to undertake a longer course and want to keep your education broad (ie. not focused on just one type of herb); this is the best course for you!

Learn to work with herbs

This course is designed to provide training for anyone who works, or wishes to work with herbs; whether growing and selling the plants; harvesting plants, or creating and selling herb products.

It will show you the possibilities and help you explore opportunities and a possible way forward that is relevant to you, and where you live.

Course Content and Structure

Unit 1 Introduction To Herb Culture

Lesson I

Introduction to herbs, definitions, uses. Classification of herbs; use of a botanical key.

Lesson II

Cultural Techniques...planting, soils, drainage, feeding, mulching, composting, pruning.

Lesson III

Propagation Techniques...propagation mixes, growing structures, cuttings, seed, separation & division, layering.

Lesson IV

Identification of plant health problems...pest & disease, frost, heat, water stress, etc.

Unit 2 Using Herbs

Lesson I

Processing & Use of Herbs

Medicinal, culinary, perfumes, dyes, oils, distillation processes, etc.

Lesson II

Harvesting & Storage

Air drying, oven drying, microwave drying, freezing, fresh storage, when & how to harvest.

Unit 3 The Mints (Lamiaceae)

Lesson I

Mentha species:Peppermint, spearmint, applemint, wintermint, pennyroyal, corsican, ginger mint etc.

Lesson II

Lavender (Lavendula varieties) & thyme (Thymus).

Lesson III

Assorted Lamiaceae varieties:Lemon Balm, Hyssop, Rosemary, Bee Balm (Monarda), Basil, Savory, Marjoram, Sage.

Unit 4 The Daisies (Asteraceae)

Lesson I

Artemisia species...Southernwood, Wormwood, Tarragon, Mugwort.

Lesson II

Miscellaneous Asteraceae: Chamomile, Tansy, Safflower, Costmary, Yarrow, Calendula, Dandelion etc.

Unit 5 The Parsley Family (Apiaceae)

Lesson I

Parsley, Coriander, Dill, Caraway, Angelica, Cumin, Fennel, Lovage, Sweet Cicely etc.

Unit 6 The Onion Group

Lesson I

Chives, Leek, Garlic chives, Tree onion, Welsh onion, etc.

Lesson II


Unit 7 Other Herbs

Lesson I

Rosaceae (Rose, Burnet, Strawberry, blackberry, etc)

Lesson II

Miscellaneous: Lemon grass, Lemon verbena, Bay, Sorrel, Dock, Juniper, Horseradish, Evening Primrose, etc.

Lesson III

Scented Geraniums; Australian Natives, Eucalyptus and Others

Unit 8 Pests & Diseases

Lesson I

Companion Planting

Lesson II

Natural Pest Control:Herb sprays, biological control, etc.

Unit 9 Landscaping

Lesson I

Landscape Design Principles and Practices: How to draw a landscape plan

Lesson II

Home Gardening With Herbs; Cottage gardens, hedges & borders, tubs, baskets, kitchen gardens, herb lawns, herb indoor plants.

Lesson III

Public Landscaping: Historic herb gardens (Knot gardens etc), herbs for low maintenance & colour in parks..etc.

Unit 10 Herb Farming 1

Lesson I

Establishing & Operating a Herb Nursery: Open ground vs container growing, nursery layout, potting soils, pots and labels,marketing, etc.


Unit 11 Herb Farming 11

Lesson I

Establishing & Operating a Herb Farm:Soil Preparation and management (plastic mulch, organic mulches, cultivation), row cropping.

Unit 12 Herb Farming 111

Lesson 1

Evaluating Herb enterprises, assessing market demand. Deciding how to proceed.



Here are some examples of what may be achieved:

  • Differentiate between different varieties of herbs in cultivation.
  • Explain the general cultural practices used for the growing of herbs.
  • Determine harvest and post harvest techniques for herb crops, including processing, storage and use of herbs.
  • Develop a production plan for a herb crop grown for harvesting.
  • Develop a production plan for a herb nursery.
  • Design a herb garden for a home or public garden.
  • Evaluate the production of herbs or herb products in a commercial business.

Here are just some of the things you may be doing:

  • Distinguish, using illustrations and minimum but adequate comments; between major plant families which herbs belong to.
  • Compile a resource file of fifty different sources of information regarding cultivated herbs.
  • Prepare an herbarium collection of one hundred different herb varieties.
  • Develop guidelines for the general culture of herbs in your locality.
  • Explain six different propagation methods suitable for herbs, using illustrations.
  • Demonstrate how to prepare cuttings for three different herb varieties.
  • Propagate three different varieties of commercially farmed herbs, using appropriate, but different propagation techniques for each.
  • Explain natural pest and disease control methods for a specified herb species.
  • Explain the concept of companion planting, including three examples of proven companion planting interrelationships.
  • Write a maintenance schedule for either a herb garden, nursery or farm.
  • Describe two different harvesting techniques for herbs, by outlining the steps to follow for each.
  • Determine criteria which are critical to success in the process of drying herbs.
  • Compare different drying processes for herbs, with reference to: *equipment used *procedure *cost.
  • Produce two marketable herb products by harvesting, and processing material from a herb plant.
  • Prepare five different herbal products for home use.
  • Estimate the costs associated with processing four different herbs to a marketable stage, itemising the components of costs for each.
  • Determine ten different species of herbs which have potential to be grown commercially as broad acre crops in your locality.
  • Describe the process of producing a specified commercial herb crop being grown organically.
  • Describe the process of producing a commercial herb crop being grown hydroponically.
  • Compare broad-acre production methods, used for three different herbs, including: *propagation *planting*crop management*harvesting*post-harvest processing; by constructing a table or chart.
  • Design a simple trial, to test the commercial potential of different varieties of a specific herb species.
  • Conduct the simple trial you designed recording details of tasks undertaken.
  • Analyse the results of the trial conducted to test the performance of a herb plants.
  • Determine the variety with greatest commercial potential from those trialled.
  • Prepare flow-sheet broad acre crop production schedules for four herbs; one each from Allium, Apiaceae, Asteraceae, Lamiaceae groups.
  • Determine minimum facilities required to produce saleable plants in a specified herb nursery.
  • Prepare a potting media suitable for growing a container herb plant of a specified species, as nursery stock.
  • Describe the procedures used in a commercial herb nursery, to produce plants for sale.
  • Differentiate between the procedures used for production of different products in a herb nursery, including: *Punnets of seedling herbs*Bare rooted plants*Standard container plants*Hanging baskets*Topiary.
  • Grow a herb plant to a commercially acceptable standard, as a tube stock container plant, through all stages of production, without supervision.
  • Prepare production schedules for two herbs from four different minor herb groups, for a specified nursery.
  • Explain the use of general landscape principles and practices in the designs of two different herb gardens.
  • Determine different applications for herbs in home gardens.
  • Determine applications for herbs in public landscaping, referring to both difficulties and advantages in different situations.
  • Design for a herb garden for a site of between 30 and 100 square metres surveyed by you, preparing a scale drawing showing the placement of at least 20 different varieties of herbs.
  • Explain the reasoning behind the herb garden designed.
  • Determine critical factors to establishing a new herb business, in the learners locality.
  • Analyse the business operations of a specified herb enterprise.
  • Assess market demand for a herbal product, through a phone survey and information search.
  • Compare the commercial potential of three different types of herb enterprises, in your locality.

What is Involved in Running a Herb Farm?

There is an almost endless variety of enterprises open to the herb farm. There is a definite difference between the profitable and the interesting possibilities, and the serious new herb farmers might have to modify their ambitions in order to achieve a profit Most business in the herb farm industry involves the following four areas: production and sale of plants, seeds, dried herbs and herbal oils.

There is a market for a wide range of other herbal products but for the moment this market remains relatively small. Examples are sachets and potpourris, vinegars, bath salts, oils and cosmetics (generally controlled by the large cosmetic companies), pickles, soaps, jams, medicines, insect-repellent sprays, sauces, sleep pillows, tobacco, incense and scented candles.

Many attractive herbal gift items can be produced for sale in the nursery. Their popularity, however, is largely governed by the degree of attention given to their presentation and display. These attractive sachets of potpourri and lavender will be labelled and packed in clear cellophane bags before being placed on sale at the counter of a country herb farm.

Production and Sale of Plants
Herbs are grown for sale in containers and also in the open ground.
Growing and selling in 7 to 15 cm diameter pots is more common, but from the open ground, they can be dug in winter and sold bare with only the soil which clings in a ball to the roots.
Most herbs grow well from both seed and cuttings (refer to propagation charts for details). Several herbs are also easily grown from division. Herbs are a relatively fast-growing group of plants, reaching a sale able size usually within six months of propagation. For this reason, herbs are usually sold at a lower price than woody shrubs and trees. To obtain a reasonable living from a herb nursery, a single person would need to produce and sell between 15,000 and 30,000 plants a year. A herb farm usually relies heavily on sales of plants but often supplements this with sales of herbal products, books and general nursery lines.

Production of Seed
Seed needs to be harvested when it is mature, just prior to dropping. The experienced seed farmer can know the time almost by instinct but the inexperienced must watch the plants closely. Perhaps the best indication of the seed's approach to maturity is a colour change (usually from a green to a brown or autumn tone). At this stage, a stocking can be tied over the seed head. When the seed drops, it will be caught by the stocking.

The experienced person does not need the stocking for most plants. Seed will keep best fit is stored dry in a sealed container (not vacuum sealed however). The keeping quality of herb seed varies from one year to five years. Most keep at least two years. If you are growing seed for sale through your own retail outlet (i.e. to the public on the roadside or at the nursery), you will probably obtain sufficient seed from a couple of plants of each variety. If selling to a seed company, you would grow much larger quantities.

Dried Herbs
Herbs should be dried either indoors or in a specially constructed drying cabinet It is important that rain does not interrupt the drying process. A herb which half dries, moistens, then continues to dry again, will lose much of its quality. The main requirements are:

  • a fairly constant temperature between 27°C and 32°C (for most- not all)
  • good air movement around the herb-shade for any top growth
  • sunlight for drying roots.

Do not dry in any room which might become humid i.e. a kitchen, bathroom, laundry or a room which has indoor plants. Herbs should be dried immediately they are harvested either spread out on wire mesh shelves or hung upside down so that air can move freely around all parts of the plant It helps to turn the plants every day or so until dry. When the plant parts will break easily without bending or with little pressure, then they are sufficiently dry. They are then best stored in a dry airtight container.

Herbal Oils
These are made by distilling the oil from the plant parts or by steeping the plant parts in a non-aromatic vegetable oil such as sunflower, safflower, peanut or olive oil.
Rose petals, rosemary or lavender can be crushed then stood in one of these vegetable oils in a sealed jar. If placed in the sun or some other warm position, the aroma of the plant will soon penetrate the oil. Use 5 g of flowers or foliage to 500 ml of oil. Herb cooking or cleansing oils are
made in this way.
Distilled oils of some plants are produced on a larger scale for use in certain industries. Lavender, spearmint peppermint and eucalyptus oils are among the more obvious ones. Melaleuca alternifolia is an Australian native paperbark which supplies oil used in the production of fire gel. This is in high demand worldwide.



If you are passionate about working in this industry you need sound knowledge and skills. Our professional tutors have broad knowledge of industry expectations and where the industry is heading today. They can mentor you through your course and help you to develop the skills and the knowledge required to make a success of your business or career in this field. This course is comprehensive so be prepared to be challenged but don't lose sight of the fact that your tutor is there to guide you through your course and use this to your advantage.  This course will help:

  • To give you the underpinning knowledge and skills to work across broad sections of this industry from nursery, farming, retail through to herb products production.
  • To give you a sound understanding of the marketing aspects associated with herbs and herbal products.
  • To give you a grounding in what herb needs to grow into healthy plants.
  • To further your passion of these interesting plants.
  • To be a professional in this field.