One of the delightful pleasures of life are herbs. Besides adding beauty to your garden they make foods taste better and provide a pleasant scent to the air we breathe. In George Washington days everyone had a herb garden that they used for culinary, teas and medicinal purposes. That practice is slowly coming back.
A spaghetti garden is one of the most popular kitchen gardens. Anyone that has a sunny patch of ground or a window-box can grow these herbs of parsley, garlic, basil, bay laurel and oregano. A small garden space can easily yield all the herbs that you’ll need for delicious Italian meals. They are even easy to grow in a sunny window for your year-round use.
If you drink a lot of coffee, you probably have quite a few metal coffee cans on hand. With just a little effort, you can make a useful and pretty handmade gift for your friends and family.
First, wash out your can and peel off any labels. Next, apply a coat of metal primer to your can. Let the primer dry thoroughly. Then, apply a coat of bright acrylic paint to the can.
Once your can is painted, you can decorate it. I like to apply crackle medium and then add a top coat of color. This effect is beautiful if you paint a deep blue undercoat and a rich red overcoat on your can.
You may want to rubber-stamp bugs or garden tools onto the can instead. To do this, use stamps that are flexible so that you can stamp onto the curved surface of the can. You can apply a light coat of acrylic paint to the stamp and then press the stamp onto the can, carefully rolling the stamp so that the whole image is stamped onto the can. If you mess up, don’t worry. You can wipe the stamped image off the can and start over.
Another great decorative technique for decorating cans is decoupage. Use empty seed packets with pretty artwork or cut pictures from magazines and decoupage them to the can in an attractive pattern.
Once your can is decorated, apply a coat of sealer to the finished product. If you will use the can outside, you may want to let this coat dry and apply a second coat of sealer.
Now, you are ready to prepare your can for planting. Turn the can upside down. Use a 3 inch nail and a hammer to poke drainage holes in the bottom of the can. Turn your can over and fill it to just an inch below the rim with good potting soil.
Next it is time for you to decide which herbs you will be planting in your can. Chives, basil, oregano, thyme and parsley all are great choices. Of course, you can also put a lovely scented geranium in the can, instead.
As a finishing touch, add a tag with information about caring for the herb and a few great recipes. It is easy to attach the tag with a simple florist pick.
Finally, consider other ideas for your coffee can. For instance, instead of adding potting soil and an herb, add a garden trowel, gardening gloves, a packet of seeds, a box of tea and a package of tea biscuits for do it yourselfers.
In any recipe calling for herbs, use fresh herbs. Preparing the herbs for your dish is easy. The more tender herbs like mint, parsley, basil and cilantro can be gathered in a bowl and snipped with scissors. This is the fastest and safest way to chop the herbs. If your recipe calls for the more hardy herbs like oregano, rosemary, or thyme you should use the stripping method. Hold a branch of the herb upright in your fingers and run the fingers of your other hand down the stalk stripping the tiny leaves free. The flavor will be more intense if you have gathered the herbs from your herb gardens or container gardens because they will be absolutely the freshest herbs available.
The best way to have fresh herbs is to plant and grow them yourself. No longer is there a designated herb garden. They can be found in your flower beds, along walkways or in pots on your porch. Many ambitious gardeners are finding new ways to incorporate herbs into their garden beds and their container gardens.
Many gardeners are unaware of the beauty of flowering herbs and never consider planting them within their flower beds. Some herbs that have beautiful flowers are purple coneflower, catmint, bee balm, yarrow, pinks, lavender, pot marigold, borage, feverfew, and nasturtium which is particularly lovely in fresh salads.. Many other herbs, such as parsley are excellent next to flowers of all sorts because of their spectacular foliage. When planting red or blue flowers, place purple basil around them for an artful arrangement.
Another area to consider is to use herbs as ground cover. The herbs that are suitable to this are the low growing oregano, chamomile, woolly and other creeping thyme, mint, and rosemary. Not only will it look pretty but it will be absolutely fragrant. Just be careful of the mint family, they tend to take over everything.
One of the best ways I have grown herbs is in containers. In fact, I like container gardening so much I wrote my eBook Container Gardening Secrets (available at ContainerGardeningSecrets.com), so everyone could enjoy this type of gardening. The beauty of a container garden is that it is portable and can be changed at a moment’s whim. When there is no more room in your garden, start a container garden which you can place on your door step or patio. Use them to fill in bare spots that come up during the gardening season or put them on a sunny window sill in your home for easy harvesting. Best of all you can bring your herb containers inside over the winter months and continue to harvest for months to add to your tasty meals or to be used for medicinal purposes.
Another way to employ pots in your garden is to plant invasive herbs such as mint into a pot and then plant pot and all into the ground. This is an easy trick to keep those creepers from taking over your garden beds.
Plant a container garden near your door with the cherry pie scented blue flower heliotrope and other fragrant herbs such as rosemary, thyme and basil. Every time you walk by you will be greeted with there delicious scent.
Some herbs that have grown on rocky hillsides over the centuries such as thyme, oregano and lavender are perfect for cracks in flag stone paths or walls and rock gardens. They thrive in hot dry areas with good drainage. Some believe that those herbs grown in these conditions produce much better flavor.
Now is the time to plant your herbs, whether it is in a garden bed, a cracked wall or a container garden. Use your imagination. Consider color height and texture when planting your gardens. Not only will it be visually pleasing but your cooking will improve too!