How to Plant an Herb Garden

Homeowners are always seeking ways to breathe new life into the spaces in their homes. Using nature to achieve this transformation is beneficial in several ways. Planting an herb garden not only helps to make your kitchen feel fresh and sustainable, but it can make your food taste better, too. Here are some tips for getting your herb garden started.

How to Plant an Herb Garden

Like other indoor plants, the key to properly supporting your herb garden is to cultivate fertile growing conditions. Herbs love sun, so you’ll want to position your plants in an area where they have access to sunlight. If sunlight is hard to come by in your local climate, consider investing in a grow light. Even if space is limited, the following locations can be a fitting home for your herb garden:

Container Garden

Container gardens give you the flexibility to move your herbs around the house. This can be especially helpful if you get inconsistent or spotty sunlight.

There are various options when choosing materials for your containers. Terra cotta, plastic, and ceramic planters all have their respective advantages, but what’s most important is that you pair the herbs with a container whose size is conducive to its growth and has proper drainage holes.

Hanging Garden

A hanging garden is a stylish way to incorporate nature into your home. To properly set up your hanging garden, you’ll need adequate wall space. Again, prioritize access to sunlight and easy accessibility. Vertical bookshelves can make for a simple, multifunctional hanging garden, while other DIY options can help to spruce up your kitchen. Whichever route you choose, consider using lightweight materials. A mobile hanging garden can come in handy when doing chores and rearranging the house.

Window Box Garden

Box gardens are a fixture of landscaping and gardening design and can help to improve your home’s curb appeal. Once they’re filled with soil, plants, and water, window boxes can be much heavier than you’d expect, so sturdy woods that don’t rot easily—cedar, mahogany, redwood, etc.—are popular material choices. As always, proper drainage is important when crafting your window box garden. If you’re building your window box yourself, drill the proper drainage holes before assembly. Add a layer of landscaping fabric along the bottom to prevent soil from leaking.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: deniskomarov

 

Easy Herbs to Grow in Your Garden

After you’ve decided where you’ll set up your garden, there’s the question of which herbs to grow. The following herbs are perfectly suited for a beginner gardener’s touch and happen to be culinary staples.

  • Basil: Fresh basil is a game changer. Sow basil seeds around twelve inches apart to allow them to reach their full potential. This herb will take your homemade pizzas to the next level, kick your pesto recipe up a notch, and provide the perfect garnish for countless other dishes.
  • Thyme: Rich soil fused with organic matter will create ideal growing conditions for thyme. This herb loves the sun, so making sure it gets plenty of sunlight will maximize its flavor. Thyme pairs perfectly with roasted and slow-cooked dishes, adding a perfect layer of warmth and depth.
  • Cilantro: Make taco night unforgettable with fresh cilantro. With enough heat, cilantro plants will grow quickly and are known to self-sow for multiple rounds. To clear up confusion, cilantro and coriander come from the same plant. “Cilantro” refers to the leaves, while “coriander” is the name for the plant’s seeds, which are often ground up when used in cooking.
  • Mint: Potting mint is key to keeping it well maintained. Without a proper container, it will run wild. There are many varieties of mint, ranging from classics like spearmint and peppermint to exotic strands such as chocolate and cinnamon mint.
  • Parsley: Parsley takes its sweet time to germinate, so consider buying plants rather than seeds to speed up the growing process. Countless recipes lean on the fresh taste of parsley, so you can’t go wrong dedicating a decent amount of real estate in your herb garden to it.
  • Oregano: Oregano thrives in sunny conditions. To maximize growth, plant its seeds some time in spring when the soil is warm. A staple of Italian cooking, having fresh oregano in your herb garden will give your pizza and pasta recipes an extra kick.
  • Chives: Known for their grass-like look, chives are closely related to onions but have their own distinct taste. Sow their seeds in spring and water regularly to keep their soil moist. Chives are a flavorful alternate for onions or scallions, while their bright green color makes them a perfect garnish for soups, salads, and sauces.

For more information on cultivating your home garden, read our Quick Guide to Urban Farming

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5 Ways to Create a Sustainable Kitchen

In many ways, the kitchen is the heart of a home. All the time spent making delicious food, sharing recipes, and enjoying meals with loved ones gives it a central role in home life. A consequence of the time spent in the kitchen is the creation of waste. But by adopting more sustainable practices in the kitchen, you can reduce waste and make your home more eco-friendly. Here are five ways you can create a sustainable kitchen.

5 Ways to Create a Sustainable Kitchen

1. Cut Down on Food Waste

It’s no secret that a certain portion of food always seems to go to waste, but how can you avoid throwing away perfectly edible food items? It starts with being intentional about your grocery shopping. This helps to prevent overbuying and will give you a better chance of cutting down your food waste. Food preservation is key, as well. Invest in high-quality, reusable containers to prevent food from rotting, wilting, or expiring before you intend to cook it.

2. Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances

Kitchen appliances generate a significant amount of power. By using an energy-efficient refrigerator, freezer, and/or dishwasher, you can reduce the overall energy consumption of your household. When deciding on which appliance to purchase, the most sustainable choice you can make is the one you plan on sticking with for a long time. When deciding on a gas versus an electric range, know the pros and cons of each option before making a final decision.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Pekic

 

3. Reusable Materials

Getting more uses out of the items in your kitchen will help make your household more environmentally conscious. Reusable kitchen towels are an eco-friendly replacement for paper towels when you’re cooking, wiping down your counters, or doing dishes. Using reusable grocery bags is an effective way to transport groceries sustainably. It will also help keep your kitchen organized by avoiding a plastic or paper bag pile-up under your sink. This line of reusable thinking in the kitchen can even extend to design. If you’re looking to give your kitchen a makeover while keeping sustainability in mind, consider incorporating reclaimed wood, sustainably-sourced countertops, or natural materials like bamboo. 

4. Use Natural or Organic Cleaning Products

Creating a sustainable kitchen isn’t just about reducing food waste and choosing reusable materials. By using organic and/or natural cleaning products, you can ensure that your cleaning practices are sustainable as well. Using natural cleaners, like baking soda and vinegar, can also create less waste when you repurpose jars and bottles to create your preferred solution. Buy ingredients in bulk, then re-purpose old spray bottles and use towels instead of paper products to clean. Certain conventional cleaning products with synthetic chemicals can negatively impact the air quality in your home, which can have harmful effects on your health, especially if you have respiratory sensitivities.

5. Be Mindful About Water Usage

Neglecting to monitor your water usage is a slippery slope. Not only will using too much water increase the overall waste output of your home, but it will also increase your water bill. Be mindful about using only the required amount of water for cooking, do your best to avoid leaving the faucet running, and if there is a drip, fix it as quickly as you can. Using too much water can also strain your home’s water systems, putting your pipes at risk of bursting. Tempering your water usage can help to prevent water damage and the high costs that come with it.

Going zero waste doesn’t have to be expensive. Try first to extend the life of the things you already have like plastic bottles and textiles. For more information on how you can adopt sustainable practices at home, read our guide to going low-to-zero waste:

A Guide to Going Low-to-Zero Waste

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7 Weekend Home Projects

So many projects, so little time. That tends to be the mantra for homeowners with an ever-growing to-do list and limited availability to accomplish their tasks. Fortunately, the weekend is an opportunity to dig into certain projects and see them to their completion by the time the weekdays come around again. These seven weekend home projects can be accomplished within a couple of days and will make a dent in your to-do list.

 

1. Upgrade Your Kitchen Cabinets

Giving your kitchen cabinets a facelift is a simple way to give your kitchen a makeover. When staining wood cabinets, begin by removing the cabinet doors and hardware, then wipe the doors to clear away and dust and dirt. After applying and removing wood stripper, sand the doors to get them primed and ready for a new stain. When painting cabinets, choose a color that works well with your appliances. As you pack up the contents of the cabinets keep your most frequently used items nearby so you can access them during your  project. To add a finishing touch to your weekend cabinet makeover, shop around for new hardware and drawer inserts.

Image Source: Getty Images

2. Refresh Your Front Entry

Your home’s front entry is the key to making a lasting first impression and helps to enhance your curb appeal. Make a statement by giving your front door a fresh coat of boldly colored paint, look for stylish house numbers, and add classic front entry elements like a sitting bench or swing for ultimate comfort.

 

3. Improve Your Home Office

Whether you work remotely or in person, much can be done in a weekend to improve the functionality of your home office. Creating an environment conducive to your productivity helps to separate your office from the rest of your home, maintaining a balance between your work life and your home life. Situate your desk near a window to attract natural light. If the room has no windows, orient your seating so you’re facing the open space of the room. Experiment with therapy lights, ergonomic chairs, and soothing décor to make your office as comfortable as can be.

 

4. Curate Your Bathroom

In one weekend your bathroom can be transformed into a sanctuary of self-care. Refinishing your tub is a cost-effective alternative to a replacement. Start by removing any and all hardware, then sand the whole surface, filling in any cracks or holes with putty. Once you’ve sanded down the putty, apply multiple layers of primer and topcoat following the manufacturer’s instructions and buff the surface. Replace your vanity’s cabinet hardware and drawer pulls, matching them with your shower rod, faucet and shower head to tie the room together. Switch out your shower curtain and carpets for bold colors to liven up the space or choose neutral tones to create an organic feel.

 

A bathroom with a dark blue vanity, white walls, and white tile.

Image Source: Getty Images

5. Organize Room-By-Room

Spending a weekend organizing each room of the house is sure to make a big difference in the look and feel of your home. Bookcases and coffee tables are magnets for clutter in the living room. Start by emptying everything and sort the items into three piles: keep, dispose, donate, (this method of organization will do wonders for your closets and bedroom as well), and invest in storage bins to keep the space tidy. In the bathroom, organize the medicine cabinet and vanity drawers first. Get rid of expired medication, makeup, and toiletries. Take the same approach to your shower. Once you’ve gone through everything, reassess your shower shelving to fit your newly organized inventory. After working your way through your kitchen cabinets, consider either a hanging or wall-mounted pot and pan rack to save space.

 

6. Fix Up Your Fence

Whether your fence needs a simple wash, a new sealant or stain, or repair, tending to it will freshen up your yard while also extending the life of your fence. Power washers are a helpful tool in getting your fence clean before re-staining, but a sprayer that’s too powerful could damage the wood. Let the fence dry for one to two days before applying the stain. As long as any damage that needs repair is contained to a section of the fence, a weekend should be plenty of time to get it fixed. To replace any damaged rails, pry them off their posts with a crowbar or cut the damaged section out with a handsaw. When repairing fence posts, be sure to remove any rails that are connected to it.

 

7. Build a Firepit

Common firepit materials include brick, stone, or cinder blocks. Outline your firepit before you start digging. Once the hole is dug six to eight inches deep, fill in the hole with gravel until it is level with the ground. Choose your materials, fix the stones into the ground, compact them together, and enjoy your time by the fire. Check for local burn bans or regulations.

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