This post is gorgeous and I can say that as I didn’t write it! Today’s post is by Kyrstie from A Fresh Legacy. Kyrstie shares on her blog tips for growing fresh healthy produce and family friendly recipe ideas. She even has a fab new e-book out at the moment Grow Your Own: Your Guide To Grow Fresh which is a simple, practical guide to help you to get the most from your vegetable garden.
In this post she takes you step by step on how to create a gorgeous herb planter box gift for someone this Christmas. This post is also part of my 10 week Christmas planning series. You can find the rest of the series here.
The gift of fresh herbs, or salad greens could be the perfect Christmas gift for a busy family, a food enthusiast, a teacher, a health conscious or healthy eating friend or someone in your life who is interested in growing their own vegetables but has not quite found the time to start. Creating a herb planter box is a simple and fun activity that you can do with the kids.
Growing your own herbs is a wonderful introduction to growing fresh food. They are easy to grow and provide the benefit of being available as required, rather than lying limp in the bottom of the fridge crisper! A herb planter box may be grown indoors or out. Place it on the outdoor dining table for easy access during summer entertaining or the kitchen bench.
- Wooden Box –with drainage in the base – I chose a box with slats in the base with gaps in between, thus allowing for drainage.
- 1 roll of coconut fiber
- Organic potting mix
- Garden spade
- Herbs or plants of choice – I selected x 5 plants (chilli, basil, coriander, chives, and thyme)
- Wood varnish of choice
- Wood oil of choice
- Paint brush
- Mineral Turpentine for paint clean up
I found the box I used at a local vintage market. If you, or someone you know, can use a saw, hammer and nails a box could be made from scrap wood such as pallets. I like the character of a used one that has its own history, plus my husband’s “To Do” list is far too long for him to have time to also make me planter boxes!
Don’t feel limited to a box – you can use almost any container as a planter. Be creative!
Safety Note: Always wear gloves when working with potting mix a face mask if desired to avoid inhaling any bacteria. Do not use potting mix on a windy day and ensure that you pour the mix from a low height to minimise the dust. If you are using varnish and/or wood oil do so outdoors. Supervise children at all times around varnish, oil, potting mix and turpentine.
- Steps one and two are optional. Complete them if you wish to protect the box that you are using so that it lasts longer. I did apply both varnish and wood oil to my box.
- Allow two days to complete the box and allow for drying time if you are going to varnish and oil the wood of prior to planting.
- Apply two coats of wood varnish to the inside of the box. Allow the varnish to completely dry in between applications. Ensure you are working in a well-ventilated location when completing this step.You may also choose to use an oil to coat the outside of the box. This will provide some protection from damp and mould and slow the degradation of the timber.
- Cut a rectangle shaped piece of coconut fiber that is larger than the box. From each corner of the material use scissors to make a cut towards the center so that when the material is placed above the box it can be pushed down to fit snuggly into the box. Don’t be overly concerned if it seems a little bulky when it is placed inside as the weight of the soil will soon smooth it out.
- Fill the lined box ¾ full with good quality organic potting mix.
- Place the plants or seedlings in position on top of the dirt to determine spacing requirements. Allow the plants space to grow and spread. Create a hole for each plant. Gently tickle the base of the plants to loosen the roots and remove any compacted dirt then place the plant in the hole and push soil over the top.
- Top up the potting mix if required so that the plants are well covered.
- Water with some seaweed solution such as Seasol (or similar) to avoid plant stress
Ongoing plant care:
- If the planter box will be kept indoors it will require a minimum of half a day direct sunlight, preferably more.
- If the box is sitting on a kitchen bench consider placing an absorbent cloth (such as a tea towel) under it to prevent moisture build up on the surface under the box. Change it often.
- If the planter is going to be placed outside in an outdoor dining area provide a pair of herb scissor so that people can help themselves to fresh toppings as they dine.
- Pick herbs often to encourage new growth.
- Water the plants with a seaweed based solution once a fortnight.
- Water at the base of the plants regularly, not over the top of the plants – this will help to maintain the life of the box and also keep the plants healthy.
- Avoid letting the soil dry out.
Plant selection & tips:
Select salad greens or herbs for your planter box using these general tips:
- Choose small growing hardy herbs such as thyme, sage and chives. Lettuce greens also grow well indoors.
- Create a theme – eg: Italian herbs, Asian herbs, salad greens or varieties of chili plants
- Avoid planting vigorous growing herbs such as mint and oregano in a small box
- Most herbs are seasonal so be prepared to change them each season. If they become too large they will need to be planted in the garden or a larger pot.
- Herbs will fare differently depending on the season, the position they are planted and the care provided.
- When replanting new herbs replace at least half of the soil in the box with fresh new soil
- If you creating the planter as a gift ensure that you label the plants or provide a list to the recipient so that they know the variety of the plants you have chosen. This will help them select (or avoid) herbs they enjoyed and those that grew well in their environment.
- The closer to the kitchen the box is placed, the more likely it is that the herbs will be used and enjoyed.
Kyrstie Barcak writes about her family’s productive garden and the resulting fresh family recipes at A Fresh Legacy – Grow Fresh Cook Fresh.
Kyrstie is passionate about growing and cooking fresh food. She is slowly taking over the family’s backyard, planting as many vegetables as possible in the available space. When there is not enough to eat from the garden she supports local farmers and businesses.
For simple and practical gardening advice to help start your own vegetable garden, or to make your garden more productive you can find Kyrstie’s guide to Grow Fresh here.