Easy Herb Drying Rack

DIY Herb Drying Rack

Preserve the bounty from your herb garden by drying! One of the best and easiest ways to dry herbs from your garden is on a drying rack. Our rack not only gets the job of drying herbs done, it looks great in your kitchen while doing it!  If you don’t have these items at home, you can find them at grocery, hardware, and craft stores.

Supplies

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Instructions for the Rack

  1. Remove glass and backing from picture frame.
  2. Screw hooks into interior of picture frame. Be sure to allow adequate space between rows for herb bundles.
  3. Tie twine to hooks.

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Instructions for Drying Herbs

  1. Harvest herbs in the morning after dew has dried, when flavor is at its peak.
  2. Bundle small bunches of herbs together with string.

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  1. Hang bundles on rack upside down.
  2. Allow herbs to dry in a cool, dry location, preferably indoors, and out of direct sunlight. Essential oils can degrade in temperatures over 86°F.
  3. Allow herbs to dry completley (they should crumble easily in your fingers). Drying time may be a few days to a few weeks, depending on the variety and moisture content.
  4. Use within a month or strip the foliage from the stems and store in an airtight container in a dark area away from heat.

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We’d love to see how creative you get with your herb drying rack! Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests.

Decoupaged Garden Journal

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It’s so helpful to keep a record of your garden’s life so that next year you can remember the little tricks that worked so well, and avoid some that didn’t. Garden journaling can be as simple as writing about your garden daydreams and taking pictures, or as thorough as recording measurements and keeping notes about growth.

Decorating your garden journal can be a fun, family activity that will beautify and personalize it. We’re decorating ours with seed packets, and you can too by following these steps:

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Garden Journal (Paper cover works best)
  • Seed packets
  • Glue stick or rubber cement
  • Mod Podge
  • Small paint brush
  • Scissors

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  1. Cut the front off of the seed packet.

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  1. Attach each packet front to journal cover with adhesive.

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  1. Continue attaching packets to cover, overlapping slightly and wrapping the edges of the packets around the cover.

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  1. Using a paint brush, apply a liberal coat of Mod Podge to the entire surface of the journal. You can add multiple coats for additional shine if desired. Wait 15 minutes between coats.

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  1. Allow to dry thoroughly and keep out of direct sunlight.

Get tips for garden journaling and free printables on our website at: https://www.botanicalinterests.com/articles/index/category:secrets-to-success

We’d love to see how creative you get! Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests.

Decorated Gourds

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Curing gourds for craft purposes is easy. Some gardeners have found success with curing gourds by just leaving them on the vines through winter, but results can be variable. To pick your gourds for drying, as soon as the vines are dead and the gourds’ skin has begun to turn an ivory color, cut them from the vine, leaving 2”–3” of stem attached to the fruit. Don’t try to save any gourds that have cracked or broken skin, since they will eventually rot. Keep gourds in a cool, well-ventilated place. Bring indoors as a last resort, as curing gourds often develop a strong smell. Clean off any soil from the surface, and wipe the gourds with a mild bleach solution (1 oz. bleach to 2 quarts water). Store them on a wire mesh, not touching each other, out of direct sunlight. It can take up to 6 months to completely dry inside. When gourds are finished drying, they will feel much lighter, the seeds will rattle around inside, and the outer skin will peel away to reveal a brown or tan shell.

Once cured, hard-shelled gourds have a thin, hard, waterproof shell, which is treated just like wood (carved, cut, and/or painted). They grow in many sizes and shapes and thus have endless uses and last indefinitely.

For our project, we chose the spinning gourd, since it is the perfect size for a tree ornament.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cured spinning gourds
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Very fine drill or burr
  • Wood burner
  • Twine
  • Scissors
  • Face maskdecorated_gourd_1
  1. Use the sandpaper to remove blemishes and areas of discoloration.
  2. Use the drill or burr to pierce a hole in the stem of the gourd. This is a delicate area of the gourd so you need to be sure to use something sharp. Do this before decorating, as it is possible to crack the gourd during this process.
  3. Heat up your wood burner according to instructions. Put on your face mask, and start burning patterns and shapes into your gourd. You may find it useful to draw shapes with a pencil onto your gourd prior to burning.
  4. If you decide to paint your gourd, be sure to do so after burning, as burning paint could produce harmful fumes and dust.
  5. Tie a piece of twine through the hole in your gourd and display.

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We’d love to see how creative you get! Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests.

Distressed Pumpkins

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Pumpkins are such a versatile fruit! They can be eaten, carved, decorated, or simply displayed. They conjure warm thoughts of harvest, autumn, and yummy pies, and are the quintessential icon of Halloween. This year we want to keep our pumpkins around beyond Halloween and into late fall, so we are decorating instead of carving them. We love the way distressed furniture invokes a farmhouse feel, so we’re transferring that look to our decorated pumpkins.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pumpkins with ridges
  • Spray paint primer
  • Gold, silver mirror-, or metallic paint
  • Gray or white, flat, latex paint
  • Water
  • Paint brush
  • Rag
  1. Thoroughly clean pumpkins and allow to dry.
  2. Spray pumpkins with primer in a well-ventilated area, coating entire surface. Be sure to protect surrounding area from over-spray. Allow primer to dry for recommended amount before proceeding to next step.img_1381
  3. Spray metallic paint according to label instructions and allow to dry at least 24 hours in a well-ventilated area.img_1385
  4. Using paint brush, apply one coat of gray or white, flat, latex paint to entire surface. Allow to dry for 30 minutes.painted pumpkin
  5. Using a damp cloth, wipe away portions of the paint to allow metallic paint to show through. Wipe away paint until desired effect is achieved. The more paint you wipe away, the more metallic paint will show.img_1399img_1404

We’d love to see how creative you get! Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests.

Pumpkin on a Stick Bouquet

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Few people will guess what type of plant it is, but everyone loves the cute, pumpkin-shaped fruits of ornamental eggplant. When added to a fall floral bouquet, Pumpkin on a Stick makes a striking statement that will surely be a conversation piece!

First, decide which fall color scheme you’d like to use, and choose foliage and flowers that complement each other. We’ve chosen a classic autumnal palette with hues of red, burgundy, yellow, orange, and brown.

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To create your fresh floral arragment you’ll need:

  1. Using pruning sheers, cut floral and foliage stems to desired length. We cut the stems for the center of the vase longer and the stems for the outer edge of the vase shorter.
  2. Remove all foliage that would sit below the water line in vase.
  3. Fill 1/3 of the vase with room-temperature, clean water.
  4. Distribute foliage and flowers evenly throughout the vase. Avoid large clumps of the same type.
  5. Replace water, and cut ½” from stems every other day.

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We’d love to see how creative you get! Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests.

Broom Corn Door Swag

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Broomfield, Colorado, the home of Botanical Interests, was named after the broom corn plant around 1900 when a lot of farmland was devoted to growing it. Brooms were traditionally made from the straw-like fibers after stripping off the seeds. ‘Broom Corn’ is not related to corn, but is actually a sorghum, a member of the grass family. Instead of growing tassels and ears, it is topped by richly colored shiny seeds.

This year, we grew a patch of broom corn in our trial garden. It performed beautifully and produced plentiful tassels. Instead of making a broom, we made a fall-inspired door swag that will greet guests with the hues of fall and the wonder of harvest.

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To create your broom corn door swag, you’ll need the following:

  • Several tassels of broom corn
  • Thick gauge wire
  • Wired ribbon (we used two colors)
  • Garden sheers
  • Wire cutters
  • Scissors
  • Door knocker or hook for hanging
  1. Using garden sheers, cut broom corn stalks from plants to desired length. We cut ours to about 18″ from the tips of the tassels to the end of the stalks.
  2. Using thick gauge wire, tie tassels of broom corn together leaving at least 6″ of wire. You will use the extra wire to attach the swag to a door knocker or hook.
  3. Dry the broom corn by hanging the bunches upside-down for at least two weeks.
  4. Gently lay broom corn stalks on a flat surface and tie a bow around the stalks. We used two ribbons for a two-layered bow. Using a wired ribbon helps the bow keep its shape.
  5. Using excess wire, attach your swag to a door knocker or hook.

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We’d love to see how creative you get! Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests.

Sun Prints

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Turn your blooms and foliage into permanent works of art by making sun prints!

Sun prints capture the imprinted shadow of foliage and blooms on a piece of paper that can be framed and displayed long after the garden has entered the compost bin.

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To create your sun prints, you’ll need the following:

  • Light-sensitive paper (we used Sunprint paper)
  • Acrylic or glass sized to fit paper
  • A full basin of water
  • Paper or cloth towel
  • Foliage and blooms (We used zinnia blooms and cosmo foliage.)
  1. In a low-light area away from the sun, arrange foliage and blooms on the light-sensitive paper.

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2. Place the acrylic or glass on top of the blooms and foliage to flatten them and hold them in place to be printed. Apply enough pressure to flatten but not damage the foliage and blooms.

3. Take the paper, plants, and acrylic/glass outside and place in direct sunlight for 2 to 5 minutes. If it’s cloudy, the process can take between 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the clouds.

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4. Rinse just the paper in the basin of water. You will see the silhouette show up in 1 to 5 minutes.

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5. Lay sun print flat on a paper or cloth towel to dry.

Frame your sunprint and display! We’d love to see how creative you get! Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests.

DIY Potpourri

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Extend the life of your fading blooms by turning them into potpourri. Potpourri is easy to make and can be customized to include your favorite aromas. The fragrance can last for weeks, and can be refreshed with a spritz of essential oils, or the potpourri can be boiled to release its full aroma for a special occasion.

When choosing your blooms and foliage, select ingredients that have interesting or complementary foliage, colors, and scents. We’ve chosen sweet annie, zinnias, carnations, marigolds, cloves, oranges, and lemons.

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What you’ll need:

  • Sheet pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Scissors
  • Spray bottle
  • Small bottle essential oil, (We used lavender).
  • Flowers, citrus fruit, cloves

You can use fresh or faded blooms to create your potpourri. For fresh blooms:

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  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  2. Cover a sheet tray with parchment paper.
  3. Trim flowers to flower head, or foliage into small pieces and place in single layer on parchment paper.
  4. Slice citrus fruit in thin layers and place in single layer on sheet.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of essential oil with 1 tablespoon of water in spray bottle.
  6. Spritz potpourri ingredients and coat thoroughly. Do not leave standing water in tray.
  7. Dry on center oven rack for at least 2 hours, leaving oven cracked open to allow moisture to escape. Flowers should be brittle but not burnt.
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  9. Spritz lightly with essential oil/water mixture and allow to dry.
  10. Gently mix potpourri and set out in bowl or place in a closed container for later use.
  11. Spritz with oil/water mixture to refresh.

If you choose to use faded blooms, allow them to fade thoroughly, and then remove from plant and place in a single layer on a sheet pan with parchment paper and skip to step 9.

Get creative by adding herbs and spices to your potpourri! We’d love to see how creative you get! Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests.

 

 

 

Creative Catnip Cover

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Catnip is a multi-purpose plant. The tea is very pleasant with a lemon-mint flavor and fragrance. Along with indoor containers of catnip plants, toys filled with dried catnip leaves will provide your feline friends with hours of fun. But be warned; they may ignore you for a while! Grow indoors for fresh catnip year-round, or plant it outdoors in the garden; catnip is very hardy and grows in almost any soil.

The minty aroma of catnip is very appealing to most cats, so you’ll need to protect seedlings from being eaten or crushed by enthusiastic cats. You may also want to limit the access your cat has to the fully grown plants.

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What you’ll need:

  • Small bird cage, or a tall fruit basket, or any tall container with openings that are no wider than 2”
  • Small container of catnip plant

Place your catnip plant in the container under the protective cover and set near a bright window. If desired, trim the plant regularly to keep a tidy appearance and out of kitty’s reach.

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If you are growing catnip outside, cover seedlings with a tent of row cover or chicken wire. Remove when plants are 10”-12” tall. Alternatively, roll chicken wire to form a cage and place around seeds when sown. Bury at least 3″ of the cage in the ground to prevent it from being knocked over. Cut back up to 50% of plant after flowering to prevent seed formation and control the size of the plant for a tidier appearance. Established plants can reach 3′ wide.

We’d love to see how creative you get with your catnip covers! Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests.

Easy Bee Watering Station

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Bees get thirsty too! They work hard each day pollinating our vegetables and flowers. It’s not always easy for them to find a shallow water source to drink from. Providing a bee watering station near your flowers and vegetables is easy, fun, and will help the bees quench their thirst.

What you’ll need:

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  • A clean, shallow basin such as a saucer or other dish.
  • Marbles or small rocks
  • Fresh water
  • Cut flowers for decoration (optional)

First, fill shallow basin with rocks or marbles. Be sure to spread out material evenly to avoid deeper sections of water. Bees can drown in water that is too deep.

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Next, fill container with fresh water.

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Add cut flowers for decoration and your bee water garden will be a garden centerpiece!

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Place the bee water garden near varieties that attract bees, including bachelor’s button, bee balm, butterfly flower, calendula, cosmos, echinacea, hyssop, larkspur, morning glory, poppies, rudbeckia, salvia, sunflowers, and zinnias.

Keep your bee water garden out of direct sun. Clean and refill often.

We’d love to see how creative you get with your bee water garden. Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests.