#15 of 31 Ways to Eat Healthier in the New Year


using an empty Hershey’s Cocoa container to grow herbs

#15 is meant to brighten your days and your recipes. Greenery is the first thing we notice whenever we travel to warmer climates in the Winter. It is amazing how fast we forget the importance of seeing things growing. By December we feel something missing from our lives, but are just not sure what it is. Then we walk into a store and see live plants or go on a trip and experience palm trees and it hits us. We need to see, feel, and touch things that are growing. For much of the world, Winter can be such a dull, depressing time of year. This goes double for DIY Backyard Farmers!

With tip #15 we propose growing your own herbs indoors. Fresh, organic, edible herbs are healthy, welcomed additions to many recipes and diets. They can also be used for teas and other natural preparations. They are also virtually calorie free! After cooking with fresh herbs you may find yourself reaching for the salt or sodium laden condiments less often. That would be a great New Year health move.

You may have watched our video on planting herbs in attractive wooden wine crates. However, that video showed how we wheel herbs in and out of the garage to protect them from cold nights. Tip #15 is all about windowsill grown herbs. Sure they will grow more slowly than what you experience outdoors in the warmer months, but you should still have enough to provide superior flavor to your home cuisine.

We like planting ours in upcycled containers that were destined for the trash, recycling center, or garage sales. We used a plastic Hershey’s Cocoa container in our video tutorial on this topic. Picking the right container is part of the fun and enjoyment of this project. Great fun for the kids too!

You want to be sure the container you choice has drainage. For our plastic container we poked small holes all around the bottom of the container. We then used the lid as a drip tray. You never want to have these containers sitting directly on your nice windowsills. Such images may look great in magazines or on websites, but they are not practical. We have stained or bubbled the paint on a couple of our windowsills this way. That created a DIY project we did not like.

Next you simply fill (80% full) the container with an organic potting mix, poke some shallow (1/4″) holes into the potting mix, drop one seed into each hole, cover the seeds with 1/2″ of the potting mix, and water well. Be careful to water slowly as new potting mix will float a bit and your seeds could shift or float away. Be sure the soil stays moist and warm to allow for germination. Then find your most sunny windowsill and let nature do its thing. Of course you should water enough to keep the soil moist. More watering is needed until the herbs sprout. Then you can back off just a bit on watering, but never let the soil get too dry. Read the seed packets for exact care instructions on each herb and do some internet searching for more detailed information if you desire.

We are all about DIY, living sustainably, and saving money. However, we have tried the Aerogarden and found it to be a good device. We owned one quite a few years ago when they were first introduced and used it for two growing cycles. The device had a pump that broke and we never replaced it. We got some very good, fast growing crops of herbs from it and enjoyed the ease of use. We may even purchase one again and review it for the website. Aerogardens are much more expensive than our DIY method above, but they are effective and the grow lights really ramp up plant growth.

We hope you are excited to start planting some indoor herbs. Try upcycling with some cool, unique containers and send us comments, pictures, or your own videos of the project. Be sure the containers you chose are safe and suitable for growing edible plants. Happy planting!

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