Hello there! I am so thrilled to be joining Ashley and all of you lovely She Makes a Home readers for my first monthly guest post! I'm Rachel and I currently blog over at This Original Organic Life about the way I make my own home. I am honored to now share with you all some of what I've been doing in the homesteading world as spring unfolds.
This month, I'd like to share a simple but wonderful gardening and DIY project that go hand-in-hand: making eco-friendly chalkboard paint pots & planting herbs in these pots. It may be late spring (or here in Minnesota, late winter/early spring . . . yikes), but there is still plenty of time to start a garden if you have the itch!
It is often tricky to know where to start if you've never gardened before - being in charge of a life (let alone many lives!) can be overwhelming and feel like a job.
I'm here to offer an easy entry point into both the DIY and the gardening worlds that can often come off as daunting and even elite. Gardening is a joy that has numerous wonderful benefits. This project is accessible and you can do it no matter the size of your living space or access to the outdoors! (I invite you to check out these DIY Project Myths as a warm up if you are feeling anxious about busting out the paint and getting into the planting)
And now, let's dig in. . .
Eco-friendly Chalkboard Paint Pots
Here's what you need for this project:
- Clay Pots - any clean and dry clay pot will do!
- Colored Base Paint - Plutonium Aerosol Paint is a lovely alternative to often toxic/not-so-ecofriendly spray paints on the market. It's CFC-free, made in the US, and comes in a recyclable tin-free steel can with 40 vibrant color options. Use as many different colors as you'd like!
- Chalkboard Paint - Lullaby Paints has a no-VOC chalkboard paint (read: why are VOCs harmful?). This does tend to run more expensive than other common chalkboard paints, but you can consider whether knowing your paint volatile organic compound-free is worth the cost; or you can make your own eco-friendly chalkboard paint!
- Paintbrush - you can find Gam Paint Brushes' eco-friendly paintbrushes on Amazon.
There are just a few steps to this simple project:
1.) Start with clean, dry clay pots
2.) In a well-ventilated area, spray paint first coat of color of your choice. Shake can well before applying. When spraying, hold can upright about 6 inches away from the pot, and spray a thin, even coat while moving the can in a sweeping motion from side to side.
3.) Let dry for 15 minutes or so
4.) Turn upside-down to get bottom and any untouched parts of the pot. Apply a first coat in these areas and then a second coat over the full area as needed.
5.) Let pots dry completely after applying all necessary coats of colored base paint
6.) Apply swatch of chalkboard paint onto a portion of the front of pot. You can get as creative as you want here! Make your swatch any shape and size that you desire!
. . . After drying for an hour or two, you are all set:
Now it's time to do some gardening in your lovely pots!
Herb PlantingStart with a few of your favorite herb seeds (depending on how much pot/planting space you have available) and a good organic seed starting mix - Try making your own!
I chose cilantro, basil, and parsley for my herbs. These are 3 culinary herbs that I end up using quite often in my kitchen, and I love having them on hand.
Fun tip: Having fresh herbs around often encourages more cooking - at least it does for me, so this is a great jumpstart to a healthier life in more ways than one!
1.)Dampen seed starting mix just a bit, then fill pots nearly to the top with the mix.
2.) Smooth out soil and create small indentations in the pot, a few inches apart, about 4-5 spread out around the surface of the soil. These indentations are where you will plant your seeds. I suggest planting one kind of herb per pot just to keep things simple. As a general rule, each seed should be planted as deep as about twice its size.
3.)Get your seeds ready by pouring some into your hand - this will make planting easier, especially with tiny seeds (such as basil).
4.) Drop seeds into pre-made indentations. Plant 2-3 seeds per indentation. This is in case some don't germinate ; it's always a good idea to seed more than you need/want. Cover seeds with just enough soil to follow the 2x their size depth rule from #2. Tiny seeds, for example, should just barely be covered by soil.
Once you're finished, it should all look a little something like this:
Ongoing Maintenance of Your Herbs
- Keep pots in sunny area - south-facing windows/shelving work well. When it is warm outside (above 60 degrees, on average), you can keep outside in sunny area.
- Water as needed - when the soil becomes dry to the touch/sight. One issue people often have is over-watering. This is where it is important to get a seed-starting mix that is porous and allows for water drainage. If your plants are in a rather sunny area, you will likely need to water them twice daily - once in the morning and once in late afternoon. Water just enough for top of soil to become filled with water and take a few seconds to drain into the soil.
- When the seedlings become about 3 inches tall, you can thin them (aka remove unwanted/overcrowded plants) as needed. If you wish to keep all your beautiful plants but the pot you've planted them in is too small, transplant to larger pot by gently removing (using small spoon or trowel) individual seedling, roots & all, and replanting into larger pot or outside.
This is my parsley just under 3 weeks after planting:
Enjoy your delicious, vibrant herbs and happy gardening! If you're inspired to go a bit further in your gardening endeavors, check out these garden starting tools & tips. Please come on back and share your experience in the comments section if you tried this project.