Uproot your kids from boredom with an upcycle holiday garden project

By Marianne Taylor

The holidays are here, which means lots of excitement in the air, a school break, late nights, and oh wait … lots of free time on our kids’ hands. It’s time to uproot those little sprouts from their boredom and have fun together exploring, learning and creating holiday DIY garden gifts. You’d be surprise by the many re-purposed items you have hanging around the house that can be re-purposed into inexpensive and creative garden projects or sustainable “green” gifts.

With Pinterest at the touch of a finger, online crafts of every kind are available for those who want to create and play. I’m sharing just two holiday garden crafts that I found to be family friendly and easy to do. Be sure to explore Pinterest for more holiday crafts ideas.

Recycled Milk Bottle Herb Garden

This herb garden can be hung from a window or patio or can sit on a sunny kitchen counter top. You can use one bottle or as many as five to make this easy, savory ready-to-use kitchen herb garden. If you are a visual learner like myself, you can view this herb garden tutorial online from “Not Just Trash on Grillo Designs.”

Items needed:

  • Five pint-sized plastic milk cartons
  • (If hanging) 3-centimeter-wide wooden pole long enough to fit your window
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Hole puncher
  • Metal ruler
  • Permanent black marker
  • Five 4-inch herbs
  • Bag of organic potting mix
  • Gloves

Getting started:

Clean your milk bottles with a thorough wash with soap and water and remove labels. Using scissors, cut off the top and bottom handle of the plastic bottle. The plastic bottle should have the back side higher and the front side lower. Using the craft knife and ruler, from the longer topside of the bottle, make 2-centimeter vertical slits parallel from the center of the bottle. The cuts need to be approximately 4 centimeters long and 1.5 centimeters from either side of the center of the bottle (but this depends on the size of your wooden pole). The bottle will glide along the pole. Finish the slits by punching holes on the top end of the vertical cuts (this gives the bottles enough space to slide on). Next, use the black permanent marker pen to decorate and label each bottle with your favorite herb.

Note: If you are planning to plant the herb in the bottle, take scissors and cut two additional slits on the bottom of each bottle for drainage. If you plan to set the 4-inch plant on top of the container, you will need to remove the plant to water—you won’t need to cut bottom slits.

Select your herbs and plant before you hang the bottles. I like to use basil, chives, mint, rosemary and Italian parsley for cooking, and they’re easy to grow. Fill organic vegetable potting soil half way, remove the plant from container, loosen roots and then place on top of soil and water lightly. Once all bottles are planted, slide the pole through the bottles using the pre-cut slits and suspend it from the windowsill, or let the bottles sit on a sunny kitchen counter.

The Soup Can Garden

Here is a project the kids can start doing now to give as teacher gifts or for a friend or hostess gift.

Items needed:

  • Empty soup cans
  • Hot glue gun
  • 2-inch plants, either succulent or herbs
  • Potting soil for succulents or herbs
  • Punch holes with drill in bottom for plant drainage
  • Natural ribbon, twine or raffia
  • Optional name tags

Getting started:

Clean your soup cans with a thorough wash with soap and water and remove labels. Use a can opener to open the top of the cans. Take a drill and make a few holes in the bottom of the cans. Then take natural ribbon and cut it to the width of the cans and attach with a few hot glue dots. Add potting soil half way, and then add your plants.

Optional: top dress the soup cans with your choice of colored aquarium rocks. Take twine and cut it to the width of the cans and tie a bow, and add a name tag to the twine.

This holiday season, remember to slow down and have fun making happy memories. And don’t forget to try your hand at creating your own unique DIY projects with the kids. Be sure to snap a picture and add it to Pinterest!

Marianne Taylor, of San Juan Capistrano, is the founder and executive director of Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens, a 501(c)(3) teaching gardening and life skills as a way of empowering, engaging and connecting people. Goin Native focuses on educating local families, special needs adults, seniors, at-risk youth and members of the military.

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