All posts by Botanical Interests

Tulsi Holy Basil Tea

Give the gift of holy basil tea to warm up autumn’s chill.

Holy basil, also known as tulsi, is believed to have medicinal properties that could aid in treating the common cold, inflammation, digestive issues, and numerous other conditions. In the holistic health community, it has received significant attention for its stress-reducing benefits, as well.

Basil Holy Tulsi Organic

Although holy basil can be used in cooking, the unique flavor is best enjoyed when the leaves are dried and steeped into an herbal infusion. We’re making holy basil tea sachets to give as gifts this fall. For tips on drying herbs, visit Herbs: Tips for Preserving.

Supplies

  • 1 tsp. dried holy basil leaves per sachet
  • Empty tea sachets (You can find these at a tea store or gourmet grocery store) or a small, glass jar

  1. Fill empty sachets or jars with dried holy basil leaves. Pull string taught to secure tea leaves inside sachet or secure lid on jars. Each should have about 1–2 teaspoons of dried holy basil.
  2. To make the tea, steep 1 teaspoon of dried leaves in 1 cup of boiling water for about 5 minutes. Try mixing in lemon juice, cardamon, honey, ginger, cinnamon, milk, or pepper to create your own special tulsi tea blend.
  3. Enjoy!

We’d love to see how creative you get with your holy basil tea gifts. Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Hollyhock Dolls

Hollyhock dolls have been enchanting folks for generations. They make delightful table decorations and are fun for the whole family to make. This old-fashioned craft is easy, requiring only blooms from a hollyhock plant and some toothpicks! Here’s how to create a hollyhock doll.

Supplies

Instructions

Break off an open bloom including the green sepal, and invert it for the skirt. You can use multiple blooms for a layered effect.

Push a toothpick horizontally through the sepal to form arms.

For the face, push a toothpick vertically through the middle of a green (unripened) seed pod, with the seedpod in the middle of the toothpick; then attach to body by pushing it down through the middle of the sepal.

For the hair/hat, attach a small, barely opened bloom to the toothpick sticking up past the face.

We’d love to see how creative you get with your hollyhock dolls. Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Fun Garden Craft for Kids: Fairy Garden

Creating a fairy garden is a fun and constructive activity for the whole family, and a great way to introduce children to gardening, teach them about the design process, inspire their creativity, and teach them how to properly care for plants.

Many local garden centers feature beautifully made fairy garden furniture, décor, and dwarf plants. You can also try crafting your own miniature furniture from wire or recycled aluminum cans, and weaving place mats out of twigs or stems you have pruned in the garden. Fill acorn caps to the brim with tiny seeds from your flowers to make fairy seed buckets.

What you’ll need:

  • A large container (at least 24” in diameter if round; at least 24” wide and long if square or rectangle)
  • Fairy-garden props: furniture, fairies, decorations, small stones, etc…
  • Potting soil
  • Seeds for low-growing container plants such as; sweet alyssum, bluebells, Yellow Buttons daisies, forget-me-not, impatiens, lobelia, pansies, portulaca, and violas.
  • Fairy garden plants from your local garden center such as; dwarf ferns, scotch moss, polka-dot plant, dwarf thyme, and ripple peperomia.

First, select where you want to place your fairy garden based on the exposure needed by the plants you choose. You can build your fairy garden in a large container or directly in the ground.

Next, head to your local garden center and pick up some fairy garden décor. We are using a small house, mushrooms, fairies, gnomes, and some pebbles. You can also build some natural décor from twigs and other stuff around the garden. Check out this blog for more info: Nature Inspired Fairy Garden

Fill your container with potting soil, and sow seeds or transplant plants directly into the container.

Next, get creative! Place fairy garden décor among the plants, or places where the seedlings will emerge, to fashion an enchanted garden that will delight and attract fairies.

Water, watch and wonder. As your plants grow, keep them trimmed to a tidy, small size. Once you’ve made a fairy garden, you’ll be drawn to it every day, and want to share the pleasure with friends and family. Enjoy!

We’d love to see how creative you get with your fairy garden. Hashtag your creations with #botanicalinterests on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

3 Ways to Upcycle Seed Packets

Botanical Interests seed packets are creative, informative, and unique. We commission local Colorado artists to illustrate each variety. The illustrations are beautiful, and convey the best qualities of each variety.

Seed packet decoration

There are many ways to decorate your home, office or garden with the beautiful packet illustrations once your seeds have been sown.

Three decorating ideas for used seed packets:

Supplies

  • Empty seed packets
  • Vintage spoons
  • Refrigerator magnets
  • Small shadow box or picture frame
  • Mod Podge® waterbase sealer
  • Small paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick

Idea #1: Spoon Art

Spoon art is a great way to add vintage décor to your garden while also identifying what has been sown. These spoons can be placed outside  in patio containers or directly in the garden. They should last through the season and will require new packet art if you wish to display them the following year, as the sun will fade the art over time.

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To make these, simply cut a spoon-shaped portion of artwork from the seed packet and use a glue stick to adhere it to the inside of a spoon. Press out any bubbles that form and allow to dry. Apply 3 to 5 coats of Mod Podge®  allowing 10 to 15 minutes dry time per coat.

Idea #2: Seed Packet Magnets

Seed packet magnets are a fun way to dress up your refrigerator at home or your file cabinet at work! You can find blank magnets at craft stores, or recover magnets that you already have.

Simply trace along the magnet’s edge on that portion of the seed packet you wish to use. Use a glue stick to adhere the packet to the magnet. If you are having trouble getting the packet to adhere to the magnet, try using rubber cement in place of the glue stick.

Idea #3: Framed Seed Packet

Seed packets displayed in a picture frame or shadow box will embellish the walls in your home, office or garden shed. They also make fabulous gifts! What chef wouldn’t love beautiful, framed tomato artwork  for their kitchen?

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To make this craft, cut the fronts from the seed packets and place them inside a shadow box or picture frame. To keep them in place in the shadow box you can glue them to the back of box, or use decorative pins.

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

 

 

Creative Color Combinations

Planning a flower garden can be a lot of fun, but choosing colors for your garden can seem overwhelming with so many choices. However, applying some basic color theory principles is a great way to get started.

There are four different approaches to color schemes: complementary, monochromatic, analogous, and triadic.

color schemes

The complementary color scheme uses colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Examples are orange and blue, pink and green, yellow and purple.

complimentary

The monochromatic color scheme uses variations in lightness and saturation of a single color. Examples are shades of light blue to dark blue or pink to dark red.

monochromatic

The analogous color sheme uses colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. Examples are light blue to dark purple and light orange to dark red.

analogous

The triadic color scheme uses colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. Examples are yellow, pink, and blue.

triadic

For trend-setters, the Pantone Color Institute, (an authority on color and the communication of color), chooses a special hue each year based on what is taking place in global culture. It serves as an expression of mood and attitude for the year. This year they have chosen “greenery”. Grow some intriguing green blooms this year!

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“Greenery bursts forth in 2017 to provide us with the reassurance we yearn for amid a tumultuous social and political environment. Satisfying our growing desire to rejuvinate and revitalize, Greenery symbolizes the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose.” – Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.

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

Natural Egg Dye from Vegetables

Natural Egg Dye from Vegetables

Natural egg dye

Pile up carrots, artichokes, beets, red cabbage, and onions on your counter— but not for dinner—for dying eggs! Working with vegetable dyes is an easy and natural way to dye Easter eggs this year, and it doesn’t take more than an hour!

Supplies

  • Cooking pot, 1 for each color
  • Plant materials 1–2 cups chopped or peeled
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Salt
  • Large bowl
  • Raw eggs
  • Ladle
  • Strainer
  • Plate with towels to rest dyed eggs on

Basic dye bath principles:

dye bath is a pot of liquid, mainly water, that contains a mixture of coloring materials (plants in our case) mixed with a fixative. Use a salt fixative when using berries with a ratio of  1/2 cup salt to 8 cups of cold water. Use a vinegar fixative  when using plants with a ratio of 4 cups cold water to 1 cup white vinegar. Without these fixatives, there is less color intensity and staining effect on the eggs.  Below is a list of plants you can use to get your desired color.

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Dyeing Colors:

Instructions

  1. Gather the plant materials you need for the desired color.  Use your judgement on quantities; the more you add, the more intense the color.
  2. Place all ingredients into a pot and bring to a boil; continue boiling until you are happy with the intensity of the color.
  3. Strain the contents of the bath into a separate bowl to remove the solids.
  4. Return liquid to pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Boil eggs in color bath until fully cooked, about 10–15 minutes.
  6. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and place onto a towel-lined plate.

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

 

 

Baby Greens Living Centerpiece

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Delight your guests during spring get-togethers with a baby greens living centerpeice. This centerpiece will beautify your table and provide guests with a fun, self-service way to add some baby greens to their dish. “Baby greens” is
 a term used for both individual varieties of greens, and for mixes of vegetable varieties grown for their leaves at a height of only 2″–4″. Baby greens supply a heavy dose
of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients— almost four times as much as their mature counterparts.

Supplies

If you are using the Botanical Interests Kitchen Garden Kit, follow these instructions, otherwise, continue to the following steps.

Instructions

  1. Fill container with a light-textured, fertile, well-drained potting soil or seed starting mix/”media”. The medium should consist
 of some organic matter; or plan to fertilize with a organic, balanced, liquid fertilizer.
  2. Sow seeds in a single layer, and cover with 1/8″–1/4″ of soil.
  3. The medium must be kept consistently moist, but not soggy, at all times. Mist or water from the bottom to avoid disturbing seeds or splashing media on the leaves. If sowing into a container with more than 3″ of soil, keep just the top 3″ moist until seedlings emerge.
  4. Place indoors, on a sunny windowsill or underneath grow lights for 14 to 16 hours per day.
  5. Baby greens are ready to harvest 25 to 35 days after sowing, when they have true leaves at 2″–4″.
  6. Place on the table with a pair of herb scissors so guests can snip their own greens!

Learn more about growing and harvesting baby greens on our website.

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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.

Fresh Dried Garden Tomatoes in Olive Oil

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Nothing says summer like fresh, sun-ripened tomatoes from the garden! As many of us start our tomato seeds, we can also start thinking about the endless ways to enjoy these garden gems. One of our favorites is drying, for a sweet and tangy burst of tomato flavor that enlivens your favorite dishes. Some excellent varieties to consider for drying are Principe Borghese, San Marzano, Speckled Roman, Italian Roma, and Supremo. Any and all cherry and grape tomatoes will also make excellent dried morsels!

Ingredients

  • Fresh-harvested paste, roma or cherry tomatoes (as many as your oven racks or dehydrator can fit after tomatoes are halved)
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  1. Slice all tomatoes in half, and gently remove seeds. IMG_3228
  2. Place halved tomatoes in the oven on a sheet pan or on dehydrator racks with the cut side facing up. IMG_3230
  3. Lightly salt each slice
  4. Set dehydrator to 150°F (10 to 12 hours), or oven to 250°F (4 to 6 hours).  Dehydrating time will depend greatly on the size of your tomato slices.  Dried tomato slices should be crisp but still pliable.
  5. Using tongs, quickly dip tomato slices into red wine vinegar.
  6. Layer tomato slices into clean canning jars, leaving about ½” of space in each.
  7. Fill jars with olive oil, completely covering all tomatoes. IMG_3264
  8. Store tomatoes in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Use tomatoes and oil in salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches, or eat them straight from the jar!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.