The snow is almost completely gone, and it's starting to look like spring. Which actually means that all sorts of dead grass is showing and it's sunny enough that I'm craving green in my garden.
A large tea cup gardening container is just perfect for an herbal tea inspired mini-garden. If you can't find one of those, you could also use a terracotta pot painted with the words "Tea Garden" or even painted to look like something out of Wonderland.
You will need:
- Large container- I found the tea cup planter at a local store and just loved it
- plants or seeds that can be made into herbal teas
- Moisture Control Potting Mix - it's a great container mix that helps prevent over or underwatering
Suggested plants or seeds for herbal teas:
- chamomile- this is easy to grow and makes nice daisy like flowers
- peppermint (my choice!) is a classic favorite
- strawberries- strawberry leaves can be steeped for tea either when very fresh (just picked) or absolutely dry. Do NOT steep partly dry. Plus strawberries are just good.
- lavender is delicately floral, and can also be used for sachets or to flavor sugar
- lemon verbena is bright, lemony and easy to grow
Direct seeding (sowing seeds directly into the soil) will work for lemon verbena, peppermint and lavendar. For strawberries and chamomile, I've had more luck with plants. If this is your very first garden, go ahead and start with plants.
For direct seeding-
Fill your container to 1/2 inch to 1 inch below the top with Moisture Control Potting Mix, use your finger to make the holes to plant the seeds. Read the seed packet for spacing instructions, but instead of thinking in rows, think of something like a star shape, with 1 seed in the center and then rays from that for the other seeds. Cover the seeds and water lightly. Give them sun, love, and water with LiquaFeed All Purpose Plant Food Advance Starter Kit. Make sure if you plant any kind of mint it's alone in it's container. Mint is very aggressive.
Fill your container partway, leaving room for the plant. Take the plant carefully out of it's temporary container. Keep the temporary container, they work well for cuttings and sharing your plants with friends! To remove the plant, don't grab the plant itself and tug. Really, you don't want someone to lift you by the head right? Instead, tip it with one hand cupping around the plant and the other on the bottom of the container and gently shake it out of the container. Open up the roots a bit gently with your hands if necessary. Put the plant into the container and surround with soil going about a half inch over the soil line of the transplant. Water, feed, keep watered and in the sun.
When the plants are established, you can pinch off leaves and flowers to make your summer teas. Peppermint is my favorite. You can pinch leaves off of it regularly and it grows really well. If you decide to transplant some in your yard, make sure you pick a place it can grow by itself and it will come back year after year with very little care.
All of these are also lovely iced, and can be used as ingredients in summer recipes.
Miracle-Gro has all sorts of resources for new gardeners and projects that are easy and fun.
There are a bunch of fun garden projects on Miracle Gro's Pinterest Page, I'm following it! One of my favorites as a paper crafter is the Origami container project. You'll find tips, ideas, and great inspiration there.
Miracle Gro's The Gro Project is letting people know that gardening doesn't have to be hard, that you can do some wonderful things with simple, uncomplicated ideas and plans. I know a few people who say they have a "black thumb" , I was one of those people for years. It's not really true. I've found simple projects with perennials that are hardy in Alaska was a good start, then started planning more annuals after getting more comfortable. Miracle Gro has a great librarey with tips for beginners and more advanced gardeners to help everyone's spring/summer get off to a green start.