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By: Alison Jacobson
Posted on: Jul 17, 2020

Easy DIY Creations from Your Garden

Our guest blogger Alison Jacobson, The Safety Mom, is back again this week to talk about new ways to think about using the spoils from your garden to make DIY projects at home. Read on for Alison's tips for making teas, essential oils, and natural pesticides- all from your home grown garden!

While I’m not much of a gardener I do seem to be able to make herbs and veggies grow in pots on my deck. So far I’m excited that I have four tomatoes, one pepper, a lemon and tons of basil, oregano and mint.

In addition to the traditional uses for home-grown fruits and herbs there are a bunch of wonderful things you can do with them from wound remedies to teas.

Put your home-grown herbs to use

For some of the recipes you’ll need to dry your herbs. Depending upon which herbs there’s three ways to do this; air-dry, oven dry or freeze. It’s best to air-dry herbs that have low moisture such as oregano, dill and rosemary while others with high moisture such as basil, chives and mint do better in the oven.

To air-dry herbs cut about 5 stems and tie them together. Place stem side up and tie the top of the bag. Poke some holes in the bag and hang in a warm, dry room. The herbs will be dry in about a week.

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For drying in the oven it must be at a very low temperature (180° F) and leave the oven door open. Place the herb leaves on a cookie sheet and cook for about 2 – 4 hours until they start to crumble. Carefully remove and store in an air-tight container or sealable plastic bag until you’re ready to use.

Alternatively, you can also freeze herbs. Wash and shake off the leaves and lay them flat in a sealable plastic bag. When you’re ready to use just break off a piece.

Projects that make it easy to bloom where you are planted

Whether you are growing them yourself or buying them in a store or farmer’s market, here are some suggestions of what you can make:

Teas:

It’s important to be certain that the herbs and fruit you’re using for a tea have never been exposed to pesticides as you can’t wash them off. You can either use fresh or dried herbs, but you’ll need about 3 times the amount of fresh herbs than you do dried.

To make the tea either use an infuser or simply just put the herbs and dried fruit or fruit peel into a pitcher of hot water. Let steep for 3 – 7 minutes (taste along the way until it’s to your liking.) An alternative to steeping is “Sun Tea” or “Fridge Tea.” Simply add fresh herbs to a clean mason jar until they fill the jar about ¾ of the way. Add water to the top and let sit in a sunny place for 3 hours or in the refrigerator.

Some suggested combinations for herb teas:

  • Mint and lavender
  • Lemon peel and elderflower
  • Chocolate mint
  • Orange and basil
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Essential Oils

To me, the smells of basil, rosemary and lavender are simply incredible and immediately relax me. Essential oils can be expensive but there’s no reason you can’t make your own. You can either use one herb or combine two or three to make a “signature scent.” To create essential oils, you’ll need a carrier oil which could be olive, coconut or grapeseed plus a container for your essential oil. Pick your herbs in the early morning as that’s when they’re most fragrant, before the sun causes them to be released into the air. Once you pick your herbs, rinse them and pat dry. If you have a mortar and pestle you can use that otherwise place them in a small bowl and crush them with a spoon or knife. Don’t chop, you’re simply getting them to emit their oil. Pour in just enough carrier oil to cover the herbs. Tightly cover the bowl and let sit for a day or two. After that use a cheese cloth to strain the oil and you have your essential oil!

Some great herbs to use for essential oils include:

  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Lavender
  • Juniper
  • Sage
  • Eucalyptus

Pesticides:

I live in the country and with that comes mice! One thing that mice hate is peppermint. Use some of the mint essential oil you created, saturate some cotton balls and place in the area you believe the mice are entering your home. You can also mix some peppermint oil with lemon juice and water to create a glass cleaner that will prevent flies, ants and other insects from coming in through your windows.

Bay leaves also work well for getting rid of bugs. Place some dried bay leaves in your pantry to keep out bugs and moths.

I always have such a feeling of accomplishment when my summer garden starts producing a bounty of fruits, veggies and herbs. Finding new ways to use them makes it even better.