Ever since I can remember I have had a collection of rocks that my great grandma Phillips (your great-great grandma(!)) collected from their farm in Iowa many years ago. Living through the Great Depression, grandma and grandpa were very resourceful and lived off the land as much as they could. It was pretty incredible being able to grow up with them around since they both lived well into their nineties. As their children grew and moved away, they finally decided to relocate to Missouri and move to the city. There just happened to be a vacant lot behind their home that the owner allowed grandpa to plant on. Grandpa Phillips took that vacant lot and made the most impressive city garden I’ve ever seen. It was big enough to feed the entire neighborhood and he often did, leaving little boxes of fresh produce on neighbors doorsteps for all to enjoy.
We lived across the street from them growing up so I spent a lot of time playing in that garden. I remember running through with friends eating fresh blackberries right off the vine. I also loved to sit in the kitchen with grandma and help clean the ends off the snap peas while watching birds on the feeder out the window. Grandma Linda would help can the excess produce and make the most delicious rhubarb pies. It really was a family affair.
While grandpa’s green thumb didn’t really transfer to me, I still have very fond memories that I can’t wait to share with you. This project is a tiny homage to grandpa’s amazing garden. Can’t wait to make one with you someday!
I really love this project because there’s something so nice about being able to walk out to your porch or yard and pick your own freshly grown herbs. Not to mention the tiny packs of fresh herbs at the grocery store are extremely overpriced and far from fresh. Supplies for this project consisted of found items from around the house like mason jars, an old mitre box, rocks, soil, and herbs. Feel free to adjust according to what you have available!
In case you’re not familiar, a mitre box is a woodworking tool that is used as a guide to make precise cuts in wood for sawing by hand. If you keep an eye out for them they can easily be found at garage sales for very cheap. The one I used was from grandpa Phillips and has a neat old logo on it. Don’t worry if you don’t have one handy. You can use whatever container you wish to hold the jars.
Have I mentioned this is a great project to do with the kids? Planting the herbs is easy and fairly straightforward. You can use this project as an opportunity to take a nature walk with the family and incorporate the found items. Once you have your supplies gathered you can begin to layer the materials in the jar.
Begin by adding a layer of gravel or rock. Because I was using rocks from my grandma I was limited so I first placed a layer of gravel in the bottom of the jar. Carefully I placed decorative rocks along the edge of the jar so they did not get completely covered by dirt.
From there you begin to add dirt. Carefully add scoops until the mason jar is about 3/4 full. Leave enough room to accommodate the dirt that will still be on the herb roots.
Once you’ve got the rocks and dirt in place you’re ready to add the herbs. For this project, I chose 2 varieties of basil and parsley. Feel free to use whatever herbs you use most for this process.
As you place the herbs in the jar gently press to secure them in place and strengthen the dirt around the roots. Add water and pack the soil some more if necessary. The portability of this little herb garden is great because you can easily move it inside/outside or to spots where it will get optimal sunlight.