This is the second DIY indoor herb garden that I’ve created for my kitchen. Last summer I moved my larger herb garden out on my deck. I wanted to create something smaller, that would fit in my kitchen window sill. That way it will receive plenty of natural light. I love having the herbs close by for cooking and the added greenery brightens up my kitchen.
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This little herb garden is made from empty tea tins. If you don’t have tea tins, the 16 oz ball jars fit in the tray nicely, too. The wide mouth jars will be easier to work with. Another option is to reuse empty vegetable cans.
The wood tray is made from five gallon paint sticks and a piece of scrap 1X4 pine. Here is the process.
- EMPTY TEA TINS OR 16 OZ WIDE MOUTH BALL JARS
- 5 GALLON PAINT STICKS (3) (FREE WITH PAINT PURCHASE OR BUY FROM HOME DEPOT)
- 1×4 COMMON PINE BOARD OR SCRAP CUT TO 16 3/4″
- KRYLON WHITE SPRAY PAINT
- KRYLON PROTECTIVE TOP COAT
- WOOD GLUE
- WOOD FILLER
- WOOD STAIN
- BLACK AND WHITE BAKER’S TWINE
- LABEL HOLDERS OR FREE PRINTABLE
PAINT THE TEA TINS, CANS OR MASON JARS
Start out by painting the tea tins in a well ventilated area. I find it easiest to put them up on some scrap wood on top of a drop cloth. When I make more of these, I will stuff the inside of the can with newspaper, to keep the over-spray out of the inside of the container.
Clean your containers with warm soapy water and let dry. Then wipe them down with rubbing alcohol. This ensures your paint will stick well to the surface. Then spray them in light, even coats to prevent runs and let them dry. I did a total of three coats of paint and finished them with a protective top coat for protection.
Once your containers are fully painted, let them dry for a couple of days. If you work with them before the paint is cured, your finish could get damaged.
MAKE YOUR WOOD BASE FOR THE CONTAINERS
STEP 1: CUT THE PAINT STICKS AND BOARD
Cut your boards to the correct dimensions. Keep in mind that different manufacturers paint sticks could vary in thickness and width. Purchase your paint sticks before you begin your project and build it accordingly.
- (2) Paint Sicks Cut To 17 1/4″
- (2) Paint Sticks Cut To 3 1/2″
- (1) 1X4 Cut To 16 3/4″
Measure twice, cut once.
When all of your pieces are cut, dry fit them together to ensure a tight fit. Now is the best time to make any adjustments to your cuts.
STEP 2: SAND THE BOARDS
You want to sand the boards before you assemble your project. Sanding will make the boards smooth, remove any writing from the paint sticks and help your stain absorb into the wood better.
I used a random orbit sander with a 60 grit disc and then moved to a 320 grit for the finish.
I always sand the ends of the boards by hand to keep the edges square. The electric sanders take off too much material and have a tendency to round the edges.
When you’re done, wipe all of the boards down to remove any saw dust.
STEP 3: STAIN THE BOARDS
I used Varathane stain in Early American. You’ll want to wear gloves when staining. Use a dollar store foam applicator and brush on the stain. Then, use a blue shop towel or thick paper towel to remove the excess stain. Let the boards dry.
Place your foam applicator in a sandwich size Ziplock bag. Then zip it up, so the handle is sticking out of the bag. This will keep your applicator wet, so you can use it to stain your wood filler later.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE THE WOOD TRAY
Add some wood glue to the end of your main wood board.
Set the board flat on your work surface, press the paint stick to the end and line it up. Using your brad nailer, attach the paint stick to the end of the board. Then, wipe off any extra glue. Repeat this process on the other end. Then glue and nail the front and back pieces.
Fill the nail holes with wood filler. Then use your foam applicator (with extra stain on it) to stain the wood filler.
Take your wood tray to a well ventilated area and spray on two or three coats of a protective finish.
PLANT YOUR HERBS
I don’t recommend drilling holes in the tins for drainage. The water could damage your wood tray over time. Instead, add some stones to the bottom 1″ of your container.
Now you want to add a layer of good potting soil. I recommend Organic Miracle Grow potting soil. Add your herb to the container and fill in around it with more potting soil. Make sure to pack the dirt in to avoid air gaps.
Here they are in my kitchen window sill. The tray is large enough to add one more tea tin or five 16 oz. Ball jars. You could also use leftover vegetable cans.
DOWNLOAD THE FREE LABEL HOLDERS AND HERB TAGS
For my project, I used some leftover metal library tag holders to label my herbs. But, I’ve also created printable tags and holders for you.
To download the tags and holders along with over 60 other free files, just subscribe at the top sidebar or at the bottom of this post. You will be sent a welcome email with the password to the library. Go to the library page and enter the password, then download any of the designs you would like. These files are available as a PDF, SVG, and Silhouette Cut File.
Now you can print out the files, cut them and attach with bakers twine.
For a more realistic look, you can paint the card-stock tag holders with Rust-oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint.
I’ve never tried to paint card-stock before, but it worked fine. You just need to add a little double sided tape to hold them in place while you spray them. Here’s a picture of my completed tags.
It’s hard to see in the picture, but they have a metallic sheen to them.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR HERBS
Here is a list of common mistakes people make with their indoor herb gardens. I’ve experienced some of these. 🙂
- Watering too much or too little
- No drainage
- Not enough natural light
- Placing too close to a heat vent
- Placing in direct hot sun (the containers may get too hot for the roots.)
- Not trimming them (pruning will keep them in a growth state and they will be healthier and fuller)
- Not using a good potting soil filled with nutrients
Even with the best care, I’ve never been able to keep an indoor herb garden healthy for more than two seasons. Some plants will last longer than others, but I just want you to have realistic expectations. If you are blessed with a green thumb, you may do better.
HERBS THAT DO WELL INDOORS
Most of these herbs require a good amount of indirect light from a bright window.
JOIN THE COMMUNITY
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What are some of your best tips & ideas for indoor herb gardens? Hopefully this project gave you some new inspiration for creating a DIY indoor herb garden for your own kitchen.