A Tutorial For A Simple DIY Herb Drying Rack


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This DIY herb drying rack is the perfect space-saving solution to dry your herbs. It is affordable and useful and is made from simple household items.

Drying Your Harvest

As the dog days of summer approach, my garden grows taller and taller! Flowers are blooming, tomatoes are ripening, and I am running out of room on my drying rack.

Right now I have more calendula than I can dry and spearmint for days. Because I need more herb drying rack space, I started digging around my craft supply closet to find something that could make a suitable solution.

At one time, I thought I would take up embroidery. Apparently, sewing is not my thing, but growing plants definitely is. I had five different embroidery hoops of various sizes laying around. They are round and sturdy, the perfect vertical herb drying vessel.

Because I wanted to maximize the drying space, I decided to place some cheesecloth in the embroidery hoop for extra horizontal drying space. It works well for flowering tops like chamomile.

This herb drying rack did take me a few attempts to get right, but it was so worth the extra effort. It might not be the most gorgeous thing I have ever made, but it sure is one of the most useful! I have actually made four more of these herb drying racks because I have so many herbs on the way.

Herb Drying Rack

Equipment

  • 12″ Embroidery hoop (any size will do, but the larger the better!)
  • String (I used cotton macrame string)
  • cheesecloth or muslin
  • herbs to dry
  • Wire for hanging (optional)

Instructions

  1. Gather the things needed for this herb drying rack.
  2. Remove the outer hoop from the inner hoop, set the inner hoop aside for now.
  3. Cut three equal strings, about 12-18 inches long (longer or shorter depending on the size of your hoop). The important thing is that they are all equal in length.
  4. Tie the strings to the outer hoop, spacing them evenly around.
  5. Bring the tops of the strings together and tie them to a piece of wire made into a loop (you can also just tie the strings together in a loop if you do not have wire).  This will be how the hoop is held up. (Don’t worry if your hoop is a little lopsided, you can even out the weight as you add herbs to the rack)
  6. Next, attach several strings around the embroidery hoop and let the ends hang loosely down. These strings will be how you tie the herbs onto your herb drying rack. I used 9 total.
  7. Secure the drying rack to an overhead hook in a cool, dry, space away from direct sunlight. I hang mine from the beams in my basement and in an open closet that I use for herb drying.
  8. Next, place the cheesecloth or muslin on top of the inner embroidery hook. I used a little glue around the hoop to help hold it in place.
  9. Gently insert the inner hoop to the outer hoop from the bottom, keeping the fabric secure. Pull any strings down that may have been pushed up in the process so that all 9 herb strings are dangling down.
  10. Tighten the loop fastener until secure
  11. Tie bundles of herbs to the string and cut down when dry leaving a bit of string behind for the next bundle.

Storing Your Herb Drying Rack

The best part about this herb drying rack is that it can be easily stored after drying season is over, or it can be re-purposed back into something else! You could try your hand at this lovely Aromatic Lavender Wreath made from dried lavender and an embroidery hoop.

Don’t know what to grow? Here is a list of high antioxidant herbs and spices to grow.

 

This article was originally featured on DIY Natural

Trending on Gardenista: Tips for the First-Time Gardener


Here’s a look at what the Gardenista editors were up to this week.

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Above: In her first installment of the twice-monthly Your First Garden column, Fan demystifies topsoil—what it is, why you need it, and the best place to find some. Read more in Your First Garden: What You Need to Know About Topsoil. Photograph by Nicole Franzen.

 

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Above: “The deadbolt lock, or ‘thumb turn’ as it’s also called, is like jewelry for your porch or entry door,” writes Alexa. See a few favorites in 10 Easy Pieces: Deadbolt Knobs.

 

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Above: And, for a grand historic home in the UK, a modern courtyard garden that fulfills its owners’ desires for biodiversity and sustainability. Take a closer look in Before & After: A Modern Courtyard Garden for a Historic Home. Photograph courtesy of Artisan Landscapes.

 

This article was originally featured on REMODELISTA

Growing Beans: A Complete Guide to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Beans


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I love growing beans. One plant provides ample produce, and harvesting them is like a treasure hunt. Just when I think the plant is done, I head outside and find more hidden pods ripe for the taking. The plants are sturdy and low-maintenance. They’re an excellent companion for many other vegetables in the garden, and they are delectable!

If you’re gardening with children, beans are ideal. Hunting for fresh pods under the foliage is a fun activity for the family. I’ll admit, I have fun with harvesting beans even as an adult.

Different bean varieties have unique flavor profiles and can add color to the garden. They deliver plenty of nutrition for the dinner plate, too, whether you eat them steamed, in soups, roasted, or refried. Beans are a staple vegetable in my garden, and every year I love to try new varieties.

If you are new to growing beans, or want to know how to make them grow better, this guide will get you going.

Bean Varieties

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Pole vs. Bush vs. Runner Beans

Before you start shopping for bean seeds for your garden, you need to know the difference between the three types of bean varieties. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. Pole beans are tall and need support, which makes them perfect for growing beans vertically in small spaces. They require a bit more attention since you’ll need to make sure they’re not toppling over. Runner beans are similar. These flowered beauties grow like pole beans, but they prefer cool conditions over hot ones. Most runner beans are eaten fresh. Bush beans are my favorite variety to grow because they usually require no support, which makes it easy to re-sow throughout the season.

Note that many bean varieties are meant to be entirely dried before harvesting so that the interior seed is ready for storage and consumption, while some can be enjoyed fresh off the plant.

Black Beans

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Varieties include Condor, which has a short vine and high yield. It’s disease resistant and suited for canning. Zorro black beans mature in mid-season and are perfect for canning as well. Zenith black beans have an upright growth habit and resist lodging. This type matures in 100 days and retains its black color even after boiling and canning.

Fava Beans

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Also known as broad beans, this type can take a little longer to mature – up to 5 months before it can be harvested. Ianto grows massive beans on 6-foot tall vines and can be eaten dry or fresh. Masterpiece produces enormous pods on 3-foot tall plants. Windsor is the classic fava bean. It grows in an upright, non-branching habit and matures earlier than others in 75 days.

Great Northern Beans

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Great northern beans are eaten dried and take between 65-90 days to mature. Matterhorn is disease resistant and matures in 90 days. Powderhorn has a compact vine growth habit and resists lodging.

Lima Beans

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Also known as butterbeans, you can eat lima beans fresh or dried. The Christmas variety is a pole bean that matures in 84 days and has flavorful, full yields even in hot, humid conditions. Fordhook is a bush type perfect for middle and northern latitudes. It tolerates heat and drought and has a nut-like flavor.

Navy Beans

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Navy beans are eaten dried and take up to 100 days to mature. Cascade is disease resistant and has an upright growth structure that resists white mold. Teton beans resist rust and have a narrow growing profile, so they don’t take up much ground space in the garden.

Pinto Beans

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This Mexico native takes up to 150 days before you can harvest it as a dry bean, but you can eat it younger as a snap bean as well. Pinto beans prefer warmer weather and come in bush and pole varieties. Lariat beans are uniform in size and resist mosaic virus. Eldorado has a short vine growth and an upright profile. It’s disease resistant and matures in 85 days.

Kidney Beans

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Another Mexico native, kidney beans are high in fiber and take about 95 days to mature. Red Hawk has a bush growth habit and pretty white flowers. It matures in 100 days. Cabernet matures in 90 days and lends nicely to canning. Sacramento is a reliable performer that prefers extra moisture. It matures in 85 days.

Green Beans

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Green beans come in bush and pole varieties. They tend to mature earlier, in as quickly as 50 days, and are generally eaten fresh. Contender is a bush bean that does well in cool areas. The beans are long, thin and curved and are perfect for pickling or fresh eating. Dragon Tongue matures in 60 days and features yellow pods with purple streaks. This pole variety can be eaten shelled or as snap beans.

Planting Beans

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One of the things I love best about beans is that they’re easy to grow.

Planting Beans

I recommend direct-sowing since beans don’t enjoy being transplanted. Plant with the eye of the bean facing down at a depth of 2-inches. Before planting, soak the bean overnight.

Plant after the danger of frost has passed, when soil temps are above 60°F. Be careful not to plant when the soil is too wet because the beans will rot in cool, damp soil. It can take up to 10 days for seedlings to sprout.

Sun and Soil Requirements

Beans prefer warmer weather for the most part, though this may depend on the variety. Plant beans in a sunny spot with at least 6 hours of sunshine. Beans prefer well-drained soil.

Depending on the type, beans thrive in zones 3-10.

Spacing

I space beans using the Square Foot Gardening method and place 9 seeds per square foot. With pole or runner beans, plant them at the base of a support structure (like a trellis or teepee) spacing out according to packet instructions.

For row planting, place pole beans 4-6 inches apart with 12-inches between rows. Bush beans should have 4-6 inches between plants.

Supporting Beans

Support isn’t all that important for bush beans, though some folks may prefer to use caging to help keep things tidy. I live in an area with lots of windy days — even in the summer — so depending on where I’m planting bush beans, I’ll provide support if needed.

If you’re planting pole beans, you’ll need stakes or other types of support structures to help the beans grow upward. The choice is yours. Feel free to get creative! I’m a big fan of the inexpensive bamboo sticks that you can buy at hardware stores. Make sure you purchase sturdy sticks, some companies sell thin, flimsy ones that won’t work well as supports.

I prefer to grow beans in my raised beds instead of containers because most pots don’t provide enough room for beans to grow. Save your containers for plants such as tomatoes or peppers.

Caring for Beans

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Here’s are some basic care tips for keeping your beans alive throughout the season.

Watering

Water frequently and keep the soil moist by adding mulch around the base of your bean plants. Avoid watering plant tops and give about 1/2 inch of water per week.

Fertilizing

Don’t use a high-nitrogen fertilizer with beans. Doing so may result in a crop that doesn’t produce anything for you to eat! Instead, provide a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season.

Pruning

Pinch or cut the top of pole beans to prevent the plants from growing out of control. Pruning is not required for bush beans.

Weeding

Take care when weeding to avoid disturbing the roots of your growing beans.

Succession sowing

Depending on how long your growing season is and what type of bean you plant, you can re-sow beans throughout the summer for a continuous harvest. Plant a mix of pole and bush beans for variety and choose beans with different maturity dates so you’ll always have some to pick.

Crop rotation

Take care to rotate bean crops each year. Beans fix nitrogen in the soil, so plant nitrogen-loving veggies where you had beans in the previous year. Rotating also helps avoid diseases.

Bean Problems and Solutions

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Growing beans is a relatively simple and problem-free experience, but there are some issues you may encounter.

Problems

  • Blossom drop –This occurs if the weather gets overly warm. In areas with sweltering summers, you may prefer to plant beans in partial shade.
  • Lack of bean pods – No beans but lots of foliage? You may have a nutrient imbalance in your soil. Don’t fertilize plants without knowing what’s going on with your soil. Too much nitrogen prevents pods from forming.
  • Broken stems – They may not look it, but growing beans are pretty sturdy. Still, strong gusts of wind may cause your bean plants to topple over. Plant bush beans in an area that’s sheltered from wind and make sure your support structure for pole beans is strong enough to handle wind storms.
  • Holes in the leaves – Spotting some unsightly damage on your bean leaves? The culprit may be a pest. Japanese beetles quickly munch foliage to shreds and they often arrive in hordes.
  • Seeds not germinating – Do you keep planting bean seeds only to find nothing popping up? Are you noticing that seedlings have disappeared overnight? Poor germination may be the result of old seed, but squirrels and birds may be munching on your seed and seedlings. Protect your crops with wire mesh or some other barrier to prevent creatures from stealing your beans.

Bean Weevil

The bean weevil feeds on growing beans and dried, stored beans. To kill off weevils in your food storage, freeze beans for a few days. Outside, keep plants well fertilized in good soil so that they’ll be strong enough to fight infestations. You can also cover seedlings to prevent weevils in the spring.

Stem Nematode

This pest is a particular problem in wet areas. It comes from seeds and infested soils, so only use certified clean soil and seeds.

Cutworms

Cutworms chew through plant stems and roots. You often won’t know you have them until your plant is shriveling up and dying. You can keep this pest from killing your growing beans by using plant collars and by putting diatomaceous earth around your plants. Hand pick any of the worms off if you see them.

Japanese beetles

The good news is that, in my experience, Japanese Beetles seem to attack in cycles. One year, I had an infestation, and my runner beans were quickly decimated. The year after? I didn’t see a single beetle on my bean leaves. The little bugs are actually rather attractive. Their blueish-green sheen distinguishes them.

It’s tough to get rid of them once they’ve established themselves, though neem oil can be used to help minimize the population. Hand picking works, too, but honestly, it’s gross. Your best bet is to try to prevent them from getting at your plants in the first place. Use insect barriers like row covers to keep them away.

Aphids

These little buggers are annoying but easier to deal with than other pests. Don’t ignore them, though, since they spread disease. A strong spray from a garden hose or a spritz of homemade pest killer solution should do the trick.

Cucumber beetles

These spotted beetles munch of plants and carry disease, so they’re a double-threat. Again, covering plants is the best way to prevent this type of infestation, but some companies sell traps that may be used to catch these little creatures.

White Mold

This fungal disease is helped along by cool and humid conditions. Avoid spreading the fungus by getting rid of plants affected by it, right away.

Mosaic virus

Mosaic virus causes young leaves to be small, while older leaves will curl and pucker. Bean pods will be kinked with a mottled yellow color. The virus is prevalent, and once it attacks your plants, there’s no way back. Get rid of everything affected to prevent its spread. Purchase resistant varieties.

Downy Mildew

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Downy mildew can be a problem in cool, wet areas. It looks like small white spots of mildew on bean leaves. You can purchase beans that are resistant to downy mildew if this is something you struggle with. Also be sure to rotate your crops.

Leaf and Pod Spot

This disease causes brown spots to form on the leaves and pods of growing beans. It is seed-borne, so purchase certified clean seeds. In wet areas, buy resistant varieties.

Chocolate Spot

This disease causes brown spots that eventually destroy a plant. It is particularly prevalent in wet and cool areas. Plant resistant varieties if this disease is common in your area. You can also use an organic fungicide.

Bean Rust

Bean rust manifests as rust-like pustules on leaves. Give plants plenty of space, water at the base, not the leaves, and keep weeds at bay. Remove any infected leaves and destroy.

Spider Mites

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Spider mites live in colonies on the undersides of leaves. They can attack bean pods and destroy your crop. Avoid pesticides because it will kill off beneficial predators. Instead, encourage predators, spray plants with neem oil, and keep plants watered so they can fight off mites.

Companion Planting for Beans

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Beans are happy to live next to a variety of garden neighbors, and they provide nitrogen to surrounding plants.

Best Companion Plants

  • Carrots
  • Brassicas like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Corn (three sisters method of planting)
  • Variety of herbs (rosemary for example) keeps beetles away
  • Marigolds are also a natural pest repellent
  • Potatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Catnip
  • Nasturtium
  • Celery
  • Tomato
  • Peas
  • Beets
  • Strawberry

Worst Companion Plants

  • Onion
  • Scallions
  • Leeks
  • Garlic
  • Pepper
  • Basil
  • Fennel
  • Sunflowers

Harvesting and Storing Beans

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Take care when harvesting beans. It’s tempting to try to snap them off roughly, but a hard tug may topple your entire bean plant. I use a pair of scissors and gently cut off beans when harvesting.

Harvest beans for fresh eating when they are young yet large enough to eat. Fresh beans are tender and tasty alongside mashed potatoes and your choice of protein.

You should fresh eat beans right away for the best flavor, but they can also be frozen or pickled. Blanch and then freeze to preserve for later eating. Beans are an excellent option for a variety of recipes and provide plenty of nutrition.

For drying, wait until the leaves start to dry, and the seeds start to bulge. Leaving beans on the stem will cause the beans inside the pod to dry out. You’ll know they’re ready when you can hear the bean rattle in the pod. Fully dried, they can be saved and stored for next year.

To thresh the beans, crack the pod open and scoot the beans out with your thumb. If you have a large harvest, put the pods in a brown paper bag and let them sit for a few weeks. Shake the bag every day. Spread the beans on one half of a tarp and cover with the other half. Stomp on the beans to free them from the husk.

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I love to sautee young beans in sesame oil and a bit of mirin until tender and serve with steamed rice and a protein for an Asian-inspired meal. How do you eat beans?

This article was originally featured on MorningChores.com

Winter Blooms


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Flowering witch hazel and honeysuckle varieties liven up a garden during cold weather.

You don’t need large borders to enjoy winter-flowering shrubs. Blooming when the rest of the garden is gloomy and lackluster, witch hazel, Hamamelis mollis, and winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, will bring it back to life. Grow them in large pots on a patio; you can then use their leafy growth later as a backdrop to spring and summer flower displays. 

Winter-flowering shrubs are a luxury in a small garden where every plant must earn its keep, but you can still make space for these seasonal stars. Plants like Chinese witch hazel, Hamamelis mollis, can be grown in a pot on a patio or balcony and then placed in a prominent spot when the heavily scented, spidery yellow flowers appear on the naked stems. Choose a witch hazel from a palette of yellow, orange, red or purple flowers, and look out for those with twisted or crimped petals. 

The winter honeysuckle, Lonicera fragrantissima, is another prized plant, with highly fragrant, creamy-yellow flowers, which are produced in greater numbers when it’s grown in a sheltered spot.

Planting in pots

To prevent bushes from becoming waterlogged, add a layer of broken clay pot pieces to the bottom of the container so that the drainage holes do not clog up with compost. Add a layer of compost and place your shrub on it to check that the top of the root ball is 2 inches (5 cm) beneath the lip of the pot. Then slip the bush out of its pot, place the pot on the compost and fill in around it with more soil. Remove the pot to leave a hole exactly the right size for the bush’s root ball. Place the bush in the hole, firm around the roots with compost, water well and add a mulch.

Pruning witch hazels

These bushes can be pruned when the flowers start to fade in early spring. First, remove dead or diseased wood, any branches that spoil the shape, or crossing stems that are rubbing against one another. Hamamelis are very slow growing, so avoid cutting back very hard or too frequently. Prune back shoot tips to keep plants within bounds and to encourage bushy growth. 

This article was originally featured on HGTV

6 surprising strategies to improve your indoor air quality!


When you’re outdoors, you’re exposed to all kinds of air pollution. But thank goodness, once you come indoors, your home’s air quality is much better, right? Not necessarily. According to the EPA, the concentrations of some pollutants are often two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.

“Most of us consider the air in our homes to be superior and cleaner to the air outside; however, indoor air can actually be up to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air,” says Richard Ciresi, a franchise owner at Aire Serv in Louisville, KY.

And when your indoor air is polluted, Ciresi says it can cause a variety of health issues, including headaches, respiratory problems, flulike symptoms, heart disease, or other serious long-term conditions.

Experts such as Jay Ayers, a product manager at Ingersoll Rand, say the ultimate fix is installing an air purifier: “Adding an air-cleaning system can help remove airborne particles and allergens too small for your nose and mouth to filter naturally,” he says.

However, this is not a realistic solution for everyone. Here are some alternative ways to improve your indoor air quality.

1. Provide adequate ventilation

Ventilation and air quality go hand in hand—and if the former is malfunctioning, the latter will suffer. If you have an HVAC system, you might assume that your ventilation is up to par. But Ciresi recommends checking it thoroughly to be sure.

“Have you ever noticed smells lingering from the dinner you cooked a couple of days ago? Then your home is suffering from poor ventilation, and there’s a good possibility you have poor indoor air quality,” he says.

To help improve ventilation, Ciresi recommends running exhaust fans throughout your bathrooms and using kitchen range vents. If that doesn’t help, call in a specialist.

2. Clean your air ducts

The EPA recommends cleaning your air ducts if there is visible mold, if they’re clogged as a result of dust and debris, or if you’ve had problems with rodents or insect infestations. All of this stuff could be entering your home every time you turn on the HVAC.

3. Don’t DIY asbestos removal

“Due to its strength and ability to withstand copious amounts of heat, asbestos was used in an array of products in and around the home,” says Bridget Rooney, home safety expert at Mesothelioma.com. However, this material also put millions of lives at risk.

“These microscopic fibers can be released into the air, leaving anyone who is in close proximity at risk for developing a number of serious respiratory illnesses—including mesothelioma cancer,” she says.

Products in older homes like adhesives, cement, roofing tiles, and insulation may still contain asbestos. So if your home is 30 years or older and you plan to renovate, Rooney recommends having an asbestos inspection done by a professional to limit the threat of exposure so your indoor air stays as clean as possible.

And by all means, do not try to remove the asbestos yourself.

“Even just a simple hole in the wall can disrupt the carcinogen,” Rooney says.

4. Control dust and dust mites

No one really likes to dust, but if you can write your name in the dust on your living room coffee table, consider how the tiny particles are affecting your air quality.

“Limit clutter in the home, and avoid creating spots where dust can collect,” says Ayers. “Use anti-dust mite covers on your mattresses, pillows, and box springs, and wash your bedding in hot water at least once a week.”

Dry your bedding on a hot cycle to kill dust mites.

5. Reduce pet dander

We all love our pets, but pet dander can significantly decrease your indoor air quality.

“Keep pets off the furniture, out of the bedroom, and (if necessary) consider keeping your pet outside the home for a majority of the day,” Ayers says.

For some, that’s too drastic. So instead, to keep pet dander from collecting around your house, install low-pile carpeting, or remove carpeting altogether.

“Pet dander is very sticky and can also attach to pet bedding, toys, and other fabrics. So when possible, wash those items as well,” says Ayers.

6. Install a carbon monoxide detector

If you use natural gas, propane oil, wood, charcoal, or other types of fuel for heating and cooking, you need a carbon monoxide detector.

“Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because it’s odorless, colorless, and tasteless,” Ciresi says. “Symptoms of poisoning often include headaches, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting—and in severe cases, death.”

You should install good-quality carbon monoxide detectors throughout your house—in the hallways in your sleeping areas in particular.

“The standard carbon monoxide detectors do have a shelf life, so check the date of manufacture when you purchase,” Ciresi says. Once a detector is activated, it should be replaced as they lose sensitivity over time.

The No. 1 source of carbon monoxide in your home is usually a gas furnace or water heater, so have these appliances checked annually by a professional.

This article was originally featured on Realtor.com.

12 essential herbs for your growing garden!


Enhance your recipes, eliminate extra trips to the grocery store and cultivate a connection with nature with a few sprigs or leaves from an herb plant you’ve grown yourself. Herbs tie all gardeners together, whether grown in a large landscape or in pots on a windowsill, on their own or interplanted with ornamentals, by experienced or first-time gardeners. Whether herb gardening is a seasonal ritual or your first edible venture, here are 12 herbs we feel no gardener should fare without.

This article was originally featured on Houzz.

Guide to making your home more eco-friendly and allergy free!


Make your home an allergy-free zone.

If it feels like it’s the worst allergy season yet, it’s because it is. A recent study in the journal Lancet Planetary Health found that both airborne pollen counts and pollen season duration have increased as temperatures have climbed over the past 20 years. While controlling the atmosphere is impossible, there are many efforts we can make to live in a home that is less triggering of allergies and easier on our respiratory systems.

According to Dr. Lakiea Wright, who is a board-certified allergist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and medical director at Thermo Fisher Scientific, there are three big peaks in pollen production throughout the year. “Trees like oak, ash, birch, and maple see pollen spikes in the spring. Pollen from timothy grass, bluegrass, and orchard grass peaks over the summer, and ragweed pollen surges in the fall. Many people are sensitive to multiple types of pollen and if the seasons are getting longer, there will be less relief for allergy sufferers as these seasons begin to overlap.”

If you’re feeling the symptoms of seasonal allergies, Dr. Wright suggests making an appointment with a healthcare provider to get an allergy test before doing anything else. “Every spring millions of people seek allergy relief through over-the-counter drugs without really knowing their diagnosis,” she says. “But we’ve seen firsthand how life-changing it can be when you finally know what’s causing those problems with breathing, itching, rashes, or congestion. Once you have that information, and you know that dust, pollen or something else is causing the problem, you can employ strategies to avoid it.”

Buy An Air Purifier

Molekule is a state of the art air purifier.

Buying a state-of-the-art air purifier like the Molekule requires the least amount of effort and is worth the investment in your health. Recommended by expert biohacker, Luke Storey, this appliance is truly “form meets function.” It’s the first air purifier to use Photo Electro-Chemical Oxidation (PECO) technology to destroy allergens on a microscopic level. Another bonus is that the aesthetic design of it is just as brilliant as the technology behind it. The Molekule is also portable, made from aluminum and unobtrusively fits into any interior design scheme.

Honeywell also has a good selection of air purifiers with HEPA filters for rooms of various sizes from extra large to desktop (perfect for the office). All are capable of removing 99.97% of microscopic allergens in the air. They are available in a range of prices with a variety of features including Bluetooth.

Edit Your Home

Less is better.

The first step to having a less toxic home is to get rid of clutter, furniture and decor that attracts dust. This doesn’t mean you need to have an entirely empty space, but consider removing any excessive items during peak allergy seasons. If you don’t want to throw things out or give away items, consider switching up your accessories seasonally and refresh periodically. 

Get Real About Chemicals

An eco-friendly guest house designed by Erica Reiner in Venice, California.

Erica Reiner of Eco Method Interiors specializes in designing health and eco-friendly homes and businesses. Her approach is to avoid products with chemicals as much as possible. “Unfortunately our country doesn’t have protective laws banning chemicals that are harmful to us through everyday products and the home goods industry is no different.” 

It’s unrealistic for most people to steer clear of absolutely everything that could potentially be harmful. So, she generally recommends avoiding anything with AZO dyes, softeners or fire retardants, PVC, phthalates, and VOCs. But to simplify, a good rule of thumb is to avoid home furnishings made with synthetic materials and choose items that are certified by third parties as non-harmful.  

“Look for things made with natural fibers that are grown and not made, see if they’re made responsibly and have a certification as such, see if they are free from AZO dyes and have low impact dyes instead,” she says.

Choose Less Toxic Furniture

Pottery Barn’s Comfort Eco Roll Arm Slip

Safe furniture is easier to find than you might believe. Pottery Barn’s Comfort Eco Roll Arm Slip Covered Sofa is Greenguard Gold Certified. Six different covers and several customizable styles are available. This is a soft, comfortable piece of furniture that will look beautiful in contemporary or traditional homes.

Another option is Cisco Brothers. They have an entire line that is better for both people and the environment with everything from sofas to chairs, ottomans and even beds.

Switch Out Your Window Treatments

Chilewich's roller shades from The Shade Store are modern and eco-friendly.

If you are allergic to dust, avoid fabric curtains because they are dust collectors. Reiner also suggests avoiding faux wood and PVC blinds. Swap them out for bamboo or wood window treatments instead. The Shade Store has many sophisticated, eco-friendly options and they will even measure your space at no cost. 

Get Rid Of Carpeting  

Washable area rugs on hard floors are cleaner than carpeting.

If you’re building a new home or renovating, allergy sufferers should avoid carpeting. Reiner says cork flooring is the best for allergy sufferers because it’s both naturally antimicrobial and fire retardant.

But if you must install carpeting, she says, “100% wool is a great option.” Choosing carpet squares instead of traditional wall-to-wall carpeting. “With tiles, you can just replace one small area as it wears over the long term.”

Area rugs, while attractive, can attract dirt and dust. So choosing natural ones made with non-toxic dyes like the washable line from Lorena Canals is ideal. There are cute styles for children as well as more contemporary designs for every room in the home.

Buy A Good Vacuum Cleaner

Dyson's new V11 Torque Cordless Vacuum.

A good vacuum cleaner is a necessity no matter what kind of flooring or furniture you have. The new Dyson V11 is a must-have for any home, but it’s particularly essential for renters or homeowners who may be stuck with carpeting. This stick model has twice the suction of any cordless vacuum for a truly deep clean, capturing over 99% of microscopic dust particles. It even automatically adjusts for all type of flooring, so the settings don’t need to be changed as you clean. There are even a variety of tools to clean every surface from upholstery to crevices, for dusting, etc.

Prevent Mold Before It Starts

A heated towel rack is a stylish and healthy bathroom upgrade.

Mold can happen at any time of the year. Both Dr. Wright and Reiner suggest using a dehumidifier in low ventilation areas of the home like basements.

Bathrooms without windows or adequate ventilation can be breeding grounds for mold and mildew, especially on towels. A heated towel rack like Amba’s Radiant Wall Mount Electric Towel Warmer doesn’t only inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on towels, but it makes a very sleek addition to any bathroom.  

Change Your Bedding

Make sure your sheets are Oeko-Tex Certified.

Look for Oeko-Tex certified bedding, which is certified free of dyes and synthetic chemicals such as My Sheets Rock. This is a new brand of sheets made from 100% bamboo rayon. This fabric wicks away moisture and minimizes odors. It also maintains an average lower temperature (four degrees cooler) and with 50% less humidity than most sheets. So they are ideal for people who get sweaty at night. Even better, they feel soft as silk.

Luxury French brand Yves Delorme has a line of anti-allergy comforters and pillows made with a machine-washable alternative to down. So you can avoid dry cleaning chemicals and the high cost of professional cleaning.

Cover Your Pillows, Mattresses And Box Springs

Don't forget to put pillow covers under your pillow cases.

Using anti-allergy covers for your pillows, mattresses and box springs is an easy fix. It also extends the life of your linens. Make sure both the mattress cover and pillow covers have zippered closures for complete protection.

Avoid Irritants In Your Laundry Detergent

Non-toxic laundry detergent is better for people and planet.

Dr. Wright recommends washing your sheets in hot water, “130 degrees and up is best to kill dust mites” she says. 

It’s also ideal to avoid heavily perfumed and chemically formulated detergent. Brooke & Nora At Home is a new line of goat milk based laundry products. The powdered formula dissolves easily and is free of harsh chemicals. The line even has dryer balls, which are a great alternative to synthetic dryer sheets as well as essential oils and a stain stick. 

Use Safer Paint

Schools Out by EasyCare paint.

A freshly painted wall looks great but isn’t exactly easy on the respiratory system. So choosing a paint like EasyCare by True Value is a better choice. This low odor and low VOC paint is certified by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). It is available in several finishes and a full range of colors.

This article was originally featured on Forbes.

6 Eco-Conscious Waterfront Homes


Strong design is a delicate balance of form and function. Homes need to reflect more than just our aesthetic principles—they need to suit our values as well. As global concern for climate change grows, so too do the number of “green” homes on the market. The challenge becomes finding an environmentally-conscious home where the luxury experience is not lost. Here are six eco-homes that manage to be both mindful and magnificent.

History Meets Future on Ionian Islands, Greece

Savvas SavvaidisGreece Sotheby’s International Realty

Having played host to several mythic odysseys, the town of Corfu sets the stage for this Emerald Bay estate. Celebrating traditional Grecian architecture while incorporating eco-friendly amenities, this home makes the case for considered design and a minimized environmental footprint. Jet out on the Ionian Sea from your private mooring, or cool off with a dip in the infinity pool perfectly tempered by solar panels. It only takes one glance at this tranquil sea to realize this address is the crowning jewel of the Ionian coastline.

Thoughtful Living in Oeiras, Lisbon

Paula PenimPortugal Sotheby’s International Realty

Energy from the Oeiras sun is used to power this arty oceanfront villa. Complete with mid-century modern wood paneling throughout the home, its thoughtful detailing is continued beyond its interiors—solar panels provide a clean source of energy to assist in powering this home’s four bedrooms and seven bathrooms, in addition to providing heat for both outdoor and indoor pools. Spend your days reclining by the pool overlooking the Atlantic, or take your journey further inland to explore the region’s many blue and green spaces, including the sandy beaches of Paço de Arcos and Praia da Torre.

Finding Zen in Limestone Bay, Anguilla

Scott HauserAnguilla Properties Sotheby’s International Realty

Find paradise at this airy Anguillan abode that pairs palace-like grandeur with modern eco-sensibilities. Regal columns and carved balustrades overlooking the Caribbean Sea create a scene fit for the silver screen, while overhead solar panels pull in energy from the Anguillan rays to power a heated pool in the home’s zen garden. Views are not lost on the home’s well-appointed four bedrooms and spacious living area, each producing vivid-hued views of the technicolor waters—higher definition than any television.

Lakeside Living in Six Mile, South Carolina

Justin WinterJustin Winter Sotheby’s International Realty

Time-honored materials and modern technologies are what make this South Carolina lake house eco-conscious. Situated on Lake Keowee, this property is dressed in natural materials including limestone and slate, while repurposed accents like a wrought iron door salvaged from Argentina add to the home’s sustainability. The home’s eco-friendly architectural features are further underscored by its use of geothermal, solar thermal, and solar photovoltaic technologies to reduce its energy demand, as well as a rainwater system for landscape irrigation.

Cerulean Caribbean Vistas in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands

Nina Siegenthaler & Joe ZahmTurks & Caicos Sotheby’s International Realty

No matter which window you gaze out of, the views from this Turks and Caicos villa are nothing short of spectacular. Tucked into a hillside in Turtle Tail, enjoy Caribbean living at its fullest surrounded by vibrant-hued turquoise waters that appear simply surreal. Solar panels heat and pump a private lagoon pool mimicking the variants of blue from the ocean, while a backup generator and 500 gallon propane tank are on site for all eventualities. Ideal for entertaining, this serene home ensures all of your guests can retreat to their private quarters complete with their very own ocean vista.

River Views in New South Wales, Australia

Rick Nolasco & Daphne SauvageSydney Sotheby’s International Realty

Two properties comprise this New South Wales waterfront address. With its covetable location on the Hawkesbury River, Sunny Corner boasts 180-degree views of idyllic waterfront and stunning hillside. Designed to facilitate an active life on the water, this Australian escape ensures you can venture out in your own pontoon, or stay closer to shore and enjoy kayaking, water skiing, and fishing from your secluded retreat. Shining when it comes to sustainability, this home utilizes solar panels to reduce environmental impact and heat all water on site.

When it comes to helping the planet, small choices can make a big difference. Whether you’re considering alternative energies or recycling your rainwater, choosing a home with eco features can make the work of living lightly that much easier.

Source: Clean Living | 6 Eco-Conscious Waterfront Homes