Category Archives: Eclectic Garden

Hanging Herb Garden in Ladyguides on Persephone Magazine.

The Lazy Lady’s Guide to DIY: Hanging Herb Garden

At some point near the middle of March, I always decide that I’m “done” with winter. The sweaters and jackets get pushed to the back of the closet, the flip flops come out, and I inevitably freeze my butt off for several weeks until the weather catches up with my warm-weather state of mind. Likewise, my cravings for fresh herbs and veggies are always a little ahead of the season.

Growing your own herbs is a great way to save money and avoid buying too much at a time and letting most of it go to waste. If it’s still too cold to plant outside where you are (or if you’re short on space!) this hanging herb garden is the perfect project to get you in gear for spring.

What you’ll need: Tin containers with snap-on plastic lids (tea, cocoa, and coffee cans are a good bet), coat hangers, pliers, scissors, herbs (I bought basil, rosemary, dill, and cilantro for about $2.50 each), masking tape, coffee filters, a nail, a hammer, X-acto knife, scrap fabric or paper, and glue or spray adhesive.

Herb Garden Before

After you’ve emptied and cleaned your cans, remove the bottom of the can with a can opener. Using the hammer and nail, punch 10-15 holes near the center.

Herb Garden Can Top

Slide the bottom inside the can, holding it up from inside. Tape the bottom in place about an inch from the outer edge of the can. (You could also use a hot glue gun.)  After you’ve got it good and stuck, punch two holes on opposite sides of the can about a quarter inch from the edge. These are the holes for the handle.

Taped Top

Flip the can over. Gently press the plant into the can. This part can get a little messy, so you might want to do it over the sink or outside.


Herb planted in can

Once you’ve got the herb in the can, take your coffee filter and cut a small diamond in the center, with a slit extending to the edge on one side.


Coffee filter

Fold the coffee filter around the herb and tape the edges together. Tape it to the can so that the top of the filter is tight. This will help prevent leaking and soil from falling out when you turn the can over.


Coffee filter taped to the can

Using your x-acto knife, cut a hole about 1-2 inches in diameter in the center of the plastic lid. The size of the hole really depends on the size of the plant. Too big and it will leak, too small and you might not be able to get the plant through it. When in doubt, go smaller.


A circular hole is cut in the lid.

This part is tricky: Carefully feed the plant through the hole in the plastic lid. The best way I’ve found to do this is to grasp the center of the plant, gathering all the leaves together, and gently twist it until it’s in a rope-like shape and isn’t poking out everywhere.


This part is tricky.

No herbs were harmed in the making of this project. (Until I ate them.)

Once you’ve got the lid snapped on, you can glue or tape it in place if the plant is especially big or heavy. Mine wasn’t, so I just left it snapped. Next, cut your fabric or paper into strips long enough to wrap around the can completely with a little overlap. Cut it wide enough so that there’s about a half inch extra around the top of the can (what used to be the bottom). You should probably have a cat hold the fabric in place for you.

Olive is helping

“You need this? Too bad, it’s my bed now.”

Hold the fabric so one edge is even with the bottom of the can, where the plant is poking out. Tape or glue the vertical edge of the fabric to the can, then wrap the fabric tightly around the can. You can use spray adhesive, glue, or clear tape to secure the fabric. Next, fold the extra half inch of fabric or paper inside the top of the can and glue or tape it in place. Be careful not to cover the holes for watering!


Wrap the fabric around the can.

To make the handles, use your pliers to cut about 6 inches of wire from the hangers. Bend it into a curve, then use the pliers to bend about 1/4-1/2 inch off the end into a right angle. Poke the ends through the holes you hammered out earlier, then use the pliers to squeeze the ends upward to secure it. I also made hooks for mine to make it easier to get them down for watering.


Herb garden after

You can hang your plants from curtain rods, hooks in the ceiling, or just about anywhere that gets plenty of light. I hung my herbs over the sink in my kitchen so they would be within easy reach while I was cooking. So far I haven’t had any problems with leaking, but you may want to avoid hanging your plants over hardwood floors or other surfaces that don’t take kindly to being dripped on.


Herb garden after 2

Yes, my cabinets really are this yellow.

This project could be tweaked in hundreds of ways. I originally planned to cover my cans in wood veneer and stain them for a more natural look, but had a hard time finding it locally. Sheet metal, wallpaper, wrapping paper, collage, or paint would also be great materials to use on these. And of course, you don’t have to grow herbs: you could also use these to grow hanging vines, flowers, tomatoes, peppers… the options are endless.

Happy growing!


Now reading: The Lazy Lady’s Guide to DIY: Hanging Herb Garden in Ladyguides on Persephone Magazine..

DIY Cowboy: How to reclaim wood from pallets

How to reclaim wood from pallets

Wood is the material of choice for a lot of my projects. In an effort to keep my hobby budget tight, I’ve ventured into the world of reclaimed and re-purposed wood. I’ll often collect shipping pallets, crates, and wood that has been previously used for sheds and decking, then re-purpose it for my projects. Sometimes, this wood has been taken apart for me and I just need to cut out any rot and remove and any pieces of metal that have been lodged in it. But Most of the time, I have to take it apart myself.

The most common structure to reclaim wood from is a shipping pallet. They can be found anywhere across America. Small companies often want to get rid of these ASAP. Large companies sometimes have a process to reuse or recycle their pallets, but are often willing to give a few away to anyone who asks.

With all of the boards and nails, it can be a little intimidating and difficult to start separating a pallet. Just going at it with a pry bar and hammer isn’t going to work very well. You’ll have trouble getting the pry bar in to those tight joints and you can easily crack the wood, rending it hardly usable. Here is a guide with my steps, precautions, and techniques to help you reclaim the wood used in a pallet with maximum efficiency and minimal damage to the wood.

The tools I recommend are

  • a 4×4 piece of wood, long enough to lay across the pallet.
  • a 2 pound or heavier mallet, possibly made of rubber
  • a piece of 2×6 or similar, 1-3 feet tall
  • a regular hammer with a good claw
  • a pry bar – Stanley 21-Inch Wonder Bar
  • gloves
  • safety glasses
  • punches – 8 Piece Pin Punch Set
  • optionally, a sledge hammer and an empty jar for rusty nails

Start by

putting on your gloves and laying the pallet out on a hard, flat surface. I use my garage floor, but a sidewalk, porch, or driveway will also work well. Make sure you have sufficient space to walk around the pallet. I like to start the pallet with the heavily planked side up, the same way the pallet would lay if the shipping cargo were sitting on it. Grab the 4×4. Raise the pallet with one hand and slide the 4×4 underneath with the other. Position the 4×4 so that it is side to side with the first board you want to remove.

Once in position,
grab your mallet and 2×6 and stand it on the board you want to remove. You will need to hold it steady and can choose to hold it at an angle if you need to. Stand the 2×6 near where the pallet board contacts other boards and try to hold it so that as much of the 2×6 end is touching the pallet board as possible. This will distribute your hitting force more evenly around the nails attaching the board to the rest of the pallet, preventing cracking while still allowing you to deliver a lot of force. Hit the 2×6 with the mallet. Give it a few good hits and you should notice the pallet board slipping away from the other pieces of the pallet. Once it reaches about a quarter inch of separation, move your 2×6 to another part of the board where it is connected to the rest of the pallet and continue. Go up and down the length of the board until the board has fallen from the pallet. The more evenly you separate the joints, the less likely you’ll crack the board.

If the board is in a really hard to reach place,
use the sledge hammer. Don’t go nuts and start swinging at the board! Use gravity and the weight of the sledge hammer. Just lifting it and dropping it a few times is enough to dislodge the board from the rest of the pallet. This technique allows you to place the head of the sledge hammer sideways into a small space, then just lift and drop to get the board moving. You could use this method for the entire pallet, but this method is prone to creating more cracks in the boards.

Before moving on to the next board,
make sure to move the recently removed board far enough from your work area that you won’t accidentally step on it or the rusty nails sticking out of it. Then move your 4×4 next to another board and start removing that board with the mentioned techniques. I like to work from outer-most to inner-most boards, helping keep the pallet rigid while I’m working with it. Once finished with one side, flip it over and do the other side of the pallet.

When deciding which side of a board I want to place my 4×4 against, I choose the side with the least weight. This puts the board I want to remove in between the 4×4 and the floor, as opposed to the 4×4 and the air. I can’t follow this rule when removing the boards on the ends of the pallet, so to help keep the pallet heavy and steady against the 4×4, I stand on the pallet while making my hits. Another thing to note is that hitting too hard into a small area will cause cracking in the board. You never want that. That’s why I recommend using the mallet in conjunction with a 2×6 and only using the sledge hammer in tight spaces.

Once the boards have all been separated,
you should take the time to remove the nails. This will make your new boards safe and easy to store. I take each board, one at a time, and lay it on the edge of a work bench or flat stool. I make sure the nail heads are on the bottom side (floor side) of the board and that I’m looking at the points of the nails. I then take my regular hammer and start knocking the nails out to the other side. Keeping the targeted nails close to the edge of a sturdy table or stool keeps the board from flexing and makes each swing of the hammer count that much more. Once I’ve knocked each nail flush with my side of the board, I grab another board and do it again.

As I finish each board, I lay it on the floor, nail heads up. Once they are all on the floor, I put on my safety glasses and grab my jar and pry bar. Make sure you have your safety glasses on, because sometimes these nails will flex on their way out, causing them to fling into the air when being removed. I’ve already been hit in the face a couple of times and hit in the goggles once. I begin walking on the boards, taking care not to step on any nails, using my pry bar to pull the nails out. This is a cake walk on thinner boards and can sometimes be difficult with thick boards. Thicker boards, like 2x4s, might require you to get down on your hand and knees to pull their nails out.

Some stubborn nails
will lose their heads. To get these out, you need to get creative. If the nail hole goes all the way through the board, I take the board back to my workbench or stool and flip it over, the same way it was when I knocked the nail through to the other side. I then use a punch set to drive the nail the rest of the way out from the bottom side. If the nail hole doesn’t go all the way through, I will lay one of my punches next to the nail and us the hammer to bend the broken nail over the punch tool. Then, I’m usually able to use the claw on the hammer to get enough grip to remove the nail.

Now you’re done.
You’ll want to store the nails in a safe place, like a jar with a lid. I haven’t thought of any good uses for rusty, bent nails yet, so I just recycle them. Make sure that before using the reclaimed wood, you pass a metal detector over it. You don’t want any missed nails or staples damaging your saw blades and other tools. Also, I try to plane my wood ASAP. I do so with a lot of dust protection. The reason I do this is because some pallets get fumigated and treated with bad stuff and strong chemicals while they are being moved around the world. It’s my belief that this stuff typically sticks to the surface and doesn’t absorb deep. Holding the boards to the light, you can sometimes notice an eerily shiny surface layer. So, I plane or cut the surface layers away before storing and using this wood, getting rid of that shiny layer. I wear an N95 or better rated mask while doing this to protect myself from contaminated saw dust.

DIY Cowboy: How to reclaim wood from pallets.

Discover the benefits of burdock root

Greater burdock (Arctium lappa)

Image via Wikipedia

Burdock root as an herbal remedy offers a variety of health benefits. This herb has been known for its healing properties for many centuries and was commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat numerous illnesses.

About Burdock Root

The burdock is a plant found in the continents of Europe and Asia. It is easy to find and identify, as it generally grows along fences and roads. In Asia, the taproot of young burdock plant is harvested and eaten as a root vegetable. It has a gummy consistency and is sweet to the taste. It is rich in calcium, chlorogenic acid, flavonoids, iron, inulin, lactone, mucilage, polyacetylenes, potassium, resin, tannin, and taraxosterol.

Traditional Uses for Burdock Root

In folk medicine, the seeds of the burdock were compressed to make a mixture that provided relief for measles, arthritis, tonsillitis, throat pain, and viruses like the common cold. Burdock root can also be used to treat gout, rheumatism, ulcers, acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Folk herbalists use it to treat snake bites and those that are afflicted with rabies. They also used dried burdock as a diuretic, diaphoretic, and a blood purifying agent. It purifies the blood by getting rid of dangerous toxins.

Remedy for Scalp Problems

The burdock root oil extract, or Bur oil, is used in Europe as a scalp treatment to help treat dandruff and prevent hair loss. Since the burdock oil is rich in phytosterols and essential fatty acids, it is also said to improve hair strength, shine, and body by helping maintain a healthy scalp and promote hair growth. It combines an immediate relieving effect with nutritional support for normal functions of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles.

Burn Treatment

The leaves of the burdock can be used for pain management and to help speed up recovery time in burn patients. It is said to impede bacterial growth and acts as a barrier against moisture.

Cancer Benefits

Today, burdock root is used in oncology for its cancer-curing properties, particularly in Russia and India. Many herbalists say burdock root can stop cancer cells from metastasizing. Preliminary research has demonstrated that burdock root has certain protective properties that may explain its cancer benefits.

Further Reading:…

About the author

Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more:

A guide to herbs for headaches – Disease Prevention – Health & Nutrition – Homemakers

A guide to herbs for headaches – Disease Prevention – Health & Nutrition – Homemakers.

A guide to herbs for headaches

Heather Camlot
Not all herbs have been scientifically tested for their beneficial effects on headaches, says Dr. Heather Boon, associate professor in the Leslie Dan faculty of pharmacy at the University of Toronto, and coauthor of 55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs: The Complete Natural Medicine Guide (Robert Rose, $27.95).


How it works: Butterbur’s active ingredients, petasin and isopetasin, can supposedly calm inflammation and muscle spasms.

Evidence: A couple of clinical trials are positive, but not definitive.

Side-effects: Mild gastrointestinal upset. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), organic compounds that contaminate certain plants, are toxic to the liver. Take only PA-free extract.



How it works: Feverfew’s active compound, parthenolide, is believed to relieve muscle spasms, keep blood vessels from constricting and hinder inflammation.

Evidence: Clinical trials have had mixed results, but some show it helped.

Side-effects: Mild canker sores, allergic reactions and loss of the sense of taste are possible. Stopping long-term use could result in headaches and joint pain, occasional gastrointestinal upset and nervousness.



(an amino acid from the Griffonia plant)

How it works: Helps balance levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain associated with sleep, mood and migraines.

Evidence: A couple of studies suggest migraineurs may be able to reduce their use of normal pain-relieving meds.

Side-effects: Mild stomach problems, such as nausea and indigestion.

Willow bark 

Willow bark

How it works: Contains salicin, a chemical similar to the one in acetylsalicylic acid.

Evidence: Never been investigated for headaches per se, but has been used for centuries to relieve inflammation.

Side-effects: Can possibly cause gastrointestinal irritation and ulcers. Too much can cause skin rash, nausea and kidney inflammation.



How it works: A natural tranquilizer, its sedating property also helps relax muscles and relieve tension and anxiety.

Evidence: Little scientific evidence, though its medicinal use dates back to ancient Greece and Rome.

Side-effects: Mild side-effects (including headaches!) the morning after.



How it works: Its antispasmodic and mild sedative properties relax tense muscles, especially in the back.

Evidence: Little scientific evidence.

Side-effects: Skin irritation from topical use. Ingested oil may be poisonous.

Peppermint oil 

Peppermint oil

How it works: Because the menthol in peppermint has a numbing effect, applying bruised fresh leaves or peppermint oil to the forehead may reduce pain.

Evidence: Little scientific evidence; studies so far have found no concrete proof of its benefits.

Side-effects: Heartburn, if ingested. Allergic reactions.



How it works: Relaxes the muscles in the head and neck, as well as along the arteries.

Evidence: Limited clinical testing has been done, so there is little, if any, evidence.

Side-effects: Rare allergic reactions.

How To Make a Holistic Health Kit | Pathways | The Witches’ Garden

How To Make a Holistic Health Kit | Pathways | The Witches’ Garden.

Most of us keep first aid kits handy for emergency use in our cars, campers, homes, etc. Have you considered adding a companion kit filled with natural remedies? Here are some essentials for filling a holistic health kit.

Here’s How:
  1. Kit: Purchase or sew a heavy cotton drawstring bag to store your healing supplies inside. Keeping everything in a ready-to-go satchel is a must for those occasional impromptu outings.
  2. Trauma Help: flower essences (Bach Rescue Remedy or FES Five Flower Formula), green fluorite and/or clear quartz crystal
  3. Immune Booster: echinacea, vitamin C tablets
  4. Purification: sage wand for smudging (matchbook), tea tree oil
  5. Dehydration: bottled water, fruit juices
  6. Injuries: aloe vera gel (for burns, cuts, abrasions, etc.)
  7. Allergies: arsenicum album (homeopathic)
  8. Sprains: epsom salt (also great for soaking tired and sore feet after a day of traveling)
  9. Calming Agents: herbal teas (chamomile, lemon balm, ginger, peppermint, etc.), lavender essential oil.
  10. Energy Food Stuffs: almonds, granola bars, dried fruits, etc.
  11. Emergency Phone Numbers: Cell phone (or address book) with the contact phone numbers for your local hospital and health care providers.
  1. Routinely replace any perishable items in your kit.
  2. Personalize your kit by including your own proven remedies.

How to Make Herbal Tinctures

How to Make Herbal Tinctures | Pathways | The Witches’ Garden.

Herbal remedies can be made from fresh herbs in six to eight weeks. Grow your own herbs or purchase them fresh from a reputable local grower. Although dried herbs and barks can be made into herbal tinctures, it is best to use fresh plant matter (leaves, stems, roots).

  • It is best to pick your herbs early in the morning shortly after the morning dew has dried.
  • Do not wash the plants, but remove any loose dirt or damaged parts from them.
  • Coarsely chop the leaves, stems, and root material. If the plant was in bloom when you harvested it include whole blossoms in with the chopped parts. Place blossoms and chopped plant materials into a clean glass jar.
  • Fill the jar with liquid preservative of your choice (brandy, vodka, vegetable glycerine, or apple cider vinegar).
  • Seal jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Label the jar with name of herb and date of preparation.
  • Store prepared herb jars in a dark cabinet for six to eight weeks.
  • Each week visit your preparations and give them a good shake.
  • After the storage period strain out the herbs and pour the liquid into clean and dried tincture bottles.

Typical dosage is 15-20 drops from an herbal tincture. However, dosages of herbal remedies will vary depending on the potency of the herb being used, what the healing purpose it is being applied, and the recipient’s tolerance to the herb.

Reference: The Healing Sourcebook, Herbal Tinctures, David Vennells, O-Books

Herbology Definitions

Herbology Definitions | Pathways | The Witches’ Garden.

Alterative – Producing a healthful change without perception
Anodyne – Relieves pain
Anthelmintic – A medicine that expels worms
Aperient – Gently laxative without purging
Aromatic – A stimulant, spicy
Astringent – Causes contraction and arrests discharges
Antibilious – Acts on the bile, relieving bilousness
Antiemetic – Stops vomiting
Antileptic – Relieves siesures
Antiperiodic – Arrests morbid periodic movements
Anthilic – Prevents formation of stones in urinary organs
Antirheumatic – Relieves rheumatism
Antiscorbutic – Cures or prevents scurvy
Antiseptic – aims at stopping putrification
Antispasmodic – Relieves or prevents spasms
Antisyphilitic – Having affect or curing STD
Carminative – Expels gas in the bowels
Carthatic – Evacuating from the bowels
Cephalic – Remedies used in diseases of the head
Cholagogue – Increases flow of bile
Condiment – Improves flavor of food
Demulcent – Soothing, relieves inflammation
Deobstruent – Removes obstruction
Depurative – Purifies the blood
Detergent – Cleansing to boils, ulcers, wounds etc
Diaphoretic – Produces perspiration
Discutient – Dissolves and heals tumors
Diuretic – Increases flow of urine
Emetic – Produces vomiting
Emmenagogue – Promotes menstruation
Emollient – Softens and soothes inflamation
Esculent – Eatable as food
Expectorant – Facilitates espectoration
Febrifuge – Abates and reduces fever
Hepatic – For diseases of the liver
Herpatic – Remedy for skin diseases of all types
Laxative – Promotes bowel action
Lithontryptic – Dissolves calculi in urinary organs
Maturating – Ripens or brings boils to a head
Mucilaginous – Soothing to all inflammations
Nauseant – Produces vomiting
Nervine – Acts specifically on nervous system, stops nervous excitment
Opthalmicum – For eye diseases
Parturient – Induces and promotes labor at childbirth
Pectoral – For chest infections
Refrigerant – Cooling
Resolvent – Dissolves boils and tumors
Rubifacient – Increases circulation and produces red skin
Sedative – Nerve tonic, promotes sleep
Sialogogue – Increases secretion of saliva
Stomachic – Strengthen stomach, relieves indigestion
Styptic – Stops bleeding
Sudorfic – Produces profuse perspiration
Tonic – Remedy which is invigorating and strengthing
Vermifuge – Expels worms from the system

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