Traditional recipes

Turn Your Kitchen into a Garden Oasis

Turn Your Kitchen into a Garden Oasis

At this point in the year, we are all beginning to suffer a bit from the winter blues. However, just because the weather frightful, that doesn’t mean it has to be bleak indoors.

Aside from cranking up the heat and sipping on tropical drinks, you can perk up your winter blues by transforming your kitchen into a useful garden oasis that will thrive while the elements outside remain less than ideal. To help us better understand not only why plants in our kitchen are useful, but which plants will thrive best indoors, we chatted with Justin Hancock of Exotic Angel Houseplants to help you make your garden grow. Here are a few tips to get your green thumb ready:

The Daily Meal: What are the best houseplants to keep in the kitchen?

Justin Hancock: If you have a bright kitchen, any houseplant should enjoy the extra humidity a kitchen offers. If you’re always on the go, some particularly fun varieties include snake plant, Chinese evergreen, and ZZ plant — they hold up well if you get too busy cooking to water them regularly. If you want a splash of color in the kitchen, look at red Aglaonema. It’s incredibly easy and its foliage is edged and streaked in rich, ruby red.

What are the most low-maintenance houseplants?

Snake plant, Chinese evergreen, and ZZ plant are three of the most low-maintenance plants of all time. Snake plant, in particular, has been enjoyed for generations — a testament to just how easy it is! Pothos, philodendron, and spider plant are three more super-easy plants; they’re particularly good choices for growing from hangers if you don’t have enough counter space to enjoy plants.

What are some ways to help a dying plant revive itself a little?

If you have a plant that’s struggling, first check to make sure you’re giving it the conditions it needs (you should be able to find this information on the plant tag, or on websites like If your plant isn’t in a prime spot, either move it to a better one or replace it with a plant that is suited to the space you’ll grow it in. Moving a plant isn’t always the answer — and can do more harm to the plant than good, so resist the urge to keep placing your plant in a lot of different areas to see if it does better.

Why should we fill our kitchens with plants, outside of obviously useful ones like aloe for burns?

Aloe is the classic one. But all plants actually offer some great health benefits. Being around plants can lower our blood pressure and make us feel more relaxed, happy, and creative. Because plants are so good at cleaning the air (of harmful VOCs [Volatile Organic Compounds], as well as bacteria, mold, and other substances), houseplants can also help keep us from getting sick. They’re no substitute for washing our hands, but some scientific studies show plants can reduce mold, mildew, and bacteria counts in the air by 60 percent.

Which plants are the worst to put in your kitchen and why?

It depends on the plant and your kitchen. If you have a relatively low-light kitchen, for example, any high-light plant is going to have a tough time getting by. If you have a pretty small kitchen, you probably don’t want a palm, money tree, or other plant of large proportions.

Which are the hardest herbs to grow and maintain? The easiest?

In general, most herbs are going to be something of a challenge indoors. Most herbs come from the Mediterranean and like sunny spots. That said, rosemary can be grown for years indoors if you have enough light and are careful not to overwater it. We recommend considering most herbs to be short-term houseplants — those you enjoy for two or three months before you replace them.

50 Brilliant Repurposing Ideas To Turn Old Kitchen Items Into Exciting New Things

So recently I started organizing my kitchen. That in itself is a huge undertaking but what I realized is that I have way too much stuff. I mean, I’ve got old baking dishes that I haven’t used in years and a collection of empty wine bottles that rivals my local bar, so I started wondering what in the world I could do with all of these things that I don’t use but really don’t want to throw out. Some of my old kitchen items are handed me downs from generations of grandmothers and I just can’t part with them. So instead, I compiled a list of 50 different ways that I could repurpose those items and I wanted to share it with you.

You know by now that repurposing is one of my most favorite pastimes. Honestly, if I can turn something into something new then I’m all for it. I love upcycling and taking things that would otherwise be considered trash and turning it into something wonderful and new. So along those lines, I’ve found these wonderful ways that you can turn your old kitchen items into exciting new things. If you love repurposing and upcycling, this is definitely the project list for you. If you want a more specific project list, like one just for pots and pans then you should check out my 25 repurposing ideas for pots and pans. There are some wonderful and fun projects in here, as well.

From artwork to lighting and even some really cool clocks, this list has something for just about everything in your kitchen. If you don’t have old vintage items that you need to repurpose, most of these items can be purchased from the Dollar Store for just a few dollars each or you could check out flea markets and yard sales and get old dishes and other kitchen accessories for a steal. You just have to figure out which project you want to do so that you’ll know what items to buy. If you want to discover more upcycling ideas head over our repurposing category.

So, if your kitchen is like mine and is way overstocked with things that you just never use, you can find wonderful ways to repurpose them in this list. These are some of the most creative ideas that I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait for you to try them all.

“It’s easy to regrow ‘heading’ lettuces, such as romaine, red and green leaf lettuce and butter lettuce, from a leftover core,” says Elzer-Peters. To do so, she suggests cutting the bottom (or core) off a head of lettuce, leaving about three inches of lettuce attached.

Place the end in a glass filled with one inch of water and set in bright, indirect light on an indoor windowsill.
Once leaves begin to grow (in a few days), nestle
the growing core into a soil-filled pot outside. Set
in a shady spot water when top inch of soil feels
dry. Harvest in two to three weeks.

Add Candles

Patio lighting is often harsh spotlights that are affixed to the house. If you want to be able to relax and settle into the space, lighting is key. Add some soft candlelight that gives you a calm, romantic atmosphere. There are sturdy candles that you can set in jars or you can move the candles in and out of the house as needed. This type of lighting allows you to see in order to talk with guests or eat a snack, but it doesn’t overwhelm anyone with too much light.

How To Transform a Boring Yard into a True Garden Oasis

After the spring cleaning of both the interior and exterior of our homes, most of us start thinking about the upcoming summer heat and ways we can still enjoy being outside when it gets hot. If a staycation is what you’re planning this year, then you may start thinking about how to turn your backyard into an oasis that will provide all the shade, comfort and relaxation any other destination might.

With a few simple and creative landscaping design tricks, you’ll be able to transform your yard into a true retreat and sanctuary that will offer you both escape from your busy daily life and a place to entertain, have fun and enjoy the healing effects of nature. By incorporating the following ideas, you’ll have a timeless outdoor design that will serve you in every season.

You can never really go overboard with greenery. Especially in tropical climates with hot summers, a lush plant life provides a cooling and calming effect. The only thing you should consider when planting is to create a visually interesting space, so use a variety of green shades and add texture by mixing leaves of different sizes and shapes, such as low, fernlike palms and richly colored foliage with broad leaves of tall philodendrons.

Consider surrounding your garden with tall greenery to give you privacy from your neighbors. Combine towering shade trees with mid-sized shrubs, ornamental grass and low-lying ground plants. Having them all in different colors, from deep-green and purple ground levels to bright orange medium layer to light green canopies of palm trees will add tons of texture and interest to the back of your garden and provide a beautiful backsplash that will require very little tending.

A great way to upscale your back yard is to bring in a soothing element of water. Whether it’s just a decorative pot that you turned into a fountain, a small ornamental pool or an actual waterfall feature made of natural stone and aquatic plants, you’ll definitely add a vertical dimension to your yard and a unique focal point. Water features have the power to muffle the city noise with their trickles and splashes and add wonderful background noise to your garden life.

There are many ways to break up the uniform greenery of your garden and adding winding pathways is one of the best. You can create paths using natural stone, limestone, or even concrete with different sprinkled rock salt on top. Placing these pavers and stones together, stacked or in a mosaic, will add another natural element to your garden that will tie in well with all the landscaping.

The choice is vast, and if you’re still torn between different designs, you can always turn to genuine pros, as these Sydney-based landscaping experts, who offer bespoke landscape architecture and garden designs as well as maintenance tips and horticulture services. With a little help, your yard will be completely transformed and enjoyment guaranteed.

It makes a fantastic effect when you add accents of colour to a predominantly green garden. Colourful flowers in hanging baskets or planters, exotic orchids, bright pink bougainvillea, passion flower, golden trumpet and even teak beaches similar to those in Bali, will all create a tropical-like feel in your garden.

Essentially, it is up to you to incorporate details that reflect your personal style and have the ability to enhance the beauty of the yard: it could be a hammock, a lounge bed under a palm tree, colourful cushions and rugs for your patio, vintage lamps over the seating area, a cute vertical garden, and lots of pots with succulents and exotic plants. You can also choose to repurpose some of the things you have lying around the house, such as empty paint cans, wooden crates or even old rubber boots.

As a final touch, try creating a friendly environment for wildlife, a kind of a natural habitat that will allow certain species to co-exist with you. By planting purple Mexican salvia and yellow bulbine, you will welcome butterflies and hummingbirds. Their arrival will add a special touch to your yard, making it even more welcoming and inviting.

President's Day Mattress Sales You Won't Want to Sleep On

Pssst. Did you hear? Brit + Co's 10-week business program for women, Selfmade, is back for the summer! And that also means our scholarship program is back in action thanks to our amazing partner, Office Depot. Keep reading for more about the life-changing program and how to join the thriving, entrepreneurial community that's helped mentor over 5,700 women to date.

What's Selfmade?

Designed to help you create a new business or grow your existing one, this course is personally led by Brit + Co founder Brit Morin, and supported by more than a dozen of the top female entrepreneurs, creatives, and investors in the country. Students receive personalized coaching on everything from how to get out of your comfort zone to how to scale your business, and everything in between. And now, thanks to our founding sponsor Office Depot, even more of you can join the course!

When is the program?

The summer session of Selfmade kicks off Monday, June 28 and runs for 10 weeks through Friday, September 3, 2021.

How much does it cost to enroll?

The enrollment price is $2,000, but for the summer session, we're thrilled to team up with Office Depot to grant 200 FREE scholarship seats to the course. Scholarships are open to US residents, focusing on women of color, women from underserved and underrepresented communities, and women in need of support to help them trail-blaze. After all, we firmly believe that your support system is a huge part of how you achieve greatness, and we are here to cheer all of you on.

To nominate yourself or someone you know for a scholarship, head to our application form right here. The deadline for scholarship applications is June 8 — it's time to take the leap!

Once scholarship recipients are chosen in June, prospective students will have 48 hours to accept their seats, so keep an eye on your inbox starting June 8! For those who don't receive a full-ride scholarship, you'll be eligible to receive a special discount and perks just for applying!

So what are you waiting for? Take a chance on yourself and get yourself one step closer to truly being selfmade. Learn more about the Selfmade program, apply for a scholarship and prepare to be inspired :)

Discover what valuable lessons these small business owners and entrepreneurs took away from the spring session of the Selfmade 10-week course at Selfmade Success Stories.

5 Budget Friendly Steps To Turn Your Garden Into A Wellness Haven

Lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic has ignited a love of gardening in many of us, as we cherish the moments we are able to spend outdoors. And while some of us may be more fortunate than others when it comes to what outside space we have, no matter what the size or state of your garden there’s always something that can be done to make the best of it and turn it into your very own wellness haven.

Whether you have a balcony or window box, a courtyard patio or roof terrace, or acres and acres of land, there are lots of purse friendly solutions to help brighten up your outside space, and we’ve got 5 ideas for you right now.

Add Colour

If you rent your home it’s worth checking with your landlord first whether you’re allowed to decorate or change the garden. And if you’re the landlord now might be the time to compare landlord insurance because who knows what your tenants might get up to if you agree! One of the easiest ways to brighten up any outside area is by introducing a splash of colour and so if you do get permission or if you do own your own home then this is a fantastic starting point.

Colour can come in the form of brightly coloured annuals like marigolds, pansies and geraniums, which you can plant into hanging baskets, window boxes, raised beds or patio containers. Have a go also at painting planters or plastic pots in your favourite colours to helps make those colours really pop. Or why not give your garden furniture a fresh coat of paint to breathe new life into them and to give your garden a brand new look. You may even have some old tins of paint knocking around that you can use, which will save you even more money and is better for the environment too. It’s amazing how just a small amount of TLC, rubbing down and a lick of new paint can transform something that was once old, rusty and marked up for the tip.

There are literally hundreds of garden ideas boards on Pinterest to help you plan your garden, so go take a look and find a style that works for you and helps you to create the perfect wellness haven to escape to.


Upcycling, where you take an object you no longer use and change it into something you will use, has revolutionised the home and garden scene. As our knowledge increases and our desire to invest in the wellbeing of our planet strengthens it’s only natural we should want to reuse objects to prevent them from going to landfill. And that’s good news for your garden too, as there are so many things you can upcycle to transform your garden into the sanctuary you’ve always wanted it to be.

There's No Better Time to… Start Composting

We're spending more time in our homes than ever before. In "There's No Better Time To. " we'll share the little projects we're finally getting around to. Today: Ground yourself with an at-home composting ritual.

Things I looked forward to a month ago: Date night at a new restaurant. Parties at a friend’s house. A vacation to somewhere warm and beachy.

Things I look forward to now: Bulk fermentation. New growth from my tarragon plant. And most especially, composting.

Without irony, I tell you that tending my 37-gallon backyard composter is a true highlight of my day. I nurture the rotating drum like a favored pet, feeding it the day’s bounty of egg shells, coffee grinds, and vegetable peels. I peep in at the kitchen scraps and damp newspapers, willing them to transform into fertile loam. How, I wonder while earnestly googling the optimal ratio of green-to-brown material, did my life go from happy-go-lucky urbanite to full-blown homesteader so quickly?

Like many other middle-class, childless Brooklynites, my housemates and I were accustomed to relying on the conveniences of the city. We ate out when we didn’t want to cook, dropped by the butcher on the way home from work to pick up one or two things, occasionally ran out of dish soap due to a lack of forethought. But as the coronavirus grew closer and closer to home, a shift occurred.

“What’s the best way to rig up an irrigation system on the roof?” my fiancée Margaret mused one morning while I was brushing my teeth. “How many pounds of dried beans do we have?” asked our housemate Max, whom I had never known to express much interest in bean-related matters. Both Margaret and Max grew up Mormon, the descendants of hardy Utah pioneers who persevered through swarms of locusts and seasonal drought. It was as if the impending crisis was erasing decades of soft, secular city living, returning them to their frontier roots.

One person's trash is another's treasure.

We went to Fairway to stock up on the essentials, and I watched with amusement as Max and Margaret switched into Mormon autopilot. Contemporary church protocol is informed by the hardships faced by early pioneers in a pamphlet entitled “All Is Safely Gathered In,” the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints encourages its members to have, at minimum, a three-month supply of food with a focus on “staples such as wheat, rice, pasta, oats, beans, and potatoes that can last 30 years or more.” (I pointed out to Margaret that potatoes don’t last thirty years. “No, but potato pellets do,” she replied.) We had plenty of rice at home, so I didn’t think we needed another five-pound sack. It went in the cart anyway. Max returned from the cleaning supplies aisle juggling laundry detergent, Lysol wipes, and an enormous jug of Windex. Even in a crisis, Heavenly Father expects clean windows.

And then the deliveries started to arrive at our house—tomato plants, five-gallon buckets, potting soil, irrigation tubing, enough dill seed to sow 256 feet. I found myself starting to lean into our new Little House on the Eastern Parkway lifestyle. I made and canned three pints of chutney. I drew up pantry lists and freezer lists. I procured a sourdough starter. And, after researching the pros and cons of bins and tumblers, I bought a composter.

Max says looking at a pantry full of lentils and grains brings him a sense of comfort and security. This is perhaps a weird thing to say, but I now feel the same way about composting. At a time when so much feels out of control, the closed system of compost feels grounding. I put in banana peels and dead leaves. I rotate the drum like a giant bingo cage. I wait. It’s only been a few weeks—too soon for things to start really breaking down, especially with the cold weather we’ve been having—but I peek at it anyway, convincing myself that it looks a little more compost-y than the day before. If I follow the right steps, I know that something valuable will be created out of waste, ready to nourish our nascent garden.

What will our lives look like months from now when our first tomatoes are ready for harvest? I hope, of course, that restaurants will be open, people back at work, the specter of sickness no longer hanging over our city. But even if that’s the case, I think we won’t cast aside these new old habits so quickly. We’ll garden. We’ll cook at home more often. We’ll compost. I can’t get behind potato pellets, but the rest of homestead life isn’t so bad.

Reader Interactions


We converted part of a meadow. The first fall we used a box blade to tear up the top layer of sod. Then did our best to scrape it off. One section we dug by hand to remove rocks so we could plant flax in spring. The rest we dragged the teeth of the box blade thru to remove any large rocks. We gave up on removing rocks since there were so many. Put down sheets of cardboard from our move and covered with plastic and held it all down with wood stakes and heavy rocks over the winter. In spring we went with raised beds, filling with peat moss, compost and vermiculite. It was a great garden except for cuke. Later we put more cardboard and wood chips in the aisles to prevent weeds. Some spots need more mulch as some stubborn grasses are busting thru. We hope to have good mulched beds by the time the wood beds decompose.

Thank you for sharing Barbara. Happy to hear it worked so well. Peat moss, compost and vermiculite is the square foot garden method. It is a great mix, we use it at home wherever we need to create new soil.

This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to know. I have a section of land that is solid grass and wanted it to become a garden. I pictured having to cut off the sod and that is just too big a job. I have had my son cut the grass very short and then we put large heavy tarps all over it, held down with laid down fenceposts. It’s only been 2 weeks but I hope to be able to get in there and plant my tomatoes next week.

2 weeks will not be enough to kill weeds, but now you know what options you have. Happy gardening.

Great article and blog. I’m very excited that I found it. I just recently moved from the lower mainland so I’ve been trying to find information about gardening in zone 3. My yard is on a newly developed lot in Alberta. It’s basically clay which has been compacted by machines during development. I would like to achieve a no till vegetable garden as well as good soil for lawn and perennial area but I would need to bring in a lot of mulch and compost. I am thinking about growing cover crops for a whole year in hopes to create better soil and avoid the amount of mulch, compost and soil I would need to bring in. Do you have any experience with this or know anyone who does? Will it work? Or will it not make much of a difference?

Welcome, Cornelia to our blog and Alberta gardening. Having an idea of what you are dealing with, I doubt that just growing a cover crop will do it for you. Also, a no-till garden does need a cover preferably every year. It’s just the nature of a no-till garden. We would recommend bringing in natural material, and there is lots available for free. Ask around farmers, mushroom farms, tree care companies are all great sources for the natural material to build soil.

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Northern Homestead is a blog about urban homesteading in a cold climate. We write about growing, raising, preserving, and preparing our own real food.
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