DIY Herb Garden in a Carton

By Amanda Moses

Every Tuesday Garden Educator Jacqui Roytman hosts a garden-based, nutritional session with students in the Starrett Judo Club online. From 4 pm to 5 pm, Roytman joins Sensei Parnel Legros and the Starrett Judo Club online to provide an in-depth overview of healthy cooking, along with planting and growing food to support a balanced lifestyle.

The judokas (judo students) recently learned to create their very own herb garden at home using an empty carton to plant cilantro and parsley within.

Cilantro and Parsley are some of the most used herbs by chiefs in the cooking industry. They pair well with meats, fish, produce, pastas, and a wide array of dishes. In addition, Sensei Legros shared that cilantro rids the body of heavy metals and works great for managing diabetes, as well as processing anti-inflammatory properties, protects against cardiovascular disease, prevents urinary track infections, and helps settle upset stomachs. Parsley also has nutritional benefits, according to Legros who stated that this herb is rich in antioxidants, supports bone-health, has nutrients that helps to protect your eyes, and it contains cancer-fighting substances.

Roytman taught her students to understand the way in which these herbs grow in a garden setting, so she showed them how to create their very own miniature garden bed using a 1-gallon box/plastic container (which should be emptied and washed out) of milk or juice. 

The next set of materials needed were

  • Potting soil
  • Seeds (cilantro and parsley)
  • Scissors
  • 2 pieces of Construction paper or printing paper
  • Tape or glue
  • Markers, crayons or colored pencils
  • 2 popsicle sticks 

The children were then instructed to cut the carton rectangularly (on its side), creating a frame. From here children could decorate two sheets of paper with the labels of what they are growing, for example a colorful picture of a parsley leaf, and then tape it to the side of your carton.

Roytman asked the students to fill the carton with potting soil. “There are three steps to do before we plant in class,” Roytman said.

“The “seeds” are actually two cilantro seeds encased in a husk.  The husk is hard, round and is light brown or grey in color.  Before we plant them in the ground, we need to prepare the cilantro seeds to increase the chances that they will germinate,” Roytman explained. 

First, she asked the judokas to gently crush the seed husk holding the two seeds together. The second step was to soak the cilantro seeds in water for 24 to 48 hours. Finally, simply remove the seeds from water and allow them to dry.

“Now the seeds are ready to plant! Parsley seeds are a little easier: simply soak the parsley seeds in lukewarm water overnight. That’s it,” Roytman told the class.

Roytman then broke down how to gently make small holes in the soil with their fingers, placing the cilantro seeds on one side and parsley on the other side. 

“Cilantro germinates faster than parsley that’s why it’s important to label with name and date of planting,” Roytman said.

Photo courtesy of Jacqui Roytman and Screenshot by Pamela Stern