grow herb garden

How to… Grow your own herb garden

Indoor gardens are not ideal, but living in space-starved places like Hong Kong calls for some creativity! Growing your own food is empowering, you remove a bit of your dependency on grocery stores while enjoying a fresh, pesticide-free harvest. For families, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to teach kids how to grow their own plants. Here’s our guide on how to grow your own herb garden. 


CREATE YOUR INDOOR OASIS

WINDOW SILL

If you’ve got a kitchen window, you’ve got a potential garden. Putting your herb box in the kitchen will also make harvesting and cooking with your herbs quicker. Just make sure that the box is in a window that receives enough sunlight!

HERB WALL

You can use a pallet and set it up on top of a kitchen counter or on a balcony/ patio without using a lot of surface area. Doubling as a decoration tool, a herb wall adds a rustic touch to your space. 

grow herb garden
Source: Bobby Berk

A HANGING PLANTER

No floor space? Look to the skies! Check out this planter that can be mounted from the ceiling or on the wall. 

grow herb garden
Source: Homeless

WHAT HERBS SHOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Most herbs can easily be planted in small spaces, but when choosing your herbs, think about the ones you use the most- do you cook with thyme or basil a lot, or do you dream of homemade mojitos with freshly grown mint? Here are some herbs that work well in beginner gardens:

BASIL

Basil is easy to grow and provides a strong pleasant aroma, and doesn’t need a super warm atmosphere or wet soil. 

CHIVES

Chives can grow in a variety of temperatures, even cold winters. They can grow with little sunlight, but they tend to require more frequent watering. 

THYME

Thyme works well with other plants in the same pot, requiring less frequent watering. However, you should grow it from a plant rather than a seed. 

MINT

Mint is one of the best herbs to use in herb gardens because it grows so easily, but it needs to be watered frequently. Beware: mint grows and spreads quickly!

grow herb garden
Source: Michelin Guide

TIPS FOR MAINTAINING YOUR HERB GARDEN

  • Light is key! An east- or south-facing window is best, but if this isn’t possible, position containers directly underneath windows. Move them around as the light shifts. 
  • Use a container with good drainage; choose pots with drains and saucers. 
  • To know when to water your herbs, place your finger into the soil- if it’s dry, add water. Don’t overwater- most plants die because of too much attention, not a lack thereof!
  • Your herbs are ready to be harvested when they’ve developed at least 3 sets of true leaves. Never harvest more than one third of the plant at once and take the largest leaves from the top first! 

A container, some sunlight and effort is all you need to grow your own herb garden. Sounds like a great time (or should we say thyme? No?). 

How To… Create Your Eco Outdoor Oasis

Summer has arrived! For those of us who have access to a balcony, rooftop, or garden, it’s time to spruce up our outdoor spaces with eco-friendly furniture. If you’re a morning person, a few staple pieces can transform your outdoor space to a personal sanctuary where you can enjoy your morning (sustainably sourced) coffee, meditate, journal and set your intentions for the day ahead.

If you work from home and get fatigued from looking at your computer screen all day, what’s a better way to take a break by stepping outside and laying on your hammock for fifteen minutes. You can also get your daily dose of vitamin D (be sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen) while you’re at it! If you’re a social butterfly, outdoor furniture can help you create a relaxing social hub where your friends and family can gather on a warm summer’s day to kickback with some Corona (the beers of course) and lime, and enjoy the sun set against Hong Kong’s stunning skyline.  


Our Top 8 Picks

1.

Check out Yellow Leaf Hammocks, whose eco-friendly hammocks are guaranteed to elevate your relaxation. If the Shark Tank judges love these hammocks, so will you! Not only does the company ship to Hong Kong, they are firmly committed to sustainability and making a positive impact: Yellow Leaf has created numerous jobs for mothers in Thailand, empowering these women and their families to break out of the cycle of extreme poverty. 

2.

Take a look at Hong-Kong based TREE for timeless, sturdy and sustainably sourced eco-wood furniture that will suit every outdoor space, style, and need. We love that TREE further supports the environment by partnering with Trees4Trees, and has planted over 77,800 new trees to date!

3.

Visit Hong Kong based Green Dot Home, whose mission is to renew and upcycle sued furniture and homeware. The company also runs a furniture donation program and makes regular furniture donations to less privileged families.

4.

Check out Jaxx Bean Bags, which has repurposed over 1 million pounds of foam trim to create upcycled micro-cushions used as cushy fill for their outdoor bean bags lounge chairs. The company also packages their bean bags using a game-changing vacuum compression process that removes 90% of the air from the Bean Bags. 

Shop Jaxx Bean Bags at Inmod, which ships to Hong Kong.

5.

Find chic and colorful outdoor chairs and tables at Bend Goods, whose collection is made from recyclable iron, and is packaged in a way to minimize the company’s carbon footprint/  

Shop Bend Goods outdoor collection at Abc Home, which ships to Hong Kong. 

6.

Shop for bistro chairs, outdoor tables and beanbags, garden parasols, outdoor lights and carpets at Fatboy’s products, which is committed to using fabrics that are Oeko-tex certified (meaning that their textiles, from yarns to the finished product, are made under sustainable conditions and have been tested for harmful substances), and using recycled materials as much as possible. 

Shop Fatboy’s outdoor furniture collection at Inmod, which ships to Hong Kong. 

7.

Shop Zuo Modern’s aesthetically pleasing outdoor collection of chairs and tables, all made entirely of organic, sustainable and water-resistant materials.

Shop Zuo Modern’s outdoor collection at Inmod, which ships to Hong Kong.

8.

Keep your eyes peeled on Yardbird. The founders, an American couple who moved to Hong Kong in 2014, spent their weekends exploring beaches off the South China and found the water and shores littered with waste. This inspired the couple to spend up to three years collecting plastic on beaches across Southeast Asia. Yardbird’s high quality outdoor furniture–– including dining sets and outdoor ottomans–– is made entirely from recycled ocean plastic. Even better, Yardbird’s furniture is 100% recyclable. Although the company currently doesn’t ship to Hong Kong, there are plans for the founders to return to their roots and do so in the near future. 

Bottled water is out, water filters are in

One of the greatest offenders of single-use plastic in this world is our old friend, or rather, foe; bottled water. 

Bottled water was first sold using glass containers way back in the day, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the use of plastic became prolific and thus entangled an entire generation into an addiction – an addition to convenience. 

What was once created out of sheer accessibility has now contributed in a colossal way to the destruction of our environment, land and sea. 


Source: theNewYorkTimes

Plastic filters aren’t the answer

The solution that followed spelt a huge shift in how we think about and consume water both at home and on the go. Reusable bottles began to come into fashion alongside those Brita filter jugs, which has ushered in a new cycle – replacing the plastic insert filters once a month as well as the flimsy plastic jug every so often. 


Source: Gafencu

A more sustainable alternative

For those with families, requiring a higher water volume on demand, the Berkey water filtration system is more than just a filter; it’s a complete water purification system that just sits on your countertop. Beyond filtering out all the regular nasties, it promises to obliterate almost all bacteria and viruses along with fluoride which is rare to find. A gravity-fed system means no electricity is required and the sleek, freestanding stainless steel vessels houses filters that only require changing once every three years.


Source: thecharcoalpeople

Natural charcoal filters are in

One of the most cost-effective, low-commitment filter options is charcoal, which binds to toxins present in water naturally, ridding it of substances such as copper, chlorine, mercury, pesticides, lead and VOCs. It is important, however, to note that they will not remove fluoride from water, which is often a concern. 

Once a charcoal stick has reached the end of its water-filtering life, it can find a second life as a refrigerator deodoriser or planted in soil to absorb more water into your plants. 

Which Type Are You?

The Care-Free

Some of us believe that living sustainably means depriving yourself of life’s joys. Being passionate about building a greener future and indulging in life’s pleasures are not mutually exclusive. Sustainability doesn’t require upending your lifestyle and going vegan overnight. Yes, you can still take a hot bubble bath at the end of a long day, go shopping with your girlfriends (who doesn’t enjoy some retail therapy?), and have a decadent meal at Soho’s new and upcoming steakhouse– all the while still caring about our environment.

The Workaholic

Some of us live to work: being successful in our jobs and getting that promotion keeps us up at night. Many people consider a sustainable lifestyle to be too demanding: when there are only 24 hours in a day, why use our precious energy, time and effort to focus on anything but our work objectives? However, what the workaholic doesn’t realize is that living sustainably does not create added pressure or any new distractions. Rather, a little thought and a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle can have a big impact on your environmental footprint without taking any attention away from your life goals. In fact, having a sustainable mindset will likely improve your work ethic!

The Perfectionist   

Some of us are stuck in a perfectionist trap. By setting such high standards for even the most mundane tasks, overtime our perfectionism becomes an obstacle to progress. In a culture that glorifies the “all or nothing” mindset, our fear of failure paralyzes us. A sustainable lifestyle appears to be out of reach because it requires too high of standards – standards that we are fearful of not meeting and then proceed to renounce altogether. However, living sustainably is not about living perfectly. There is no single metric to establish that one person is living more sustainably than another. Living sustainably is a personal journey, not an endpoint. Any progress, however small, can be consequential.

Bottled up

In the plight against plastics and working towards a sustainable lifestyle, one of the OG poster children has been the humble water bottle. What started off as nothing more than a workhorse, has now morphed into a fashion statement, so say goodbye to the stagnant Nalgenes of your youth and S’wells of the early 2010s, and hello to staying hydrated in style.

Fashionista Fix

This “Deluxe Cool It” glass water bottle by Ban.do is any trendsetter’s dream come true. The sleek, tubular glass bottle tapers at the top, where it is crowned with a jewel-like orb lid. A silicone sleeve keeps the bottle safe from hard knocks and spills. bando.com

What Goes Around Comes Around

The foundation of sustainability begins with clever design, which is the secret behind 24 Bottles’ success. Its lightweight bottles are a scant 117 grams and the range of colours and patterns is impressive. The Bologna-based company also makes it their mission to undo their carbon footprint and have employed a CO2 offset policy. 24bottles.com

Active Elegance

Balancing ergonomics, aesthetics and usability in the inimitable way only the Japanese can, this Kinto Active Tumbler, with its double-walled stainless steel to keep liquids cool and easy-to-drink water spout, will surely be the chicest water bottle to hit the gym or on the trails. kinto.co.jp

8 Steps to Easy Sprouting

Sprouting is a fun and easy activity that you can do with kids at home, especially during the cold winter months.  While growing healthy and nutritious sprouts you can be learning along with your kids. 

  1. Get a large clear jar and some cotton or cheese cloth or muslin and hold it in place with a rubber band. (I use my kid’s old muslin clothes from when they were babies)
  2. Pick your seed of choice and let soak it over night. Rule of thumb (one seed to 3 parts of water)
  3. Place the seeds inside the clear jar and add cold water, then cover it with the cloth. 
  4. DR – Drain and rinse the sprouts. You can just use any drainer/sieve you already have at home and drain all the water out, make sure you try and shake all the excessive water.  Then add in fresh water, swirl around a bit and then shake out all the water.
  5. Once you have rinsed the sprouts turn tilt the jar upside down and turn it around in your hand.  With the seeds sticking to the side of the jar will increase the germination rate, it so the it has room to grown
  6. Then you can just rest the jar on an angle on a bowl or a plate to rest.  It is important to keep the sprouts draining.  Leave it in a dry, dark place. 
  7. Drain, Rinse and repeat the steps above twice a day. Keep repeating the steps until the satisfactory length of your liking.I personally prefer it around 1-2 inches long. 
  8. Then harvest and enjoy your sprouts.

When it’s time to harvest, give your sprouts one last rinse and then drain them nicely.  On a clean cloth, spread them all out, let the cloth absorb the remaining moisture and let them air dry (preferably in the sun) for an hour before you store them.

Storing Your Sprouts.

I personally like to store my sprouts in a glass Tupperware for easy access.  Post-harvest moisture is sprouting’s worst enemy.  To prevent moisture, I will get another one of my kid’s old muslin cloths and line it along the container, wrapping the sprouts within. If you don’t have a muslin cloth, you can use a kitchen towel (otherwise, a paper towel will do) Your sprouts can be stored up to one week… enjoy!

Plastic: Not So Fantastic

For a city so incredibly desperate to appear cutting-edge in every area, Hong Kong seriously lags in the eco race, most glaringly when it comes to the role plastic plays in daily life. Research shows that a plastic bag takes anywhere between 10 and 1,000 years to decompose naturally and a water bottle 45 years, so it seems irresponsible to add to the problem by continuing to accept and use them. The world currently outputs upwards of 360 million tonnes of plastic, with a tenth of that ending up in the oceans.

On a local front, reports surfaced recently of plastic bottles collected in recycling bins being taken to the landfill. Talk about frustrating! Whilst we can certainly work towards overhauling this, for now, why not simply stop the problem at the source and avoid purchasing beverages in plastic bottles in the first place?

Solution: Bring your own reusable shopping bags, cutlery and bottles wherever possible. It will seem like a commitment at first, but once you get into the practice of saying “no” to plastic, it merely becomes habit and trust me, it’s difficult to go back! The key is to start slowly, without expectations, and build up from there; remembering every little bit counts.