We’re growing our own herbs this year because…well, tons of reasons…but mostly because this way we can have fresh herbs pretty much whenever! And we can dry any extra that we won’t use right away and use it later. It’s a win-win!
The little herb plants are doing great so far! JM has started telling me I can’t call them “the little herb plants” anymore because they are over a foot tall, but whatevs!
Anyway, they’re doing so great that it was time to start pruning them before I was really ready for it. I woke up one morning and was watering the plants when I realized “I gotta cut these suckers back!” I did, but I was totally unprepared for what to do with the parts I cut off. Silly, I know. I mean, we’re growing these plants so I can cut pieces off and use them, but I didn’t think it would be this soon!
So I did the first thing I could think of and I made a drying rack for them!
This rack works great for drying herbs, but you can use the idea for tons of different things! You can hang pictures, little reminder notes, holiday cards…anything! It was very easy to do and took less than an hour.
Here’s what I used:
- a picture frame (just the frame, no glass or backing)
- nails with heads
- a bit of wood for the sign
- mini clothespins
Because this was such a last minute project I just ran to Michael’s to get the frame. They have a whole section of “just frames” without the glass, mats, or backing. And this one was perfect! It was already a bit weathered looking and it was on sale for $9. But if you have an old frame laying around, this is a great project for it!
Start by figuring out how many strings you want going across. I only used three and spaced them about six inches apart because I knew I would be hanging tall stems from them and wanted to give the herbs room to dry. Measure out your string and mark where it attaches to the frame at both ends with a pencil.
Then hammer in your nails at the marks, but don’t hammer the nail all the way in! Leave it about 1/8″ to 1/4″ out so you can tie your string onto the nail. Hammer in all your nails on both sides.
Tie one end of the string around a nail, then stretch it tight across the frame and tie the other end to the nail on the other side. I used slip knots for this part so that I could keep the tension in the string while I tied the second side. This was definitely the hardest part. I ended up doing a crazy thing with a toothpick in the knot to pull it tight and using my teeth to hold the string so I could keep the tension with my hands…it’s hard to explain and even harder to do, so just find someone to help you if you can!
Once the string is tied on at both ends, cut the loose ends of the string and use a bit of glue to secure the ends and the knot. I used tacky glue and it worked fine.
The last part is the fun part! You get to paint an awesome sign for your frame. 🙂
I was really loving the whole distressed look of the frame itself, so I took a scrap from a pallet I took apart for another project (I’ll post that project soon, promise!) and used it for the nameplate. It was perfect because it was already broken across one edge, and I didn’t paint it because I loved the natural wood color.
I printed out the word “Herbs” on some plain paper, cut it down to size, and taped it onto the wood. Then I used an exacto knife to gently score the wood through the paper along the edges of the letters. This way even when I removed the paper I would still be able to see the outline of my letters. Another simple trick is to use a sharp pencil and trace the outline of the letters, pressing down into the wood. But this trick only works with soft wood, not the super hard stuff that a pallet is made of!
It’s a little hard to see in the picture above, but there is an H etched into the wood. This way you can paint your letters perfectly! Or, if your art skills are good enough to just do it by hand, you can do it that way. Mine are definitely not!
Once you have all your letters traced out fill them in with paint. Let the paint dry a bit and your sign is done!
Then all that’s left to do is to attach the nameplate to the rack itself. I just used wood glue because I didn’t want to ruin the distressed look by adding shiny new nails in the middle of the sign. :-p Put some wood glue on the back of the sign and stick it on the frame. Clamp it to hold it in place while it dries; wood glue dries super fast, so like 20 minutes tops. I don’t actually have any clamps (though I should, given how many wooden things I’ve been gluing lately!) so I put some heavy books on it to hold it down.
Then clip a few mini clothespins to the strings and that’s it! You’ve got a very cool, very simple herb drying rack! Or picture frame. Or greeting card holder. 🙂
I hung it just inside the doorway into the kitchen. That room never gets too steamy, too dry, too hot, or too cold, and that wall doesn’t get direct sunlight so it’s the perfect place for drying herbs!
How do you dry your herbs? Have you ever made something like this for a different purpose? I’m sure there are tons of ways you could use a frame, strings, and clothespins!