Metal coffee cans often can be found at garden sales, auctions and even your home. With just a little effort, you can turn that empty can into a useful and pretty handmade gift for your friends and family. Or use it yourself for an herbal container garden.
The first step is to wash your can and peel off any labels. Be careful there are no rough edges on your can that could cut you. If there are use a hammer to make them lay flat or cover later with a waterproof tape.
Next, apply a coat of metal primer to your can. Let the primer dry thoroughly. Then apply a coat of acrylic paint to the can. The color choice may be chosen to match your home or to match the herb you pant to plant in the can.
Once the last coat is dry, you can decorate it. You could apply a crackle medium and then add a topcoat of color. This effect is beautiful if you paint a deep blue undercoat and a rich red overcoat on your can. Great for the Fourth of July holiday!
Another idea would be to apply a light coat of acrylic paint to natural items like a leave and press a design on the can.
My favorite decorative technique for decorating cans is decoupage. Victorian images, outdoor artwork or empty seed packets with pretty artwork work well. Pictures from magazines are also easily available.
If time permits and you want a hardy heavy container you may want to mosaic a design on the can.
Once your can is decorated, apply a coat of sealer to the finished product. If you will use the can outside, you may want to let this coat dry and apply a second coat of sealer.
Now, you are ready to prepare your can for planting. Turn the can upside down. Use a 3-inch nail and a hammer to poke drainage holes in the bottom of the can. Filling the can with water and freezing makes punching a hole in any can easier and safer.
Turn your can over, add a few pebbles to the bottom of the can to create good drainage and then and fill it to just an inch below the rim with good potting soil.
Next it is time for you to decide which herbs you will be planting in your can. Basil, chives, oregano, sage, thyme and parsley all are great choices. Of course, you can also put a lovely scented geranium, lavender or lemon verbena in the can, instead.
If you are going to give this away as a gift, add a tag with information about caring for the herb and a few great recipes. It is easy to attach the tag with a simple florist pick. I like to keep a few herbal containers on hand for friends when they drop by.
One final idea is if you make several of these herbal container gardens, punch a few holes at the top of the cans, attach wire and hang from your porch, patio or balcony. It makes an interesting hanging garden and will brighten up any area.