A Garden Gift

You can pick up the art supplies for this project at your local craft store. Look for low-VOC paint to avoid toxic, potentially harmful chemicals. Try to find seedlings for the lettuce and herbs from a local farmers’ market or nursery. If seedlings are unavailable, use regular seeds and allow for longer growing time.


  • A large ceramic self-draining pot and tray
  • Low-VOC chalkboard paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Chalk
  • Organic potting soil
  • 2 varieties of lettuce, preferably from local organic growers. Small plant seedlings work best, but if they’re not available, you can start from seeds. Romaine, endive, arugula, radicchio and frisée are all excellent choices.
  • 2 types of herb seedlings. Chives, cilantro, parsley, oregano, thyme and basil all work well.


  1. Coat the outside of the pot with chalkboard paint.
  2. Once the pot is dry, decorate it with chalk drawings.
  3. Fill the pot with loose organic potting soil, leaving a few inches at the top.
  4. Divide the pot into halves. Place one of each lettuce variety in each half, reserving a small area in the center. Plant the herbs here.
  5. Add extra soil if needed so that there is an inch of space left at the top. Then water.
  6. Write a thank-you note and the Citrus Herb Dressing recipe on a large index card and adhere it to the plant. You can give the gift to your child’s teacher right away, or hold on to it for a few weeks while the seedlings mature. Once plants fill the pot, the lettuce and herbs can be picked, cleaned and turned into a fresh salad.

Citrus Herb Dressing

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Juice of 1 Meyer lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh chives, chopped
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped

Place all ingredients in a well-washed jar. Cover and shake. Sara Snow is the author of Sara Snow’s Fresh Living: The Essential Room-by-Room Guide to a Greener, Healthier Family and Home and host of “Get Fresh with Sara Snow” and “Living Fresh,” both on the Discovery networks. Sara’s work can also be seen on cnn.com and treehugger.com.