Plan now for holiday gifts from the garden
It may be fall, but the gift-giving holidays will be upon us before we know it! As gardeners, we can share a little bit of our garden during the holidays through garden-harvested gifts. It can be as simple as a jar of jam made with homegrown berries or a bag of seeds we harvested ourselves. No matter what we give, people always appreciate receiving something that was grown in your own garden.
Now, hopefully you spent the summer making a few jams, jellies or vinegars with some of your garden bounty. If so, then you are already way ahead of the game as they all make wonderful gifts. But if not, don’t worry! There is still time to create garden-harvested gifts. I have listed a few options for you below.
All of these gift ideas are based on your recent garden chores. For example, fall is the time for the final harvest of herbs, the final collection of seeds and the final cutting back of fragrant plants. Using those items, you can create some simple homegrown gifts! For a substantial gift, combine several of these ideas together or add just one of them to something you bake fresh such as tea bread or muffins. Simple, yet thoughtful gifts win every time!
Garden Gift Ideas
Seeds: You may have a few plants going to seed now or perhaps you have been saving seeds all summer long. I save the seeds from my beans, celery, chives, nasturtiums, cosmos, sunflowers and many other plants. Pass a few of those seeds on to others this holiday season. You can use small paper envelopes found at stationary stores and craft stores to hold the homegrown seeds. Or you can fold your own envelope from fancy paper. (Just Google “homemade envelope instructions” for details instructions and even videos.)
Garlic: If you grew garlic this past year, then you should have recently harvested it. Homegrown garlic is a precious gift because the flavors are more intense and refined that the store bought kind. Pull a few cloves aside and give them in a pretty paper bag tied with ribbon. The recipient can cook with the garlic or plant it in her own garden.
Fireplace Starters: Do you have any fragrant herbs that need cutting back before the cold weather comes? The cuttings from plants like lavender, lemon verbena, rosemary, sage and mint can be dried and used as fragrant fire starters. Simply harvest your plants, tie into large bundles and hang upside down to dry. When they are dry and brittle (usually in a week or so) gather them into smaller bundles and tie with cotton string or twine. Give several in a basket or paper bag with instructions that they are to be used as fragrant kindling when starting a fire.
Dried Herbs: If you were able to harvest and dry any culinary herbs this fall, then you know that they have superior flavor and fragrance. Share some of that deliciousness by bottling up small containers of oregano, thyme, sage, rosemary, bay leaves, lemon balm, mint, or a combination of several herbs. Label with the ingredients and date and suggest the herbs are used within one year for best flavor. Small spice bottles can be found in discount home stores, craft stores and on line. Or just recycle some old spice bottles from your own cupboard.
Bath Bags: Luxurious spa-style bath bags are simple and inexpensive to make using oatmeal and dried herbs from the garden. Purchase some small cotton tea bags with draw strings (available at health food stores and through mail order) and into each bag combine: ½ cup old fashioned oatmeal and ¼ cup dried lavender or mint from your garden. Tie the strings closed and attach instructions that state the bag should be dropped into a warm bath as the tub fills. The oatmeal soothes and moisturizes the skin while the herbs release their delicious fragrance.