As I have written before, gifts from your garden are not only great for those who receive them, but they keep you away from the crowds and commercialism of mall or department store shopping. Not only will you be getting your gift list taken care of, but you will be renewing yourself by getting in the garden.
Not only is it the season of gift-giving, but it is also the season for formal and informal gatherings. So, why not bring some of the bounty from your garden as a gift for your host, or simply to add to the meal for one of these occasions?
Those cool season crops make great gifts. For those who have put their gardens to bed for the winter, you can visit your local nursery or even a winter farmers’ market. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Do you have herbs in your garden? Or fruit trees? Include them in your favorite recipes for those holiday potlucks. Use your own lemons for lemon bars, or add your own herbs to your famous sauce, jelly, or bread. You can also make an extra batch (or batches) to give as a gift to somebody.
You can use your herbs to make decorative bottles or jars of your herbs, all dried and ready for the recipient to use. You can make your own labels, and buy or use vintage jars or bottles.
Make flavored vinegars from your thyme, rosemary, or cilantro, or add raspberries, oranges, or other fruits. You can top them off with matching ribbon and gift tags that say “From My Garden.”
A great gift for your host is a basketful of your winter bounty. If you live in a temperate climate, you can make it using your own winter citrus, apples, and other fruit. You can also supplement your own produce by shopping at the farmers’ market and include persimmons, nuts, and dried fruit.
Since your cool season greens should be thriving now, put together a living salad bowl by planting leaf lettuce seedlings in a container. You can include some great leaf varieties such as arugula (a peppery green usually served raw in salads and sometimes cooked in soups or pastas), mache (with small, dark green leaves), and frisee (pale, long-stemmed, and curly), to create your own mesclun (mixed) salad mix. In a few weeks, the container should be full of tender green plants that can be clipped as needed. The best part is the container should continue to grow new leaves as long as they are harvested from the outside leaves first.