If you are a gardener, and the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season — the traffic, the crowds, and the department stores — wears you down, you can venture into your garden to soothe your soul and to make gifts for friends and loved ones.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time to create beautiful, thoughtful, and easy gifts. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- If you are already making food items for the holiday season, include your herbs or fruit in your favorite recipes; use your own lemons for lemon bars, or add your own herbs to your famous barbecue sauce, jelly, or bread. For the gourmet in your life, give decorative, matching bottles or jars of your herbs, or make flavored vinegars from your thyme, rosemary, or cilantro. Add raspberries, oranges, or other fruits. You can top them off with matching ribbon and gift tags that say “From My Garden.”
- For those lucky enough to be in more temperate climates, give a basket full of your winter bounty, and make a traditional fruit basket using your 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.
- 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 snipped as needed and will continue to grow new leaves as long as they are harvested from the outside leaves first.
- If you are looking for a unique hostess gift, collected natural items (branches, seeds, leaves, fruits) make great door ornaments, wreaths, and swags. Read my story on easy ways to make these.
Judi Gerber is a University of California Master Gardener with a certificate in Horticultural Therapy. She writes about sustainable farming, local foods, and organic gardening for multiple magazines. Her book Farming in Torrance and the South Bay was released in September 2008.