Talk about gifts that keep on giving! Gardens just don't know when to stop. First, you get exercise. Then you get beautiful greenery, followed by healthy harvests, and, finally, seeds to save -- or share. There is probably no better gift you can give to the gardeners on your holiday list than seeds from your garden. Not only is this personal and thoughtful, but if the gift recipient lives nearby, he or she will know that this vegetable variety did well in our climate. To give seeds, download a seed packet template such as one of these, cut it out of parchment paper, glue down the sides, and fill halfway with your favorite dried tomato, butternut squash, okra, or sunflower seeds (or whatever did particularly well for you this year).
Want more "gift from the garden" ideas? Here are three to make now:
1. Herb Gifts. Basil is on its way out, so why not either make and freeze cubes of pesto or dehydrate the basil in a dehydrator or on low heat for several hours in your oven? The frozen pesto cubes could make a thoughtful local hostess gift when paired with some nice gourmet pasta and a bottle of wine. You could package dehydrated basil (add oregano, too, if you have it) in a small, air-tight container, tie on a pizza cutter with some twine, and add a cute note about sprinkling the herbs on bought or homemade pizzas through the winter. (You can, of course, preserve other garden goodies as gifts by canning, freezing, or dehydrating them.)
2. Ornaments. Got a bumper crop of okra finishing up? Let the pods grow extra long and then cut them off and let them dry in a flat row indoors (turn every day or two). Add some paint, cotton balls, and your own creative flair and you can create adorable Okra Santas and Hanukkah Harrys (see picture). Hot-glue on some ribbon and you can hang them from a tree or other display space, or attach them to a plate of home-baked delectables at holiday time. If you have egg-laying chickens, you can used cracked, empty shells to make ornaments as well by drawing faces on the shells and filling the top with cotton as hair. These are particularly fun projects to do with kids.
3. Note Cards. Hate letting sweet little feverfew or big, beautiful zinnia flowers go to waste? Why not snip and store them in a thick book between blank pieces of paper for a few weeks so that they dry flat, and then use them to make note cards? You can give these as gifts in packs of four, along with stamps and your favorite type of pen. If you're handy with the camera, you can make note cards using some of your favorite garden photos from throughout the year.
What other gifts from the garden do you like to make? What was your favorite garden gift that you received? Leave a comment and help us all get our creative juices flowing while our fall gardens are growing. Swing by the Farmer D Organics store on Briarcliff or tap in online for all kinds of ready-to-give gifts, and don't forget gift cards for teachers who are into school gardening and may want to start or enhance their home gardens as well.