Plan early for spectacular, sure-to-please, holiday baskets fresh from your garden. This spring and summer, while you are tending your garden beds, think about how to use that bounty to make inexpensive holiday baskets that are sure to please. Dried herbs, canned produce, saved heirloom seeds, and even plant seedlings can be the basis for a whole set of gift baskets, perfect for teachers, housekeepers, friends, and family.
Start with the Basket
Choose a special container. It could be a basket, a flowerpot, or even a straw gardening hat. Any gift basket is made better with a unique presentation. Interesting baskets and flowerpots can be found at estate and garage sales during the summer. Another good source of containers, particularly baskets, is discount fabric and craft stores. Look for off-season sales.
Herbs, plentiful in the summer, can be hard to find in the cold, northern winters. Pick lavender, thyme, oregano, parsley, or mint at their prime and hang bunches in your garage or basement until they are dry, turning them occasionally. Peppers and garlic bulbs also dry nicely and look festive when strung with twine.
Do the Can Can
Canned produce is especially welcome in the dead of winter. Freshly canned tomatoes, homemade strawberry or peach preserves, spicy salsa, and pepper, herb, or fruit-infused vinegars all make delicious and colorful gifts. Pickled produce is also welcome. Such items as pickled jalapeno peppers and pickled beets are easy to prepare and last up to a year. When putting in your garden this spring, consider what produce you can share with your friends in a holiday gift basket.
Seeds of Friendship
Saving seeds is always a good idea, especially seeds of heirloom plants. Continuing the plants of our ancestors is a way to maintain a sense of history and continuity between generations. Seeds are also a fun, free gift idea. Seeds from Pansies, Coneflowers, and Columbine are easily collected and easy to grow. Edible seeds such as Sunflower seeds and Dill are also good choices. Store the seeds in airtight containers or in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator until it’s time to assemble your gift basket.
Putting It All Together
You’ve planted, harvested, dried, canned, and gathered. Now it’s time to assemble your gift basket. Start with the basket or other container. Fill it with something festive, like shredded garden magazine pages, colored tissue paper, or even Easter grass. Add your prepared items, perhaps adding little decorative touches, such as fabric lid covers on the canning jars. Assemble the items, maybe adding a cookbook or other recipe ingredients to round out the basket. Finish the basket by wrapping it in colored saran wrap or by adding a colorful bow. Include a card, if you so desire, and you’re ready to deliver your basket.
Think ahead as you dig in the dirt this spring and summer. Consider what you can share with friends later in the year. Plan a little now and you’ll agree a homegrown gift basket is a great holiday idea.