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The holidays are a popular time to stop and thank teachers and all of the wonderful staff at school for all they do.
That being said, I’ll put months of work into cultivating a beautiful garden that yields fantastic foods that I transform into meals, preserved harvests, and simple gifts to share with friends and family. The trick for me is to find ways to create gifts from my garden that don’t require a lot of sewing or crafting skills but do endow my handmade gifts with the essence of homegrown love.
Some of the easiest plants to cultivate in warm, sunny gardens are woody herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme, savory, and lavender. The plants flourish in summer, offering beauty and fragrance as well as forage for pollinators. Plus, they flavor our foods and add aroma to our toiletry all year – whether fresh or dried.
One of the simplest ways to gift from our gardens is to harvest, clean, hang, and dry our herbs. Then, once the bits are dried, fill small bottles with individual flavors or mix them to create a homegrown “Herbes de Provence” to share.
Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence is a generic term given to blended herb seasoning mixtures that may (or may not) include the following or other herbs. Mix up flavors like these (or others) grown in your garden.
1/4 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
1 teaspoon dried fennel seed
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
½ teaspoon dried savory
Mix together and fill into a small glass bottle sealed with a bit of cork.
Purchasing glass bottles may add up. Plus, if you’re shipping gifts, glass both requires quite a bit of careful packing material and may also become heavy and therefore costly to ship. Instead, consider creating simple sachets and tea pouches to give.
Inexpensive, colorful, sheer organza pouches are perfect for fast DIY sachets. A pack of ten small pouches runs around $5 or less at many craft stores. These are perfect to fill with fragrant dried herbs like lavender or rosemary. Or, try composing a few with bits of cedar. These fragrant herbal pouches freshen up dresser drawers or ward off wool munching insects in closets. And, they’re lovely to tuck under your pillow for herb-infused dreams. At around $2 each (plus whatever you consider the cost of your homegrown herbs), they make for a fast-to-assemble, homemade hostess gift.
If your herbal blend is better suited to steeping – either in tea or the bath – look for reusable teabags or spice bags made from cotton muslin or hemp – available at many health food stores or online. Like the organza bags, they open and close with a drawstring, making it easy to fill each pocket with herbs. But, these pouches are designed for use with food and submersion in water; the organza is not. Blends of lavender, sage, cedar and rosemary mingle for a delicious bath. Tasty herbal tea bags from home might contain chamomile, mint or lemon grass. As with all edible gifts, be sure your herbal pockets are clean of all dirt and other detritus.
If the idea of creating these simple herbal gifts appeals but you don’t have all the herbs you need, try contacting your local herbalist or health food store. Many sell food grade herbs in bulk.
Learn more about blending garden herbs for tea here.
Disclaimer: I’d like to share that the Fiskars Snips I’m using in the first photo are over 10 years old! I bought them when I was doing greenhouse work at school. I have a soft spot in my heart for them!