Unwanted gifts can be overwhelming this time of year, and an unsustainable culture of over-consumption contributes to the global environmental health crisis we face. Instead, let’s turn to our gardens – treasures that come from the gardens we tend to so lovingly can bring immense joy to our loved ones.
Here are a few we’re excited to cultivate and give this holiday season:
A beautiful hanging garlic braid is a unique gift that gives garlic a longer shelf life and offers many medicinal benefits. Here’s how to make a garlic braid:
- Harvest 8-10 garlic and set aside any bulbs that are missing their scapes, which is the stalk that grows out of the top of the bulb (you can use these bulbs for immediate use). Hang the bulbs with tops to dry for two weeks out of the sun’s reach.
- Once dried, remove excess dirt and trim the roots to approximately ½ inch
- Tie three bulbs together using twine at the base of the scape where it meets the bulb
- Place a fourth bulb at the center of the tye with the scape laid in the same direction at the rest
- Braid the scapes adding another bulb to the middle of the braid just like a french braid, adding a new scape each time.
- Once final bulb is added, finish braiding the rest of the scapes and tie off with twine at the end.
What is better than a lovely steaming cup of tea? These handmade teas make the most thoughtful gifts.
- Gather the last of those herbs from the garden, including stems. Combinations like rosemary mint or sage and lemon-thyme are beautiful!
- Chop finely or grind in a coffee grinder
- Add one tablespoon to a compostable tea bag – we have fun sewing them but you could just tie them up too.
- Create your own tea tags with messages to the ones in your life whom you love. Notes like “Your light is shining” or “You are loved deeply” can be really impactful.
Smudge sticks are such great gifts for friends around the holidays. Burning herbs can cleanse your space or give a blessing. Harvest rosemary for mental acuity, cedar for grounding, lavender for peace, or eucalyptus for relaxation.
- Trim your selection of flowers and herbs to size and make small to medium bundles
- Wrap the bottom of your bundle extensively with twine and then move up towards the top, becoming more sparing with your wrapping, but keep the wrapping tight.
- Tie off the end and trim the smudge stick to ensure uniformity.
*Remember, smudging is a distinctively Indigenous practice and should be done with intention and care.
Hanging bird feeder wreaths.
Winter is a good time to clear invasives or prune back climbing edibles, but what to do with those veins? Make the base for all kinds of wreaths, decorative and functional! We like hanging our wreaths horizontally rather than vertically so birds can perch and snack throughout the winter.
- Gather fallen branches or old veins from your yard
- Create a circle with a sizeable branch – this will be your wreath base.
- Use smaller flexible veins or floral wire to bind your branches onto the circle. Your first circle should be nice and sturdy.
- Continue laying and binding until you are satisfied with the fullness of your wreath.
Winter ginger tincture.
Whether you grow this wonderful plant or buy its roots at the farmer’s market, ginger root makes for a fantastic tincture in the colder months as a natural remedy for the flu, a digestive aid, an immunity booster, headaches, menstrual cramp soother, and even energy booster.
- Fill a mason jar about ½ of the way full with sliced ginger root
- Fill the jar to the neck with high-proof clear alcohol. Around 80 proof is great.
- Give the jar a good shake
- Let the mixture sit in a cool, dark place for 3-4 weeks
- Occasionally give the jar a shake, 3x per week is great
- Strain and bottle in a reusable tincture bottle
- Label with love and gift to a loved one!
Our gardens are abundant with gifts if we are willing to spend a little time and work with your hands to create something beautiful. We’ve shared many harvesting gems over the years. From growing mushrooms to making pesto to making your own plant medicine or elaeagnus fruit leather. We are continuously inspired by the abundance the land offers us as gifts. Looking ahead we will be excited to share more gifts like Kudzo baskets and eco-printing leaves.