By Maria Price
My garden is a source of a multitude of things for myself, my friends, and my family. I prepare nutritious meals, decorate my house, make herbal products that delight the senses, and brew herbal teas and tinctures to help me through the winter—all from my garden.
With some forethought, you can use your garden as a source of gifts for Christmas.
Tie small bunches of herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme with raffia ribbon, to use as a seasoning gift for the holiday turkey or goose. Blend dried oregano with thyme and add dried garlic flakes and pepper for a nice beef seasoning for beef. Put it in a zip-top bag and tie it with a red ribbon.
As I wrote in last week’s article, you can make a snowy winter arrangement for your table from the garden. You can also make a Christmas potpourri that evokes the scents of the season.
Most aromatic pines can be easily dried. Fir trees such as balsam, Fraser, and grand fir are the most aromatic. The native Virginia pine and loblolly can also be used. Pull the needles off and spread them out on a tray to dry. Try to accumulate about two cups of needles. Put the tray in a warm spot to dry. After drying, add three Ceylon cinnamon sticks which are soft and can be easily broken. Add one tablespoon of whole cloves. Use a potato peeler and peel the skin of an orange and cut the peel into half-inch pieces. Lay them on a tray to dry. If you have a wood-burning stove, drying the pine and orange peel can be done there as long as you elevate the tray. Take one nutmeg and hit it with a hammer on a hard surface; it should break up into little pieces. Use a tablespoon of whole allspice berries. Grind half of them or break them with a hammer and leave the other half whole. If you have a native Canadian hemlock tree, it should bear some miniature pine cones to add to the potpourri. Dry a red rose by pulling the petals apart and spreading them out on a tray. When all your ingredients have dried, mix them in a ceramic bowl. Purchase some essential oil of pine, cedar, or Christmas tree and drop 10 drops onto the mixture and mix very well. You can package your Christmas potpourri in netting, especially if everything is not dried. If you use a container with a lid, make sure everything is totally dry so that it doesn’t mold.
Happy gifting from the garden!