Gifts to grow from the garden

The holiday gift giving season is in full swing and it’s this time of year that I wish I had the forethought to have grown my own gifts. I always think about this way too late so perhaps this list will be my New Year’s Resolution reminder to grow something that I can share with others. After all, the gift of learning to grow and nurture a flower, a tomato, a shrub or tree  is something that should be shared with others. It’s a gift that gives back to the person, their family, friends, community and the environment.

I admit that I really am not one of those gardeners that is skilled at preserving, canning or sharing their harvest. I don’t consider myself particularly crafty either.

So I’ve tried to incorporate ideas here that are at my level of gift creation as well as some that are above my DIY gifting abilities. Perhaps I will grow into those abilities someday. I actually believe most of us could make this entire list, with just a little encouragement.

Homemade gifts don’t have to be perfect. Every year I help with a boxwood wreath workshop and folks are amazed that they can make one. So we shouldn’t be afraid to try something new! It may be easier than we think. At least it can be fun to try. And as I often do with many recipes, it’s ok to take some shortcuts too. ;-)

I think the most important part of gift giving should be something that is meaningful to you being shared with another.  And yes, I would also love to receive any of these gifts myself.  

A list of gifts to grow from the garden

Make A Wreath: This can be very simple if you want to start with an inexpensive pre-made fir, spruce or pine wreath and add natural accents such as pine cones, acorns, fruit, and berry twigs. I have also seen some beautiful grapevine wreaths accented with winter greenery and berries. Even easier and requires less material is a simple greenery swag. For some great ‘wreath recipe’ ideas see Holiday Decorating With Fresh Greenery from Clemson University Extension. For more inspiration see Holiday Wreath Time from the 3A Design Studio blog. From WikiHow, watch How To Make an Evergreen Wreath. See more ways to create a holiday DIY wreath from Martha Stewart too.  

What to grow to make this gift: Fir and spruce trees are the most popular choices for wreaths. See Abies fraseri (Fraser Fir) by Horticulture 1015 on Plants Map and Picea abies (Norway Spruce) by Crooked Creek Environmental Learning Center. Additional greenery accents often include cedars, arborvitae, boxwoods, magnolias, and junipers with berries. Fruit and berry accents often include twigs from winterberries, holly berries, as well as fresh apples and pears. You can also add dried florals such as hydrangeas, alliums, dried citrus rings, and lotus flowers. Cinnamon sticks can be a nice natural addition too.

Nature Inspired Ornaments: Pine cones, acorns, and dried citrus fruit are the more traditional kinds of natural ornaments. But you could also make cute peanut snowmen, beautiful pressed flower ornaments, or even a creative cotton boll angel as crafty gifts of the season. What to grow to make this gift: Peanuts, Cotton, and Pansy by the National Garden Bureau on Plants Map.

Rose Hip Jelly: There are so many things that you can make as gifts from roses when you grow your roses organically. You can use roses as herbs to make bath soaps, fragrances, lotions, I’ve even seen jewelry rose beads. But have you ever tried Rose Hip Jelly? Learn how to make this unique and nutritious gift Emily Murphy at Pass the Pistil.  What to grow for this gift: Woods Rose by Teresa Odle on Plants Map. And see more rose hip ideas from Gardening in a Drought.

Pear Jam, Baklava or Pie: Did you know that December is National Pear Month? Pears can be easy to grow and prolific for the home garden. Learn more about pear varieties on USA Pears and contact your local cooperative extension to find out which pear trees grow best in your region. I know one successful pear grower that has come up with some wonderful recipes to gift her fruit! I could not pick just one so choose your favorite pear recipe to try from Frau Zinnie (there’s also so yummy plum recipes too). What to grow for this gift: European Pear Tree by Backyard Abundance on Plants Map. More tips on growing pears in the home garden from University of Minnesota Extension.  

Dried Herbs: Sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint and marjoram are just a few easy to grow herbs that are very popular as dried culinary herbs. You can use creative containers and prepare your dried herbs ahead of time too. Learn how to make this gift from Angie The Freckled Rose via her Helpful Guide To Drying Homegrown Herbs. What to grow for this gift: Chocolate Mint by The Freckled Rose on Plants Map. Also see Harvesting and Drying Herbs from the University of Illinois Extension.

Lavender Foot Scrub: I love this very simple to make recipe for a lavender foot scrub from I may have to make this gift for myself. What to grow to make this gift: Big Time Blue Lavender by Upshoot LLC.  

Christmas Pickles: Every year my husband’s grandfather would make his recipe for ‘Cinnamon Bud Pickles’ and gift them to us. It was a special treat that we enjoyed for many months. I have to admit that getting a homemade jar of pickles is one of the sweetest most nostalgic gifts I can think of. It reminds me of my grandmother when she used to make her own dill pickles. Yes, you can buy store bought but there is just something about getting a homemade jar of pickles. These Christmas Red Pickles also look fun. What to grow for this gift: Cucumbers! Cucumber Picklebush by Tracy Blevins on Plants Map. Also grow your own dill too, Anethum graveolens – Dill by Master Gardeners of the Ozarks on Plants Map.

Pickled Jalapenos: I’m going to throw this one in that I stumbled upon that looks festive and fun, especially if you love to grow peppers or your recipient loves to eat them. Savory Sight: Pickled Jalapeño Peppers from  What to grow for this gift: For those that like heat, stick to the basic Jalapeno Pepper or try the Coolapeño Heatless Jalapeno from Bonnie Plants.

Share a Plant: While the usual holiday plants are beautiful and festive, you can also be creative with starting some plants from seed or making divisions. Try starting a small herb container with rosemary or basil and a recipe. You can also share a starter plant from one of your plants such as a favorite holiday cactus or African violet. Learn how to propagate other houseplants from the University of Missouri Extension.

Gift a Flower: Potted bulbs in a decorative container that are already off to a good start are also great gifts for those that love flowers. What to grow for this gift: Amaryllis, Paperwhites, Hyacinths.

Gift a Tree: I personally think one of the best gifts for new homeowners is a tree. You can start with seeds or seedlings to grow an oak, pine, and other native trees to your area to share. Check with your local soil and water conservation organization for seedling sales. You can also gift a tree via the ArborDay foundation.  

Gift a Terrarium: Easy to make and very easy to care for, mini-terrariums are as as fun to create as they are to receive. See these very creative Homemade Terrariums That Also Make Great Gifts! from Inhabitat.

Happy Gift Growing!

Tracy Blevins