While we often think about gifting others during the holiday season, we usually don't think about it during the summer. Still, summer is usually one of the most social times of the year with formal events like weddings, bridal showers, and family reunions, and informal gatherings like barbecues, picnics, and beach parties.
So, why not bring some of the bounty from your garden as a gift, or simply to add to the meal for one of these occasions? You don't need to spend a lot of time to create beautiful, thoughtful, and easy gifts. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
-Did you start your own cut flower garden? Or, do you have flowers in your garden? Bring a bouquet of your fresh cut flowers. If you have herbs, you can add some of these as well.
-Speaking of herbs, for the gourmet host or hostess in your life, give decorative, matching bottles or jars of your herbs or make flavored vinegars from your thyme, rosemary, or cilantro, or add raspberries, oranges, or other fruits. You can top them off with matching ribbon and gift tags that say "From My Garden."
-Since your garden might be overloaded with squash, tomatoes, peppers, and sweet corn, and your fruit trees loaded with nectarines, peaches, and plums, why not just harvest some of your bounty and give someone a basketful? If you need to, you can also supplement your own produce by shopping at the farmers' market, and include nuts, dried fruit, and other items you might not have.
-If you are already making food items for the barbecue or picnic, include your herbs or fruit in your favorite recipes; use your own lemons for lemon bars, or add your own herbs to your famous barbecue sauce, jelly, or bread. You can also make an extra batch to give as a gift to somebody.
-Put together a living salad bowl by planting leaf lettuce seedlings in a container. You can include some great leaf varieties such as Arugula (a peppery green usually served raw in salads and sometimes cooked in soups or pastas), Mache (with small, dark green leaves), and Frisee (pale, long-stemmed, and curly), to create your own Mesclun (mixed) salad mix. In a few weeks, the container should be full of tender green plants that can be snipped as needed and will continue to grow new leaves as long as they are harvested from the outside leaves first.