Look to the garden for Christmas gift ideas

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By Cheryl Steenerson

Happy Halloween! I think October came in on a skateboard and went out on a jet pack! Time is just flying by and the next two months may well be the same way. That said, didn’t we have a beautiful St. Luke’s Little Summer! I so wanted to play hooky from work and be outside. Now it’s cold again! Don’t worry though, we should have one more warm spell, known as Indian Summer, before Thanksgiving.
Since the calendar pages are flipping along, it’s time to make sure you have everything done before it really gets cold! Prune the lower leaves and weak stems off the roses. Plant those trees you’ve been wanting to get in the ground. Finally, if you aren’t going to rake, then at least mow those leaves!
I’ve been walking around the farm looking for seeds to gather. Take a look at some of yours and see if you can gather some yourself. I’m gathering seeds from wildflowers, native shrubs and a few perennials.
Mother Nature usually does a bang up job distributing seeds, but there are a few plants and flowers that I would like to put in specific viewing areas.
Look for places in your yard that are drab in the spring, summer or fall and see what will add a little color. Save the seeds in a paper bag or envelope and store in a cool dark place. When spring rolls around you can plant them where you’d like!
Those of us who make Christmas presents need to get crackin! You don’t have to be crafty to make presents, just creative. It takes a while to gather materials and then make the things for everyone. This year I’m mailing everyone their gifts as well, so I picked up a sheet that gives me all the details for shipping.
Photographs are always a big hit and making the frames add a personal touch. A cheap frame is the starting point. The frames can then be decorated with all kinds of things from yarn to buttons and everything in between. My friend Paula uses shells!  Think of the person’s personality. What do they like? Maybe they have a hobby or favorite sports team that will give you a theme to work from.
My relatives mostly want food and shipping glass jars is not an easy task. You really have to pack them well and write fragile on every side of the box! My bread and butter pickles could arrive as a smelly mess and that wouldn’t be good.
My corn bags are also a favorite and it seems that each new generation wants their own. Corn bags are just little pockets of fabric (6” x 8”), filled three quarters full with field corn that has been winnowed to remove the pieces of plant.  I also add a few shakes of cinnamon or clove before I sew it closed to make it smell good. You heat them in the microwave for 2 minutes to use as a heating pad They’re easy to ship, but heavy.
Those that live close by will get cold presents, like frozen herbs. If you know someone who likes to cook, prune the heck out of your herbs. Blend two cups of fresh leaves with 1/3 cup of olive oil in a food processor. Scoop it out and place in a freezer ziplock bag and flatten it. Then, just store in the freezer. You can cut off little bits as you need them for cooking.
Now, get out there and finish up those chores! Daylight savings time ends this Sunday and the clocks will need to fall back one hour Saturday at midnight. I’m guessing that we can all use the extra hour! Happy Growing!

Cheryl Steenerson is the gardening columnist for The Anderson News.