Make Thrifty Use Of Your Garden Trimmings: A Herbal Wreath For Christmas And Beyond
Herbs: The Frugal Gardener’s Go-To Plants
Herbs – as long as you don’t have to buy them – are one of the big players in thrifty cooking, adding flavour to cheap ingredients. They are also big players in the garden – happy in average soil, content in containers on balcony or windowsill, cheap to purchase as young plants, providing colour and shape year-round and bringing the garden alive with bees and butterflies. They definitely satisfy my Tartan Thrifty Ground Rules.
Shrubby herbs (bay, rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender) require very little maintenance – a trim in spring and autumn keeps them in shape and provides lots of flavourful young leaf growth. I have just trimmed mine and am left with huge bunches of bay, rosemary, sage and thyme – which are definitely NOT going on the compost heap! I am going to dry them for use in the winter kitchen – and at the same time create a festive wreath to decorate in December.
How To Turn Your Garden Trimmings Into A Thrifty Herbal Wreath
To start you need a twiggy wreath base. I have been using mine for years so consider this an investment buy. Better still, if you have larger twig and branch trimmings from your garden make your own using this instructional from moderncountrystyle.
Take your first stem of rosemary and push the stalk into the base. Push in a second about an inch along and bend it over the first to hold it in place. Push in a third just past their meeting point and bend it over the second. Keep going, weaving the stems together for a neat finish. Don’t worry about making it perfect – a bit of imperfection adds to the charm. When the circle is complete, use smaller stems to criss-cross over any unruly stems.
Next weave bay stems into the outside of the base. I started with two stems crossing each other in opposite directions at the top. (And cheated by tying them down at the back with a piece of string.)
Now, fill the centre of the wreath with sage. I find this less easy to weave with as its stems are softer than the other two herbs. I use shorter stems and simply poke them in randomly to fill the space. I finish off with little bunches of thyme pushed straight into the base. Alternatively, you could bundle all your herbs into little bouquets garnis and tie these all over your wreath. It depends how you like to use your herbs in the kitchen as much as on how your want it to look. At this stage the wreath looks messy. That’s fine because as it dries it will shrink inwards.
Finally tie a piece of string across the back of your wreath and hang it, face down, somewhere dark and dry. I have mine above the boiler to speed the drying process. Drying it upside down will avoid a droopy look to your finished wreath.
That’t it. Come December you can take out your fragrant wreath and decorate it with ribbons, baubles – whatever takes your fancy. And in January, ditch the decorations and hang up the wreath in your kitchen to keep you in dried herbs right through to the spring. Not bad for garden waste!