Herbs and spices

You might remember the old saying, “waste not; want not.” The idea is that when we use our resources carefully, we are never in need. But how many usable resources from our gardens go to waste every year? In many cases, we’re overlooking opportunities to reap so much more from our landscaping than pretty flowers.

Just consider these fun and interesting ideas to make use of all that your garden has to offer.

Make lemon oil. Your lemon tree adds a cheerful burst of color, and maybe you even enjoy homemade lemonade when lemons are in season. But there’s more that you can do with lemons, by making products you can use all year long.

By steeping lemon zest (the rind of lemons) in olive oil, you can create a simple marinade and base for salad dressings that can be used for months to come.

Extend the use of your flowers. Fresh bouquets are beautiful and smell lovely, but they don’t last very long. Dry blooms such as lavender and roses and create sachets or potpourri. Or use the dried flowers to infuse your own oils or make tinctures that can be used for scenting your home, skin care, remedies for conditions like anxiety, and much more.

To make oils, you simply simmer the dried flowers in olive oil for about half an hour, then cool and store in a clean glass jar. To create tinctures, just cover crushed dried flowers in grain alcohol or vodka. Keep the mixture in a glass jar, place in a dark spot in your cupboard, and shake it daily for about two weeks.

Dehydrate fruit. Fruit trees can provide an abundance of fresh food, but sometimes it’s more than we bargained for! If you get sick of apples, oranges, or other fruits when they’re in season, why not dehydrate them for later use? All you need is one-time investment in a food dehydrator, and then you can use fruits for a variety of purposes in the future.

Dehydrated fruit makes a great snack for kids’ lunchboxes, or you can include it in homemade trail mix. Make your own fruity potpourri or use the fruit as treats for certain pets.

If you get creative, it’s usually possible to find a way to preserve and use almost anything from the garden. Don’t let anything go to waste, and you’ll appreciate your hard work that much more.

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