Saturday, 1 November 2008

Christmas present production line... student style!

Gib and I have just finished updating our budget and we've realised that Christmas is going to have to be a little more organised. It's so easy to get excited and buy buy buy - not that we've gone to excess in previous years, but we took a good look and realised just how much Christmas costs. It's quite shocking really. Moreso now that my income has been halved. So this year I'm taking full advantage of the fact that my relatives think that it's cute and endearing that I make handmade gifts for them and also means I use up some of my stash which doesn't quite fit in its allotted location right now.

Getting organised for Christmas sewing

It does take a little more organisation and planning. I have to block out sections of my diary and make "meetings" with myself in the evenings and weekends so I can tell people that I'm busy and can't make it -- so I can sew. (I should probably do that for the gym as well...!)

You can see on the right my list of things I intend to get done. The part I really hate about sewing is the cutting out all of the bits: Cutting out the pattern, pinning the pattern, cutting out the fabric... it's a drainer. So I've decided to get all of the cutting done at once. It means I only need to get out my fabrics once, and then I just pop all of the fabric bits into separate project bags to sew them at my leisure. It also makes me more motivated to finish them if they're all ready to go. I like quick, easy projects that are functional and look good (hopefully) such as:

My slowly growing pile of cut-out bits and pieces


How to propagate your own herbs:


Everyone loves herbs. In the words of Gib's mother: "Herbs are great. You give them to people, they use them and then they kill them and then they love it when you give them more". I've started this now little project now so they are nicely established by Christmas time.

Herb propagation is really very easy. The word "herb" is just another word for "useful weed" in my books, and as such they sprout and grow easily. I take cuttings, about 7-10 cm long from the side branches of herbs. I'm using rosemary, thyme, oregano and sage. Pull off the leaves till about half of the bottom of the stem is bare. Pop them into a little glass of water on the windowsill and wait til roots start to strike, which takes a week or so. I put them into water as I've found they are more likely to get fungal problems and die if they are put straight into soil*. I'm also less likely to forget to water them if they are on the kitchen window sill. The only thing to make sure of is that there is water in the glasses at all times: even a few hours without water can be dire. After the roots have struck, put them into soil and remember to water them regularly. If you decide to put the cuttings straight into soil, remember to keep them well watered. Don't get fussed if some of them die - it's OK. I've come to realise a success rate of about 60-70% is quite good.

We bought a pot of oregano and thyme for $3 each at Bunnings, and will have about 10 cuttings from each. The sage and rosemary were already in my parents' herb garden. This makes for super cheaps presents that will be well received, if your Christmas budget is a little tight this year...

Sage and rosemary growing on the kitchen window sill, in ex-vegemite jars/glasses

* Having said that, I've also noticed that rosemary, thyme and mint tend not to be so vulnerable to fungal infections and can be put straight into soil. It seems to be the less-woody herbs, like basil or sage, that are more susceptible.

6 comments:

Hoppo Bumpo said...

Well, I can personally vouch for the fact that you make beautiful pot holders and aprons ... so I think all your presents will be so much nicer than bought things!

I'm glad I read your advice about propogating herbs. I've just had a little (what I think is unsuccessful) go at striking a curry plant from one at my parent's place. I put it straight into soil and it looks a bit like an ex-curry plant now. I might go get another cutting and stick it in some water first as you suggest.

Taccolina said...

Thanks! This is a really helpful post. I'll be hand-making a lot of Christmas presents this year, too. It's a necessity! I hadn't thought of herbs, maybe in a nice pot....

CurlyPops said...

I like your production line idea. I have the opposite problem though..I always have lots of things cut out. I just procrastinate at sewing things back together.

Melanie said...

I love plants as pressies. You are way more organized than me. I am definately a procrastinator with xmas stuff, must pull ones finger out.....

Bellgirl said...

Yay for industrious herbing, and great to see you in the Veg About! I'm planning a non-corporate Christmas this year, this would be a great addition. I grew almost our entire garden from tubes, gifts and home-grown cuttings- it's the most beautiful garden, and every plant has a story, a friend and a memory attached.

Unfortunalety since my Bug was born I haven't had much luck with propagating- human propagation has sapped all my attention!

Bellgirl said...

BTW I've put your pic on my sidebar as this week's featured Veg About image!