Stephanie Hudak

Stephanie Hudak

By Stephanie Hudak, Columnist

Okay, normally I’ve been ending my story by suggesting Christmas gifts, but this time I’m going to start with ideas. Well, heck, the entire column is going to be about things you can give to those you love that are part of nature. But first, I have got to tell you about a great time I had at the State Botanical Garden this past Wednesday….the gift ideas will flow from there. I know that I have encouraged you all to become “Friends” of the Bot Garden. Membership is so inexpensive and the rewards are awesome. Right here in our own backyard we have a wonderful area to explore and to learn great things…for all ages. Here is gift number one….a membership. There are so many great opportunities here for young people to learn about nature.

Back to my great night…I had invited my good friend, Chris Stewart, who is a wholesale grower of great plants, to join me for the evening to listen to Patricia Moore-Pastides talk about “growing and cooking for life”. The author of this wonderful book (yes, gift item number two) is the First Lady of the University of South Carolina, “where she teaches healthy Mediterranean cooking classes for USC students.”

We tasted foods from her book and they were delicious. But the best part of her talk and book is that it is aimed at young people. She wants to educate them about growing their own foods and then cooking them in a healthy way — look out fast food stores, you might be in trouble. The title of the book is Greek Revival From the Garden. The book inspires the young and the old to grow their own foods and cook them in ways that are healthy. So to the next gift item….compost material. One of the best gifts I asked for and received was “manure”.

How many friends ask you for “crap” and you actually give it to them. Please, bring it on. In this wonderful dairy based community of Morgan County we all know someone who has “crap” don’t we? Oh, it needs to be “aged” by the way…nothing that came just came out of the oven.

The other thing we composters need is leaves!!! It’s that “brown” stuff that we can only get at this time of the year. My other best friend, Jeff Johnson, who is a master composter among other great things, fight each other for the leaves on the city streets. Right now he is way ahead of me in collecting bags of leaves. Come on Jeff, where is chivalry? So if you can beat Jeff to the piles, wrap a red ribbon about that trash bag and send it on to your nature loving friend.

So what other great nature loving gifts can you give? How about the wood for a raised bed garden? No pressure treated material please…but I am sure Lowe’s can help you with this. Soil….you gotta put dirt in the box. Then consider plants that like the winter weather. Start some lettuce seeds now that make a nice bouquet of greenery…and maybe even promise them tomato plants in the spring….how is that for a gift that keeps on giving.

Herbs…how about a coupon that promises them basil, rosemary, thyme in the spring months so they can make wonderful, healthful dinners. Here is a biggy gift….your time and energy. Being a woman without a man, I am always looking for help. How about a coupon that gives an hour or two of your time…mowing, edging. Guess what else helps us poor women…advice!! What the heck do I do with lawn mower at the end of the year. So, here we are at the end of year, asking what we can give to the people we love…how about love. It doesn’t have to be about money, glistz and glamor. It only has to be about “hugs”….and hugs come in lots of different forms…..you pick yours.