It’s the season-of-many-cucumbers around here. And while we’ve already made cucumber sandwiches, cucumber cream cheese wraps, cucumber salsa, and now creamed cucumbers, there are still so. many. cucumbers. Also suddenly an abundance of green peppers, blackberries and raspberries, tomatoes, and parsley. (Why did we plant so much parsley?!?)
Much like our sudden spring abundance of eggs, we like to use what we can, and then share the garden goodies. So we’ve been sending out boxes of fresh, backyard goodness to co-workers, family, and customers. Here’s a quick, easy, and frugal way to box up that produce with a little extra oomph and send it on its way. This is also a project that is simple enough for younger children to do with little supervision to help teach them generosity and community involvement.
This garden box isn’t meant to be a household keepsake, it’s just meant to convey a little of the love behind the real gift, which is the food. So you can take the project as far as you want to, but rough and rustic (or shabby and vintage!) worked just fine for us. You can also make it any size you want. Everything is measured off the size of your box.
1. Gather the Supplies
You’ll need an old, used box. I used an old Amazon box. You could also use a flat-rate shipping box from the Post Office (which you can get delivered for free right to your door).
A piece of fabric about 2-3 times the size of your box. Imagine if you were wrapping the box as a gift, how much wrapping paper would you need–you need that much fabric. It can be any kind of fabric, burlap, old feed bags, an old sheet or pillowcase…whatever appeals to your style. Just make sure that you can’t see through it.
Canning jars with lids. How many you need will depend on what you’re sending, but you definitely want nice, clean lids if you’re sending someone food! If you have jars, but needs bands and lids, you can buy just the tops directly from Ball. (You can use any type of food-grade jars, but have you seen the beautiful new shape of the Ball Elite Collection? The jar is a gift in itself!)
You’ll also need scissors, a stapler, and some twine. I like rustic jute twine and always have some on hand. But any kind of ribbon, string, cording, tassels…even decorative duct tape would work. (I don’t think washi tape will work though. It’s not sturdy enough for this.)
If you want to be fancier (and are not always in a hurry like I am!) you might also want a hot glue gun.
2. Measure and Cut Fabric
Again, like wrapping a gift, measure out your fabric size based on the size of your box, and cut. Rough edges or slightly uneven sides won’t matter for this project if you’re using a fabric scrap.
Take a moment to fold your box flaps in neatly. You could also cut them off if you wanted, but I find it makes the box sturdier to just double the sides instead of cutting them off.
3. Wrap the Box in Fabric
It’s just like wrapping a present, except you don’t cover the top. You want to pull the fabric down the sides into the box, and staple. If you want to be really neat, now would be the time to use your hot glue gun to glue the fabric to the sides of the box.
I just used the stapler. You’ll find that regular staples don’t go through two layers of cardboard. They just push in and hold it. The shape of your box and the thickness of your fabric will determine how much the fabric naturally gathers and ruffles as you pull it over.
The first time I did it, I put some staples on the outside too. It’s not necessary. The box is not meant to be a keepsake item, it’s just a container to get the good stuff moved from one household to the other. Once it’s packed with garden goodies, they’ll hold the fabric in just fine.
4. Decorate the Box
Keeping with the idea of rustic simplicity, I just wrapped the outside of the box with some twine. You could wrap it with ribbons, lace, tape, tassels, whatever style suits your taste. You’ll notice that I also carried the simple twine into the lid decoration for the jar of blackberries.
5. Fill the Box
We included a couple cucumbers, green peppers, and a jar of fresh blackberries in this box. You can add whatever is currently available in your garden. You can also garnish it with fresh flowers to add a little color (although Mr. Fix-It carried this box off before I could!). This would be a perfect way to share any homemade products as well. Jams, jellies, salsa, soup, jerky, dried fruit…
I did wash (and dry) all the produce we gave out before it left the house.
We use a vegetable and fruit soak to wash everything that comes in. Fill the sink with water, add 1 cup of white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar if that’s all you have on hand!), a teaspoon of baking soda, and a couple drops of Dawn dishsoap. Mix, then soak your produce for 10 minutes. Dry and store properly.
If you’re not sure how to connect with folks that could make use of your extra garden produce, be sure to hop over and read our post on How to Help Needy Families with Your Extra Eggs. All the same ideas would apply to fresh fruits and veggies. I’m sure there’s plenty of people right in your community that could benefit greatly from your generosity!
Do you have a favorite way to share your garden goodies with friends and neighbors?