Christmas can be a busy time of the year. It can also be expensive. But Christmas need not be a consumerist nightmare. Polytunnel gardeners are well-placed to enjoy a home-made Christmas, with plenty of DIY projects made possible by growing your own produce at home. There are plenty of DIY Christmas present ideas for polytunnel gardeners. But polytunnel gardeners could also consider making Christmas more sustainable by making their own wrapping paper.
There are plenty of ways to make your own wrapping paper or other gift wrapping solutions without having to resort to shop-bought papers which often come at a huge cost to the environment. One idea is to make your own paper using plant fibres from in and around your polytunnel.
What You Will Need To Make Your Own Wrapping Paper
There are a number of plants that can be used for paper making in the UK. One of the most ubiquitous of these is the common stinging nettle. This common weed is one that many polytunnel gardeners will have to contend with, either in or around their polytunnels. Nettle stems contain the fibres that can be used to make paper.
In addition to finding fibrous plants, to make your own wrapping paper you will also need:
- A blender (to make breaking down the fibres easier)
- A large container in which to put the water and plant fibres.
- A hessian or fine mesh screen.
- (Optional) Natural materials to make natural dyes/ paints for your wrapping paper.
How To Make Your Own Wrapping Paper
To make your own Christmas wrapping paper:
- Wearing gloves, carefully remove the leaves from nettle stems (or collect other fibrous plant materials).
- Soak nettle stems and remove the woody outer layers to collect the bast fibres inside.
- Take the bast fibres, cut them into small pieces.
- Blend the bast fibres with water in your blender.
- Place the fibres suspended in water in a large container.
- Draw the hessian or mesh screen up through the water and fibre solution so the fibres form a thin layer on top of the screen.
- Carefully place the layer of fibre on a flat surface to dry.
Once your nettle fabric-like paper is dry, you can use it to wrap gifts as is for a natural look, or decorate your wrapping paper using other materials from your polytunnel.
You could consider using natural dyes from plants grown in your polytunnel to add pigments to your wrapping paper, or create stamps from polytunnel grown potatoes and natural paints to make a pattern on your home-made wrapping paper. If you are short on time, you could also consider using bought natural fabrics or paper decorated in this way to wrap your gifts this Christmas.
Have you made your own wrapping paper for Christmas using items grown in your polytunnel? Let us know in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.