We'd all like to cut down on the chemicals in our food, and giving the gift of plants that come ready to grow and eat without herbicides or pesticides always is appreciated. When planting organic plants, be sure to use organic compost and fertilizers and, if possible, search out organic sources of starts if you're not growing from seed yourself.
Potted herb plants make lovely fragrant gifts and are easy to grow without pesticides. Basil, parsley and oregano most often are used as fresh leaves and grow well in containers. Basil needs warmth to germinate and grow well and is best bought as a small plant in the absence of a greenhouse. Parsley grows easily from seed, but the broad-leaved, flavorful Italian variety is rarely found in stores. Oregano, a perennial, grows quick from 4-inch pots and can be divided into starts to grow for gifts.
Organic lettuce often is expensive, but you can create a pot full of ornamental varieties that will provide salads for a month or more. Plant seeds or small starts of red-leaved, oak-leaved, romaine, buttercrunch or other varieties in a large container. Leaves can be picked or cut with scissors. Other greens such as arugula, green onions, mustard and spinach can be included.
Nasturtiums, pansies, violas, calendulas, chives and borage all have attractive flowers that make unusual additions to salads. Planted together in a large container, they would make a lovely gift for a cook or an unusual decoration at the kitchen door.
Many herbs and vegetables are available as organic seed, but one of the most useful gifts would be organic varieties of sprouting seeds, from broccoli to alfalfa, mung beans, fenugreek, buckwheat, mustard, radish, barley and many more. A decorative box filled with a selection of organically grown sprouting seeds, perhaps with sprouting equipment included, would be appreciated by anyone who cares about food.