Functional Garden Design – How To Create A “Grow And Make” Garden

Lavender with soap on a wooden background
Image by Almaje

By Liz Baessler

What is a “Grow and Make” garden? It’s not a specific kind of garden, but rather more of a lifestyle choice. It’s the kind of garden that appeals to gardeners who don’t just want to grow for the sake of growing – they want to do something interesting with their harvest. It’s all about functional garden design and the revival of old plant-based practices like natural dyes and wine making. It is, essentially, growing plants for hobbies. Keep reading to learn more about functional landscaping and how to create a “Grow and Make” garden.

Growing Plants for Hobbies

What are garden makers? These are people who make things with the bounty from their gardens, and they don’t just stop at grilling up an eggplant. There’s more to growing edible plants than just eating them. For example, fermenting your produce into alcohol is a great way to get involved with your garden.

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While growing grapes for wine is an old standby, basically any fruit (or vegetable) that contains sugar can be turned into wine, sometimes with surprisingly delicious results. Wine isn’t the only option, either. Many homebrewers grow their own hops for beer, and even add some of their fruits and vegetables to homebrew recipes to add extra fermentable sugar and special flavoring.

Another hobby that benefits greatly from plants is soap making. Plants can be used to provide color, fragrance and texture, all of which are very important in soap making. Lots of herbs (like lavender, mint, and thyme) are sources of all three when they’re dried and added to your soap batter. They can also be steeped in water to create a fragrant infusion that works well in soaps as well as balms and lotions.

Other plants can be grown expressly for their dyeing properties. Indigo and woad create natural blue dyes for fabrics, while marigolds produce yellow and blackberries turn purple.

The list doesn’t stop there.

The sky’s the limit. If you have a hobby and there’s a way to incorporate it into the garden, go for it!

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