Gifts for gardeners
By Barbara Damrosch,
Holiday gifts for gardeners, like gardeners themselves, are down-to-earth and practical. People with rolled-up sleeves and muddy hands will love you for making their job easier and helping them trump last year’s yields. Forget whimsy. Avoid flimsy. Here are some presents that go right to work.
Somewhere between your rain slicker and your wellies, the middle part of you can get awfully wet. But not if you wear a rain suit from A.M. Leonard (from $13 at www.amleo.com). You might look like a Teletubby, but you’ll be dry.
Leonard also sells the thick-walled Osmile professional soaker hoses (from $47). Black in color and UV protected, they can either be buried or placed on the soil surface, easily hidden by foliage or mulch, and they’ll greatly cut down on water use.
Basic black is also the color of my newest garden find. Finally, I have some sturdy pot saucers with an inner dimension of 22 inches. That magic number allows me to place them under the whiskey barrels that hold my indoor citrus trees. I got them from Monster Gardens ($15.45 at www.monstergardens.com).
Give a winter jolt of spring fever with a grow-light setup from Johnny’s Selected Seeds (from $69 at www.johnnyseeds.com), for starting seedlings. Heating pads go under seed trays and promote germination and root growth.
To a gardener who grows lots of tomatoes, give a vegetable strainer. I’ve used one for years, and it makes quick work of tomato sauce in summer, applesauce in fall. KitchenEmporium.com offers the Victorio and Cucina Pro models (both $60), as well as the all-metal Squeezo ($199.49).
Help loved ones garden better with a membership in their state or regional organic or sustainable farming and gardening association. For Virginia that would be the Virginia Association for Biological Farming ($27 at www.vabf.org). For other states, visit this site of the National Center for Appropriate Technology: attra.ncat.org (look under “Other Resources”).
Then sign them up with the award-winning Vegetable Garden Planner from Mother Earth News ($25 at www.motherearthnews.com). Unlike computer games such as Farmville, this one isn’t virtual but is based on your own garden, helping you to sort out all the complexities of planting dates, crop rotations, plant spacings and such, all customized for your climate. For kids, give them Garden-opoly ($28), which substitutes rutabagas for real estate. That’s from Garden Talk (www.gardentalk.com), as is the very cool PlantCam ($80), which automatically photographs your plants at intervals, then creates a time-lapse video of their growth.
But even the most serious grown-up gardener wants to unwrap some fun. Give a guy the wonderful Amish straw hat offered by Plainly Dressed ($25 at www.plainly
dressed.com), to wear with his suspenders. And give the gal “The Dirty Life” by Kristin Kimball (Simon & Schuster, $15), the truest, most hilarious and most affirming story of a beginning farmer that you could possibly find under your tree.
Damrosch is a freelance writer and the author of “The Garden Primer.”
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