Planning gifts for gardening enthusiasts? Here are some practical and fun items that will help your beloved gardener start 2016 off right.
See here for a list of great tool ideas for gardeners. Gardeners will love hori hori, seeding tools, nitrile-palmed gloves, buckets and bags to organize tools, small wheelbarrows, kneeling pads and seats, broadforks, and more.
The best tools are often Japanese or Italian steel-bladed tools. Japanese tools can be specialized but are often beautiful, ergonomic, and durable. Simple design lines are helpful for keeping your tools clean. Wooden handles are beautiful, but often break down faster than plastic handled tools. It is always worth investing in a better quality tool that is likely to last generations.
Besides cutting and aerating tools; watering cans, rain barrels, and drip irrigation systems might be on your gardener’s wish list. If your gardener has a small container garden, a watering can may be enough. Rain barrels, downspout diverters, and hoses are helpful for small gardens (as long as your state and municipality allow them). Drip irrigation and wicking supplies might be better for larger gardens and dry land garden systems.
Besides durable tools, there are lots of things that gardeners enjoy this time of year in the way of supplies. Seeds, plant markers, pots and trays, heating mats, and grow lights extend capacity in the garden and are all appreciated. Plant markers—especially reusable ones for seed starting and annuals or more permanent metal markers for perennials--can help one remember what is what. Lights can help the gardener through the winter or starting seeds in the spring. Look for low energy lights to grow under.
Why not gift your gardener with unusual varieties and heirloom seeds? There are exciting discoveries and beautiful plant varieties found each year. Remember to check zone and light requirements for your gardener.
Soils and soil amendments might not be exciting to some gardeners, but there are a range of them to include in a fine gardening practice. Seaweeds and foliar feeds may be new to your gardener and helpful in creating beautiful, healthy plants in the summer. Seed starting soil blends along with trays, heat mats, seeds, and a grow light might be the perfect package gift. Why not put them together in a harvest basket?
Besides these, a small greenhouse or wrap (also called a fleece) might be perfect for starting seeds or protecting a Garden Tower.
This category ranges across many subjects, but every gardener should have access to information. Thomas J. Elpel wrote a fun book to help us understand plant classifications:
Suzanne Ashworth’s Seed to Seed is a great primer on seed saving, care, and starting.
Eliot Coleman’s The New Organic Grower and The Winter Harvest Handbook are two classics that bear a wealth of information and help the gardener and market farmer plan the coming year.
For those interested in permaculture, Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden is great for a beginning book. Peter Bane’s The Permaculture Handbook is a dense and practical approach to suburban permaculture practice[i]. Rosemary Morrow’s Earth User’s Guide to Permaculture is also full of practical approaches to permaculture design.
Maria Thun’s Gardening for Life: The Biodynamic Way is a classic (albeit esoteric) introduction to this particular approach to gardening.
Every gardener needs access to a calendar. Many people swear by the Farmer’s Almanac. The land grant university in one's state probably has an online calendar or planting guide accessible through the extension office. Here is one example. Besides informational calendars, gardening journals to help a gardener plan, observe, and record the garden’s yearly activities is a thoughtful offering.
Apps are popular and several are geared to help you know when to plant in your area and to help one choose plants that will suit one's garden space—even helping you imagine what your designed space will look like through the season. In this case, a gift certificate to the app store might be just what is needed to round out a gift.
Remember, gardening not only produces beauty and food, but health and well-being to a gardening friend. What better gift could one give someone in the holiday season?
[i] In the interest of full disclosure, Peter Bane has been a mentor and colleague for the past ten years.