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Gifts for Gardeners

Thursday - 12/9/2010, 9:47am  ET

Gifts for Gardeners

Tick, tick, tick—just two weeks until Christmas Day; time for my annual last minute gardener's gift list!

My #1 Gift Pick: Gloves that Gardeners Keep on!

Every gardener needs good gloves to protect their hands. But the truth is that virtually all of us take the gloves off within minutes of starting our work because we can't feel what we're doing; and so we end the day with paws that look like claws (and I don't mean Santa's Claws!).

The answer is gloves that protect AND fit tight, like batting gloves. And that's suggestion number one: Ask a local sporting goods store to dig out some batting gloves for you to look at. Be sure and pay attention to the size and age range (you'll find two sizes of ‘large' for instance: Youth and Adult) and pick a brightly colored pair, so that they're easy to find in the garden. There are also some really nice high end models, like the Bionic line of gloves, and West Country, whose gloves look and work sensational, and are somehow made with fabric crafted from recycled soda and spring water bottles! Both brands fit super-tight (you can dial a cell phone while wearing them!), and feature additional padding in areas that gardeners tend to wear out fast. And both websites tell you where you can find them for sale.

Note: The store finder at West Country listed a LOT of local-to-DC retailers; and there were nice gloves on deep clearance at the Bionic website—so no excuses either way!

Give the Gift of Compost!

Looking for the perfect gift for the gardener in your life —maybe one you're hoping to ease off of toxic garden chemicals? Great organic gardens begin and end with compost; Nature's finest soil amendment, fertilizer and disease preventer—so give the gift of compost!

If your gardener grows on a small scale, get them a few bags of premium, high quality compost. Some good brand names include Coast of Maine, Chesapeake Blue (made locally using crab shell waste), Chesapeake Green (made from poultry litter with lime added, this one is specifically for use on lawns) and Gardener's Gold (available from the mail-order firm Garden's Alive). But there are many others out there; just stay away from wet, heavy generic ‘compost' and don't confuse compost with composted manure, which is NOT the same thing.

If they have some outdoor space but don't yet make their own black gold, get them a nifty composter made out of recycled plastic. I especially like the big black rectangular types; they're widely available at retail locations and by mail order (here's an image of one at the Gardens Alive website.), they have a locking lid to keep out critters, a ‘coal chute at the bottom to easily access the finished material, don't take up a lot of space, have an attractive appearance and ship flat in a box.

And if your giftee already piles, get them an aerator—a handy little tool that you plunge in and out of an unfinished pile to mix up the contents without any hard work! Here's an image of one with a neat brand name at the Composters.com website.

Give Fertility!

A nice organic fertilizer always comes in handy. I really like the liquid fish and seaweed combination products for outdoor use (many brand names out there; Neptune's Harvest seems to be available everywhere at retail); and liquid seaweed alone for houseplants.

Help them Spray their Problems Away

A high quality pressurized sprayer is always useful! Your giftee can utilize it for blasting insects off of plants with sharp streams of water, giving outdoor plants a nice morning misting of compost tea, or applying organic insect deterrents like neem or Bt.

& What Says ‘Happy Holidays' Better than a Flamethrower?

I'd be lost without my propane powered flame weeder! It's the best way to get rid of unwanted plants in gravel driveways and in the cracks between bricks and pavers in walkways—and it's the most manly of gardening tools! Here's a link to my personal favorite (I own two of ‘em!~), The Bernzomatic Outdoor Torch, at Amazon..

‘Fireproof Tree' Time!

Just as in previous years, I'm getting lots of emails asking about secret ‘guaranteed fire-proof tree' recipes that involve pouring things like bleach, Drano and weapons grade plutonium into the water reservoir. PLEASE DON'T MAKE OR USE ANY OF THE CONCOCTIONS THAT MAKE THE INTERNET ROUNDS AT THIS TIME OF YEAR—THEY ARE FOOLISH, USELESS, TOXIC AND DANGEROUS!

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