By Su Reid-St. John
‘Tis the season to begin the search for just the right gift your favorite gardener. Looking for ideas? If you ask me, you can’t go wrong with one (or more) of these handy garden helpers. Each one plays an important part in my own routine and actually helps make me feel and look like I’m better at this whole growing thing than I actually am. (Hey, the proof is in the harvest, right?) Check out these 7 top-notch gifts for gardeners.
Some collapsible pots.
One thing I’ve learned about myself (and it’s a trait I believe I share with many, many other gardeners) is that if a plant needs a home, I’ll take it in, regardless of whether I actually have a place to put it. Here’s my trick: When my beds and permanent containers are filled, I pull out a collapsible fabric pot, fill it with potting soil, and give my new green friend a perfectly respectable home. When that particular plant finally departs for the Great Compost Heap in the Sky, I empty out the soil, fold up the pot, and put it away until the next little orphan arrives. (One word of caution: If you get a pot with handles, don’t use them once you’ve filled the pot with soil, as they may not be able to bear the weight.)
A no-kink hose.
I’ve got raised beds and pots in the front, side, and back yards, so watering time involves a lot of hose-dragging. I need a hose that won’t twist around, flip over, and kink up as I’m moving it, leaving me with zero spray when I turn on the nozzle. My favorite hose refuses to perform such unwanted acrobatics, even when I change my mind mid-drag and head in a totally different direction. Plus, it’s bright yellow, so there’s much less chance it’ll get run over when I finally get around to mowing the lawn. Okay, when my husband finally gets around to mowing the lawn.
A simple drip irrigation kit.
As much as I love my hose, though, I’m not always home to use it. What’s more, my container plants’ thirstiness often exceeds my desire to water even when I am around. With drip irrigation, an emitter is set near each plant to give it precisely the amount of water it needs, so nothing goes to waste—something I appreciate even more when the water bill arrives. By purchasing a drip irrigation kit, I got everything I needed (including instructions) in a single box. Nice.
A pair of pocket pruners.
I can’t fathom how I got along before I had my pocket pruners. I use them to prune spent pineapple sage stems, cut back blueberry bushes, trim suckers on my tomatoes—the list goes on. They’ve got more oomph than my garden snips, but can still be wielded single-handedly (even by my small hands). My pair also has a catch to keep the blades safely closed—a must since I actually do sometimes drop these “pocket pruners” into my jacket pocket.
A pair of feel-good nitrile gloves.
I feel like I’ve tried a gazillion gardening gloves over the years, and the best I’ve found are a pair of nitrile gloves that fit like, well, a glove and don’t make my hands sweat. Thanks to the nitrile, they’re thin but grippy, plus they keep my hands reasonably dry when fishing out the leaves that always seem to clog up the watering can spout. As for the breathable part, well, let me just say this: I live and garden in Alabama. In the summertime.
A comfy kneeling pad.
We have two massive pecan trees in our yard that seem to drop nuts with abandon, so kneeling down virtually anywhere is always a bit risky, especially in the fall. It’s no surprise, then, that a kneeling pad is pretty much de rigeur for when I’m planting, weeding, or harvesting low-growing plants like greens and herbs. Plus, let’s be honest: My knees are starting to feel like they’ve been around for a few decades (which they have), and are always appreciative of a cushy surface. My go-to kneeling pad is made with thick, comfy memory foam—though of course there are some great thinner ones out there, too.
A few frost jackets.
I use simple row tunnels to protect the plants in my raised beds from frost, but until recently I didn’t have a good way to do the same for the veggies and herbs growing in the containers scattered all around the yard. Happily for both them and me, I discovered frost jackets, which slip over the top of the plant and cinch around the pot via a draw-cord. They add a few extra degrees of protection for both spring seedlings facing late frosts and late-season tomatoes and peppers trying to make it through early ones. Best of all, it takes a mere 30 seconds to put one on or take it off. Love it! (Psst: They work for hanging baskets, too.)
Want even more ideas for gifts for gardeners? Head on over to my blog entry on 5 Terrific Garden Tools for Under $25. Happy holidays!