By Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent:
Christmas day is almost here and if you have a gardener on your shopping list, here are some gift ideas that might help you out and best of all, most suggestions can be found locally, so you still have time to get them before the big day.
Gardeners can never have enough books. Make sure it is written for our area and it is educational, not one just trying to sell items. A magazine subscription also falls in this category. Many gardeners are excellent cooks so a mix of gardening and cooking books can bring great delight. Whether it’s an actual cookbook or an apron with a gardening motif, or a book about herb plants, it will be appreciated. And don’t forget the So Easy to Preserve books available for purchase through the Office of Communications at the University of Georgia.
One group of gifts that are often overlooked is items that are health related, items such as a good sun hat and sunscreen fit here. And although they sound a bit out of season right now, sunscreen products can now be found year around in most drug stores and department stores. Sun hats may be hard to find this time of year, but they are in some stores. If you can’t find one, give them an IOU. What about the cooling towels that are worn on the neck to help prevent overheating. A gift card works too, but when you get something specific they know you were thinking about them.
A good quality water hose, padding for knees and small stools or chairs are good choices too. A couple of interesting items are an ice cream scoop that can be used to plant bulbs or a water timer to make sure plants are watered at the right time and water is not wasted.
Some of the best tool gift ideas include big and little-headed hoes for the garden. A hoe with a smaller head is really handy because it can get up next to plants much easier. The scuffle hoe works backward and forward, and requires less effort than a regular hoe. The one tool indispensable to a gardener is a spading or turning fork, but don’t buy the welded type because they just don’t hold up under heavy work.
A good hand trowel is another tool you shouldn’t skimp on. Look for one-piece construction, which eliminates the problem of bending or breaking the tool. A wheelbarrow or garden cart is impossible to do without. A large wheeled garden cart may be even better than a wheelbarrow because it doesn’t tip over and can carry heavy loads with little effort.
As for hand pruners, the bypass types are preferred because they cut cleanly, whereas the anvil types tend to cut and crush the plant tissue. For weaker hands, a pair of shears with ratcheting handles makes a great gift because they are much easier to cut with, and a pair of loppers makes easy work for somewhat larger branches. A pruning saw is also indispensable and a long handled or pole pruner is especially useful.
How about a soil sample? Surprise your neighbor or loved one with soil sample results so that they can get the most out of their garden. If lime is needed, how about a bag of lime or load of topsoil or composted manure? They are always recommended because they are much needed for new planting areas. If they sell items at the local farmer’s market, why not buy their permit for next summer.
I trust this list helps you think and perhaps come up with even more ideas so you find that perfect gift. Just keep in mind that most gardeners like things that are practical and from the heart, so happy holiday shopping and Merry Christmas!