Christmas is a great time to introduce someone to gardening. The following are seven of my favorite garden-related gift ideas:
1. If you are a gardener, look at your personal library and pick out a couple of dog-eared volumes. Out of curiosity, I made a list of my go-to favorites and headed to my favorite used book store, Reader’s Corner, in Rolla, MO, to see what they had. I found several so check your local retailers first.
Even if it is an older gardening book, basic gardening principles are the same. Look for lots of pictures, it helps to get a starting gardener inspired. Not just new gardeners, I still leaf through some of my more illustrated ones, especially if it’s snowing!
2. Every time I run into my friend Jean, she thanks me for gardening gloves I contributed to a gardening Christmas gift exchange last year. The gloves were colorful heavy canvas with re-enforced fingers. The color makes them easy to find, and having fingers sheathed helps them last longer. Hardware stores usually carry them. While there, pick out a pair of good pruning shears and a bottle of rubbing alcohol to keep shear blades clean of disease.
3. With the increased interest in home gardening, garden centers are now offering smaller, home-friendly greenhouses. I saw one recently that was 5x3x1 feet, about the size of a book case, for $35. This starter greenhouse will be perfect for early spring seed-starting. Later it can be moved outside to nurture seedlings or it can also easily be stored until next year.
4. Speaking of seeds, most retailers mark seeds down by now, I found some for 10 cents a pack. Although they may be this year’s supply, most seeds are good for three years. Look for varieties labelled “heirloom,” “Old-fashioned,” and “all-time favorite” so you have tried and true varieties.
5. For the aspiring beekeeper, “Beekeepers for Dummies” is a good, practical how-to book. For a more beautiful reference book, get “The Beekeeper’s Bible.” It has similar information as well as beekeeping history with beautiful illustrations.
6. If you want a gift that keeps on giving, make a gift card that says this spring, I’ll buy you – maybe a tree, or plant someone admired, or a plant you think they would enjoy. If you are handy, volunteer to buy materials to build a raised bed garden, or a composter. You can find free building instructions at University of Missouri’s Extension website.
7. There are a number of plants that traditionally are offered for sale this time of year. If you are going to select one plant, the Christmas cactus requires the least water, and care. Once located in the right light, it will bloom almost continuously for years.