With our pleasures and passions arising as they do from the soil, we vegetable gardeners can be challenging recipients during the gift-giving season. Perhaps it’s a communication problem, best prevented by being prepared when asked what you might want. So your loved ones will have a fair chance at gift-giving success, here are some ideas to get you going.
Gifts to Grow
An immediate problem for many gardeners is that dark winter days leave us with little to do – one reason why a mushroom-growing kit is such a fine gift for a vegetable gardener. Oyster mushrooms are fast and dependable, so they are a good choice for beginners. An inexpensive amaryllis bulb is another ready-to-grow project you can get going right away.
How about a nice gift certificate at your favourite mail-order seed company, or perhaps a GrowVeg Garden Planner gift certificate to help keep your vegetable garden plans on track.
Alternatively, suggest various seed assortments or mixtures that will provide you with several interesting choices and a package to open. A selection of highly regarded varieties in a tin would invigorate any gardener’s seed supply, and I have enjoyed discovering uncommon beneficial plants by trying wildflowers or insectary plants purchased as seed mixtures.
A mixture of seed potatoes ordered now will kick off the spring season, and even non-gardeners enjoy perusing gourmet potato varieties in gardening catalogues. Consider mentioning seed tapes or seed mats, too, which are fun to grow because they are easy to plant and the seeds stay in position, even after heavy rains.
Tempting Tools and Equipment
When Mother Earth News magazine asked readers to name their favourite weeding tool, the top nominee was the Hori Hori knife, which is endlessly useful in the garden. More recently, a simple hand tool called the Weed Comb is creating buzz because it does its job so well, pulling out weeds while leaving the soil behind.
Then there are the small, mundane items that we vegetable gardeners value so much - a new watering can that doesn’t leak, a colourful watering wand, or some yellow plastic pails for catching bugs. If you haven’t tried foam-covered soft twisty plant ties for securing stakes and trellises, a package would make a super stocking stuffer.
On to bigger gifts for vegetable gardeners. Now that I have had it for a year, I don’t know how I gardened without my kneeler seat, which makes weeding so comfortable that it’s fun. The handles make getting up and down effortless, and it’s light enough to move with one hand.
If you want to nudge your garden’s overall vigour up a notch, many gardeners say that small drip irrigation kits sized for raised beds are the way to go. Especially with radishes, beetroot, carrots, tomatoes and other crops that are sensitive to fluctuations in soil moisture, an efficient drip system will increase crop quality while saving water.
Last year I received a package of pop-up net cloches as a gift, and although I was skeptical at first, they have become an asset in the garden. In addition to taming the weather for tender seedlings in spring, I used them to protect autumn cabbage seedlings from insects, and to hide winter kale from deer. They stay in service all the time.
Fun Gifts for Vegetable Gardeners
I love playing with solar lights as garden accents, and always appreciate replacements for old ones that have died. Fairies, frogs, gnomes, and other solar-charged garden creatures can become welcome companions in the garden, and make it safer at night, too.
Should a winter storm keep you shut in for days, you will be happy to have an engaging jigsaw puzzle to work, such as those made from historic seed catalog covers or famous works of art. Meanwhile, you might enjoy a beautiful wall calendar from Old Farmers Almanac, or a subscription to your favourite gardening magazine. If all else fails, put in a request for a bag of the finest composted manure, like Wisconsin-made Purple Cow for tomatoes. When it comes down to it, vegetable gardeners are easy to please.