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Great Gifts for Gardeners!
Give theDirty-handscrowd what they really want: Defeated deer,wanquished weeds & neutered neighbors!

That's right, its time for our annualYBYG round-up of holiday giftsfor gardeners—even though we ALL know that the ULTIMATE gardening giftthis holiday season is a copy of my beautiful brand new 'coffee table'book from Abrams, "Kitchen Garden A to Z"—available at bookstores andwebsites everywhere! (Hint, hint…)   

What? Oh, OK. Ahem. I'm informed thatthere may be some other stuffthat MIGHT be fairly well received, too. (But they REALLY want my book,you know…)

First up is the multi-crittercontrolling Motion Activated Sprinkler.It looks like an ordinary, turned-off sprinkler head—until movementnear your prized plants activates the infrared sensor, and it suddenlycomes alive, shooting a couple of cup's worth of cold water at thething whose movement activated it. The pest runs away—completelyunharmed—and your plants remain uneaten! Available at many gardencenters, catalogs and web sites, the actual name of this product is the"Scarecrow"—because it comes with a set of decals that make the thing'shead look like Heckle or Jeckle.

The manufacturer's website ( a very cool "statistics" section that rates the device'ssuccess—based on customer comments—against 14 different pests, listedby frequency the device has been tried against them. For the top pest,deer (no surprise there), the device scored 86% satisfaction, based onan impressive 708 individual reports. Other top pests (in order)include cats, raccoons, dogs, herons, rabbits, squirrels, skunks,groundhogs, possums, and those perfidiously pooping Canada geese(against which the device got the highest score of all—90%!).Apparently groundhogs don't mind getting wet nearly as much—it only gota 75 for controlling them. (Sounds like one of my old grades.) You canbuy it direct from the website but you'll find lower prices elsewhere.

Of course, those of us in thesoon-to-be-frozen North can't use such adevice in the winter, when hungry deer eat your car after they finishoff your rhododendrons. That's why my azaleas and baby peach trees areprotected by the "Wireless Deer Fence".  Not a fence at all, thesefoot-and-a-half high stakes are sold in sets of three and come with abottle of scented pellets. You put a pellet into the hole in eachstake's head, twist open the body, install two AA batteries and thenplace the stakes around the plants you wish to protect. Two batteriesdoesn't sound like much, but take it someone who has picked them up thewrong way—the capacitor inside the waterproof housing builds up a realkick of a charge. Makes you bark like a dog. Anyway, deer are attractedby the scent of the pellets, press their nose up against the contactson top, and get a harmless shock that sends them scurrying to eat theneighbor's landscape.  Check it out at http://www.wirelessdeerfence.comor call 866-GOT-DEER.

Now, you can't surround all yourdeer-prone plants with these cutelittle stakes, so a bottle or two of deerrepellant makes the perfect'stocking stuffer' for gardeners tired of sharing their prized plantswith those giant stomachs on legs. Come to think of it, get a biggerstocking and make it three bottles. A LOT of land to protect? Thinkpantyhose!

Of course, no McGrath holiday giftroundup would be complete without anincendiary device. Regular listeners know how much I love flameweeders—especially my BernzOmatic "Outdoor Torch". (The folks atBernZomatic's 800# just call it the "weed burner" these days.) Youattach a disposable 'camp stove' size propane bottle to the long metalwand, click it on, wave the fiery tip over the tops of plants youdislike and they will dehydrate and die. Perennial weeds, likedandelions, may require a second treatment—or you can just linger therea while and really toast the suckers. You'll find it at hardware andgarden stores—but mostly in the Spring. So ask your store to dig oneout of the back room, order one for you, or buy it direct fromBernzOmatic at 1-800-654-9011. You want Model JT 850. (Note:BernZomatic does NOT sell via the web; sorry…)

And if you like the idea of wastingweeds without nasty chemicals, butdon't like the idea of open flame, a pair of high-quality, Swiss madedevices use propane-powered radiant heat instead of fire to 'cook'weeds away!  The  "Dandy Destroyer" has a two-inch round headwith a big spike in the center for driving into the heart of America'sLeast Wanted Lawn Weed. The "Infra-Weeder" keeps patios and walkwaysneat with a 3 x 7 inch radiant heat plate. Available from the Canadiancompany Rittenhouse; on the web at, or toll free,1-877-488-1914

Let's see—that's deer, squirrels,cats, weeds…what pest haven't wecovered? Oh, right—the one that's often the worst of all—PEOPLE! If youknow someone who could star as Scrooge McChemical in a Toxic GardenChristmas Carol, why not be the Spirit of Gardens' FUTURE and presentthem with a giftcertificate from Gardens Alive orsimilarlyorganic-oriented supply company.

If they're the typical American turftoxifier, perhaps suggest they usetheir ducat to obtain some corn gluten meal instead of the stuff theyuse every Spring to send amphibians and earthworms to an Early Reward.This all-natural by-product of corn processing is a powerfulpre-emergentherbicide—it prevents crabgrassseeds from sprouting aswell as any toxic chemical—and a top-notch lawn food in one package;organic weed and feed!

Give your Garden Scrooge a giftcertificate with product details fromthe GA website, or a note saying you've already ordered some yourselffor Spring delivery to their house! You'll do a good deed, give a giftin the best possible spirit, AND be able to walk across their lawnwithout scrubbing your feet with Brillo afterwards!

 And the earthworms, birds, andbutterflies will be sure to say,"God bless us, every one!"

You Bet Your Garden  ©2004 Mike McGrath

HelpfulProducts From Gardens Alive!
Give the Gift This Year that yourGardener is Sure to Love!

Pre-Emergence Weed Control andFertilizer
WOW! Plus lets you control peskyweeds while feeding your lawn with acomplete, balanced, and all natural
fertilizer. Easy to apply so it savesyou time and money

Surroundat Home Crop Protectant
Natural mineral-based product protects crops from many pests Surround spray dries to a powdery film that protects fruits andvegetables from many insectpests. Surround doesn't rely on toxicity! instead protects plants withan organic barrier film.

DeerOff Repellent
Protects ornamentals, vegetables, andfruit trees
Deer Off's taste and smell repel deerand discourage other browsinganimals like rabbits and squirrels.