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47 Great Gifts for Gardeners!

Hold On to Your Gardening Hats! I'm Gonna Deliver 47 Holiday Gift Suggestions in 286 seconds!

One of my favorite YBYG shows this year featured Nashville singer, songwriter and gardener Adrienne Young and her band Little Sadie playing some great garden-inspired tunes from their CD live in our studio. Any gardener—and/ or fan of fine singing and picking—would enjoy a copy of that CD, "Plow to the end of the Row."

Speaking of plowing, that time is coming up. If the gardener on your list does i tall EXCEPT start their own plants, consider a seed starting set upor some of the individual essentials, like a heating mat ('bottom heat' really gets those seeds up fast!), good strong light for after they sprout (I recommend a regular old shop light with a pair of four foot long 40W Cool White florescent tubes; most 'plant lights' are too dim), and a nice light Seed-Starting Mix or the individual ingredients like per lite,vermiculite and peat—or "coir", the new shredded coconut fiber replacement for peat.

Those plants will get eventually get hungry, and no gardener ever has enough black gold, so have a load of high-quality compost or mushroom soil delivered (sneak over after they dump it and put a bright red ribbon on top!) or if they're smaller-scale, some compost in a bag. Come to think of it, a composterer makes a great gift too—I like the ones made of cedar slats; but bins, tumblers, spinners and the like all have their merits. Oh, and if you're short on cash but worked hard this Fall, present a couple bags of your finest well-shredded leaves for them to use as mulch and compost makings!

Leaves! If someone on your list is a burner or a trasher, give them a leaf blower/vacuum/mulcher with a collection bag; these machines make shredding and storing leaves acinch!

Soil tests convey tons of useful—and just plain fun—information, but lots of gardeners don't take advantage of the high-quality, low-cost testing offered by most state extension systems. So contact your local county extension office and buy a pre-paid mailer or two. Or get a kit, fill it up yourself, send it in and then make up a nice certificateon your computer that explains you've already sent their dirt off for divining! Or just cut to the chase and buy them their OWN Soil Test Kit--one they can use over and over again to see how they're doing

(Type your state and the word "extension" into your search engine to locate your state office; their site will list all the local offices and likely have lots of soil test info.)

Let's see…what else…if they have fruit trees, some horticultural oil for them to apply over winter to kill pests; and some Surround"clay spray to deter new pests from those apples, peaches and such in the Spring. Oh—and a new sprayer! I need a new sprayer; and so does every gardener—maybe several sprayers so they can label each one for different uses instead of having to clean the same one out all the time.

Mole, vole, gopher or armadillo troubles? Wrap up one of the castor oil repellants that chase away burrowing beggars. Mosquito misery every summer? Some BTI to treat standing water (see footnote # 1 below), a garlic spray (see footnote # 2) to safely fog outdoor areas, or a Mosquito Magnet to keep the whole property clear! (See footnote # 3) Oooh-oooh! And some of those deer fly patches you put on the back of your cap to trap those nasty brutes before they bite. And a box of Daminex tick tubes (see footnote # 4) to place around their property to stop mice from bringing those dangerous pests into the landscape. Mice! They're crawling into homes right now to escape the cold—and they can total a greenhouse overnight; so some "Mice Cubes" or other 'better mousetraps'. Let's see; where are we? Only31 so far?! Time to rev it up!

I'm always caught short in the Spring, so big packs of snow pea, lettuce and spinach seeds would be tops on my list (and they'd remind me that Spring IScoming!) Oh—and spun polyester row covers to warm the soil and start that Spring a little early! Oooh—or a cold frame with an automatic vent; they just plain BEAT the seasons. A good pair of pruners or lopers—winter is the season to do a lot of that work—and maybe a how-to guide, like Lee Reich's "The Pruning Book" (Taunton Press) so they make kinder cuts.

No garden space outside? A couple of Mushroom Growing Kits  will allow them to still grow some of their own food—in the middle of winter!And they can even make their own compost if you get them a worm bin to turn their left overs into Garden Gold!

Maple syrup time is right around the corner. If they've been talking about tapping their trees for years, make it real with some taps, tubes, and buckets.If slugs are their biggest garden menace, some pet-safe but slug-deadly iron phosphate pellets. Or some slug traps and a case of cheap beer!(Do they still make Iron City ? Jax? Ortlieb's? Piels?)

Oh, and I love those Christmas tree shaped rosemary plants you see for sale this time of year. They look fabulous decorated,they smell great—and you can harvest lots of fresh rosemary and still have a nice big plant to put in the garden come Spring. (Check local nurseries and high-end supermarkets; I see them all over the place, solook—andask!)



Oh no—we're out of time? But I didn't get to mention the BEST garden gift of all—my brand new book from Abrams, "Kitchen Garden A to Z", with big beautiful color photos by my good friend Gordon Smith and all the info they'll need to grow, harvest, store and use a bevy of enviable edibles! Available at book stores and websites every….


…where. Ohdarn. Well, maybe next time.

Footnote # 1: BTI

BTI is the world's best defense against breeding mosquitoes; and its completely non-toxic to everything else! The 'BT' stands for Bacillis thuringens is—a group of natural soil-dwelling organisms. The 'I' stands for israelensis, the specific 'strain' of Bt that kills baby mosquitoes (and blackflies!) before they can leave the water as biting adults.

Available as granules or floating 'dunks' and briquettes, BTI doesn't affect people, pets, birds, fish or other wildlife. Your doggie can drink 'Bt ed' water without harm. And each treatment lasts a full month! Apply it to ponds, garden water features,and any other standing water in the area, and you'll have MANY fewer adults trying to suck you later.

Some of the brand names BTI is sold under include Skeetal, Vectobac, Mosquito Attack, Gnatrol and Bactimos. I found my big yellow plastic shaker jug of "Dexol Mosquito Free Granules" at a local hardware store, and I've seen the granules and dunks at lots of garden centers. Mail order: Peaceful Valley Farm Supply sells Bactimos dunks (a six pack) and briquettes (a 20 pack of what looks like the same dunks). Call them toll free at 1-888-784-1722 or click on

Research has shown that the pests avoid areas where high-concentration garlic sprays have been used. One such product I see in a lot of retail stores is Victor's "Mosquito Barrier"; but there are lots of other brands out there as well, most in ready-to-use hose-end sprayer bottles; just check and make sure that "garlic oil" is the active ingredient.

Spray it on your yard the day before a big party or other outdoor event and the garlic smell will go away after a few hours, but the mosquitoes will stay out for 2 weeks!

Footnote # 3:Mosquito Magnet

You've seen these devices all around — they mimic humans with a chemical attractant called octenol and byusing a gas-grill sized propane tank to create the same carbon dioxide weexhale; then the machines trap the attracted skeeters by sucking them into anet.

The 'Defender' (the cheapest model at around $300; protects half an acre) and 'Liberty' (around $500;¾ of an acre.) Both require electricity. The Pro size (over $1000; protects a full acre) is self-powered; no cord. They're all widely available, retai and mail-order. The Frontgate catalog sells all the Mosquito Magnet models—including a few we didn't have time to mention: 1-800-626-6488 or

Footnote #4:DaminexTick Tubes

Many of the so-called 'deer ticks' that carry Lyme disease never see a deer; but virtually all spend par of their life attached to field mice. That gives us an opportunity to kill the ticks while they're still on the mice, before they can try and feast on us—with a commercial product called Daminex Tick Tubes. Sold in sets of 24, the cardboard tubes contain cotton balls soaked in permethrin, a pesticide that's deadly to ticks, but very low toxicity to humans. The mice take the cotton balls back to their nests to use as bedding, and the permethrin kills any ticks in the nest. Daminex tubes are available at some retail outlets, and you can get them mail-order on the web or viaphone by calling a very dedicated supplier toll-free at his B& B:866-401-9455 ("Chase House").


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