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Don Kinzler, Published November 22 2013

Growing Together: Gifting for the gardener? Try these practical ideas

Among her list of gift ideas for gardeners, Martha Stewart includes gold plated earrings hanging in the shape of string beans at a price of $150. I know Martha means well, but I’m not really a jewelry kind of guy.

Magazines are filled with Christmas gift ideas for the horticulturally inclined, but some are just plain bizarre. Like the stainless steel watering can with a “sleek new style for the modern gardener.” At a price of $145, I’ll risk being outdated and continue using my favorite old galvanized can with the dents.

Or the advertisement promoting slip-covers for your garden hose so you can transform it with designer colors. I don’t know how the rest of us function being so non-chic with our plain green hoses.

Advice usually recommends giving items you’d like to receive yourself. Most of the gardening items on my wish list are solid, useful products, and the gardeners on your Christmas list might enjoy the same. A journey to your locally owned garden center is well worth the trip.

Houseplant enthusiast

E For the indoor growers, traditional clay pots are always welcome. Plants perform well because clay pots breathe. Give a supply of clear plastic drainage dishes in a variety of sizes.

E A jar of rooting powder will help propagate difficult-to-root species.

E A decent size watering can holding a gallon or more will prevent extra trips to the faucet.

E Insecticidal soap is a safe way to remedy insect invasions on indoor plants.

Apple tree growers

E Homeowners with an apple tree might appreciate an apple picker. These small baskets with wire fingers on a pole reach the upper fruits which always seem to be the nicest.

E Pole pruners keep fruit trees from becoming too tall.

E Most gardeners would like a high quality hand pruning shears, such as made by Corona or Fiskars. Expect to pay about $20, and they’ll last many years. Skip the frustrating cheap models.

Lawn tenders

E Weeds in the lawn and landscape can be removed with a dandelion digger. Give a gift of the long-handled version which requires less stooping.

E Landscape ornaments are always nice. Pink flamingos in the yard are making a comeback as a retro ’50s look. Sundials give a classic look, and garden gnomes are fun gifts.

Vegetables, flower gardeners

E A second set of sturdy tools allows families to garden together. Husband and wife hoes sound pretty romantic to me. Some of the coolest garden tools are the old weathered, but sturdy kind found at farm auctions or in second-hand stores.

E Pump sprayers are great for applying insecticides and fungicides. Treat your gardener to the good type with metal parts, rather than plastic versions that don’t last and never seem to spray quite right.

E Watering wands with attached round nozzles reach hanging baskets and outdoor containers. Go for the heavy duty metal instead of plastic. Same with sprinklers.

Sometimes thrifty gardeners don’t buy themselves top-shelf items, so your thoughtfulness will be appreciated.

E Give an extra outdoor thermometer so gardeners can monitor garage temperatures when temporarily moving plants in and out in spring and fall. They’re also useful for vegetable storage rooms.

E Rain gauges are always welcome, especially for people like me who forget to empty them before freezing weather cracks the tube.

E Old-fashioned galvanized metal two-gallon watering cans last forever and are useful for applying liquid insecticide and fungicide drenches as well as watering. They are better than plastic models.

E As a teenager I never thought it would happen to me, but suddenly an outdoor kneeling pad and maybe even a portable bench don’t seem like such a bad idea.

E Wide galvanized buckets are great gifts for carrying produce in from the garden.

E Extra gloves are always needed.

E Most gardeners like to record variety names. Give plant markers and labels, both wood stakes and metal types.

E Twist-ties on a roll are handy for training vines and attaching plants to stakes.

E Seed starting kits are available for salads and herbs.

E Consider giving an artificial light fixture ranging from fluorescent shop types to high output bulbs and plant lights.

E Buy your gardener a new membership in a local garden club. It might be the incentive they need to join, and they’ll discover a great group of friends.

E Gift certificates from local garden centers are always appreciated.

E Gardening books are among my favorite gifts. They not only help us learn, but also inspire us to garden mentally, which we can enjoy regardless of age or place of residence. If possible choose northern sources, so gardeners don’t drool over camellias from Atlanta.

Now my only problem is gift wrapping my wife, Mary’s, new garden rake so she doesn’t suspect a thing. No one can say gardeners don’t know how to keep the romance alive. Besides, she’s pretty even without Martha Stewart’s golden string beans dangling from each ear.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler’s Greenhouse in Fargo. Readers can reach him at forumgrowingtogether@hotmail.com