Tick, tick, tick—just two weeks until Christmas Day; time
for my annual last minute gardener’s gift list!
My #1 Gift Pick: Gloves that Gardeners Keep on!
Every gardener needs good gloves to protect their hands.
But the truth is that virtually all of us take the gloves
off within minutes of starting our work because we can’t
feel what we’re doing; and so we end the day with paws
that look like claws (and I don’t mean Santa’s Claws!).
The answer is gloves that protect AND fit tight, like
batting gloves. And that’s suggestion number one: Ask a
local sporting goods store to dig out some batting gloves
for you to look at. Be sure and pay attention to the size
and age range (you’ll find two sizes of ‘large’ for
instance: Youth and Adult) and pick a brightly colored
pair, so that they’re easy to find in the garden.
There are also some really nice high end models, like the Bionic line of
whose gloves look and work sensational, and are somehow
made with fabric crafted from recycled soda and spring
water bottles! Both brands fit super-tight (you can dial a
cell phone while wearing them!), and feature additional
padding in areas that gardeners tend to wear out fast. And
both websites tell you where you can find them for sale.
Note: The store finder at West Country listed a LOT of
local-to-DC retailers; and there were nice gloves on deep
clearance at the Bionic website—so no excuses either way!
Give the Gift of Compost!
Looking for the perfect gift for the gardener in your life
—maybe one you’re hoping to ease off of toxic garden
chemicals? Great organic gardens begin and end with
compost; Nature’s finest soil amendment, fertilizer and
disease preventer—so give the gift of compost!
If your gardener grows on a small scale, get them a few
bags of premium, high quality compost. Some good brand
names include Coast of Maine, Chesapeake Blue (made
locally using crab shell waste), Chesapeake Green (made
from poultry litter with lime added, this one is
specifically for use on lawns) and Gardener’s Gold
(available from the mail-order firm Garden’s Alive). But
there are many others out there; just stay away from wet,
heavy generic ‘compost’ and don’t confuse compost with
composted manure, which is NOT the same thing.
If they have some outdoor space but don’t yet make their
own black gold, get them a nifty composter made out of
recycled plastic. I especially like the big black
rectangular types; they’re widely available at retail
locations and by mail order (here’s an image of one at the Gardens Alive website.), they have
a locking lid to keep out critters, a ‘coal chute at the
bottom to easily access the finished material, don’t take
up a lot of space, have an attractive appearance and ship
flat in a box.
And if your giftee already piles, get them an aerator—a
handy little tool that you plunge in and out of an
unfinished pile to mix up the contents without any hard
work! Here’s an image of one with a neat brand name at the Composters.com website.
A nice organic fertilizer always comes in handy. I really
like the liquid fish and seaweed combination products for
outdoor use (many brand names out there; Neptune’s Harvest
seems to be available everywhere at retail); and liquid
seaweed alone for houseplants.
Help them Spray their Problems Away
A high quality pressurized sprayer is always useful! Your
giftee can utilize it for blasting insects off of plants
with sharp streams of water, giving outdoor plants a nice
morning misting of compost tea, or applying organic insect
deterrents like neem or Bt.
& What Says ‘Happy Holidays’ Better than a
I’d be lost without my propane powered flame weeder! It’s
the best way to get rid of unwanted plants in gravel
driveways and in the cracks between bricks and pavers in
walkways—and it’s the most manly of gardening tools!
Here’s a link to my personal favorite (I own two of
‘em!~), The Bernzomatic Outdoor Torch, at
‘Fireproof Tree’ Time!
Just as in previous years, I’m getting lots of emails
asking about secret ‘guaranteed fire-proof tree’ recipes
that involve pouring things like bleach, Drano and weapons
grade plutonium into the water reservoir. PLEASE DON’T
MAKE OR USE ANY OF THE CONCOCTIONS THAT MAKE THE INTERNET
ROUNDS AT THIS TIME OF YEAR—THEY ARE FOOLISH, USELESS,
TOXIC AND DANGEROUS!
But there is a substance that can make a cut indoor tree
super-safe: “It’s water! Just water!” If you buy a pre-
cut tree from your local nursery, garden center or that
suspicious looking man near Dupont Circle, make sure you
have a saw at home that you can use to cut another inch or
two off the bottom of the trunk. Immediately plunge the
newly cut trunk into a big container of water and let it
drink for a while before you put it up. THAT’S a fire-
proof tree! (A re-cut is not necessary if you watch the
tree being cut for you at a local farm.)
If you must put something homemade into the basin, add a
cup of plain 7-Up or other non-diet lemon-lime soda to the
first pool of water. The sugars and citrus do seem to have
a nice little natural preserving ability.
And if you’re one of those people who just has to put
something ‘magical’ in the water, try the new product
called “Vacation”, an all-natural ‘anti-transpirant’
designed to trap moisture inside of plants. You’ll find
more info on it
(If you use this new product, write and let me know how
you think it did.)
Then be sure to keep the reservoir filled—especially in
the beginning, when the heat of the average home will
bring the tree out of dormancy and make it very thirsty.
They make lots of nifty gadgets that help with this chore;
I personally rely on
href="http://www.magicwaterspout.com">“Santa’s Magic Water
Spout” (whose name, I admit, I also greatly enjoy
saying on the air). And, of course, keep the tree away
from heat sources; and use cool-to-the-touch LEDs instead
of old-fashioned (and hot!) incandescent lights.
Holiday Plant Care 101
Despite being symbols of this frigid season,
poinsettias are tropical plants; they must leave the store
wrapped in plastic and be taken home immediately. Don’t
leave them outdoors or even in a cold car while you shop.
Those Christmas tree shaped Rosemary plants are
cold hardy but root bound; either water them EVERY day or
repot them right away into a MUCH larger container.
(You’ll find more detailed care directions at this
Trees cut right in front of you at a Christmas
tree farm will last a month indoors easy. Pre-cut trees
must have the bottom two inches of their stump sawn off
and sit in water for 24 hours before being set up. Either
way, don’t let the water reservoir under the tree run dry.
And men—bring a sprig of holly into the house
BEFORE your lady can bring in any ivy; I’ll explain why