Useful gifts found beyond the garden department
These potential stocking gifts for gardeners all were found at hardware stores. (Photos: Kathy Morrison)
Experienced gardeners tend to be picky about their garden equipment. Pruning shears, gloves and amendments are personal choices.
But there are many items useful for gardening that are not sold in nurseries or garden departments. Here are some suggestions and the stores they're found in.
Hardware or big-box store:
Poly tarps -- These come in sizes starting at 4-by-6 feet and in various weights. I've found a medium-duty tarp with grommets along the reinforced edges is incredibly useful for such things as protecting the back of my car carrying straw bales; collecting and moving a pile of mulch or leaves; and harvesting worm castings. They can also protect outdoor furniture from any garden overspray.
|Buckets are endlessly useful and make good gift containers, too.|
Clear plastic sheeting -- Painters use this for protecting floors and furniture. It's ideal in the garden for soil solarization during warmer months. Be sure to get at least 1-mil thick but not thicker than 2-mil.
Weights -- We're not talking fitness weights here, but those could work in a pinch. Rocks work, too, but weights of various sizes can hold down sheeting, paper mulch, newspaper or whatever else on the ground you want to keep from blowing away, as least temporarily.
Painters tape -- The good stuff is worth the price. Blue or green, at least 1-1/2 inches wide, it's great for marking seedling containers, closing fertilizer bags and labeling used (but emptied) generic spray bottles (such as with "water only" or "rose fungicide").
Hammer -- The main use is obvious: to put together raised beds or trellises. But I've found the claw of a hammer invaluable for pulling up garden staples that hold down mulch cloth or drip irrigation lines.
Cup hooks -- These can be screwed into wood posts or a fence to help anchor a plant or vine with string or plastic ties.
Clothes pins -- My favorite use for these is clipping shade cloth to tomato cages, but they also are useful for closing bags of dry fertilizer or other paper containers. The wooden ones last longer than the plastic ones.
Office supply stores:
Sharpies and soft lead pencils -- For marking labels. I always have a Sharpie in my bucket of garden supplies. They're also crucial for marking spray bottles with formulas for mixing and for the contents. I also mark the bucket that I use to mix bleach solution. (See item under kitchen)
Stick-on paper labels -- They usually come in sheets or rolls. Use these to mark pots for seedling.
Plastic 6-inch or 12-inch ruler and a wooden yardstick -- The ruler is for measuring the depth of a hole or furrow for planting seeds or seedlings. A yardstick can ensure rows are straight and even.
Blank journals or spiral-bound notebooks -- Great for keeping track of what's been planted and when.
Craft sticks -- We used to call these "Popsicle sticks." Buy a big box (ice pops not included) at a craft store. They make cheap one-season plant or row markers.
Photo file boxes -- These were popular for storing snapshots when we all got film developed at the local drugstore. They're still sold for other storage and are ideal for stashing seed envelopes. They have a spot for a label, too.
Unfinished wooden signs -- These come in all sizes. Paint them to mark seed rows or just put a cheery sign in the garden. Use blackboard paint to make a reusable sign.
Kitchen supply department or supermarket:
Plastic scoops -- So useful for scooping potting soil into container plants or dry fertilizer anywhere.
Plastic measuring spoons and plastic measuring cups with spout (various sizes) -- For accurate measurements of fish emulsion and other liquid fertilizers.
Bottle of regular bleach -- Cleaning supplies are at a premium this year, so even a simple bottle of bleach is a welcome addition to the gardening shed supplies. A 1-to-9 bleach solution is recommended to disinfect used pots and containers, so any pathogens clinging there don't carry over to the next plants.
Canning jars were in demand this past summer. A case of
them would be welcome gift for a gardener who likes to
preserve the harvest.
If you can't decide:
-- Gift cards or certificates to one of the locally owned nurseries is always a good bet. And you help the local economy, too!
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Dig In: Garden Checklist
For week of March 19:
Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:
* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.
* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.
* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.
* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.
* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.
* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.
* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.
* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.
* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.
* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.
* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.
* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.
* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.
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