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Five great gifts for gardeners

The best ones are useful all year

The gardening guide/calendars from master gardeners of Sacramento and Placer counties are practical gifts for gardeners.

The gardening guide/calendars from master gardeners of Sacramento and Placer counties are practical gifts for gardeners. Kathy Morrison

We’re all pressed for time around the holidays, so I’m going to make this short and sweet. Here are my top five gifts for the gardener in your life (and that can include yourself):

– A UCCE Master Gardener 2023 Gardening Guide and Calendar. Sacramento County’s version is a steal at $10, and it is packed with tips and guides for a whole year of gardening. This year’s theme is vegetables, but there is plenty of other useful information, including planting charts. Find it at nurseries (in some cases at a slightly higher price) or order it online from the Sacramento MG website: That same page includes a list of retailers that carry the calendar.

For foothill gardeners, Placer County master gardeners also produce a gardening guide/calendar, which costs $12 and also can be ordered online here: Quite a few vendors in Placer, Nevada and El Dorado counties sell copies in person.

– A hori hori knife. This wonderful hand tool can be used for digging, planting bulbs, cutting roots, opening amendment bags and trimming off dead twigs, and that’s just for starters. Look for one with the tang running through the handle; these tend to start about $20 and go up considerably, depending on the manufacturer and where it's purchased.

– Membership in the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum. The arboretum on the UC Davis campus is one of my favorite places in the entire Sacramento region, so I proudly support it. Being a member also provides early access to the spring and fall plant sales, plus purchase discounts. Individual memberships start at $48 ($18 for students). Check out this page for Friends membership info, including a link for gift memberships.

A membership is the perfect last-minute gift, as is a gift card to a nursery. Here’s a blog post from 2021 on other local memberships, as well as local nurseries that sell gift cards.

– A tool caddy that fits on a bucket. These can be found in just about any hardware store, as well as online, running $16 and up, depending on the material, size and how it’s attached to the bucket. After trying many ways to carry around my garden tools, I am really happy with this. (Mine came from Womanswork.) The caddy fits over and around a standard bucket. The big tools go inside the bucket, while the pockets outside carry small tools and stuff that’s essential but always gets lost in a large carrier: seed packets, a pencil or pen, drip irrigation staples and emitters, a small ruler, scissors and twist ties, just for starters. I definitely lose less stuff now because I can always see my orange-garbed bucket.

–  The bucket to go with the above. Or just the bucket itself. I never know gardeners to have enough buckets, either the hard-sided 5-gallon variety (which start about $5 at hardware stores) or the flexible Gorilla Tub type.

For some bonus ideas, here’s a list from two years ago of other potential gifts for gardeners from non-gardening stores.

Happy shopping!


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Dig In: Garden Checklist for week of April 7

The warm wave coming this week will shift weeds into overdrive. Get to work!

* Weed, weed, weed! Whack them before they flower.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash. Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias. Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom. April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

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