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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 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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