Gardening Gifts for the Busy Spring

No one looks forward to Spring more eagerly
than gardeners. Here are gardening gifts
they'll be happy to receive and use.

Gardening gifts: planting a seedlingAs soon as the frost is gone and the ground is dry enough, it's time to turn over the garden and prepare it for planting. I can't resist starting our gift suggestions at the top of the food chain...

A rear-tine rototiller is the most princely of gardening gifts for a person with a large garden. Our Troy-Bilt easily turned a rocky pasture into a finely-tilled garden, ready for seeds and seedlings, and it even discouraged the quitch grass.

With larger models you can walk alongside instead of behind the tiller, and guide it with one hand - and since the tines are behind the wheels, there are no tire tracks or footprints in your newly-tilled, soil. A quality rear-tined tiller is not cheap, but it's worth every penny for a large garden and would make a great group gift (more about group gifts).

A sturdy garden cart is another princely gift. Two wheels make a cart far more stable than a wheelbarrow, and large bicycle-type wheels make it easy to transport very heavy cargo, even over rough terrain. Carts Vermont makes the original and is simply the best on the market. I've kept mine through two moves so I'll have it when I leave these city surroundings. Another great group gift!

Gardening tools, both full-sized and hand tools, are obvious choices as gardening gifts. Your gardener probably has the basic assortment: spading shovel, spading fork, hoe, garden rake, and edger; and a hand trowel, fork, cultivator and clippers. If not, there's your idea!

Every gardener can use more than one of certain equipment: an extra spade with a longer handle; a different kind of clippers, another length of garden hose. Always go for quality – it does make a difference with gardening tools.

Tip: hand tools with brightly colored handles are easier to keep track of.

And every gardener has tools that become favorites for one reason or another. Here are a few of mine:

  • Watering nozzle producing a soft, rain-like stream to deliver water Gardening gifts: gentle water flowquickly but without the force that damages seedlings. If you choose one with multiple settings, be sure it has a gentle one like rain. Too fast a stream (even as a mist) will flatten seedlings. Dramm makes a good one.

  • Watering wand producing a rain-like stream. This is great for reaching up to water hanging plants or directing the water under a row of beans, straight to the soil.

  • Hand cultivator - My favorite has very narrow, slightly flexible tines and is especially good for delicate work around young plants. I also like a cultivator that has just one heart- or arrowhead-shaped blade.

  • Tool caddies are very useful gardening gifts. A carrying caddy helps keep hand tools from being misplaced and can also hold a collection of seed packets, plant and row labels, gloves, and other small items (e.g., cell phone) that we take with us to the garden. For the tall tools, look for a caddy that can be wheeled out to the garden and back.

  • A boot brush/scraper mounted by the back door will be a blessing in Spring, when the soil is moist and clings to shoes and boots. A boot brush or scraper is a gardening gift that the housekeeper will appreciate too!

Skin care products - a fine gift for a gardener like me, who hates wearing gloves. Nothing dries out the hands faster than handling soil, but let's face Gardening gifts: soil dries the skinit, nobody should try to plant petunia seeds while wearing garden gloves! A can of Boraxo hand cleaner will really scrub out the dirt; then a gardener's hands will drink up a nice moisturizing lotion.

Don't forget sunscreen – it's easy to get a burn before the trees are in full leaf. While you're at it, some fragrant bath salts will help to soothe those gardening muscles that haven't been used all winter!

Testing the soil - A soil test kit is a useful gardening gift as the growing season begins. The garden soil must provide nutrients for the crops it will support, so it's important to know what's needed to build up the soil before planting.

Let's Get Tough - Those who start seeds indoors in late winter will appreciate a cold frame to toughen up tender seedlings outdoors before planting them in the ground. On cold nights, leave an extension light burning inside the closed cold frame and cover it all with a tarp. It's amazing how much heat a light bulb generates - it will keep the seedlings happy when the outdoor temperature drops well below freezing.

One more thought - before Spring turns officially into Summer, your Gardening gifts: strawberrygardener will be picking strawberries, lettuce, asparagus and peas, and barbecue season will be in full swing. A comfy lawn chaise, or perhaps a hammock, are great gardening gifts, so s/he can relax for awhile and enjoy the perfect weather.

Gardening gifts: hammock
For this busiest time of the year, choose
gardening gifts that help get the job done
...or give your gardener a well-earned break!

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Logo photo by Jane M. Sawyer, strawberry by "jeltovski," both courtesy
of Other graphics courtesy of Microsoft.