10 December 2009

How About a Radius Pond Shark for Someone on Your Gift List? Home Made Seed Bombs Anyone? An Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques?

Gardeners appreciate plants but there are also gadgets, gifts you can buy, make, or put together with a little creativity.

Everyone who loves plants would appreciate a gardening workshop, trade show or a garden tour. There is a free native garden tour of the California Bay Area in April at www.goingnativegardentour.org. The April historic garden tour in Virginia is around $25 at www.vagardenweek.org/tickets.htm. Tulsa Garden Center’s late-May tour is in Chelsea ($3300 www.tulsagardencenter.com). Tickets to the Oklahoma City Home and Garden Show January 15-17 are under $10 at www.oklahomacityhomeshow.com.

Whether you shop at local suppliers, mail order or online, there are flowers, herbs, vegetables and woody stemmed plants for every budget. Stringer Nursery in Tulsa has 2010 seeds that could be put into a package with seed starting soil, and pots.

Spring flowering bulbs are on sale from online retailers. A bag of tulip, daffodil or hyacinth bulbs with a coupon for help with planting would be a welcome gift. (100 tulips $20 at www.touchofnature.com)

Seed Balls or Bombs can be made at home with powdered clay, compost and seeds. One of the many recipes: Combine 5-pints powdered clay, 5 pints compost or worm castings and 1-pint seeds. (Other recipes use kitty litter or Bentonite in place of clay, another one uses coffee grounds.) Add enough water to make thick mud. Roll into balls. Dry for several days. The seed bombs are tossed into ugly places where they will grow after a few inches of rain.

Pots painted by children and grandchildren can be sprayed with a protective coating.

For someone who enjoys starting plants, give them a kit: A double florescent light fixture with two 40-watt bulbs, one warm and one cool white. Add a light timer, a fan and a seed starting heat mat to increase success.

Italian Seed and Tool has a $100 tractor seat on wheels for gardeners who have difficulty moving around the garden or standing. Build raised beds with wide paths.

Anyone with an outdoor pond would like a PondShark or other hand-friendly tool from Radius (www.radiusgarden.com). Radius also has ergonomic rakes, telescoping-handle grabbers, etc.

Useful garden gear to consider: A label maker, a battery powered instant read thermometer, a battery operated drill with a bulb planting auger, a clip-on LED light, a washable basket for harvesting, personalized canning labels, new, sharp pruners or pruning knife, lighted magnifying glass, silica beads for drying flowers, or a garden journal from www.mackeybooks.com.

For bird watchers there are books, feeders and birdbath water warmers as well as seed balls from the store or home made with peanut butter and sunflower seeds.

Wingscapes (wingscapes.com) sells a bird camera and a plant camera. The BirdCam is a motion-activated weatherproof digital camera that takes photos and videos (with sound) of backyard birds. $160

The Timelapse PlantCam is a similar product that records at specified intervals and then stitches it all together as a video. $80

New books are always welcome.
American Horticultural Society New Encyclopedia of Gardening Techniques: The Indispensable Illustrated Practical Guide, Mitchell-Beazley/Octopus Books, 480-pages, Hardcover, $45 from AHS or $29 online.

Homegrown Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs by PBS-Victory Garden guru Jim Wilson, Creative Homeowner, 2009, 192 pages, $17 at www.creativehomeowner.com or $11 online. Review at http://tiny.cc/uPCLB.

“The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire, and the Birth of an Obsession” by Andrea Wulf, (Knopf, $35 or $23 online) is an exploration of the history of botany and plants in America and England.

Many garden magazines closed their doors this year but several good ones are still around - Fine Gardening (finegardening.com), Organic Gardening (organicgardening.com), State by State Gardening (statebystategardening.com), or a magazine about the South with featured gardens, Garden and Gun Magazine (gardenandgun.com).

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