Let these gift ideas ger­mi­nate

Good grow­ing con­di­tions are what gar­den­ers want, but you can put these un­der the tree

StarMetro Calgary - - DAILY LIFE - DREAM­STIME Mark Cullen and Ben Cullen

UR­BAN GROWTH LED lights are a new in­no­va­tion for seed-start­ing, home-grow kits that re­place older flu­o­res­cent bulb ver­sions. Ask any gar­dener what they want for Christ­mas, and they’ll likely have some­thing to say about the weather.

You can’t do any­thing about that — but we do have some ideas from our own Christ­mas lists that can help you nav­i­gate this sea­son of giv­ing.

The last shovel they will ever need.

We are of­ten re­luc­tant to treat our­selves to the “best” and end up with an in­fe­rior tool. A shovel is some­thing that ev­ery gar­dener will use, where en­try price point can be around $12. For premium qual­ity, the last shovel you will ever buy is stain­less steel with a hard­wood han­dle. Stain­less steel holds an edge, looks great, dirt falls off it and it will never rust. The hard­wood han­dle can stand up to heavy dig­ging and has a nice tex­ture in the hand. There are a few op­tions on the mar­ket, but you shouldn’t have to pay more than $60 for a good one. We pre­fer the long-han­dled ver­sion of a shovel or flat-mouthed spade: bet­ter lever­age.

Up­date the seed-start­ing op­er­a­tion.

For many gar­den­ers, seed start­ing is the most tech­ni­cal task they will un­der­take in a sea­son. Some keep their lights go­ing all win­ter for fresh win­ter crops of herbs, wheat grass or even toma­toes. The typ­i­cal setup is flu­o­res­cent tubes, trays and heat mats, but the tech­nol­ogy has im­proved in re­cent years. The lat­est and great­est are LED grow­ing lights, which draw much less power and last longer than the old flu­o­res­cents. Un­like flu­o­res­cent bulbs, which de­cline in the qual­ity of light they pro­duce over their life­time, LEDs of­fer a con­sis­tent qual­ity of light right un­til the end. Kits start at about $120.

Rose-prun­ing Raised beds. gloves.

They’re use­ful for more than just prun­ing roses, though they are per­fect for that with their thorn­proof gaunt­let to pro­tect your fore­arms. Win­ter is also the best time of year to prune prickly rasp­ber­ries and thorny bushes, such as hawthorn. A good pair are about $30.

A raised bed al­lows gar­den­ers to con­trol soil qual­ity, mois­ture and light. De­pend­ing on how high you build them, they can be made more ac­ces­si­ble to the gar­dener and less ac­ces­si­ble to pests such as slugs, snails and pathway weeds. There are var­i­ous kits avail­able from the hard­ware store, or, if you’re handy, make the gift ex­tra spe­cial by find­ing plans on­line and build­ing it your­self.

A bet­ter means of jour­nal­ing.

The gar­den teaches us con­stantly from sea­son to sea­son, year to year.

The best way to re­flect on these lessons is by writ­ing them down, which is why Cana­dian gar­den­ing writ­ers Donna Balzer and Chelsie An­der­son came up with the Three-Year Gar­dener’s Grat­i­tude Jour­nal. Balzer and An­der­son have done a mas­ter­ful job of cre­at­ing a jour­nal that in­spires grat­i­tude through the gar­den. Avail­able at book­stores and on­line.

Our new book.That’s

right — our first book to­gether, and we think it’s worth rec­om­mend­ing. Es­cape to Re­al­ity: How the world is chang­ing gar­den­ing, and gar­den­ing is chang­ing the world is a col­lec­tion of es­says where we re­flect on our col­lec­tive gar­den­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and look at key trends tak­ing shape. Avail­able at lo­cal book­stores and on­line.


A gift of prun­ing gloves will pro­tect the arms of a gar­dener you know, and a qual­ity shovel of stain­less steel and wood is al­ways a wel­come treat.

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