My inspiration for this post comes from Annie’s Granny, who made this world a much brighter place by sharing her love for gardening, life and her family on her blog: Annie’s Kitchen Garden. Granny may have left the world of form last month, but her spirit truly lives on with hundreds of her followers and friends. A few years ago, she asked gardeners to Show Us Your Garden Forks. So now I’ll show you mine, again, and a few more of my favorite things.
Looking for something to give your favorite gardener? Recently I put on my thinking cap and came up with a list of gardening-related items I own and find useful and enjoyable. I’m not getting paid to endorse any of these these products either, I just find them worth recommending to others. So without further ado, here are five ideas for gifts that every gardener can use.
1. Wilcox All-Pro Trowel
It’s no secret that I love my Wilcox trowels. They are without a doubt the best and most sturdy trowels I have ever used. They are made from stainless steel, unbreakable, unbending, and nearly indestructible. They have a bright red plastic handle, which makes them easy to find if you leave them out in the garden as I sometimes do. And the business end of the trowel comes to a sharpened point, which makes them great for digging in heavy soils, removing rocks, and cutting through tough roots.
In autumn of 2012 I misplaced one of my trusty Wilcox trowels while working down at the Impact Community Garden. I figured it had gotten buried in the mulch, and would turn up eventually. It just happened to be my oldest one of my collection of trowels (see above photo), so I was very happy when I found it while tilling there the next spring. It’s the top one in the below photo, reunited with its cousin trowel. Gotta love a trowel that survives being buried all winter, then meeting up with a killer tiller!
Many of the models have a built-in depth gauge incised on the blade, in both inches and centimeters. That is useful to judge the depth of the planting hole, and also to measure the distance between planting holes. I use this feature a lot. These trowels can be a little hard to find, but they are available from several sources online (including Amazon). And they have the added bonus of being made in the U.S. The 14 inch model 202S is the one I use the most.
2. Rogue Garden Hoe
Every gardener can use a good garden hoe. They are indispensable for weeding, moving soil, even for making a furrow to sow seeds. Over the years, I’ve managed to collect quite a few hoes of all different types, from swan hoes to stirrup types and good old ‘paddle’ hoes. But the one I keep reaching for lately is my trusty Rogue model 55G. Rogue hoes are made from tempered steel that comes from recycled farm disc blades, and are sturdy and no-nonsense tools. I did a review on them in 2012, and I’ll include a link to it here.
These hoes are very well made, with sturdy ash handles and a nice balanced feel to them. The cutting edges are razor sharp, and hold an edge nicely when resharpened. I also have the 65G and 70F models, and they all get a lot of use here. For a gift that is recycled and made in the U.S., the Rogue hoes are hard to beat.
3. Lee Valley Stainless Steel Digging Fork
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a good digging fork is a thing to behold. Of all the tools a gardener uses, digging forks and shovels are probably subjected to the most amount of stress and abuse. I’ve owned several digging forks in my life, and my current favorite one is a stainless steel model that I got from Lee Valley Tools. It’s not the cheapest digging fork on the market, nor is it the most expensive, but it gets the job done for me.
Mine has a tubular steel handle covered with molded plastic. The steel handle holds up to any task I ask it to perform. And I really appreciate the stainless steel tines, which clean up easily and won’t rust when I leave them stuck in the ground or compost pile. I also have one of their stainless steel transplant spades, and it is as well-made and durable as the digging fork.
4. G-Tek MaxiFlex Gloves
In the past, I generally did not wear gloves when gardening. I like to be able to get a ‘feel’ for the plants and soil while I work, and loose fitting or bulky gloves make that difficult for me. But recently someone gave me a pair of G-Tek MaxiFlex gloves to try. And I have to say I love them! Model 34-875 is a nitrile dipped knit nylon glove that is lightweight, breathable and comfortable to wear. The outside is also treated to repel water and oil, and the gloves are flexible enough to let me work with sheets of newspaper for mulch as well as delicate young seedlings. But they are also tough enough to let me handle rusty tomato cages without staining my hands, and work with bamboo poles and wooden stakes without getting splinters. The elastic cuff also helps to keep soil from getting inside your glove while you’re working.
The gloves are available from several sources online. At around $5 per pair (less if you buy in bulk), they last much longer than brown jersey gloves, but aren’t so expensive you feel guilty when you finally have to throw them away and get a new pair. And they aren’t just good for gardening either. They are handy to have on hand for any other chore where you need a lightweight but durable glove. There are many other models of these gloves available so there’s truly one out there for everyone.
5. A Good Read
There are many good reference books about gardening out there. That is probably a subject for a list all its own. But what about something different? What about other types of books about gardeners or gardening? Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver is one of my all-time favorite inspirational books with a gardening theme. It chronicles a family that decides to grow their own food for a full year. And Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate by Wendy Johnson is a combination of practical and ethereal. The author shares her wealth of gardening knowledge along with a love of the planet and all creatures living on it. The chapter on compost is worth the price of the book alone.
Want something humorous? Try The $64 Dollar Tomato, by William Alexander. The full title, The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden pretty much says it all about this book. The chapter about his battle with Superchuck, the groundhog that was eating his expensive heirloom tomatoes, will have you either laughing out loud or nodding your head in sympathy. Or perhaps, like me, you will be doing both.
And This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Gussow is another inspirational book I enjoyed reading. Gussow is a nutritionist, gardener, and passionate advocate for eating locally and seasonally.
I hope you have enjoyed this list of my best gift ideas for the gardener in your life. I’ll be back soon with more happenings here at Happy Acres.