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The best gift for a gardener is to volunteer your time. But here are some other options, too.

  • Author: Jeff Lowenfels
    | Alaska gardening
  • Updated: December 18, 2019
  • Published December 18, 2019

Oh come on! You are still looking for holiday gifts for your gardeners? Every year I give you my suggestion for those gardeners who really stump your gift-giving imagination. It is a homemade card that includes a simple offer for a few hours of gardening help this upcoming season. What gardener could refuse that? And, best of all, this is a one-size-fits-all gardening gift, as it doesn’t matter what kind of gardener yours happens to be!

Still not satisfied? Another one-size-fits-all is a weeding tool, specifically a CobraHead “mini” Weeder. This tool is great for precision weeding, and has a wickedly effective digging blade made of forged steel. (With this in hand, perhaps your gardener won’t need your help weeding). This great tool is also available in a long-handle version for weeding while standing up — my kind of weeding!). The CobraHead “mini” Weeder sells for $24.95 and the CobraHead Long Handle (with a 54-inch wooden handle) sells for $64.95 on If you are worried about it arriving in time, just print a picture and put it under the tree.

A bit more specific gift is a microbiometer. If yours is a serious gardener of the organic type who likes to experiment, I would suggest this new kind of soil-testing kit. It measures the microbial biomass of soil. (Your organic gardener knows the higher the biomass, the better her soil). Using this test will also tell you if what you add to your soil helps improve it. This is what I use to tell if a new product teems with microbes. Check it out at (there are test kits available for $39 and $135). Again, this is for serious gardeners who want to be on the cutting edge. Shipping is tight, but there is no rush to have the item in hand; we have frozen soils, so a card will do.

How about giving your gardener giftee a choice of reading material? It is easy. Just let her choose from one of the listings at This is a list of 10 different gardening magazines ranging from an Australian organic magazine to most of the U.S. magazines worth their salt, and even one for small greenhouse growers. A second list can be found at A third is this list published in the Detroit News last November: Surely, your gardener will find something worth reading.

I suppose you could do the same thing with gloves. All yardeners need gloves at some point, so these will always be appreciated, but only if the choice is his. Local hardware stores and outlets, gardening and hardware sections of box stores and local nurseries all carry them. You can also refer your giftee to online sources, of which there are many: or

Next, your gardener will be buying seed this spring. Here is another subject for a gift certificate of sorts. You could let the choice be from a particular online catalog or you could set a limit on locally purchased seed from a favorite nursery. And why stop at seed? You can get a gift certificate from any of our local nurseries that can be used this spring or summer. If your favorite is not open, just make one yourself.

Finally, a gift that cannot fail. I know I have suggested it before, but I will do so again: Any gardener and his or her family will greatly appreciate a membership in the Alaska Botanical Garden. They may not know it, of course, but once they see the gardens and learn of all the benefits, this will probably be the best gift of the year.

Jeff’s Alaska garden calendar

Alaska Botanical Garden: The best gift is a membership! Check out the lights! It’s fun for the family!