Gifts for gardeners that are sure to delight

OK, OK. I know I have to do a holiday gift column (or two). The long-time reader knows how I feel about this. Gardening is a personal thing. Most gardeners know what they need and what they don’t so unless you ask the gardener on your list what she wants, you may end up giving the proverbial “Christmas sweater” gift. Nice thought, but wrong thing.

Let me start with a real no-fail gift: A few boxes of Down to Earth Organic Bio-Live Fertilizer Mix. You can buy it locally, so there is no need to order online unless you want to. BioLive is a 5-4-2, OMRI formula with lots and lots of bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi. The mix was developed by one of Down to earth’s owners who made it for use in his own nursery. It is one of their best sellers for a really good reason. It is a terrific for indoor as well as outdoor gardening because it was designed to work in containers. Trust me on this: all gardeners will use this gift and most will really appreciate it!

Next, any gardener would go gaga over Baker Creek’s 2023 Whole Seed Catalog or, if you want to spend less, the 2023 Rare Seed Catalog. I know that this is not a seed catalog column (those come in January), but this book, and it is book length, is a really, really, unbelievable item worth ordering for your gardener and worth every penny of the $14.95 price wether she or he orders anything or not. Visually, there is simply nothing like it in the garden/seed catalog world and their offerings are almost always unique. My usual description of this catalog is “pornography for gardeners.” Even the non-gardener will be impressed.

Rototilling and mass disturbance of garden soils are no-nos in today’s gardens. That is why I like Winged Weeder tools. They handle weeds at the surface like an old fashioned hoe, only better. There is a small handle held version, a telescoping long handle version and several others that fit in-between, Just Google the product and you will easily find them. They are also locally available at box stores and nurseries.

If your gardener grows herbs, he might like a tool that strips off leaves from stems. There is a beautiful but functional wooden one that can be ordered on line if you simply put “wooden herb stripper” into your search engine. This one might also be available from local kitchen stores.

I haven’t tried them, but I did see a picture of “clawed garden gloves,” which look just like they sound. They should be great for working in and amongst plants, weeding and planting. They also would make a great Halloween costume and possible back scratcher.

Of course, a membership in the Alaska Botanical Garden is a great gift for Southcentral gardeners.


Some gifts you can make or repurpose yourself: How about a simple box of some sort to store seed packets. Or you could get a ball of twine and attach a good stake one end to make a tool to use for lining up garden rows. You could get a really good boot cleaner, the kind you would keep on the porch to clean snow and stuff off your shoes as a “tool” to put out in the garden.

The best gift of all, of course, and hopefully one you give year in and year out is a certificate entitling the holder to get your help out in the garden. Nothing will be more appreciated.

Jeff’s Alaska Garden Calendar:

Alaska Botanical Garden Winter Lights: Select dates November 27th - January 21st. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Check out the Mushroom Tincture Workshop and the Print Making Workshop.

Christmas trees: Make sure to keep yours in an adequate amount of water.

Poinsettias: Let the surface dry slightly and then water. These plants need drainage so make sure to poke a hole in any decorative pot wrapping.

Jeff Lowenfels

Jeff Lowenfels has written a weekly gardening column for the ADN for more than 45 years. His columns won the 2022 gold medal at the Garden Communicators International conference. He is the author of a series of books on organic gardening available at Amazon and elsewhere. He co-hosts the "Teaming With Microbes" podcast.