It’s the time of year when lists of gifts for gardeners are everywhere, and while any gardener would love an amaryllis bulb, a pruning snip or a new set of garden gloves, sometimes you want something a bit more unusual. Here are a few gifts for gardeners that aren’t expected.
An Olla. I bought this for myself last year after hearing about them from fellow Minnesota garden blogger Jennifer Rensenbrink. An olla is an unglazed terra cotta pot that you bury into the soil to improve watering of special plants. They have been used in dry climates around the world for centuries. I bought mine at a local garden center and used it in a large container for growing tomatoes—the photo is me putting it in the container. You fill the olla with water and it gently distributes it to the plant. I was amazed at how well the tomato with the olla did compared to other container tomatoes in my garden—great growth, lots of fruit, almost no blight or disease. For a container gardener, an olla is a great gift.
Soil thermometer. Yes, you can use a meat thermometer to take the temperature of soil, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a dedicated soil thermometer to stick in the dirt? This is a great gift for gardeners who love to push the season, because knowing the temperature of the soil is key to figuring out how well young seedlings will do in spring. Soil thermometers are not expensive and are a great stocking stuffer.
A DIY Mushroom Kit. Mushrooms are hot these days, and your favorite gardeners might enjoy a chance to grow their own over the winter. There are a variety of mushroom kits online and most require some soaking and some time in a dark place before the mushrooms start sprouting.
An Unexpected Tool. Some of the gardener’s best tools may not be exactly garden related. For instance, years ago, I bought a folding hand cart to use for moving young adult children in and out of college dorms and apartments. The girls are on their own now, but my hand cart gets lots of use in the garden, moving heavy pots, bags of mulch and anything else my back says “no-way” to. Another favorite tool of mine is the hose butler. We have a small yard and not much room to store the necessities of gardening. The hose butler looks pretty good and keeps the hose neat and out of the way. Finally, a tool only a northern gardener could love: an ice scraper. I wrote about this one last year, but if you want to avoid using lots of ice melt chemicals, get yourself a scraper and start chopping!
Garden Friends! Well, I can’t guarantee friends, but a membership in the Minnesota State Horticulture Society or a subscription to Northern Gardener is the gift for gardeners that tells them they are not alone in the North and connects them with their fellow gardeners. The hort society has great classes, and a membership includes a subscription to Northern Gardener, discounts on hort society products, tickets to the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, and lots more. Plus, gift membership and subscriptions are $10 off until the end of the year.
Good luck shopping for gifts for gardeners in your life.