Gardening: For the green thumb on your gift list

Looking for something for the gardener in your life? Head to the local book store. There are numerous shelves of books on gardening from how to improve the soil to how to grow under lights. When choosing a book, remember that the growing zones in Central Alberta range from zone 2 to 3 with a few warmer micro-climates thrown in. A book that discusses growing warmer season plants might not be applicable.

A good pair or two of garden gloves, might be a welcome present as old ones tend to wear out. Different pairs of gloves are used for different activities. Heavier for gloves work well for using a spade but are not practical for finer work such as seeding.

Gardener’s hands are often dry from contact with the earth, plant and moisture. A good hand cream helps keep hands looking presentable.

For those that spend hours weeding, there are two tools that are a must. One is a loop weeder which allows one to cut off the top of weeds just below the soil surface. Its short handle makes it easy to weed in small areas. The other is a short handled digger or a dandelion digger, which works for removing long rooted weeds without disturbing other plants in a vicinity.

Gift certificates to local garden centers can provide hours of fun planning and deciding on what to purchase.

When purchasing gardening tools, choose ones that are light, strong and designed ergonomically. Well-designed garden tools are a joy to use allowing people to accomplish a job quicker and with less effort. The type of tool purchased depends on where it will be used. Rakes, hoes and shovels all come in a variety of designs. Owning every design would clutter up the garage or garden shed, but having a few different models allow for choice and make jobs easier.

A solid, sharp hand trowel is always useful. Strong ones will not bend regardless of what is being dug. A sharp edge makes it easier to pierce the soul or to cut a root. The width of the blade varies with the style of trowel and the size of hole that needs to be dug.

Watering cans come in all shapes and sizes. HAWS watering can, patented in 1885, is still considered one of the best designed watering cans on the market. It is available in the traditional metal or a lighter and less expensive version, hard plastic. Sizes of watering cans range from 1 liter up to 9 liters. Before purchasing the largest one, take into consideration of the weight of the can when full of water; 20 lbs, (9 kilograms).

Gardeners that love to plant early in the season could benefit from polyspun cloth, also called a floating row cover. This light weight cloth allows the sun to penetrate and keeps the plants and soil about 5 degrees warmer than the area not covered. An added benefit is that it acts as a barrier to keep insects, like the Cabbage butterfly from laying eggs on plants.

Peony rings have been used to hold the flowers upright for over a century but they are not the only flower support available. Choose plant supports that will be strong enough to keep, a single stem or complete plant upright. Plant stakes are usually designed to blend into the landscape while trellises tend to support plants and add to the overall landscape design.

Lastly, gardens are for relaxing. Give a comfortable chair or bench that fits the garden’s theme. It will encourage people to sit and enjoy.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist that lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com

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