It is always fun for me to write a column about gardening gifts. Focus is sometimes hard. I can get from “that might be a great idea” to “oh, I know what I could do with that” in a heartbeat, but the return trip takes a lot longer. Nonetheless, I think I found a few things that might help shopping for the gardener in your life more fun.
Seeds are such wonderful packages of possibilities. A gift certificate to your gardener’s favorite source might be a great choice.
The November/December 2019 issue of “Horticulture” magazine features new plant introductions for 2020. The magazine highlighted Everleaf Emerald Towers basil. It is touted to have the popular Genovese flavor, but with shorter internodes between the leaves, making a more upright, shapely plant with leaves all the way down the stem.
I checked the websites of two popular seed companies to be sure the new basil cultivar is available. It is and should be easy to find.
The problem was that I ran across a new eggplant hybrid called “Green Knight.” It was described as jade green, but the picture of long skinny fruits looked closer to chartreuse to me. How awesome would that look with one of the like-shaped purple varieties available. Pretty and tasty is a neat combination, but the gift of seeds is a ticket to a soaring journey of imagination.
Since I teased you with the mention of new plant varieties, here are a few that caught my attention and that you might look for or request at your favorite nursery. Again, if you are not sure what to get, his/her favorite nursery would be delighted to offer a gift certificate.
► Scentara Pura Lilac is purported to perform well in warmer climates with no loss of fragrance.
► “Bee Happy” beebalm is a more compact version of the popular cerise-flowered “Jacob Clime.”
► “Midnight Gold Petunia,” with big dark purple centers and margins of light yellow, is so unique and eye-catching that it’s the cover photo on the magazine.
Tools can make great gifts, too. Loppers with ratcheting mechanisms take the hard work out of pruning branches. Mine are my favorite new tool of the last few years. I always love getting new hand pruners, gloves and trowels, as they are so easy to misplace.
Gardeners have great gifts to give, too. Sharing the love and experience of gardening with a child is a gift that will last a lifetime. Even if the gardening part does not stick, the time spent together will be remembered.
Most of us have lots of seeds that we can share or cuttings from favorite plants. Planting extra vegetables to share with others is easy and only increases the joy of gardening. Community gardens delight in new volunteers.
The Big Country Master Gardener Association will be accepting applications soon for the training classes coming up early in 2020. It has been a great vehicle for us to share the gift of knowledge and passion for gardening with others, with an emphasis on stewardship. Call 325-672-6048 for more information or to contact the BCMGA hotline with your gardening questions.
Now where did I see those flower seeds? I bet they would look great …
Until next time, happy gardening.
Read or Share this story: https://www.reporternews.com/story/life/columnists/2019/12/01/what-get-your-favorite-gardener/4319933002/
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With welcome rain and snow in the foothills, there seems so much to do that wasn’t done during the past several dry weeks!
My checklist of things to get done soon is ever growing. At the top of the list: clean up and cover up.
Fall cleanup is essential to help prevent disease and control pests. In my garden, cleanup includes harvesting remaining tomatoes (yes – I still have some cherry and paste tomatoes ripening) and cutting some remaining flowers in the raised beds. The marigolds and dahlia will look nice in an arrangement. Spent pepper, tomato and herbs plants will be cut to the ground and composted. Dry fallen fruit and leaves will be composted, with the exception of any diseased foliage. Some weeding will be done once the rains further soften the soil.
A cover crop has been planted to help compete with next season’s weeds as well as providing a layer of “green manure.” Cover crops will also help prevent soil erosion and increase organic matter in the soil. Winter blend cover crop seed is widely available — winter vetch, peas and clover are examples of cover crop seed which may be found in some seed mixes. Now is the time to cut back perennials (flowers that return every year in the garden). Cut back dry stems to soil level to clean up the dead wood and remove the pest eggs and disease spores that may have lingered on the plants. Also cut off diseased foliage from evergreen plants and shrubs.
Preparation of garden beds for winter includes covering bare soil with mulch – leaves, pine needles, straw, whatever is available. Covering planting beds helps protect tender plants and helps prevent leaching of important nutrients. A layer of compost or dry manure with a straw layer to cover it will continue to decompose slowly over the winter to enrich your soil, attract earthworms, and feed the beneficial microbes needed for healthy spring crops.
This is also a good time to prepare soil for future planting of bare-root trees and plants such as berries, fruit trees or roses, which are largely available in January and February. A good soaking will make work easier – dig, weed and amend the soil if needed to prepare for plantings later this winter.
Cleanup also applies to garden tools. When getting ready to put tools away, use a wire brush, putty knife or steel wool to remove clumps of dirt and mud adhered to the tool. Sap is easily removed with turpentine or tar remover. Wash the tools with the hose and allow them to dry thoroughly. If rust is visible, clean it off! Use steel wool or a wire bush – rust is tough on tools! Next, oil metal parts to protect them from moisture. A coating of machine oil is fine, but vegetable oil is just as effective and less toxic. A few drops of 3-in-one multipurpose oil to the pivot of shears and loppers will keep them working smoothly. For tools with wood handles, sand lightly with sandpaper to remove rough spots and splinters then wipe the wood with linseed oil.
As the holiday season is upon us, the Master Gardeners of Nevada County want to thank all of you who attended our workshops and events, and for your great questions submitted to the hotline. Your suggestions helps us plan future workshops and your participation at events is what makes us tick!
Public workshops will resume early February, so watch our website at http://www.ncmg.ucanr.org for the 2020 workshop list which will be posted soon.
We can be reached at the hotline, 530-273-0919 or find us on Facebook or the website.
Have a very happy, safe holiday season.
Ann Wright is a Nevada County Master Gardener.
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Once again December has arrived and there is Christmas shopping to be done. Do you have a gardener, or wannabe gardener, on your Christmas list? I might be able to help you out with some suggestions for that.
My husband always gets me at least one gift card from a garden center. Most of the time from a locally owned center so that I can get plants that grow well in our area, and another from a big box store so that I can get a pallet or two (yes, a pallet not a bag) of compost or mulch. Or both. When spring arrives and I can’t stand to stay indoors another day, a trip to a garden center is just what I need to escape the winter blues.
Another suggestion is a large flowerpot. I now prefer the foam or plastic ones because they are lightweight and easy to work with. Lots of improvements have been made in these and sometimes you can’t tell if they are pottery, clay or plastic until you touch them. Add packets of seeds, a good pair of gardening gloves, a selection of hand tools from the garden center and maybe a bag of good quality potting soil. I try to find a cute sign with a gardening quote on it and include that as well.
Another favorite is a good gardening book. Nothing is better than a fire in the fireplace and a book. Try the Texas A&M bookstore. You can peruse and order books online for everything from worm composting to wildflowers to Texas history.
There are many gardening journals available. Pair that with a favorite pen and your gardener will be happy.
Other ideas are a birdhouse, a personalized garden stake, rubber boots, a big hat to block the West Texas sun, a mug or a t-shirt.
Permian Basin Master Gardener 2020 Calendars: The local Master Gardeners have just received their 2020 gardening calendars. The committee that worked on this fundraising project did an amazing job on the local photography and assembly. This year they are spiral bound with new gardening tips. At $12.00 each they are a bargain.
For more information, call the AgriLife office at 498-4071 in Odessa or at 686-4700 in Midland.
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The coldest time of the year in this area is generally from mid-December through January. Have your damage control plan ready because frost conditions may occur any time from now through mid-March. That means a handy supply of old bed sheets, light blankets, newspapers, or commercial frost cloth for covering cold-sensitive plants.
Cold soil, long nights, and occasional freezing air temperatures make it difficult for perennial transplants to adapt this time of year. It is therefore recommended to hold off on planting, pruning, or fertilizing perennials. Also be aware that any plants in containers are more vulnerable to low temperatures than are those in the ground.
Hardy annual plants such as Sweet Alyssum, Pansy, Petunia, Viola, Snapdragons, Stock, Calendula and Dianthus can still be set out this month. However, it is not advised to plant seed now because most annual seed does not germinate in cool soil. Check before watering your annuals to be sure the top l inch of soil is dry.
When freezing temperatures become frequent, keep cactus and succulents dry, whether in containers or the ground. These plants are more susceptible to freeze damage when taking up water. Also do not fertilize cactus during December.
To protect columnar cactus, invert a Styrofoam cup over the growing tip for the next couple of months.
When commercially available, bare-root roses can be planted during the next month. Do not fertilize roses in December. Prune them only to remove spent blossoms and dead canes that remain on the plants. Water roses deeply every seven to10 days, in the absence of winter rains.
Cold hardy shrubs can also be planted this month; however, do not prune nor fertilize them now. For the first year in the ground after planting, do not prune shrubs. Adding a layer of protective mulch to these plants is desirable, but do not allow it to lie against the bark.
Deciduous and bare-root trees can be planted in December, but do not plant cold-sensitive trees or palms. It is recommended to not feed nor prune trees this month. However, water is now very important in the life of the tree, whether by winter rainfall or deep irrigation.
During cool weather aphids can appear, especially on vegetable and herb plants. First, try spraying them off with the garden hose. If that does not get rid of the insects try the following. Add 4 to 5 cloves of garlic to a quart of water in the blender. Process to a light slurry and use to spray infested plants.
Leave time this month to peruse the early flower-filled garden catalogs that start arriving in the mail … and to prepare for the festive atmosphere of the coming holidays!
Mary Kidnocker is a University of Arizona Master Gardener who lives in the Green Valley area. Her articles are featured weekly.
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Do you LOVE Christmas Vacation as much as my family? This post is about All things Christmas Vacation!! I’m sharing a Christmas Vacation themed Christmas tree, Christmas Vacation Pajama’s and all things Christmas Vacation gifts!
A while back we had a Christmas Vacation themed party and it was a BLAST. Check out the party!
Our local area in Utah has an annual holiday tradition called, Festival of Trees. It is a winter wonderland of hundreds of donated and decorated Christmas trees! All various themes – sports, kid-themed trees, movie-themed trees, outdoor theme trees, Disney trees, etc. Also share are beautify holiday wreaths, gingerbread houses, quilts and more. Funds raised at Festival of Trees are given to the Primary Children’s Hospital. It’s a great time and lots of eye candy all benefitting kids!
I saw this movie-theme Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees.How awesome is this Clark Griswold Christmas Vacation Christmas Tree?…
I took pictures of this Christmas Vacation movie-themed tree. I LOVE it! So clever in all the decorations, quotes, ideas and styling. Someone purchased the tree and all the goodies around the tree go with it. The team that was responsible for the decorating and planning was Friends of CHG Healthcare. Kudos to the team.
I’ve also combined this post with gift Ideas for the Christmas Vacation Movie Lover! After checking out the Christmas tree pictures see what fabulous and unique themed gifts there are!
That is it for all the Christmas tree pictures. How did you like the tree? Pretty cool!!
I wanted to share with you my You serious Clark? Christmas pajamas!
This was last years Christmas pj’s for my hubby and I. We love this Christmas Vacation movie quote (by Cousin Eddy) that is written on the pajama top.
You can purchase the jammies by clicking on this link. To receive 20% off use code black20. The 20% off is good from Nov 27th – Dec 1 2019. If this link doesn’t take you directly to those pj’s, in the search box type you serious clark or click this link. Make sure to order early or pay extra for shipping to get in time for Christmas!
We have gathered quite a few National Lampoons Christmas Vacation gifts. Do you have a favorite gift?
Do you LOVE Christmas Vacation as much as my family?
I am wanting to hose another Christmas Vacation themed party!
Maybe next year.
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