As the holiday season approaches, we often find ourselves scrambling to find that just-right present for a friend or loved one. I always enjoy writing my annual holiday gift-giving guide for gardeners here in The Dirt on Gardening column, and this year is no different. I’ve kept my eyes open all year long, looking for a few useful gifts for gardeners and hobby farmers that I can share with you here come December. As you’ll see, I’m especially keen on gifts that stand out for their helpfulness or unique features. I also love suggesting gifts that support small businesses. This year’s list is filled with five of my favorite things.
1. The UpRooter
Made by a small company in Oregon, this awesome tool is a must-have for gardeners, farmers, land stewards and anyone else who has to deal with invasive woody plants like multiflora roses, tree of heaven, buckthorns, privet, Japanese honeysuckle and many more. The vice-like clamp grips the base of the invasive plant’s trunk, then the user pulls down on the handle, prying out the plant’s root system quickly and easily. I first used this tool when helping to clear invasive plants from a riverbank on a community clean-up day, and it was so much easier than using a shovel. You can watch a video of how it works on their website.
This is a recent find for me, thanks to a flower-growing friend in Texas who kept posting about how much she loves her Roo apron on Instagram. It’s loaded with pockets, but most importantly, the bottom of this apron folds up to become a collection “basket” for harvested veggies, pulled weeds, picked blueberries or spent zinnia blossoms. When it’s ready to be emptied, you just unclip the apron and dump the contents out. It’s durable, washable and very clever.
This Japanese hand tool is so spectacular that I have two. One has a lighter blade and the other has a shorter, stockier blade that’s thicker. I’ve found the light bladed one to be the best tool for cutting down my rye grass cover crop every spring, before turning it under. I also use it to cut down my ornamental grasses. It’s lightweight and easy to use. I use the one with the stockier blade to cut back the oriental bittercress vines that are always wrapping themselves around our fences and trees, along with the young saplings that sometimes pop up on our back trails. They are both easy to handle and super sharp.
After a day of hard work in the garden, achy muscles are the norm. I used to use BenGay, or a big pharmacy-brand of muscle rub, but then I discovered this salve at a local farmer’s market here in Pennsylvania. It’s made with camphor, just like the big brand names, but this one also has oil of eucalyptus, arnica, cayenne and comfrey. It’s ingredients are certified organic, and most importantly, it’s really effective.
These awesome gardening pants from Gardening Girl USA are so much cooler than denim bib overalls. They have tons of pockets, reinforced seams, belt loops for your trowel and pruners, spandex panels for comfort and flexibility, and they’ve got extra thick fabric at the knees for durability. I believe you can also slide knee pads into them, if you want, though I haven’t done that myself. They also have capri pants and shorts in a similar style, if you want something a bit cooler for summer weather.
Enjoy the holiday season with your friends and family, and I hope you found a few items on this holiday gift-giving guide for gardeners you can now check off your list.