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Gardener’s gifts, options unlimited

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by Jeneen Wiche

No matter what you celebrate during the month of December it likely involves some sort of gift giving.  Manufacturers have made certain that our options are unlimited when it comes to giving to the gardener, but some gifts are more useful than others! Don’t waste your money on the cute but useless, or the useful but cheap. Consider, instead, some of these items that are favorites among my serious gardening friends.
A few of my favorite things
Hand pruners and a good garden spade were number one and two, when I took a sampling from my most accomplished gardening friends. Felco pruners have traditionally been a good buy because they come in a variety of styles, they last forever and the blades can be replaced. Local garden centers, cutlery shops and catalogues carry Felco.
A spade is the tool that can take care of nearly all of your digging chores. The flat, sharp edge easily cuts through sod and skims it; the tool cuts through the most disagreeable soils and can cut through roots cleanly during transplant jobs. If you have ever tried digging a hole with the wrong digging tool you know how valuable a sharp spade is.
I am quite fond of my Stihl hand saw, which is a bit bigger than the old Felco model I was previously using. The Stihl hand saw cuts well and is comfortable in the hand. This tool takes care of all those pruning jobs that are too big for your hand pruners or loppers. Replacement blades are available, as well. Some other invaluable tools for the garden include the not-so-glamorous plastic tarp. A tarp can do a great many useful things: it can act as transport, pile on your debris and drag it to the compost heap; it can help you keep the soil dry if you have some planting chores during a rainy period; soil removed from a planting hole can be put on your tarp to keep your “work area” clean and when you bring that tree home in the back of the truck cover it with your tarp.
I’ve fallen for Trug tubs
I have fallen hard for the plastic Trug tubs. They come in several sizes and a rainbow of colors. You can carry water in them, debris, compost, mulch or as one friend pointed out, you can ice down your favorite beverage in them before heading down to the pond to fish.
Good Grips brand of gardening gloves have been favorites for over a decade; they now have some lighter weight gloves called Sun Grips. I prefer the Sun Grips, because I can feel the weeds, soil and seeds better. I have resisted using gloves, because they make me feel clumsy; the Sun Grips have solved the problem. Once the finger tips wear out, I just cut them off and wear them when mowing to protect my hands from the sun.
The sun takes its toll
Speaking of which—all the years in the sun have caught up with me, so it is a bit late, but I have started to amass a sturdy collection of wide brimmed hats, some of which are suited to picking berries others to riding the mower. Don’t put off protecting yourself from the sun while out gardening. Offer your loved ones a gift of sun-protection in a nice big hat.
And a word on quality: invest in quality, especially when it comes to tools. They may be more expensive, but they will last you a life time; not just one season. Gardening is so popular these days that the assortment of poor quality items almost out weighs the good stuff. Buy tools and garden accessories like you would anything else you enjoy.
(Jeneen Wiche is an avid gardener from Shelbyville. She can be reached at www.JWiche@shelbybb.net.)