Washington State University Extension

Garden Tips


GARDEN TIPS – written by
Marianne C. Ophardt
WSU Extension Faculty
for the Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, WA
published Novemeber 28, 2014

Now that Black Friday has arrived, most of know it is time to start our holiday shopping, if we have not already. If you are looking for a great gift for the gardener in your life, I have a few suggestions…

My favorite place to shop for other gardeners and also for myself is Lee Valley & Veritas ( It is like Cabelas, but for gardeners instead of hunters and outdoors men. They offer high quality garden tools including Felco and Lowe pruners; hand tools, shovels, rakes, spades, weeders and hoes including the ergonomically designed Radius brand; tool sharpeners; Haws watering cans; a full line of drip irrigation supplies and so much more.

One Lee Valley catalog item that has piqued my interest is a pair of Hog Ring Pliers and clips. The original intended use of these pliers was for attaching ear tags to hogs, but gardeners can use them for repairing wire fences and tomato cages, attaching netting to support wires, and more. (You might be able to find a pair at a local farm store.)

Another tempting item from Lee Valley is the Gardener’s Wash Basket. It is a chrome-plated wire basket used for washing vegetables fresh from the garden. Produce is placed in the basket and hosed off with potable water. It should be especially handy cleaning freshly dug potatoes and root vegetables.

If your gardener is into natural, homespun garden gadgets, checkout Minnie and Moon ( They offer a solid oak dibber; balls of green and natural jute twine on an oak spindle; oak plant tags; paper potters for creating seed pots from newspaper; and more. The Minnie and Moon garden trug is on my personal wish list. Both the small and large trugs are made from Pacific Northwest myrtlewood, fastened with copper nails, and finished with food safe mineral oil. Lightweight, functional and sturdy enough to use for toting garden tools or harvesting veggies, they are also pretty enough to use for home decorating.

Consider giving an amaryllis bulb to gardeners who are already pining for next year’s gardening season. Amaryllis can be grown indoors for bloom this winter. Some fairly inexpensive bulbs with red, white, or pink flowers are available right now at local discount department stores. I have been tempted to buy a few just for myself. Plus, amaryllis bulbs will bloom again next winter if cared for properly.

Specialty mail order companies offer more spectacular amaryllis cultivars than can be found locally. Bluestone Perennials ( sells some lovely double flowered amaryllis, like Blossom Peacock with white and red bicolor petals or Double Dragon with velvety red petals. Their bulbs come in kits that include a large amaryllis bulb, a white plastic pot, and growing mix. White Flower Farm ( has a wider variety of single and double flowered amaryllis cultivars.

Finally, every gardener and homeowner with a lawn, landscape, or garden should have an open-sided soil sampler probe for taking cores of soil from the lawn or garden to a depth of 17 inches or more. It takes the guesswork out of determining when the soil is dry and needs irrigation. Probes can get to be pricey, but Ben Meadow’s ( offers an economical low-cost one made of nickle-plated steel from JMC (item # 106078) for $41 and a steel one electroplated with copper and then chromed from Hoffer (item#220160) for $80. A soil probe is an awesome gift, but you may have to explain what it does.

The great thing about shopping for all the garden gifts that I have suggested is that you can shop from the comfort of your home while sipping a hot cup of tea.

Published: 11/28/2014 12:29 PM

Garden Tips, WSU Extension, Benton County, 5600-E West Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336-1387, 509-735-3551, Contact Us

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