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GET GROWING: What Nova Scotian gardeners really want for Christmas

Flaming flare peppers are tough, high-yielding, and suited to container or garden growing. NIKI JABBOUR
A lively green houseplant under the Christmas tree is a good gift idea option. NIKI JABBOUR - Niki Jabbour

There’s no need to search cyberspace for a garden gift when we have so many great options to shop locally. While stores remain open, most are also taking phone or online orders and doing curbside pick up to make shopping safe and efficient for everyone.

To help you select a perfect gift, I talked to a few experts to discover what gear and tools they use in their own gardens.

Donna Evers, gardener and organizer of the Kingswood Pollinator Meadow

Like most avid gardeners, Donna has a couple of essential tools in her shed.

“My favourites come from Lee Valley and the top three are the Hori Hori knife ($36.50), root knife ($24.50), and transplant spade ($58.00),” she says. “They’re well made and only the head gardener is allowed to touch these tools.”

Donna uses both the Hori Hori and pruning knife to slice through densely tangled roots when dividing perennials. The transplant spade, a useful tool with a long narrow head, is perfect for planting and digging trees, shrubs and perennials.

Gardening knives like these from Lee Valley are a very useful gift idea.  Niki Jabbour
Gardening knives like these from Lee Valley are a very useful gift idea. Niki Jabbour

Neville MacKay, My Mother's Bloomers

Neville knows the value of a good pair of cutters, snips, and pruners.

“I always have a pair of cutters in my pocket because you never know when something in the garden needs to be harvested and enjoyed in the house,” he says.

In fact, Neville has several pairs of garden cutters, even keeping a pair in his car so they’re always handy.

Mark Cullen and Ben Cullen, hosts of the Greenfile Posdcast

The father-son gardening duo each have their own garden gift suggestions. Mark recommends gardening smarter, not harder with a back-saving tool like the long-handled Backhoe ($29.99, Home Hardware).

“To create this handy tool, we modified a traditional Japanese hoe, making the head larger and sharper, and the handle longer,” says Mark. “It also has a serrated edge to comb out shallow-rooted weeds like chickweed.”

Ben Cullen notes many homeowners, including himself, have taken up birding the past year.

“Winter is a fantastic time to enjoy the many species of birds that visit our gardens,” he says. “I recommend hanging a suet feeder with good quality suet for entertainment through the winter months.”

Emily Moir, Halifax Seed

As a vegetable gardener with limited time, Emily has been growing in raised beds and Smart Pot fabric planters.

“Smart Pots ($3.99-$22.99) are a great way to extend your growing space,” she says. “Plus, they’re good for your plants as the fabric material produces wonderfully strong root systems due to air pruning.”

For gardeners considering seed starting in 2021, she recommends a simple grow light system like the Sunblaster Nanodome Mini Greenhouse ($69.99-$99.99), an all-in-one-system. “I start all of my seeds using these kits, giving my transplants a healthy and sturdy start.”

 You can’t go wrong with a few packets of seeds for a gift for the gardener on your list. - Niki Jabbour
You can’t go wrong with a few packets of seeds for a gift for the gardener on your list. - Niki Jabbour

Gifts for the gardener

• Seed packets are always a welcome gift.

• Microgreen growing supplies are quick and easy to grow indoors.

• A cold frame extends the harvest in early spring or late autumn.

Gifts for the houseplant lover

• There’s no shortage of fun and stylish pots and containers for indoor plants at local shops.

• There are many sizes and styles of grow lights and using one can improve the growth of indoor plants like succulents.

Gifts for the flower lover

• You can’t go wrong with a few packets of flower seeds but find out what your gardener likes to grow: cut flowers (sunflowers, sweet peas, cosmos), bee-friendly plants (sweet alyssum, nasturtiums, annual poppies) and so on.

• Watering wand makes watering easier and more comfortable by extending your reach. Often available in bold and bright colours.

Niki Jabbour is the best-selling author of three gardening books and a two-time winner of the prestigious American Horticultural Society Book Award. Her latest book, Growing Under Cover comes out in December 2020.

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