Whether you want to splurge or stay within a budget for the gift-giving season, Oregon State University Extension Service experts have you covered with ideas.
Soil thermometer. Horticulturist Weston Miller suggests this simple tool for avid vegetable gardeners.
“This will let them know when it’s time to plant various crops,” he says. “They should look for consistent soil temperatures above 50 F for cool-season crops and above 60 F for warm-season crops.” $7 to $30.
Tea and catalog. “I have had some wonderful English folks in my program,” says Joy Jones, a 4-H and agriculture expert. “One of their ideas that I liked was a seed or nursery catalog combined with a pretty teacup or nice mug with a garden theme or design and some herbal teas. Sit back, sip a cup and plan for next year.”
Plant cuttings in a pretty pot. Master Gardener Coordinator Scott Thiemann often gives cuttings as gifts.
“Succulents are especially easy,” he says. “There’s no cost except the pot and potting soil used. I have given away many such gifts to friends in the past.”
Add a nice card with instructions on how to care for the plant, and you’re good to go.
Pruning shears or backpack sprayer. “How about a nice pair of Felcos?” asks Neil Bell, an extension horticulturist. “Everyone with a garden needs to prune something, and those are excellent and not cheap.”
Along with the pruning shears, he suggests a 3- to 4-gallon backpack sprayer for those applying horticultural oils or other pesticides. Search for pruners at felco.com. Backpack sprayers start at about $50.
Mason bee starter kit. Horticulturist Brooke Edmunds offers this recommendation for a backyard fruit-tree grower.
“Give a decorative house, paper tubes and a coupon to get cocoons in the spring,” she says. “Nonaggressive and fun to watch, mason bees are great early spring pollinators of fruit trees.” $15 for a basic house, up to more than $100. Crown Bees, a Northwest company, carries several kits.
Triangular-shaped push-pull hoe. Steve Renquist, a horticulturist with OSU Extension Service, loves these tools that glide back and forth, close to the surface of the soil, almost effortlessly removing unwanted weed seedlings.
“These hoes help you eliminate weed seedlings and small plants without disturbing established plantings,” he says. “They are so fast and effective, they have helped me eliminate the need for herbicides in my food and ornamental landscape.” $30 to $35.
Soil test kit and/or a bag of lime (calcium carbonate). Horticulturist Ross Penhallagon offers a practical idea.
“They are less glitzy gifts but critical to gardening,” he says. “The soil kit will tell you how your soil is doing for nutrients and pH. Most soils need lime every five years at 80 pounds per 1,000 square feet to raise the pH, but a test will confirm that. Lime also helps to slow down apple bitter pit and tomato blossom end rot.” $6 to $30.
Bulk or bagged compost. Ross offers one more gift idea.
“Buy compost for the gardener from a local distributor,” he says. “You can buy a gift card or show up with a pickup load of compost on the day after Christmas, which would be fun. If you’re really nice, you’ll offer to help spread it.”
Compost also comes in 10- or 20-pound bags. $5 to 10 for bagged; up to $250 for bulk.