Starting on the gift-giving list for the holiday season in October seems early, but the goal is to relieve stress by finding what you want early and what fits your budget.

The popularity of gardening during the pandemic has grown. A few gardening gift ideas are provided.

To fit a tight budget, consider the free, science-based information available through publications from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service at the Daviess County office or another county office or you can print them yourself from the website http://daviess.ca.uky.edu/content/horticulture.

If the information is about vegetable gardening, include the free Plate It Up Recipes from the University of Kentucky located at https://fcs-hes.ca.uky.edu/piukp-recipes. Organize everything in a folder, binder, or with clips to make a special gift.

Another way to present the gardening information is to write the website addresses for the publications in a card or on a decorated piece of paper. This information could be included in a special email as well.

Another idea is to purchase vegetable seeds intended for planting in the spring and include Plate It Up recipes. Keep in mind to store seeds in a cool, dry location to preserve their vigor and quality.

Vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, peas, beets, beans, and cucumbers are easy to grow in the garden. Tomato, pepper, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower need to be seeded indoors and transplanted out in the garden at the appropriate time. More information about the timing for planting the seeds is available in “Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky”, http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf .

Flower seeds to include in the garden make nice gifts too. Zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, celosia, and marigolds grow easily from seed directly sown into the garden.

To grow your own vegetable transplants from seeds, such as tomatoes, it is recommended to use supplemental lights, such as fluorescent or grow lights. A heat mat also helps seeds germinate faster. Other supplies include seed starting media, seedling containers, trays to catch water, and a timer for the lights to manage the appropriate day lengths needed by the seedlings. More information about growing transplants is available in the “Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky” publication at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf.

Raised beds are popular to use for an outside vegetable garden. Kits are available to purchase or make your own. The widest suggested width for a bed is four feet. The length of the bed depends on the space and time available. A frame to support the soil may be constructed of stone, concrete block, brick, or recycled plastic boards, or soil may be mounded without a rigid structure. Woods naturally resistant to decay include cedar, redwood, and black locust. Even beds tall enough to avoid bending over can be made or purchased.

Gift certificates to purchase of growing media to fill the bed and for seeds or transplants would complete this gift. Information about the planting media used to grow plants in the bed is available at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/ID/ID248/ID248.pdf.

To complete other gardening tasks, pruners and pruning saws are used to maintain shrubs and trees. The bypass type of pruning tool has a scissor-like cutting action that cleanly cuts the stem without crushing it. Pruning saws are designed to cut on the pull stroke. The blades are narrow to be able to fit into tight spaces and still make clean cuts.

Hand pruners are used to cut stems up to three-quarters inch in diameter. Two-handed lopping shears cut branches up to 1.5 inches in diameter. Pruning saws are recommended for removing branches over 1 inch in diameter. Following these guidelines helps to make the tools last longer and results in good, clean cuts that are better for the plant.

When planting flower bulbs or other small plants, a plant auger would be handy to make a hole in the soil. This auger attaches to a drill. Make sure the soil is dry enough when making the hole to avoid creating slick sides which encourages the plant’s roots to continue to circle in the hole and not grow into the soil. This may cause the plant to not perform as well.

Garden and spading forks are useful tools to turn over garden soil. Garden forks have four tines that are thick and rectangular or square. They are used to break up heavy soil that has not been disturbed.

The spading fork has four flat tines that may have diamond or triangular backs. They are used to turn loose soil. Other uses for both tools include turning over compost, harvesting root crops, and dividing perennials.

Making a compost bin would be another gift idea. Composting yard waste turns it into a good amendment to improve the soil for growing plants. Bins can be made of wood or very easily made out of wire. Directions and supply list for making bins and compost are available free through the Cooperative Extension Service Office or the website http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/ho/ho75/ho75.pdf.

Books with plant themes make great gifts. I can provide some suggestions or consult Dr. Winston Dunwell, University of Kentucky Extension Professor for Nursery Crops, book reviews at https://nurserycrop-exten

mental-horticulture-books. He covers books for both commercial and home use.

Closer to Christmas, poinsettias, holiday cactus, and amaryllis will be available locally. More information on their care can be found at http://www.uky.edu/hort/sites/www.uky.edu.hort/files/documents/christmas

flowers.pdf.

For more gardening gift ideas, contact the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service at 270-685-8480 or annette.heisdorffer@uky.edu.

Annette’s Tip

A gift certificate purchased from a local garden center or nursery allows the person to purchase plants, decorative pots, a fountain, or wide-brim hat when the items become available.

Annette Meyer Heisdorffer is the Daviess County extension agent for horticulture. Her column runs weekly on the Home & Garden page in Lifestyle. Email her at annette.heisdorffer@uky.edu.

 

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