The shopping days until Christmas are becoming fewer and fewer. Sometimes hearing gift-giving ideas makes it easier to find the right gift. A few suggestions are provided below.

Gardening information comes to mind since my mother and I like gardening information and books. A free source of science-based information is available through publications from the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service at the Daviess County office or another office. You can print them yourself from the website http://www.ca.uky.edu/home-garden. Organize them in a binder to make it easy to find the materials.

Books with plant themes make great gifts for adults and children. I will happily help if you have questions about a book to fit your needs. In addition, Dr. Winston Dunwell, University of Kentucky Extension professor for nursery crops, has reviewed many types of gardening books from commercial applications to home use. His comments can be found at https://nursery-crop-extension.ca.uky.edu/content/ornamental-and-environmental-horticulture-books.

Growing vegetables in raised beds is a current trend. Kits are available to purchase, or you can make your own. Four feet wide is the widest suggested width of the bed. The best length of the bed depends on the space and time available. A frame to support the soil may be constructed of untreated wood, 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 are available already made. Gift certificates to complete the purchase of media to fill the bed and for seeds or transplants would complete this gift. Information about the planting media used to grow the plants in the bed is available at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/ID/ID248/ID248.pdf.

In order to grow transplants from seeds, supplies specifically for that purpose make great gifts. Supplies may include light stands, grow lights or fluorescent bulbs, heat mats, 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 can be found within the publication on growing vegetables in Kentucky located at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf.

Even though a person has to wait until spring to plant them, a collection of vegetable, herb and flower seeds is a gift that creates excitement for spring to arrive. Zinnias, sunflowers and marigolds are easy to grow and can be sown directly into the garden. Vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, peas, beets, beans and cucumbers are also easy to grow. Tomato, pepper, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower need to be seeded indoors and transplanted out in the garden at the appropriate time.

Gardening gloves make excellent gifts for the entire family. My kids still wear their gloves while helping me with flowers in the landscape. A pair of rubberized gloves is best when working with muddy jobs. In addition, two pairs of cotton gloves are handy so that one pair is always ready while the other may be in the laundry.

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 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 of an inch in diameter. Two-handed lopping shears cut branches up to 1 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.

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 and digging root crops.

A battery-operated timer for irrigation lines or soaker hoses help make sure plants are watered. The timer saves water by keeping it from running all night when someone forgets to turn it off.

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

My favorite gifts include holiday plants such as poinsettia, Christmas cactus and amaryllis that brighten the days during winter. These plants are available locally. More information on their care can be found at http://www.uky.edu/hort/sites/www.uky.edu.hort/files/documents/christmasflowers.pdf.

For more gardening gift ideas, contact the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service at 270-685-8480.

Annette's Tip:

A gift certificate may be purchased from a garden center with a suggestion of a wide brim garden hat, decorative pots, containers for patio water gardens, a fountain or bird feeders. The gift recipient could use it for his or her favorite plants too. Some items may not be available now, but spring will be here before we know it.

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