As a gardener and farmer, there is nothing better that a fantastic garden gift. But with soooo many choices online, and a ton of junk, how do you pick the one that would be the best for your gardener friend or family member? Here is a list of my favorites, hopefully one sounds good to you:
A Gardening Apron – you don’t realize what you are missing until you wear a gardening apron with pockets out in the garden. It’s like bringing your shed with you. If you are like me, I spend more time going back and forth to the garage and shed than I do in the garden. A couple of things to look for: several pockets, waxed canvas, double-stitched apron pockets and adjustable straps.
A Hori Hori – The Japanese garden tool, named with the Japanese term “Hori Hori” which means “dig,dig”, is an amazing friend in the garden. The Hori Hori can be used to dig, weed, cut, scrape and measure. With roots back to the Samurai forges in Japan, this gardening sword will be a favorite for any gardener on your list. You can read up on the features in a quality Hori Hori here: The Best Hori Hori Tool
The Garden Tote – a garden carryall for tools, fertilizer, bulb packs, seeds and more, can be a great partner for the gardener. Our time gardening is limited, and having all you need a foot away can insure your time out there is saved for garden duties.
The Dibber (Dibbler) – having its roots (no pun intended) with the first gardener’s way back in time, a dibber is a tool for making holes in the soil for seeds and bulbs. The handy tool makes quick work for gardening tasks, and modern dibbers are an attractive wood and stainless steel tool any gardener would love.
The Garden Tool Holder – pruners, scissors and clippers, also called gardening sharps, are difficult to carry and can damage standard carriers. A thick and solid leather or heavy canvas tool roll can give any gardener a safe place to store their gardening tools.
Bonsai Scissors/Clippers – garden scissors are an excellent gift for the discerning gardener, and have become quite popular for many reasons. These sharp gardening tools provide many functions out in the garden, and stainless steel scissors will last forever.
So, hopefully this quick list of gardening gift ideas can provide you with the best gift for the gardener in your life (or a gift for yourself).
We’ve all used many different things to make holes in the ground for seeds or bulbs. I know I have. Nothing has been off limits: a stick, screwdriver, dowel, shovel handle, and yes, even a finger. But a dibber, also known as a dibbler or dibble, is a garden tool made for this very purpose. Its first recorded use was back in roman times, usually made from old tool handles, and its design has not really changed.
Dibbers are made of all different types or materials, including wood, metal and plastic. Here are the attributes of a quality dibber in the modern age, and one any gardener would appreciate as a gift:
A t-handle for leverage in making deep holes or penetrating hard soil.
A stainless metal tip to keep going and going
Wood handle for aesthetics
Thick wood for a solid grip
I know we use ours on the farm constantly (I just used it for planting Ranunculus and Anemone today), and after a 1000 bulbs, i am thankful for this handy tool. But its not only for planting. Here are all the uses for a dibber:
To make holes in soil for seed planting
To make holes in soil for bulb planting
To break up potted plant roots before planting in the garden
To clean dirt from tubers
For leverage in propagation with large roots.
To aerate the soil around a plant
To create deep water holes for plants in hot climates
So, I’ve wanted to build a cottage/English garden for some time now and started a larger project than I anticipated. In doing research I wanted to understand what attributes make up this type of garden, and what features I wanted to include. There are really two main kinds of English Garden: the rolling estate/park and the cottage garden. The rolling estate is lush with broad expanses of green, and has a park feel broken up by “rooms” or areas of diverse planting. The cottage is your typical loose, flowing and colorful garden.
Key Attributes of an English Garden
So here is a collection of English/cottage garden traits I compiled:
Abundance – in the garden there is always a feel of slight overgrowth and abundance. Bare spots are not allowed, paths should be slightly crowded with blooms. There needs to be a “full” feeling.
Natural – plants should always look like they are in their natural habitat.
Weaving – using a variety of plants, vines and containers there should be a woven feel throughout the garden.
Variety – there should be a variety of bloom types,, sizes and colors to create a visual texture.
Informality – There is always a main theme of informality on the verge of organized chaos.
Layers – using height and plant types, there should be a layering of foliage and blooms.
The Hori Hori Garden Tool: The Ultimate and Best Tool for Gardeners
We use our Hori Hori tool every day at Celtic Farm, and highly recommend them to friends and customers as the ultimate garden tool.
Have you ever been in the garden and need a tool that you did not bring? The Hori Hori Garden Toolis a barebones implement that can provide many of the functions that avid gardeners require. This digging tool is often referred to as a garden knife”, “soil knife” or “weeding knife” and is a true Swiss Army knife for the garden. The word Hori literally means “to dig “, and Hori Hori is used as a digging sound in the language. It has a specialized concave blade that is serrated on one side and can be used for the following:
weeding in the garden
plant propagating through splitting
as a hand axe for chopping
as a trowel
as the all around, ultimate garden tool
How do you find the best hori hori garden tool? Here are some things to look for when trying to find this ultimate garden tool:
You want to purchase a full tang Hori Hori. If you are not familiar with the word tang it describes the continuous portion of the blade that extends into the handle of a knife. Why the full tang on your garden knife? A full tang provides the maximum strength and control when using the hori hori in the garden. Cheaper knives have minimal extension of the tang into the handle. YOu can see a full tang hori hori here: <link>
3 Rivets in Your Hori Hori Handle. The full tang wont help you if its not securely connected to the wooden handle. Quality Hori Hori’s will have 3 rivets on the handle.
Stainless Steel Blade. A stainless steel blade provides the rust proof strength required when using the digging tool in the garden.
Curved, serrated blade. Make sure the blade has a concave curve, and that the serration is of high quality for optimal use of the tool as a saw and cutting implement in the garden.
Measurement marks. – I find it really handy to have inch marks on the inner part of my hori hori blade. This is the ultimate tool for planting bulbs in the garden, and makes the ultimate garden tool even better.
Blade length. The Hori Hori blade should be between 6 and 8 inches, with the handle about the same. This length gives perfect balance and provides for the one hand, barebones tool performance that makes it such a joy to use.
Want to buy our recommended/best Hori Hori? Click Below:
As we continue to grow and extend our farm, I am really digging into the uses and background of everything we grow. Lately in the “lab”, I have been experimenting with Lavender Oil in sprays and salves. The essential oil that is distilled from many of the different lavender varieties is most commonly know for its relaxing and calming effects on the body, both physically and emotionally. It is also highly known for its skin uses, and can be used to cleanse cuts and scrapes, reduce irritations and can be applied for overall skin health. Here are 10 ways to use essential lavender oil in your day to day life:
Relaxation – take a few drops of lavender oil and rub it on your palms, wrists, feet or anywhere else on the body. Deeply inhale several times to draw the calming scent.
Sleep Aid – Lavender’s scent is known to aid sleep, and soothe nerves. Use a Lavender spray that is part oil, part witch hazel and part water to spray linens and pillows to drift off.
Burns – putting a few drops of oil, or a Lavender Calendula salve on a burn will reduce pain and redness and help in the healing process.
Cuts and Scrapes – Lavender oil and salves can provide a soothing, healing effect.
Laundry – spray your freshly washed towels and clothes to make them fresh throughout the day.
Insect bites – Lavender salves can take away the sting and itch for mosquito bites and bee stings.
Chapped/Dry lips – using oil or salves on dry chapped lips will help them deal and add moisture.
Headaches and Migranes – Lavenders aromatic powers can help alleviate a headache.
Acne – oil and salves of lavender can help reduce acne, and the redness of blemishes.
Slow Aging – there is some dispute, but many experts agree that the antioxidants found in Lavender slow the aging process.
The Christmas Cactus, aka Schlumbergera, is grown widely and is loved for its beautiful winter blooms. The plant makes a great holiday gift for friends and family, and propagating this plant can produce beautiful offspring for giving.
Propagating Christmas Cactus is easy, and this succulent variety takes readily to new roots. See the simple instructions below on how to root your Christmas Cactus cuttings.
Rooting Your Christmas Cactus: Step by Step
First off, you will need to take some cuttings from your parent plant. Simply take some Y-shaped cuttings from any growing tip, and take at least 3 segments. You can just pinch off your segments.
Although not required, most horticulturists advise letting these cuttings sit for 1-2 days is a cool, shady place to let the ends callous over. This can protect the end, prevent rotting and also increase propagation success.
While your cuttings are sitting, prepare a home for them that includes a mixture of peat and sand.
After your cuttings have waited their proper time, dip the ends in rooting hormone, and stick your cactus into the medium. You should push them about 1/2 a segment into the potting soil.
Water them sparsely, and in 2-3 weeks you should see new growth at the tip.
That’s it! After about six weeks, transplant your cacti into its final home and watch it grow.
Two years ago we propagated our favorite flower, the Hydrangea. We wanted to create a variety of bloom colors for our Hydrangea loving customers, and to grab attention at the farmers market. Well, it worked. How did we do it?
So, unlike most flowers, the lacecap and mophead hydrangeas can changes colors. Fortunately for us, it is as easy as changing the soil pH. Hydrangeas are the litmus test in the flower world. Below are the pH ranges, and resulting colors:
Acid Soil (pH less than 6.0) Blue or Purple-Blue Flowers, Between Alkaline and Acidic (pH between 6 and 7) Purple of Bluish Pink Flowers, Alkaline Soil (pH greater than 7) Pink and Red Flowers
How can you change the pH? You can get a pH soil test kit to be exact, but that is not me 😉 I had pink, and wanted blue, so I wanted to lower the pH to create a more acidic environment. To do this, I added aluminum sulfate (you could also use garden sulfur). I sprinkled it around my hydrangea beauties, scratched it into the soil, and waited for a big rain. To raise pH, you can use ground lime. Use the same technique. Good luck on changing your Hydrangea color!
Ok, I know, I know, another post on keeping my garden safe from deer and rabbit. We live on a very open property in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, and there are quite a few deer families and jack rabbits that roam our property. I did not want to clog up our view with added fencing, but wanted to make sure I kept the furry critters away from my dahlias and other flowers this year. In my first post, Homemade Garlic Deer and Rabbit Repellent, I talk about protection for my garden using a garlic, cayenne pepper and egg spray. This works like a charm, but I wanted to add an additional deer and rabbit fencing as an outer layer of protection. I came up with an idea to combine fishing line and randomly placed shiny mylar ribbon to create an invisible fence.
Fishing line and mylar for invisible deer fencing
I bought some wooden stakes at the Home Depot and placed a few screws into the wood at 1′ and 4′. I put several of the stakes on the perimeter of my lower field to enclose the planting area. This was the start of my deer fence. I then took the monofilament fishing line and ran it from stake to stake, looping it around the screws as I walked.
Invisible fencing for deer and rabbits
Then, at about 8′ intervals, I tied the mylar strips onto the fishing line. If you can’t find mylar, just use tinsel, or aluminum foil. The shiny strips move in the breeze and reflect light at night, and the cautious deer/rabbits avoid the area. Since placing the deer fence, I have yet to see any deer tracks in my garden. Hope this helps!!
Last year I had some plants decimated by deer, and wanted to be proactive and get ahead of the curve. So I set out to make homemade deer repellent with common household items. Here is a list of what you will need:
Peeled garlic cloves
So, put the garlic and cayenne pepper in the food processor to start your homemade deer repellent project. While you are doing this, boil a few cups of water, and prepare your container. I used an old water jug from the kids soccer days. Once the garlic and pepper is ground to a pulp for your repellent, put it and eggs (I used 3) into your container. Whip up the eggs so the yolks break, and pour in the hot water into your repellent base. Stir the mixture well, and put about 5 drops of liquid soap into the mix. Cover the container, and shake it to mix. Let this sit for a few days.
To use your newly made deer repellent, open your container, and be prepared for the stench, and use cheesecloth or a paint filter to fill up a spray bottle about a quarter of the way. This is highly concentrated, and you can make it go a long way if you dilute it. Fill the rest of your sprayer with water and shake. Apply this to your plants, and repel all your furry enemies. This concoction is also good for: rabbit repellent and grasshopper repellent.
Be sure and reapply after the rain!
Starting to propagate my dahlias this week, and using a couple of techniques. In this article i will outline how I am taking tuber cuttings to multiply my stock. First off, at the beginning of my season, i put my tubers into containers indoors, and cover them about half-way with potting soil so i can catch all the action. Depending on the type, and the warmth, it usually takes a few weeks before the eyes start sprouting, and another one or two before i can start propagating the dahlias. Below is an overview of the technique:
Once the tuber has a number of sprouts, I select ones that are 3 or 4 inches in height for my cuttings.
Tuber with multiple shoots for taking cuttings for propagation
2. Once I have selected a Dahlia shoot with two sets of leaves, I then use a sharp instrument (Exacto Knife), to take a cutting. Note: You want to get a bit of the dahlia tuber at the base to insure the best chances for rooting.
Take a bit of the Dahlia Tuber with the cutting
3. I take off the bottom set of leaves once I have the cutting.
Dahlia cutting with a bit of tuber and lower leaves removed
4. This step is optional, but if you have rooting hormone, it can aid in getting the dahlia cutting to root more quickly.
Dip the Dahlia cutting in rooting hormone for improved success rates
5. Finally, take your cutting and place it in a mix of soil and vermiculite. The loose soil will give roots free reign, and encourage growth. Note: I also apply bottom heat and cover the cuttings with plastic to create a complete propagation environment.
The propagated cutting ready to grow.
In about two weeks or so, the baby Dahlias will root. You can check by gently tugging on the cutting.