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Gift ideas for thanksgiving and christmas dinner

Housewarming and Hostess Gift for the Holidays

Gifts From Afar: Lighten Their Day with These Thanksgiving Gift Ideas

What a strange and turbulent year we have had. With so many stressors, I look forward to having all my children home for the holidays, but will greatly miss our large family gathering. But if you are like me, you will want to give. a gift to those that are celebrating afar, and give a virtual housewarming gift to bring a smile to their faces. Here is a quick set of gift ideas for a holiday hostess or housewarming message from afar:

I hope you have a pleasant Thanksgiving as we head towards Christmas and the New Year. Thank God 2021 is almost here and we can put this year behind us!!

You can see all our hostess and housewarming gifts here:

Unique Hostess and Housewarming Gifts

Harvesting and collecting snapdragon seeds

Collecting Snapdragon Seeds

A Guide to Harvesting Snapdragon Seeds

Snapdragons are a favorite in the garden, and they provide a wonderful vertical element to any landscape or raised garden bed. They are prolific seeders, and Snapdragon seeds will self sow if left to fall. The seeds are easy to harvest, and can provide you with a bounty to spread throughout you landscape and gardening early spring.

Harvesting or collecting snapdragon seeds
Seed pods from the Snapdragon flower

Here are some quick steps to gather and collect you Snapdragon seed pods:

  1. As the growing season ends, and you move into Fall, your Snapdragons will turn from green to brown.
  2. Identify a brown stalk and clip a few with gardening scissors or a sharp set of garden pruners/shears.
  3. Once you gather your brown stalks, organize a flat surface on which to work. Layout some sheets of white paper on the surface. The paper will help gather any snapdragon seeds that fall during handling, and provide a way to herd the seeds later.
  4. Look for the seed pods on the stalk, and snap them off. They are hard to miss, they look like little round faces.
  5. Once you have a pile of the snapdragon seed pods, grab a plastic cup or container to hold your seeds temporarily.
  6. Take the pod and roll it in between your thumb and forefinger until it cracks. The little black seeds will fall out onto the paper or into your container. You will be surprised at the number of seeds Snapdragons produce.
  7. Grab a seed collecting envelope, and be sure and put the date collected, the type of seed and then seal it and wait for early spring before you plant your Snapdragon seed.
harvesting snapdragon seeds
Harvested Snapdragon seeds from the broken seed pod

If you have questions, shoot us a note.

Garden Gift Box – Ideas for Unique Gardening Gifts

Gardening Gift Box Essentials

As we go into the holidays, a great choice for the gardener, or want to be gardener, is the garden gift box. There are a broad variety of choices on the market:

  • High End Gardening Gift Boxes
  • Cheap Garden Gift Boxes
  • Gardening Tool Set Gift Boxes
  • Garden Apparel Gift Boxes
  • On and On

But what should you choose? What are the best ideas for these garden gift baskets or boxes?

Here is a quick guide to some gardening gift box ideas that are unique and will be a great gift for the gardener to be or expert gardener.

Unique Gardening Gift Boxes

There are a large number of gift box providers, and many of them have created unique offerings that will be a standout gardening gift. Companies like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel have their offerings. Smaller gardening gift companies, like Celtic Farm, assemble unique and complete boxes focused on the season. Below is our fall garden gift box with bulbs, bulb planting tool and our unique and beautiful copper garden markers.

The Best Gardening Gift Box
Celtic Farm’s Fall and Winter Garden Gift Box with Tulip Bulbs

Gardening Tools Gift Box

Gardeners love great tools, and Japanese gardening tool sets have taken the gardening world by storm. Hori Horis, bonsai scissors and all type of gardening digging/weeding tools are a fantastic gift for gardeners. You Can purchase these garden tools from a site and put together a tools set any gardener would envy, or you can purchase a tool set from any number of gardening gift sites. Our Japanese Garden Tool Set is shown below.

Garden gift box with tools
Garden tool set gift boxes are perfect for any gardener

Garden to Table Gift Box

Whether your target gardener has an affinity for vegetables or flowers in their garden, they will love a gift set that provides fun and functionality in the kitchen. A cutting board, knives, towels and other items packed in a box is sure to please. You can take a look at our garden to table gift box below.

Gardening gift box for garden to table
Garden to table boxes are a great gift for cooks

Don’t like what you see from an idea perspective? You can also look across a broad swath of products and build your own gift box. Click to shop and build that custom gift for gardeners.

Gifts for Gardeners

Unique Gifts for the Gardener

Unique Garden Gifts – The Guide

Cool and Unique Gifts for the Gardener

With the holidays fast approaching, and the rush to find those special, cool and unique gifts, how can you find that special gift for the gardener in your life? To find that standout gardening gift, there are a couple of recommendations.

Cool Garden Gifts: Where to Shop

The gardening gift market is plagued with low quality, plastic goods that barely last a season. You can find high quality gardening gifts made of stainless steel, wood and copper, you just have to look. Here are some quick tips:

  • Support Small Gardening Businesses – there are a ton of small, specialized gardening shops online that are run by gardeners and farmers, and usually sell what they use and recommend. Not the big gift stores that just buy in bulk and push their wares.
  • Buy From Those That Do – would you buy a car from an appliance dealer? ;). Gardeners know what gardeners need and love, and you can find those unique and useful gardening gifts by doing some research and finding a niche store that fits your gardener’s style.
  • Ask Questions and Look for Gardening FAQs – it is my favorite thing, and I just love chatting via email or on Instagram on our unique and cool gifts. Ask questions when you find a store you like, and get recommendations for the type of gardener you are buying for. You will get some cool gift recommendations and save some time.

Now that you have some basic hunting details for that special garden gift, now let’s talk about the type of gardener that is your unique gift target. Here is how I classify gardeners:

  • The Serious Gardener – not afraid to get dirt under their nails. They use any garden weapon or tool. Plants relentlessly, and constantly change their landscape. Will go at it with or without gloves. This gardener will love anything gardening related, but will especially love garden tool sets, the Hori Hori or a gardening apron.
  • The Casual Gardener – loves the outdoors and gardening. Lives for the stress free feel of the garden. Has others do the heavy labor, but does get dirty on occasion (my wife ;)). Occasionally plants and pots, content with pruning roses and doing light work. So any item that makes her/his gardening experience more pleasurable would be a great gift. Try stainless garden scissors, a great garden gift for the casual gardener. Would love one of our gardening gift boxes.
  • The Flower/Vegetable Lover – hands off with the exception of cutting flowers or grabbing vegetables in the garden. Not a dirt lover like the serious gardener, but has a passion for the beauty and variety of plants. Garden snips or a gardening apron to protect clothing would be a great gift for this type. Mostly this unique gardener has an affinity for flower gardening, but also loves farm to table.

So, with all this info on finding that unique gardening gift, hopefully you can take our suggestions and be successful. Here are some links to our unique garden gift collections for men, women and general gardeners.

Unique Gardening Gifts for Women

Unique Gardening Gifts for Men

Unique Garden Gifts for Any Gardener

Fall gardening chores and checklist

5 Things to Do Now In The Garden

Fall Tips For An Amazing Spring

Ever been out in the garden and wondered, is there something more I can do now to have a more glorious Spring? I have always loved to see the fruits of my labor, and get a surprise in Spring that was either new or unexpected when it comes to the flower garden. Here are 5 things you can do in the garden now, for an even better garden in Spring:

  1. Collect seeds. Seed collecting is one of the easiest and simplest ways to extend and selectively enhance your garden. Fall is the time to do it, and you can walk through your garden and in minutes have a supply of selected and adored plant seeds for the following season. If you haven’t collected seeds before, with most flowers its simple and fun! You can use our unique seed collecting envelopes to label and store your bounty.
  2. Change the color of your hydrangeas. Here at Celtic Farm, hydrangeas are one of our favorite flowers, and we have had so much fun over the years changing the soil Ph, and seeing the affect on the blossoms. The pinks, blue and purples are just breathtaking. Not all hydrangeas can be altered, and typically your standard pink varieties are the best subjects for experiment. Here is a blog post describing the technique and results: How to Change Hydrangea Color.
  3. Plant fall flower bulbs. Nothing says Spring like the blooming of Daffodils, Tulips and Hyacinth. Their flowers tell us that warmer weather is on the way, and when planted en masse, create a stunning visual in the garden and landscape. (Fall Flower Bulb Collection)
  4. Mark and organize your garden. I am getting old, and do so much planting in fall, if I don’t mark our beds, I typically forget my varieties :). First off, start a journal to log your handy work. These notes will pay dividends, and make sure you know the variety and where you sourced the bulbs and seeds. Secondly, use garden markers to label your planting areas.
  5. Compost your leaves!! It breaks my heart to see piles of leaves on the city streets that are waiting to be taken away. We have found over the years that leaves make the best compost and provide substance and nutrients to the soil. Try my lazy method: I just place layers of leaves over new farm or garden areas and give them a good soaking. When planting time comes, I till them in and create an amazing soil base.

Five quick things to do here in Fall out in the garden. I guarantee you will love the results.

trimming and pruning lavender

How to Prune Your Lavender

Pruning Your Lavender Bush to Ignite Growth

Pruning your lavender is critical to plant health and the longevity of the plant. When proper care is applied to your plants, lavender can last upwards of 20 years! Pruning is required, and there is definitely a technique you must follow. Without this annual care, your lavender will grow long and lanky, and typically split. Here are the steps:

Steps for Pruning Lavender Varieties

  1. Look for the woody growth. Old growth turns brown and woody, and this is your key reference point for the pruning. Typically, plants in year two of growth will have this established growth.
  2. Prune the soft growth. Measure up about 3 inches from the woody growth you have identified on your lavender, and this soft growth area will be your target pruning point.
  3. Get the shape right. The result of pruning your lavender should be a dome or mound looking bush.
  4. Deadhead during growing season. For certain varieties, a quick deadhead prune can urge a second flowering and bloom.

How Not To Prune Your Lavender

Pruning your lavender is quite simple once you know the technique. But there are certain things you should not do.

Don’t cut into the woody stems at the heart of your plant. This old growth grows slow, and may not grow new stems at all.

Don’t prune in fall. New growth will die quickly in the cold of Fall and Winter, and stress your lavender plants. Finish up pruning by end of August.

Don’t take off too much. A good rule of thumb is to only remove the top 1/3rd of the plant. Too much more and you risk the health of your lavender.

A quick guide for you to keep your plants healthy, and enjoy the bloom season after season.

bulb planting tools for tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and crocus

The Bulb Planter – Tools for Planting Bulbs

Fall and Spring Bulb Planters for Your Garden

Planting bulbs is one of my favorite chores on the farm and in our flower gardens. But ask any gardener “What is the best tool for planting fall and spring bulbs?” and you will get a different answer from everyone you ask. Here are some quick questions to ask before we review each of the tool types:

What Type of Bulbs Are You Planting?

With a large variation of sizes and planting depths, the bulb planting tool you select will likely depend on what flower bulbs you are planting. For instance, a large DN2 18cm Daffodil bulb requires a much larger hole than a small Allium flower bulb. (Read our post on Flower Bulb Sizes). Also, not all tools can work in harder ground, or at deeper bulb planting depths.

Bulb types determine the bulb planting tool

What Type of Soil Do You Have?

Your soil type will also help you decide on your garden bulb weapon of choice. If you have prepared a nice raised bed garden with rich, loose soil, you may use a different tool than if you are “roughing” it an digging in native soil to get the naturalized look.

How Is Your Back? 😉

Alright, alright. Let’s get real. For the older ones in the crowd (I am one of them), your back may not be ready for hours of hunching, and you may want to use a tool that allows you to stand up for the digging part.

The Bulb Planter

Ok, so now that we have some of the bulb type, soil and the state of your back :), let’s move on to the different types and their pros and cons:

The Garden Hand Trowel

Back to basics. If you are planting a few flower bulbs, or just digging a trench in which to place your flower bulbs, the old standby trowel will work just fine. Also know as the small shovel, it is a bit old school, but when used correctly will do the job.

Pros of the Trowel for Bulb Planting

  • Everyone has one
  • Easy to use
  • Great for small volume planting
  • Good for most soil types

Cons of the Trowel for Planting Bulbs

  • Hard on the ol’ back
  • Not optimal for large quantities of bulbs
  • Can be difficult to use for deep planting

The Bulb Dibbler

The simplest tool a gardener can own has been used for millennia to plant seeds and plants of all types: The garden dibble/dibbler. Essentially a piece of wood to poke holes in the ground, the bulb planting dibbler is made for quick use. Seed dibbles are long and pointy, and bulb dibbles are fat and stout. The bulb dibbler is simple to use and effective.

Pros of the Dibbler for Bulb Planting

  • So simple, even a caveman can do it
  • Rapid bulb hole making
  • Usable for deep and shallow, big and small
  • Conveniently marked for easy depth gauging
  • Made of all-natural hardwood

Cons of The Dibbler for Bulbs

  • Most effective in softer soils

Metal Scoop Planter for Bulbs

These are your typical twist and scoop planter for bulbs. Usually made of metal with a plastic or wood handle, the scoop is angled to try and keep the dirt in and create your hole. I personally don’t like these bulb planters, but many people use them, and its a preference.

Pros of the Metal Bulb Planting Scoop

  • Do well in varied soils
  • Good for shallow bulb planting
  • Make uniform holes

Cons for the Metal Bulb Planter

  • Contant twisting to remove dirt
  • Dirt gets stuck in clay type soil
  • Hard to get deep bulb holes made
  • Made of metal and plastic 🙁

The Bulb Auger

The bulb auger planting tool is essentially a drill bit for the garden. Attach the metal or plastic end to a power drill, or if using a manual auger, twist the handle to dig your bulb hole.

Pros of the Bulb Auger Planting Tool

  • Stand up version is easy on the back
  • Works well in loose soil
  • Allows for any depth

Cons of the Bulb Auger

  • Hard to gauge depth
  • A little messy
  • Impossible to dig holes close to each other (Soil fills in bulb holes)

So, that’s a quick view of the bulb planting tool world. You can use them all for any bulb type, and there are enough for any preference in the garden. Go plant some bulbs! You can read our tips for planting bulbs here:

How to Plant Flower Bulbs: 6 Tips

Flower Bulb Sizing

Flower Bulbs: How To Choose The Best Bulbs

How to buy quality flower bulbs

There are so many different outlets for purchasing flower bulbs for Fall and Spring. But how do you know you are buying a quality bulb that will produce amazing flowers in Spring or Summer? Bulbs come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on the variety and flower type, they can differ by quite a bit. There is one rule when it come to buying bulbs: the large the bulb, the bigger and more beautiful the flower. Just think of that bulk as energy to produce beauty and size in the end result. Here are some quick rules of thumb for buying the best, high quality flower bulbs for specific flower varieties.

How Do you Measure Flower Bulbs?

Flower bulbs are measured by circumference, or distance around the thickest part of the bulb. Daffodil bulbs are also rated by a DN (double-nosed) rating, which is their ability to produce multiple flowers. DN1 being largest, DN3 being smallest.

DN1,DN2,DN3 bulb sizing explained
Double nose example on a daffodil bulb

Flower Bulb Size

Tulip Bulbs

There is nothing quite like a mass of blooming tulips to take your breath away in spring. In order to have the most spectacular bloom, tulip bulb size is extremely important. Smaller bulb sizes are usually cheap, or on sale at home improvement stores, and typically measure 10cm or less in circumference. High quality bulbs are typically 12 cm, with firm skin and a solid feel and weight. Make no mistake, this may seem like a small size difference, but the results will differ dramatically. Large flower bulbs of the Darwin variety will produce blooms the size of tennis balls!

Allium Bulbs

The allium family is a broad family of bulbs with many unique varieties that range from small to large. The flower bulbs are equally as diverse, and as a rule of thumb, small bulbs produce small flowers, and large bulbs produce larger flowers. Large varieties will have sizes of 18-20cm bulbs, while smaller, miniature flower bulbs will be around 5cm.

Daffodil Bulbs

I remember the first time I opened a box of Daffodil bulbs from our Dutch bulb importer. I was shocked at how huge they were compared to others we had purchased and planted on the farm in the past. Daffodil bulbs, if they are high quality, should be 12-16cm, and the larger the better.

Hyacinth Bulbs

Ah, the sweet, sweet scent of Hyacinth in the Spring. Hyacinth bulbs for
planting out in the garden whether in planting beds, in borders or in pots should have a circumference of least 14 cm. Hyacinth bulbs that have been grown specifically for planting indoors, also known as forced hyacinths, can be up to 16 cm around. After the flowers have bloomed indoors, you can replant them outside in fall in the garden, where they will bloom again the following Spring.

You can see that size is very important, and the bigger the bulb the better! Now that you have them, how do you plant them for success? See our latest post and guide on How to Plant Fall Flower Bulbs.

Fall Gift Ideas for the Gardener

Fall Gift Ideas for Gardeners

Best Gifts For Any Gardener As Summer Ends

As the leaves begin to fall, the weather turn colder and our garden goes brown, there are still some great gardening gift ideas for the gardener in your life. First off, its maintenance time, so we need to clean up our garden. Prune and cut back, dig up and get ready to plant our fall bulbs. Here is a short list of great gardening and housewarming gifts for men and women alike:

  1. Quality Pruners – When Pruning back our bushes and perennials, nothing is valued more than a great set of garden pruners. The best garden pruners are made of stainless steel with aluminum handles, and are sharp and light. This is on the top of our “Gardening Gifts” list
  2. Hori Hori – the Hori Hori Garden Tool is a must as we move into fall. We Use it to dig, divide, cut roots and weed during the fall season. It is handy, and makes gardening more enjoyable.
  3. Bulb Planter – As we start to plant our tulips, hyacinth and daffodils, a bulb planter/dibbler is our best friend. This hardwood planting tool looks great, and making planting bulbs a breeze.
  4. Fall Flower Bulbs – One of the best things about fall is the planting of fall flower bulbs. As we plant, the anticipation of what we will see in spring is invigorating.
  5. Garden Sharpener SetSharpening garden tools without the right sharpener is painful at best, and a sharpener set is one of the top gardening gift ideas. As the seasons end, it is a required task to sharpen and oil your tools to have them ready in Spring.
  6. Copper Garden Markers – If you are like me, you forget where you planted certain varieties. Never forget again by using copper garden markers to identify what lies beneath!
Fall Gardening Gift Ideas
Bulbs are a great fall gardening gift.

This is just a quick set of fall gardening gift ideas, and gardening gift items we have seen over and over. They will provide great utility and joy in the Fall gardening months. Shop our store for more great gardening gift ideas.

planting flower bulbs

6 Keys to Bulb Planting Success

Tips: How to Plant Flower Bulbs

Planting bulbs in Fall and Spring is one of my favorite things to do. A little investment and a ton of joy at bloom time. But over the years I’ve figured out it’s not as simple as just grabbing your sturdy bulb planter, making a hole, plopping in the bulb and done. My painful lessons learned, are now turned into 6 key tips for success when planting flower bulbs.

  1. Location is Everything – as with any plant, insuring the right amount of sunlight is key to growing beautiful flowers. For most bulbs, they will need at least 6 hours of sunlight to mature and produce flowers. Soil is key, and bulbs are heavy feeders and need fertile, well drained soil. Without drainage, the bulbs will rot over time and you will have nothing for your efforts. For early bloomers like Daffodils, you can plant the bulbs under trees as the blooms will happen before the leaves appear.
  2. Bed Preparation is Key – weed and loosen the planting area, and add a rich dose of compost to the soil as a preparation for planting your bulbs. Bulb depth is key, as bulbs that are plated too shallow or too deep will not grow. A good rule of thumb is 3 times the bulb size as a depth gauge. And make sure the pointy side is up!!!! A bulb planter with depth marks can really help.
  3. When to Buy Bulbs – it seems there is always a buying frenzy at the end of summer/beginning of fall to buy bulbs before they sell out. Buying bulbs early is fine, but proper storage until planting time is key. Bulbs need to be stored in a cool, well ventilated space to prevent rot, and keep them dormant until planting time. (see our lovely Dutch Flower Bulb selection).
  4. When to Plant Bulbs – timing on planting your bulbs is key, and all bulbs need time to “chill” before they go into growth mode. Timing varies across growing zones, but as a rule of thumb, once ground temperatures are 40-50 degrees F , you can go ahead and plant. For areas that dont have cool soil temps, you will need to place your bulbs in the fridge for 6 or so weeks to get results.
  5. Bulbs and Fertilizing – If you prepared the soil correctly as outline earlier, your bulbs will have all the nutrients they need to grow through fall and winter. You won’t have to fertilize until the first sign of green poking through your soil.
  6. Right Bulbs at the Right Time – remember, you can really classify all bulbs into Fall and Spring bulbs, and planting at the right time for the specific bulb is critical to success.

Good luck planting your bulbs!!!