Greenhouse Updates, Gift a Gardener Vol. 2: Tools!

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Suddenly is it florida? Lemons and Flamingos! The citrus looks far happier in here than it did indoors with reduced light.

So remember my previous greenhouse post of the uncertainty of my greenhouse heating methods? Well, I can say so far, the overall lows have maintained about 5 degrees, and highs are still registering about 10-15 degrees on a sunny day. So having this knowledge, and seeing that my citrus and passion flower are doing fine (as well as all those jacarandas who somehow successfully germinated). So an idea struck me to go ahead and try a few more planters of cool crops in here and hope to harvest things through the dead of winter. I cleaned out my two long planters and planted lettuce (red salad bowl), kale (winterbor and red Russian), some peas, both for the shoots and for the actual peas. In my herb planter pouch I trimmed back the parsley and added some chive seeds as well as arugula seeds.

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In person, it looks much nicer. There are several tasty looking rows of green!

I had a peek through my raised beds and everything I planted a few weeks ago is coming up. Once I harvest the tall black knight kale I’ll be sealing up the cold frame and only open to water or harvest(or, if it gets too hot, allow some venting).

It’s still a nice thing to just come out here on a cool afternoon and sit at the table, feel the warm sunshine. I think my tasks out here are pretty much finished, so from here on out it’s just for the escape.

But you can’t escape Christmas. So I’m going to provide some suggestions of great tools for the gardener in your family.

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Felco Pruners. This is THE be all, end all pair of pruners.  My pair is called a #2. There are dozens available by this brand. If you go to a garden shop who sells these, there is usually a wall of these so you can determine which pair is right for you. This particular pair that I own is supposed to be simple and universal. It can be disassembled for cleaning, oiling and sharpening, and comes with a tool to loosen the screw. The handles have a pretty tough grip material on them. Mine have begun to wear out a little but because they are solid, you could always re-dip them after a few years if this bothers you. They are pricey, but for something that feels like it will last you a lifetime, it’s worth it.

Rain Gauges – Find something really special or unique if you can, in garden boutiques. If they prefer something more precise, choose one that has large numbers and clear lines.  This year I became quite obsessed with mine, of course, mostly it was an angry obsession as it spent most of the summer empty.

Dehydrator – There are tons of models on the market. Choose something that you think will suit them the best. If they are a cook, this is a pretty fun choice, and they can experiment with it over the winter by drying fruit. Do they like to preserve and prep? Get a high end one. If it’s an occasional usage, like mine, more economical ones are available as well. I use mine for herb drying, but it can also be used for drying tomatoes, fruit, veggies, meat (for jerky!) and I suppose other things too. Pair it up with a good recipe book for drying foods, and you’ve got a pretty great gift.

Label Maker – This seems like a hokey idea, but if they collect things like I do with numerous daylilies and other perennials, this will make a lot of sense. All their labels will be clean, legible and consistent. Some people hate writing tiny on a label, and with a pen it can look gloppy and pen ink will fade over time in the sun. If you choose labels that are plastic and weather resistant, you will get a few years out of each one and prevent the risk of forgetting what the heck this geranium is.

Rain wand – You will probably need to talk to a waterer to get the lowdown on your options when it comes to watering wands. Novices will use hand nozzles with multiple settings, which is fine when you use it in multiple situations, but there is something joyous about using a rain water wand that waters your garden evenly and quickly.

Rubber Hose – On the point of watering, you should consider a good hose. I’ve had a lot, and those green ones piss me off Once you kink them, they’re pretty much destined to kink there over and over again. Most people don’t want to spring for something expensive like a garden hose, but a rubber one like this black rubber garden hose would be a good one. They still kink, but they don’t seem to have the same sort of memory as the plastic green hoses, and tug straight again.

That’s all for this round. Next week share my final Gift-a-Gardener post. Stay cozy.

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