Just like any other passionate hobby, the gardening bug progresses in three stages:
NEED: I only need the basics.
WANT: The basics are fine but I want more.
WISH: This would be a great gift for me because I can’t justify buying it for myself.
What a Gardener Needs
The first stage is the easiest. Very little is needed to start gardening on a small scale. The basics are a trowel, pruners, a weeder, and gardening gloves. Simple until you try to choose. Buying the best you can afford is key. You can’t go wrong with American-made trowels by Wilcox ($15-$25). The best pruners are by Felco ($60 and up). USA made Diggit is best for dandelion digging ($20), and the Nejiri Gama Hoe from Japan is the best for shallower weeds ($15). Gardening gloves are a personal choice, but Nitrile gloves have continued to be a favorite ($7).
What a Gardener Wants
Stage Two delves into the wonderful world of nurseries and seed catalogs, or these days — seed catalog websites. Luckily, here in the South Sound, there is no shortage of great nurseries, large and small. Instead of waiting until May, take a few nursery trips in the off season so you can monitor when they start getting the good stuff. Familiarize yourself with your local nursery. They’ll appreciate that you’re there and will be a big help when May rolls around. Gift certificates are always good.
Every second-stage gardener gets hooked on seed catalogs. Now it’s even more fun because the seed catalogs are all online. You can fill up your cart and hone it down to a reasonable amount. It’s easy to get carried away, and it’s one of those gardening “cheap thrills.” Ed Hume Seeds, Territorial Seeds, Renees Seeds and Botanical Seeds are all good websites, and you can find the seeds on racks in local nurseries. You can research online and buy the seeds locally.
Tool-wise, second-stage gardening usually includes a Hori Hori Knife ($25), some loppers for heavier pruning ($40-$80), and a spade for digging ($40).
What a Gardener Wishes For
Stage Three is a full-blown, down-and-dirty, “don’t bother me while I’m weeding” gardener, one who loves to garden and loves to get garden gifts. Sound familiar? The third-stage gardener wants things like truckloads of good garden soil, mushroom compost, and steer manure — seriously. Specialty nurseries take the place of mainstream nurseries because they have more unusual plants (they have gift certificates, too). The tools of the trade go to the next level with Rockery trowels ($25), Potato Scoops ($30), Fruit Pruners ( $25), Haws Watering Cans ($40 and up), Cobrahead Weeders ($25), and books with more information than pictures. The Seed Garden is a fascinating and comprehensive book by The Seed Savers Exchange, the nonprofit group that has dedicated itself to preserving heirloom seeds for decades.
Any gardener who wants to start collecting and saving seeds can find everything needed to collect and store 75 targeted plants, both ornamental and edible. Each plant listed has in-depth directions for no-fail seed saving. Any gardener would find it invaluable. This is one of those books that will be well-used. It’s a practical purchase. 390 pages; $29.95, Seed Savers Exchange