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  Mike's Gardening Tips

Holiday Garden Gift Suggestions--Part Two

Last minute gift suggestions
Most gardening gifts just sit around until the Spring thaw. But we'll lead off with two suggestions that can be put to use right away.

Listeners in the Delaware Valley are privileged to live right next door to the biggest and best Flower Show of them all - and members of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society get free tickets to the Philly Flower Show Preview, the day BEFORE Opening Day! Members also receive acres of other benefits; and help fund projects that green up the city. You can pick up complete membership packets with gift cards at their Center City offices at 20th and Arch Streets Monday and Tuesday; (PHS Hours: Monday 9 to 5; Tuesday 9 to 4) or sign up online and print out the pages to go with your card. More details? Contact Membership Coordinator Linda Davis at 215-988-8776

#1 is The Wireless Deer Fence
It can be used right away, it SHOULD be--to protect prized plants from the giant stomachs with legs that are ravaging landscapes all over the Northeast and many other regions right now, thanks to the early harsh weather many of us have been treated to by old Mother Nature. (Ma--whatever we did, we're sorry!). Anyway, the WDF is sold in sets of three stand-alone stakes for 60 bucks postpaid. You put two double A batteries inside each stake, and one of the included scent pellets into the holder just below the electrodes. Deer browsing near your plants are attracted by the scent, get a good--but harmless--shock, and then run to eat the neighbors' rhododendrons! Get the details at Wireless Deer Fence dot com; or call toll free, 1-866-GOT-DEER

#2 High-Rise Worm Bins
Keeping a 'worm box' is a great way to recycle your kitchen garbage--especially over the winter when it can be darned inconvenient for many of us to trudge out to our frozen over OUTDOOR compost corrals. The worms (Red Wigglers) will eat your leftovers and provide 'castings'--super healthy (and odorless!) plant fertilizer--in return. Kids love the wormies. Teachers too; its so nice to have a classroom 'pet' whose poop is a plus instead of a problem!

And I found two Multi-level bins that allow the worms to move to another section when all the garbage on one floor is 'done', making it much easier for you to collect your well-digested reward.

The great Worms Way catalog (1-800-669-2088) offers the "Can-o-Worms Condo": Four round levels on legs, with a built-in tap for collecting that tasty worm compost tea. (Well, tasty to your plants!)

"Charley's Greenhouse" (1-800-322-4707) has "The Worm Factory"; four square levels, also with a tap, for $90.

Now, Is there someone on your gift list who could star as Scrooge McChemical in an updated version of a Toxic Garden Christmas Carol? Why not play the Spirit of Gardens FUTURE and present them with a gift certificate for a couple of bags of weed-preventing corn gluten meal from Gardens Alive. This all-natural product is a powerful pre-emergent herbicide and top-notch lawn food in one package--organic weed and feed! Give that garden Scrooge a gift certificate with product details from the Gardens Alive website, or order some yourself for Spring delivery to their house! Work the details out at Gardens Alive Dot Com--and the earthworms, birds, and butterflies will be sure to say, "God bless us, every one!"

What's that? How about some plants? And REAL last minute gifts? I'm glad you asked...

I found the perfect holiday gift for a gardener in the floral department of a big upscale supermarket. It looked like a regular little two-foot high evergreen tree. But one sniff of the branches revealed it was a beautifully sculpted rosemary plant--live in a pot! All that fresh rosemary alone was easily worth the fifteen-dollar cost. But it's a THREE-in-one-gift when given to a green thumb: They can 1) decorate it for the holidays, then 2) put in a sunny window and snip off lots of the flavorful herb over the winter, and 3) still have a HUGE plant to put outside come Spring; MUCH bigger than you'll ever see at a nursery when you're looking for herb plants in the Spring! Speaking of nurseries, that's another place I saw these great three way gifts this year. So give every little "evergreen" tree you see a sniff--it might be the perfect gift in disguise!

I needed some 'mailable' gifts that involved gardening last week, and so went out in search of amaryllis bulbs. Most stores were sold out, but one large chain--the one Paris Hilton didn't know about--had a dozen, half-hidden on top of a shelf. At four bucks apiece, I bought them all, and then luckily checked them when I got home. All the bulbs had visible shoots coming up--and four had completely flowered inside their boxes! I potted those albinos up for display, mailed out the ones with the tiniest shoots and potted up the ones with nice big shoots, but no flowers open yet, to give to my 'black thumb' friends: They should be in full bloom right on Christmas morning! Maybe you'll want to check what's happening in the amaryllis boxes at YOUR local "Mart"!

And don't forget: If a surprise invitation leaves you in need of a really nice gift--in a hurry? Take a look around your landscape! Our early chill has sent your plants into dormancy, making it PERFECTLY safe for you to do a little trimming and shaping of your evergreens, hollies, winterberry and other festive plants. Just wrap your prunings around a circular metal frame to make a great home-grown wreath, tie them together end to end with wire to make a long mantel piece display, or combine holly and evergreen branches in the same direction for a wonderful swag for a front door or a mailbox. Finish it all off with an extra Christmas tree ball or other holiday ornament secured with wire through its 'hanger hole', a couple of pine cones, some nice ribbon--and you're Martha Stewart; without the subpoena!


© 2003 Mike McGrath. All Rights Reserved

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