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A Gardner's Christmas List for Santa

Dear Santa,

A well made hori hori (top) or triangle hoe would make a good gift for a gardener.

The NUMBER ONE dream gift of every Methow gardener is TOPSOIL. I know a Methow gardener might as well ask Kris Kringle for world peace, but in the meantime, while we are all working on achieving world peace, here are some ideas for holiday gifts for gardeners that you CAN give!

Category 1 - QUALITY TOOLS

A fine tool of quality and design is a perfect gift. Every time a gardener uses your gift they will thank you for experiencing the utility and elegance of something well made.

Consider a beautiful stand up weeding tool like a triangle hoe. A friend has a Dutch-made triangle hoe that is a pleasure to use. Some of us cannot help crawling along on our knees to see the weeds with aging eyes. Plus thinning vegetables requires close work. For that, my friend uses a quality hand hoe/mattock or a hori hori, the traditional Japanese gardening blade. The balance, weight and size of the hori hori would be much nicer than the old chef's knife I have been using for years. (Lots of us have arthritis in our hands and wrists so the grip design in a tool becomes more important each passing year.)

Another great tool would be a quality spade, one both heavy and sharp. The weight helps do the work. An additional footpad attachment will let your foot, not your arms and back, make the plunge. Some spades have a digging fork with a footpad attachment. The fork is perfect for loosening soil, weeding, moving perennials, harvesting garlic, etc. You can find these made in the US: they too are expensive but good.

Don't go cheap, because cheap tools won't hold up; the balance will not be as fine nor the working edge as sharp. Ergonomics matter. A fine tool should make you want to care for it. You will want to oil the handle and sharpen the edge. A fine tool becomes an old friend and partner. (You can always hang those old ones on the fence close by to rust handsomely and just use them for quicky jobs.) One good tool each Christmas would be terrific.

I am a lefty. Lefties really need appropriate tools and they are just not easily available. I have a custom left-handed weeder with a thicker handle for my hands. Hand-forged, but no more expensive than the tools from the sources listed above. So I am covered, but there are a lot of inappropriately tooled lefties out there.

Membership in a club like the Hudson Valley Seed Library is another good choice.

Category 2 - SEED CLUBS

A membership in a seed club would be great.

I enjoy my membership in the Hudson Valley Seed Library for the wonderful seeds, original art on the seed packs and their great newsletters. This group might provide some inspiration for a future Methow Valley Seed Club.

The grandfather of seed clubs is the non-profit Seed Savers Exchange of Decorah, Iowa. A $40 membership gives a discount on purchases, the Exchange Yearbook, one of the greatest sources of heirloom varieties in the world and the Heritage Farm Companion periodical. I really hope someone special gives me this, but how would they know? (Please, someone send him this article!)

Category 3 - GIFTS in HONOR

Consider a gift in honor of someone special.

Local efforts like Classroom in Bloom help pass on the knowledge and bounty of Methow gardening.

First, consider our own Classroom in Bloom or The Red Shed. Classroom in Bloom teaches our kids how nature works in real time, the joy of gardening, natural science and how to eat. What more can we give the future than children that love the soil and are healthy eaters? Send them a check in honor of a friend at PO Box 222, Twisp, WA 98856 or donate via Paypal.

The Red Shed contributed over 800 pounds of vegetables in 2010 and even more this year, to deserving local families through the Cove Food Bank in Twisp. They invite families, including children, to the farm to work in the garden. It is a local solution to the global challenges of healthy food production and hunger. You can donate by sending a check to at the same address, Box 222, Twisp, WA 98862, or on the internet through

Both Classroom in Bloom and The Red Shed send lovely thank you notes to the donor and the honoree advising them of the gift and expressing their appreciation.

Or consider either International Rescue Committee or Heifer International for an international gift. There are lots of gift choices and you can pick the one that most speaks to the concerns of the honoree. At the Gardener's Gift Basket includes trees, rabbits, chickens and bees! Although it costs $170 for the entire basket you can purchase a share for only $20. I love the International Rescue Committee option of a flock of chickens for $30. Domestic chickens have fed people for thousands of years and provide essential protein and manure. Chickens can be cared for by men, women, children, seniors and the handicapped that might have to make it with few resources. A flock of chickens for another family would be a great choice for a gift to me.


Gifts from the garden are perfect - like your jam, garlic, cider, honey (we each can't grow everything).

Or sew knee pockets on a pair of jeans and fill with dense rubber padding for all that weeding on the knees, sew a tool belt with a waterproof cell phone pocket, paint vegetable row signs and nail them on stakes, and (if you know what you are doing) clean and sharpen a friend's tools.

One of the loveliest gifts to me last year was a pack of photo notecards with images of my garden. Personally, I am giving chicken manure to my friends. They will be thrilled.

Thanks for reading Santa,

PS: The NUMBER TWO dream gift is a sprinkler that doesn't plug up. Could you work on that for next year?