This Christmas, give your favorite gardener something unexpected. Here are a few things that might fit. An easy one is a gift certificate for their favorite nursery or gardening catalog. A soil thermometer will tell them when the soil is the right temperature to plant peas or when it is warm enough for beans. Of course, they may prefer the old method; sitting on the soil for five minutes with a bare backside. Too cool, don’t plant your tomatoes. If your gardener has a compost pile, there is also a thermometer made just or that.

For gardening on a deck or patio, Jung seed company has an Earthbox. It holds 2 cubic feet of soil and is self-watering, holding 3 gallons of water. It’s not cheap at $60 plus shipping and has an aluminum staking system for just another $ 45.

For those weeds they just can’t get rid of the easy way, how about a flamethrower. It uses disposable propane cylinders, is lightweight and made of steel.

If your gardener starts plants indoors, there are all sorts of miniature greenhouses, most with lights. The biggest problem with them is that they are usually quite small. If you can find a spot 4 feet long and out of the way, simply buy a shop light or two. Fit them with one blue bulb and one bathroom/kitchen one (they are pink), or get grow-light bulbs. Hang them on chains so they can be kept just above the plants raising them as they get taller. For growing medium add coco coir bricks. They are compressed and shredded coconut hulls. Just add water. Coir is better for the environment than peat as it is a renewable product and would otherwise just be discarded. There is only so much peat in the world.

Mason bee nests are available in most stores that sell bird feeders. These are usually a cylinder filled with either cardboard straws or bamboo cylinders. In the wild a mason bee would lay her eggs in a hollow stem, under house shingles, in dead trees or other insects’ empty holes. They will seal the end of the tube with mud. These bees are out early in the spring to pollinate your fruit trees, raspberries and strawberries. They are gentle souls and won’t sting unless you provoke them. Put the nest in a sheltered sunny spot, east or south exposure is best. Under eaves is good as you don’t want the cardboard to get wet.

Many gardeners are also birdwatchers. A new, squirrel-proof feeder is always welcome. Leave the ones with plastic on the shelf. A squirrel will have a hole in that one 10 minutes after you hang it up. Pair it with a bag of black sunflower seeds and they’re in business. A peanut feeder with a large bag of peanuts will keep the woodpeckers happy. It’s fun watching the contortions they go through to get at the peanuts. To keep the squirrels happy, place a feeder for them as far away from your bird feeders as you can get, and still be in the same county. This should keep them from attempting to rob the sunny feeder.

If your gardener has a weak grip, look for a chainsaw that is made just for small branches. They almost look like a toy, but boy would they be handy around an estate with lots of trees or shrubs.

There are expensive gardening gifts, like a full-sized greenhouse on its own foundation (wow), but most of us will be happy with a good hand tool or a fancy bird feeder.

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