Good tools will last a lifetime or even longer. The stainless steel potting scoop from Joseph Bentley Tools is great for moving planting mix. The business end is made of polished stainless steel and the handle is contoured oak. It’s perfectly sized, filling a 6-inch pot with one scoop. $15.99 and available at independent garden centers, Home Depot and through Amazon.
Dramm’s Touch ’N Flow Pro Rain Wand makes watering easy. A soft stream of water won’t overwhelm plants and it has a lifetime warranty. The Rain Wand comes in three lengths: 16, 30 and 36 inches. From $20 to $28 at independent garden centers and hardware stores and through Amazon. www.rainwand.com.
My son gave me a Plant Nanny last Christmas and I love it. It’s a terra cotta watering stake that uses recycled wine bottles to water your plants. The bottle is filled with water and just dropped into the Plant Nanny. It will slowly release the water into the pot. Great if you’re out of town and can’t get anyone to water your precious houseplants. A set of four is under $20. Locate a retailer at www.plantnannyinc.com.
If you know an adventurous gardener who likes to cook, let them try growing mushrooms indoors. The Shiitake Mushroom Kit is $19.95 and comes with two small logs inoculated with mushroom spores. They will grow just about anywhere inside. Available from Gourmet Mushrooms at www.gmushrooms.org.
Radius Garden Tools are all built with ergonomic handles and are virtually indestructible. Their PRO Edger has a sharp stainless-steel blade, is lightweight, balanced and offers a durable encased steel core shaft. For about $50, it’s a steal. Radius products are available at garden centers and online at www.radius.gostorego.com.
Just about every garden center or nursery carries bulbs for indoor growing (called forcing). Paperwhites are small, easy-to-grow, fragrant daffodils. Be careful though, not everyone likes their aroma. Hyacinths will fill a room with their magical perfume. The queen of holiday bulbs is amaryllis. Its giant flowers are spectacular in shades of red, pink and white. Bulbs can be purchased ready to go in pots, or alone for a gardener to plant. One word of caution about amaryllis, they are poisonous to cats and dogs. It's cats that seem most interested in them, so be careful.
Cole’s Wild Bird Feed offers some of the best seed and other products to keep birds happy in the winter. Once they find the seed, and you keep the feeder full, they will use the area on their foraging routes this spring. Hot Meats are seeds covered with a hot pepper concoction that the squirrels detest, but the birds can’t taste. The Blue Ribbon Blend is a real treat for the birds, filled with a mixture of their favorites. Find the products locally by searching at www.coleswildbird.com.
George Wiegel’s “Pennsylvania Getting Started Garden Guide” (Cool Springs Press, $24.95) is great for both beginning and experienced gardeners. It’s filled with great regional information about growing just about anything. It’s the perfect book to enjoy by the fire planning for next year’s garden.