Some people give joke gifts. Others give useful gifts. If you combine the two and add a few earthy puns, the gift might be perfect. The Pinetree Manure Medley at $29.95 from Pinetree Garden Seeds (superseeds.com) in New Gloucester has it all covered.

“It’s been one of our most popular gifts for 15 years now,” said Melissa Emerson, owner of the company. “It’s full of puns about manure, and we have found what we think is a unique gift item.”

She said most gardeners want to select their own seeds, so they don’t want them as gifts. But fertilizer is something any serious gardener can use. The Manure Medley includes five pounds of worm castings, a one-pound bag of desert bat guano, two pounds of fossilized seabird guano, a trowel and a bag for mixing it all together – and possible use as a plant container.

Emerson said other popular gifts include a Sprouting for Health gift set at $24.95 that includes eight different kinds of sprouts people can grow and four BPA-free sprouting trays and the Busy Buzzy Pollinator collection at $11.95, which includes a flower-seed mix designed to provide season-long blossoms.

Another Maine company makes and sells an always popular product. Pike’s Original Maine garden hod is made and sold by Maine Garden Products (mainegarden.com) in Howland. Based on a clam hod, the garden hod – starting at a bit under $40 – has a lot more uses than holding just-harvested vegetables, said Wendy Crawford, who does sales and marketing for the company.

“It’s heavy duty, made with a hardwood handle and lobster-trap wire,” she said. “It’s all about being durable and very functional.”

The Hod Squad gallery on the company website shows the products holding puppies and CDs, as well as the expected flowers and vegetables.

Maine Garden Products builds and sells many products, including greenhouses – although Crawford says not many greenhouses are sold as gifts.

One popular gift item is usually given by people in their 20s and 30s to their parents who can’t garden as easily as they used to. It is the Elevated Gardening Bed, at $149, made of cedar, 32 inches high with a 2-by-3-foot gardening area. Using the bed, people can grow quite a few vegetables in a compact area without bending over.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds (johnnyseeds.com) in Winslow has a new tool that is for large-scale home vegetable growers or small-scale commercial farmers. Unless your recipient fits that niche, this gift won’t work, but the tool is ingenious.

The Zipper, $89, is a two-way tool for planting small seedlings (particularly in paper pots) or large seeds. Pull it along the soil and it creates a furrow for planting. Once the seeds or seedlings are in place, flip the tool over and it closes the furrow. Simple and quick.

Another interesting item from Johnny’s are the Roo and Joey aprons. They let people easily hold produce, weeds or other items while working. Plastic hooks let the bottom of the apron easily release of the items that have been picked up. The full-length Roo apron is $32.95, while the waist-length Joey is $29.95.

Fedco (fedcoseeds.com) has a good tool for exacting work and fussy gardeners. Its hydroponic shears, $16.50, are a more delicate version of the hand pruner, designed “for trimming jobs requiring delicacy and precision,” including cutting flowers or close pruning. Stainless steel blades continue into bright, yellow plastic handles – so you can easily find the tool if you drop it in the shrubbery.

Another interesting tool from Fedco is a ratcheting lopper, $52.75, which increases the pressure from your grip five-fold. It cuts branches up to an inch and a half in diameter, which could make spring pruning a lot easier.

Many people are learning that physical items are not the ideal gift. There is a good chance that if people need a tool or piece of clothing, they have gone out and purchased it for themselves. And even if they haven’t, they might not have room to store more objects.

For many people, experiences are more important than possessions, and one of the top garden experiences in Maine is visiting Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay.

“Memberships are really giftable,” said Kris Folsom, director of marketing and communications at the gardens. “We even send people a little box that they can put under the tree so there will be something to open.”

Memberships start at $55 for individuals, $80 for dual memberships and $90 for families, all for one year. I had thought people might buy admission to educational programs at the gardens for people who are already members, but Folsom said that doesn’t happen much.

Similar to the idea of giving experiences is the idea of giving gifts that will be used up quickly.

Wood Prairie Farm in the Aroostook County town of Bridgewater has an Organic Potato Sampler of the Month Club. If you purchase the full eight months for $299, every month, from September to April, the person receiving the present will get three different potato types – in different colors, tastes and textures. The potatoes come in an 8-pound gift box, which also contains postcards describing each variety and its best use, and a recipe booklet.

People can buy fewer months of the gift pack if their budget doesn’t allow for the full $299. One month is $39.95.

These are all gifts that can be purchased online from companies located in Maine. Another option is to drop by locally owned garden centers and other stores in your gift recipient’s neighborhood, look around and see what strikes you as a nice gift for a gardener.

Buying local: That would be so retro.

One from away

White Flower Farm (whiteflowerfarm.com) in Litchfield, Connecticut, had two interesting gift items.

The Flora and Fauna Gift Set which was included on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” list. At $129, it includes a kneeling pad and gardening gloves, decorated with flora and fauna art, as well as a coordinated trowel and hand pruners.

Waterproof clogs, at $39, with several decoration options will help keep the house clean. While they keep your feet clean and pain-free while gardening, they are easy to slip off when you head inside for brief breaks.

ABOUT THE WRITER

TOM ATWELL is a freelance writer gardening in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at: [email protected]


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