Christmas Garden Gifts

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Merry Bird Christmas
I had intended the title of this post to be "last minute gardening gifts for Christmas." Uh yeah, I'm a tad late. In fact, I'm not really done with Christmas shopping quite yet. Because, when it comes to the wonderful wife that is Venus, Christmas comes 365 days a year.

However, I did run into some problems this year when she retorted "NOTHING," in response to my question of "what do you want for Christmas, dearest?" That's a rather tough answer. If I had actually put nothing under the tree for Christmas Day, I could see myself camping in our North Natomas backyard for a rather extended stay.

A Favorite Bird Gardening Haunt
Though I am a fan of camping, I'd rather pass on the somewhat cold and quite waterlogged Bird Back 40. Besides, there's really no place to pitch a tent. Unless I want it to float away.

Still, the wife deserved something for Christmas Day. And, as I walked the aisles of Emigh's Ace Hardware this Christmas season (one of my favorite haunts), plenty of gift-gardening opportunities presented themselves. Instead of receiving "nothing," she would get items that made digging in the dirt that much more enjoyable.

Plus -- these are the types of things that vegetable gardeners really can't be without.

Cat Play Toys -- aka -- Garden Labels
PLANT LABELS: It's a simple thing actually, but you'd be surprised how quickly these things vanish in the Bird Back 40. Every row of seeds -- every tomato plant -- deserves a plant label. Sure -- our pesky cats have been known to knock a few of these into next year (bad cat!), but labels keep the garden in order. They also help us tell the difference between Atomic Red Carrots, Solar Yellow Carrots, and Cosmic Purple Carrots.

What's that? Purple carrots? They really make those things? Why, yes they do! Not just "make" them, but grow them. Carrots come in the colors of the rainbow and thanks to some fine work by researchers in all things vegetables, come packed with nutrients. Each row gets a label -- and with some 20 odd raised gardening beds -- that's a lot of rows.

Garden Sloggers for the Bird Back 40
GARDEN SLOGGERS: This is the one gift that made the wife's Christmas morning. Venus appreciates a pair of good shoes -- and now she's got a pair for her exploits in the Bird Back 40. I've been promised that these sloggers are appropriately named, and can handle wind, rain, mud or anything else that Mother Nature can throw at them.

I found the sloggers hanging on a back wall near the gardening department and couldn't resist. Call it an "impulse purchase." And -- try as they might -- our pesky cats cannot chew holes into these things.

Green Stretch Tape
GREEN GARDENING TAPE: Somehow we manage to go through miles of this stuff. If there's one rule in the Bird Back 40 garden? You can never have enough gardening tape for odd jobs. Tomato plants looking overgrown and somewhat disheveled? Put the green gardening tape to work. Branches bending under the weight of far too much fruit? Bring on the green gardening tape! Want that tree to grow up instead of out? Where's my tape?

Tape is also used to ensure that vines grow up a fence line rather than on a sidewalk or walkway, where they can be trampled by a herd of marauding cats (notice a theme here?).

Okra, Cucumbers, Onions, Oh My!
SEEDS: You can't have a garden without gardening seeds. Since Venus tends to plant everything from seed, you'd be surprised how many we actually go through. We also normally plant more than one variety of each vegetable. I mean, why grow just one variety of cucumber when you can have five? It's like growing just one variety of tomato, which will never work.

I also make sure to buy several packages of green onions -- one of my garden favorites. In fact, I'm still pulling green onions that are leftover from last summer's garden. Purchasing several packets of the same thing ensures that we'll never run out of them, as we did three years ago when we ran out of green onion seed. Or when the pesky cats dig them up and scatter them to the wind.

GIFT CERTIFICATES: I've got to give credit to my brother Andy for dreaming this one up. A gift certificate to Peaceful Valley Farm Supply in Nevada City? Can you say "the perfect gift?" My thanks to Charlotte "Daffodil Planter" Germane for whispering into my brother's Facebook ear while he was searching for Christmas items.

And while we're on this particular subject -- why is one of Sacramento's best nurseries located in Nevada City? Not that I'm complaining, of course, but I'd probably wind up living there if they'd just move a tad closer to home.

Precious "The Destroyer"
Thanks to these last minute gardening gift items and a few more surprises, Christmas Day came and went without a hitch. To borrow a line from Twas the Night Before Christmas, "not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."

It didn't help matters much when Precious decided to invade the Christmas Village and make it her personal nap spot for the day (nobody moves Precious from her nap spot). But the fact that she didn't actually destroy it in the process, or knock over any carefully placed figures has to count for something.

I just wish she'd show the same respect when knocking carefully placed plant labels into the next century.