Planting The Seed

By Jeff Rugg

October 1, 2020 4 min read

One of the ways that I like to give gifts to a gardener is to create a basket of items they can use. For instance, if you know a gardener who likes to grow tomatoes (and who doesn't like growing tomatoes?), then a group of gifts that helps grow tomatoes is a good idea.

Start with a Seeds 'N Such seed catalog that has over 200 varieties of tomato seeds available. Renee's Garden has many USDA organic-certified tomato seeds. Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. has a couple hundred very unusual tomato varieties. Of course, Totally Tomatoes has a few hundred varieties of tomato seeds, too.

The "You Bet Your Garden Guide to Growing Great Tomatoes" book by Mike McGrath, host of the public radio show "You Bet Your Garden," shows gardeners of all skill levels how to grow a wide variety of great-tasting tomatoes. The book guides gardeners through choosing seeds, germinating, planting, staking, caging, nurturing, watering and harvesting homegrown tomatoes. Readers also get tips on how to control pests and deal with disease. Along the way, he weaves in fascinating tomato lore and tips. This is a book for everyone who loves to laugh, eat and grow beautiful tomatoes.

Next, add a bag of Espoma Tomato-tone fertilizer. It is a slow-release, organic fertilizer specifically for tomatoes. Now the tomato plants will need a structure to grow on. The Tomato Tower by Gardener's Supply has 8-inch square openings to make it easy to reach in and harvest the tomatoes. The powder-coated steel will last almost forever, and the hinged panels fold flat for easy storage.

Gardeners always want a head start on growing vegetables. A cold frame can help start cool season vegetables two weeks earlier in the spring and help them survive two weeks later in the fall. The Superdome by Bio Green is a 10-foot-long, UV-stabilized, polyethylene tunnel that protects plants from frost, animals and wind while still allowing the plants to adapt to outdoor weather.

The tunnel can be placed over plants in the garden (including early planted tomatoes) or over trays of plants that will be transplanted into the garden later. It has a shade material sewn into the roof to prevent the plants from overheating. It includes stainless steel stakes and a storage bag.

What do you do for a gardener who doesn't have much space? You plant up. The GreenStalk Vertical 4-Tier Planter has six planting locations on each of the four levels.

GreenStalk was designed with water and plant health in mind. The shape of the planter minimizes the soil's exposure to sun, decreasing evaporation and time spent watering. Just fill the top reservoir, and the slow drip watering system will deliver water directly to the roots of your plants. The planter stacks together for quick assembly or down for convenient storage. GreenStalk takes up 2 square feet of space, making it possible to grow a lot of plants in a limited space. It is made in Tennessee from BPA-free plastic. It includes a manufacturer five-year warranty against fading and cracking.

Need a gift for the reluctant gardener who really only gardens when he mows the lawn once a week and complains about wet feet and grass clippings getting on his socks? Then you need to check into Kujo Yardware at The Kujo Yard Shoe is half-shoe and half-boot. It is lightweight and promotes air flow to keep the feet cool, and it is water-resistant to keep dew and irrigation water out. It has good traction but remains flexible.

Whether it's a basket for vegetables, some nifty new footwear or a how-to book to peruse at their leisure, these gifts will delight the green thumb on your holiday gift list.

Jeff Rugg's column "A Greener View," can be found at

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