Trott column: Holiday gifts for the constant gardener

Douglas County Extension educators collaborated on this quick-read gift guide.

Different herbs, such as mint and parsley, begin growing indoors. Meagan Pittelko / Forum News Service

The holiday season is upon us — and what a different holiday season it is! As is tradition, our Horticulture team has put together gift ideas for your favorite gardener to help them get a jump on the season, make tasks easier, and to inspire and create their yard and garden in 2021.

  • There is nothing better than a really great hand pruner! Using a quality pruner and keeping it maintained properly avoids damaging plant stems and makes gardening tasks so much easier. A bypass pruner cuts stems and branches without crushing them. A favorite basic pruner of mine are my Felco bypass pruners, and for smaller pruning and snipping jobs, I like Dramm pruners. I carry one in my car along with my favorite gloves because you never know when you might need to prune something! — Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator, Horticulture
  • An herb or mushroom garden kit is a fun and delicious garden gift. If you want something different, try a Cocktail Garden. The kit contains everything you need to grow the ingredients for interesting new cocktails, including: biodegradable pots, growing media, plant markers, seeds (cucamelon, borage, lime basil, hyssop and lemon balm), 18 cocktail recipes, and full sowing and growing tips. This gift might be just the thing to put a holiday sparkle in your favorite gardener’s eye! — Robin Trott, Extension educator, Douglas County
  • A garden seed variety pack is an ideal stocking stuffer! Have you ever bought a pack of 30 seeds, planted two, and not known what to do with the other 28? Some businesses, like Superior Seed Company in Duluth, are starting to sell what I would call variety packs of seeds that solve this problem. Brilliant! The packs contain just a few seeds of several different types of vegetables or flowers, so you can grow an entire garden from one pack. — Annie Klodd, Extension educator, Fruit and Vegetable Production
  • I have less of a green thumb (blasphemy!) and more of an eye for bugs. If you’re the type of gardener who loved helping their kids raise monarchs or sometimes find yourself more interested in the bugs eating your plants than the damage they’re causing, a good guide to garden bugs is a must. I am partial to Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs - Second Edition. Look for it (or request it!) at your local bookstore for the budding bug nerd in your life! — Marissa Schuh, Horticulture Integrated Pest Management Extension educator
  • If you know someone who loves to garden but lacks access to green space, or someone who wants to grow food all year long, consider a hydroponic kit! You can buy prefabricated kits online, but with a little bit of creativity, you can put together a simple and affordable DIY kit. — Natalie Hoidal, Extension Educator, Local Foods and Vegetable Crops

From all of us to all of you, thank you for supporting University of Minnesota Extension. May your holidays be bright and your new year be happy and healthy.
Until next time, happy gardening!

Robin Trott is a horticulture educator with University of Minnesota Extension. Contact her at 320-762-3890, or at

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