Teddy and Tillie in the snow

Chocolate Box Cottage’s 14 Favorite Gifts for the Gardener

bowl of lemons

Chocolate Box Cottage’s 14 Favorite Gifts for the Gardener

Do you have a gardener in your life that you want to spoil? 

I’ve looked through the tools and items that I use the most in my own garden and made a list of my 10 favorite gifts for the gardener. These are tried-and-true from me to you.

Unlike other such gift lists that I have seen, I am sharing pictures of the tools and other items in their natural state. Meaning they are dirty. I went to my garden and took the pictures myself instead of using pictures from websites. And I found the same items for sale or extremely close so that you can find the exact (or nearly) items that I use in my own garden. 

Gardeners tend to be practical folks, after all we spend a lot of time with our hands in the dirt – can’t get more down-to-earth than that!

Gardeners tend to be passionate people. We are not just mildly interested in a hobby, no, we spend most of our waking moments itching to get outside and check on our plants. We want to know if our carrot seeds have finally germinated, if the sweet peas are blooming, and if our tomato plants are happy. Yes, we want our tomatoes to be happy! There is nothing strange about that! 

Gardeners are generous. Nothing gives us more joy than to share a basket of fresh veggies, a fresh-picked bouquet, or some sage gardening advice. 

We love to give and often we find ourselves “making do” in the garden. We keep using the worn-out garden gloves with holes in the fingertips or tools with splintery handles. One way to show a special gardener in your life that you care is to give him or her good quality tools that do the job well and hold up under regular use in all weather. 

Make a gardener smile with any of these thoughtful gifts. 

If you’re a gardener yourself, consider sharing this post with someone who wants gift suggestions from you!

2 best gardening books

1. Small-Plot High-Yield Vegetable Gardening by Sal Gilbertie

My favorite gardening book. Turn your yard into a productive kitchen garden, brimming with edibles! Learn about the most effective natural fertilizers, drought-resistant cultivation methods, and raised-bed techniques for achieving maximum productivity in limited space. You can even add a cutting garden so you will always have fresh flowers on the table to accompany the delicious vegetables you grow. Mine is the original edition, an updated version is due soon.

2. Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth

The best handbook for seed saving. Seed to Seed is a complete seed-saving guide that describes specific techniques for saving the seeds of 160 different vegetables. This book contains detailed information about each vegetable, including its botanical classification, flower structure and means of pollination, required population size, isolation distance, techniques for caging or hand-pollination, and also the proper methods for harvesting, drying, cleaning, and storing the seeds. This book is thoroughly creased and smudged – it goes into the garden with me and acts as a seed saving mentor.

Flower Touch garden gloves

3. Garden Gloves

Garden gloves are very personal. I like gloves that breathe well, are lightweight, flexible, and washable. I don’t need them to be waterproof. A good, grippy nitrile coating over the palm and fingers is helpful – it allows a good grip on whatever you’re holding or carrying. If that sounds like what you are looking for, try these garden gloves. They’re the most disposable item on the list, but I don’t begrudge replacing them as needed. I find a pair lasts me one or two seasons. If you’re shopping your local garden center, look for Flower Touch brand, available in many colors.

Thai Kitchen Garden Shears

4. Thai Kitchen Garden Shears

Perfect for harvesting herbs, flowers, peppers, cucumbers, grapes, and more without pulling up the plant, these are the most recent addition to my garden tool basket. These shears are well-made, with stainless steel blades and brass riveted Pradu wood handles. They feel good in my hand, and are a pleasure to use. I’m going to take good care of these shears. 

Meyer lemons

5. Meyer Lemon Tree

The goodness of a Meyer Lemon tree is manifold: a handsome tree with shiny green leaves, fragrant blossoms, and fresh lemons! The pleasure of picking your own, ripe lemons cannot be overstated. Meyer Lemons grow well in pots; outdoors in summer and in a greenhouse or cool room with plenty of light for winter. Meyer lemons are sweet and fragrant. Make Meyer Lemon Curd to enjoy with Cream Biscuits / Cream Scones or use in any of your favorite recipes. Try this sweet-tart Lemon Buttermilk Cake recipe! Check your local garden center for Meyer lemon trees or plan a year or two ahead and grow them from seeds.

9-tray Excalibur Dehydrator

6. Excalibur 9-Tray Food Dehydrator

Gardening often leads to surplus. Yes, we enjoy sharing the harvest with appreciative friends, family, and neighbors, and we also enjoy putting some of the harvest by for later. A dehydrator is a wonderful, low-tech tool for preserving extra tomatoes, apples, greens, and more and it doesn’t require a lot of energy, either from the machine or from you, which is worth noting. My mom gifted me an Excalibur dehydrator for my birthday in 2002 when my inexpensive round one died (after only 3 summers of use) and I am still using it.

Stirrup Hoe

7. Stirrup Hoe

Makes weeding a breeze! The key is to catch weeds while they are tiny; they will disappear. Simply push and pull the business end of this tool just below the soil surface to cut/uproot weeds. The more faithful you are about using the stirrup hoe; the easier weeding is the next year. Replaceable blades are made of high-tempered spring steel that stays sharp. Oiled wooden handle. Worth every penny and is actually enjoyable to use. Can you say that about weeding with a regular hoe?

Old School Watering Can

8. Old School Watering Can

This 3-gallon watering can is timeless. Constructed of galvanized steel and coated in zinc to make it water-tight and rust-resistant. Features a comfortable birch carrying handle, painted (red) to resist weather and a side handle for balance while pouring. The bottom of the can is recessed so it won’t rust sitting on the ground. The rosette gently showers thirsty plants with water. This is a terrific all-around watering can you’ll use year after year like I do, over 15 years so far.

Dramm Fan Nozzle

9. Fan Watering Nozzle

There is something appealing and therapeutic about hand-watering. If you’re tired of plastic nozzles that don’t even last a full summer, try this one. Dramm fan nozzles are made of rugged metal, with sturdy painted finish that make them stand out. (Meaning you can find it easily.) On-off lever is adjustable from a gentle sprinkle to the equivalent of a heavy shower. You’ll get several years (at least) from a Dramm fan nozzle. Mine is used heavily, daily, during the summer to water pots, seedlings, new transplants, and various garden beds.  I have had two and have gotten 5 years’ use from each one.

kneeling pad

10. Quality Kneeling Pad

Have you bought too many cheap kneeling pads? I know I have. Does the pad collapse under you and plasticized coating (or color) rub off on your knees? No more. Next time I’m buying a quality kneeling pad like this one. 

Heavy Duty Seedling Flats

11. Heavy Duty Seedling Flats

These ultra-durable trays for starting seeds and/or propagating are BPA-free and will last many years. No holes in the bottom, so they will not leak – safe to use in the greenhouse or in the house without drips. Use with toilet paper tubes, soil blocks, or pony packs (6 packs) saved from plants you’ve bought previously. Also great for microgreens. I purchased a pack of these flats 3 years ago and they’re holding up find. I plan to add another pack to my greenhouse soon.

Garden Apron

12. Garden Apron

A sturdy apron, just for the garden! Made of organic cotton and recycled polyester in a neutral color that blends well with soil smudges. Adjustable neck strap and generous pockets to hold seeds, plant tags, etc. I bought mine in 2016 and it is holding up well. The design on the front changes slightly from year to year.

Garden Hat

13. Garden Hat

Perfect for a day in the garden or a trip to the beach, this women’s Scala sun hat delivers a warm summery vibe while shielding your face from the sun’s harsh rays. We need sunshine in order to produce vitamin D, but long hours in the garden can mean over-exposure. I bought my first Scala sun hat in 2001 and finally replaced it in 2020. These hats hold their shape and wear well. 

Seed Savers Exchange yearbook

14. Membership in the World’s Largest Seed Saving Organization

Seed Savers Exchange is the largest nongovernmental seed bank of its kind in the world, where thousands of rare, heirloom varieties are safeguarded for generations to come. Gardeners share homegrown seeds through the seed exchange. Together the seeds of these varieties compose an irreplaceable genetic resource that may well guarantee the security of our future food supply. When seed diversity is strong, our food system is protected, as this diversity increases the probability of having crop varieties that thrive in adverse situations. I have participated in Seed Saver’s Exchange, on and off, since I was 15. 

You will find many more wonderful, thoughtful gift ideas on my Shopping Guide. From garden seed companies and plant nurseries to herbal apothecary supplies to cookbooks, you will find many special items listed that have proven their worth in my garden at Chocolate Box Cottage.

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