Q. We have just moved into our new home and my wife is itching to get her hands into the dirt. Coming from a mid-Atlantic state, nothing is familiar to us here, so I want to give her some gardening stuff for Christmas to make her gardening here more successful. Any suggestions? – N.K., Albuquerque
A. First of all, welcome.
First thing I’ll suggest are two books. First, seek out Sunset magazine’s “Western Garden Book.” I consider it my working bible. This book is full of information that will take some of the guesswork out of gardening here.
Next, consider “Down to Earth: A Gardener’s Guide to the Albuquerque Area.” This book is an easy-to-read book full of everything. It has info on the basics; gardening calenders; lots of how-to information on subjects like composting, pests and proper watering suggestions and more.
You can find “Down to Earth” at most of our nurseries here in the Metro area and also at the Albuquerque Garden Center garden shop on Lomas Boulevard.
But with the current situation of the world, call first to see who’s open and if it’s available. The “Western Garden Book” should be available at major bookstores and online.
Start with those two and she’ll be in clover as to information to be successful here. Another idea, find a blank journal so she can document the gardens and list what grew well where.
Next, consider a gathering of things useful in the garden.
She’ll want a big brim hat. Keeping the sun off will help keep her healthier. On that note, a fresh bottle of sunscreen and a couple of colorful bandanas would be good.
Next, gloves. Help keep her hands protected. A stout pair of leather gloves and more tactile cotton ones that have the palm and fingers coated with rubber are good ones.
A collection of hand tools will always be useful. A hand trowel, a hand rake and a small whisk broom will be quite useful. Find brightly-colored ones that are easily seen if they get laid down.
Invest in a good pair of hand pruners (loppers). This tool will be invaluable as the gardens grow more established. You might consider a kneeler too. This nifty tool has a stiff metal frame that can be used as a stool to sit on, or turned over becomes a comfy kneeling pad to protect her knees. They usually fold up for easy storage and wash off like a dream. A kneeling pad of some sort would be most considerate.
Next, a tote to keep all the smaller tools and things easily at hand. Plunk in things like twine and blank garden labels to easily mark what’s planted where. Don’t forget a permanent marker too.
You’ll be startled as to the myriad of small useful things you’ll be able to find to put in a tote to make her gardening easier and fun. Seeds, tucked into the tote, would be fun, too.
This time of year, at our nurseries, you can usually find seed racks offering a whole host of seeds with everything from veggies to flowers for the seasons yet to come.
This being the season of hope and faith, having seeds in your hands is a very good thing.
If you are artsy, make up some gift certificates offering your time redeemable as she requires. Or if shopping isn’t your cup of tea, you could always purchase a gift certificate at any of our nurseries here in the Metro area.
That way, she’d get to pick all the useful things, knowing you want her to be successful gardening here in our area.
But I think a tote, or lots of funky wrapped tools and odds and ends would be far more fun.
Remember, whatever you choose, getting her ready and well-tooled so she’s ready to scratch that itch will be a delight. Now that the winter solstice is upon us and the light will be returning, soon all of us that are itching to be back in the dirt.
Happy Holidays while you’re out there Diggin’ In.
Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to email@example.com.