By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe, practical holistic gardeners and authors living and writing in Spain for 25 years
If so here are some practical ideas for the gardening members of the family or friends:
- A new pair of sharp easy to use pruners are always welcome, ready for the winter cutback in the New Year. For our money Fiskars are worth the extra price.
- Wearing out old shoes or walking boots is not really the best thing for one’s feet, ankles and knees, so how about a pair of comfortable shoes or boots with reinforced toes?
- Thinking about knees, how about a new pair of knee pads for all those kneeling jobs?
- Gardening gloves are welcome, especially waterproof ones at this time of year.
- In some households, gardening is not a shared activity, so a promise to help out next year, especially in getting a vegetable plot going, may go down well.
- How about a miniature gardening kit for young children to get them involved young? Perhaps give them a few square metres of soil or a collection of containers for their own garden.
- Sorry for including them, but our six gardening books are good Christmas presents, especially as they are designed to be used throughout the year and not just a few hours read in front of the Boxing Day log fire. As a reminder, the large ones are: ‘Your Garden In Spain – From Planning to Planting and Maintenance’, ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’ and ‘Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style’. We had a great early Christmas present the other day. We walked past a five storey apartment building where only one apartment terrace had plants. Today, all ten had fantastic gardens in the sky which together now created an attractive vertical garden.
- We have two smaller books, or booklets that make good stocking fillers. They are: ‘Living Well From Our Mediterranean Garden’ which is most easily available from www.gardeninginspain.com and a new one ‘Making Waterless Gardens a Practical Reality World Wide’ which is available from the website and is also published on an Amazon Kindle ebook.
- If the intended recipient is new to gardening on Spanish soils, how about a set of three sizes of mattocks that are easier to use than a British fork and spade?
- Every ten years a new wheel barrow might be an idea, but do buy one with a wide bouncy solid or blow up tyre.
- Winter days are often sunny, but they can be windy and cold, so a snug gardener’s green sweater or padded waistcoat could be appreciated.
- It not too late to plant deciduous fruit trees and bushes, so add to the existing collection of fruits for healthy living.
- To ensure a chemical-free garden next year, a present of bottles of neem oil insecticide and propolis fungicide. If you can’t find them, order from www.trabe.net
- Cutting hedges gets no easier as one grows older, so perhaps arrange for someone to come and cut the hedges and prune tall trees in January.
- A small grape press could help the family press next year’s grape harvest rather than using the bath and feet!
- If the garage is getting cluttered with garden tools and products, how about a garden shed?
- If you enjoy, or would like to try growing sprouting seeds, buy yourself an automatic sprouting machine.
- Several times during the year we have mentioned drying fruit, herbs and seeds on our tray drier. They are very handy. We use ours several times a week. We are currently using it for drying slices of tangerines for dipping in chocolate to eat after dinner, or when needing a boost on winter walks. Raisins and sultanas were dried for the Christmas cake!
- Gardening socks wear out every few years. Perhaps this is the year for a couple of new pairs.
- If you see a stylish straw hat in the local agricultural cooperative, buy one ready for the first hot sunny days next year.
- To attract wild birds, how about bird boxes, feeders and a bird bath. We notice that the Wiggly Wigglers catalogue includes a bird box with a built-in internal video camera to connect at the end of a 30 metre lead to the television.
- What about a good bottle of Spanish brandy to warm up after a long cold winter day in the garden?
Happy Christmas Shopping!
Clodagh and Dick Handscombe