In the Garden – January

By Rhiannon Allen

Dear Santa,

I apologize for the lateness of this letter and hope that you have enough time to put something garden-themed under the tree. I was so busy finishing all my autumn planting and transplanting that I neglected to compile my wish list. Now that there is a moment before the big day, I’d like to offer my garden wishes for your consideration.

While you are (hopefully) getting my good old standby of a gift certificate to West Coast Seeds from their retail shop on Elliott Street in Ladner, please pick up a free copy of their 2020 Gardening Guide so I can spend my time choosing seeds for starting in the new year. If you want, you can browse their appealing gardeners gift section to see what I could unwrap. They have books, seed-starting and other gardening supplies, gardening decor and even a few whimsical items like socks.

I’ll also remind you that both West Coast Seeds and Nielson’s Building Supply both generally carry my favorite gardening gloves – the Showa Atlas 370. I know that they are not as sustainable as leather or fabric gloves, but there really is no substitute in my experience. The gloves are a lightweight nylon knit fabric with the palms and fingers coated with a thin film of waterproof, puncture-resistant nitrile. The gloves are so supple you can use them to pick up seedlings: a perfect three-season gardening glove!

I don’t think that West Coast Seeds or Nielson’s carry this, but I would really appreciate a harvesting knife. A number of years ago, the Point Roberts Home Grown Co-Op purchased a number of Red Rooster Stainless Steel Sickle Blades. These are not the large hand sickles that I remember men using to slice through handfuls of hay or brush with a powerful sweep of the arm. Instead, these useful little tools have a dowel-like handle and 4 1/2 inch serrated, slightly curved blade that does an amazing job of slicing through broccoli stalks, squash stems and basically any other large vegetable you wish to harvest. It would probably do a great job on thick-stemmed flower stalks as well. Alas, I have been unable to locate a retailer who carries this exact product which is perfect for my needs. However, Johnny’s Select Seeds sells a look-alike called a “serrated greens knife 4-inch,” and Amazon carries a Zenport 4.3-inch sickle that looks great.

For working in the garden, dedicated work clothes would be a good idea. Overalls in particular are an amazing asset. Many have an extra layer of material in front, just perfect to protect the underlayer while kneeling on the ground or carrying heavy loads. Ample pockets and loops for tools, handkerchiefs and whatever means that you do not need a tool belt, tool apron or caddy while toodling around the garden. I checked Mark’s Work Wearhouse in Delta and Hardware Sales in Bellingham. While they both stock men’s overalls, the women’s are only available by special order. My tardiness in writing this letter now means that you would probably need to look for an online retailer who can express-ship. For that, I would suggest either Minnesota-based Duluth Trading Company or Michigan-based Carhartt, both of whom manufacture their own brand of rugged, functional overalls, including a decent selection of women’s styles. I think that their products are preferable to those of other companies because they sport more pockets and loops.

And when I come in from the garden with my bounty, what better present to greet me than a bootjack? These handy devices hold a tight-fitting boot by the heel as you liberate your foot. Growing up on farms, every front door had one of these. With one, there is no more balancing on one foot using its toe to anchor the other boot while I extract my foot. And then no more getting my hands muddy as I try to wrestle off a boot. I’m sure that you can find an attractive one somewhere or even get one of your elves busy making a simple wooden one for me.

Want to give me something smaller or more attractive? I noticed that Kinsman Company sells the most adorable pot feet ever. Whatever could be cuter than three tiny hedgehogs or sleeping cats snuggled just under the base of a pot to lift it clear of the ground to help it drain and to avoid staining the patio? They would be much more durable than the wooden rods I currently use, and more attractive than the set of plastic pot toes I have. Their only disadvantage relative to old standby pot toes is that they can’t compensate for uneven surfaces. So I promise to use them only on perfectly horizontal surfaces.

I also promise to get you my wish list earlier in 2020!

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