A gardener's wish list for the New Year

  • Nice gardening gloves, especially those flexible kinds that rose thorns don’t penetrate or nice-fitting leather gloves.
  • Knee pads or knee benches for gardeners to make close work less of a pain.
  • A well-made spading fork or shovel.
  • Cast aluminum hand tools or specially designed “ergonomic” tools for less muscle strain.
  • A greenhouse or a good cold frame (could be home-made).
  • High quality loppers or hand pruners.
  • Gift certificates to garden centers.
  • A soil thermometer is very useful. So are moisture meters with ~12-inch probes. Both are inexpensive gifts.
  • Q Knot reusable cable ties are handy for staking tomatoes or trellises. Get them from a local hardware store.
  • Manual or electric water timer. This device can be attached to any faucet, and automatically shuts off water after a set amount of time. Get a single or dual mod-el from a hardware store.
  • Water bubbler with flow control or other interesting sprinklers.
  • Corona Quick Tool Sharpener. A pocket-sized tool for sharpening pruners, shears, blades.
  • Floating row covers are lightweight blankets to put over vegetables that help capture warmth and protect plants. May be available from the Extension office in February/March. Call us.
  • Heavier row covers for pot protection from cold winter weather: We have some now at the Extension office at a sale price.
  • A Hori Hori Knife is a transplant knife from Japan, that’s part trowel and part knife. Also, good for dispatching slugs. It is a great tool.
  • Folding pruning saws are necessary for pruning but also handy for camping or backpacking. Fiskers, Barnel, or Corona are good brands.
  • LED headlamp is handy tool for gardening or locating slugs at night (if you are so inclined). If you have close neighbors, warn them of your new hobby. Also good for looking for carpenter ant evidence under your house.
  • The market has a number of lithium battery-powered chain saws, pole pruners, and weed whackers. For casual users of these tools, they may work well and not have the challenges of a gas–fueled version.
  • A good Insect, Mushroom, or Weed identification book.
  • Support for our Food Bank and local efforts to help those in need.

Holiday Safety

It is worth noting that the Christmas tree growers have been funding research for years on the conifer species and genetic lines within those species that best retain their needles indoors after cutting. The most popular species are Douglas, grand, noble, Fraser, Turkish, and Nordmann fir trees. They all have excellent needle retention characteristics.

Through the remainder of the holiday season, be sure to keep you tree well watered.

A number of insects like to winter in the dense cover of Christmas trees. When the trees are brought inside, the tree and the insects come out of dormancy. You may see the brown marmorated stink bug wandering around, perhaps a box elder bug here and there, some spiders, and possibly, queen yellow jackets. My perspective has been to gently capture them and release them outside. While the yellow jacket queen may be quite drowsy (or not, depending on how long it’s been since she woke up), she can still pack quite a sting, which she can repeat several times. So be cautious.

Extension publications available online

Are you putting up salsa, saving seeds, or thinking about planting grapes? OSU has a large number of its publications available for free download. Just go to https://catalog.extension. . Click on publications and start exploring.

The Oregon State University Extension office in Columbia County publishes a monthly newsletter, County Living, about gardening and farming. All you need to do is ask for it and it will be mailed or emailed to you. Call 503-397-3462 to be put on the list. You can also find the newsletter on the web, at http://extension.oregonstate. edu/columbia/ and click on newsletters.

Chip Bubl works at the OSU Extension/Columbia County. Call 503 397-3462, or email To reach the Curry County 4-H Extension Services, call 541-247-6672.


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(1) comment

David Harris

This is a great list, but I'm also grateful that you added some tips in there (such as letting your neighbors know if you'll be wandering around after dark with a headlamp looking for slugs, or about finding a queen hornet in the house after bringing in a fresh Christmas tree!),. Thank you.

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