Gifts for garden and kitchen

It isn’t just fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables that are popping up this time of year. There are plenty of gift-giving opportunities for the months ahead, like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, bridal showers, weddings, graduations and housewarming parties. Looking for interesting gifts? Check out these budget-minded ideas for your upcoming occasions:

For the garden…

The World’s Kindest Nail Brush (Lee Valley, $1.70 per pair, $8.50 a dozen). It’s the perfect gift for anyone who likes to get their hands dirty. The soft, nylon bristles are gentle enough to use directly on the skin and they can get at dirt hiding under finger nails and in cuticles. (It’s also the kindest vegetable brush, and easy to keep clean). Combine it with a bottle of All-Natural Hand Cleaner ($11.50 and $21.50) and Gardener’s Clay Soap ($17.95) for a complete clean-up kit.

Flexible Blossom Crown (Lee Valley, $5.95 – $6.95 each, or $9.50 for a set of three). Blossom crowns are one of the hottest items in stores and at garden shows for a reason: they make it easy to create the perfect floral arrangement. The floral patterned wire mesh will fit into just about any vase or container, and it will hold flowers in place even when you take them out to change the water. It’s a great add-on to a gift of cut flowers, or for the budding flower arranger.

Garden Bucket Caddy (Fiskars, $10.99 USD). Think of it was a tool belt for the trusty garden bucket. The caddy has pockets to hold a variety of garden tools, a cordless phone, seeds and a water bottle. This product isn’t widely available in Canada so it would make a nice surprise for your favourite gardener.

WaterStik (Lee Valley, $15.95-$16.50). Take the guesswork out of watering those indoor plants. The WaterStik can be used to test moisture levels in all the plants around the home, or can be left in one plant for continual monitoring. Not only will the different coloured lights tell when it’s time to water, they’ll also warn you if the soil is too wet.

Solar-powered lights (Available in most hardware and home stores, $15 and up). They’re one of this year’s most popular outdoor decorating trends because they’re ideal for brightening up an outdoor space. The lights don’t just come in chains and lanterns, there are many light-up decorations as well, like these novelty lights from Canadian Tire. (For more information, check out Hot trends for outdoor decor).

Gardening Kits. The kits are all-in-one container gardening for the home. Kits typically include everything needed to get started, like seeds, soil and the appropriate container. You can find kits for flowers, herbs, teas and even vegetable plants — some with organic and heirloom seeds. For instance, there are the Salsa Garden Kit, Salad Garden Kit and Strawberry Starter Garden Kit from Larger kits start about $30.

Folding Garden Kneeler (Canadian Tire, $21.99). This product goes beyond the traditional knee pad. Turned one way, it’s a thick pad with sides and handgrips to help you get up after being in the same position for a long time. Turn it over, and it can be used as a footstool or seat.

Stacking Pots (Lee Valley, $39.50). These stackable pots combine to make a tiered container garden that saves space and provides a decorative touch. Each set has room for nine plants (vegetables or flowers), and has a built in system to wick moisture up to all levels of the planter. An optional chain is included to make it a hanging basket too.

Fiskars Deluxe Telescopic Stand-Up Weeder (Canadian Tire, $39.99). While this product isn’t new to the market, it’s bound to popular this year as new bans on pesticides come into effect in communities across Canada. The telescopic handle means you can adjust the tool to your own height and dig out pesky weeds while standing up (which is good for the back). The serrated teeth on the blades grip and yank out stubborn weeds like dandelions and thistles.

San-Kaku Hoe (Lee Valley, $34.50 and $69.50). This unique, Japanese-made hoe has a uniquely shaped triangular blade set perpendicular to the handle. It’s the ideal tool for breaking up soil, digging trenches or furrows and removing shallow-rooted weeds.

Garden Tool Cart (Lee Valley, $99.99 for the cart, $15.50 for the additional pouch). Wheel your tools directly from your shed to your garden! This sturdy cart has wagon-sized wheels perfect for soft ground, plus there’s a spot for all of your short and long-handled tools. Another bonus: the front plate can carry up to 150 pounds — ideal for moving bags of soil or large plants.

For more ideas, see Gifts for gardeners.

For the chef…

Spurtle (Lee Valley, $4.95). You don’t see them often in North America, but this unusually-named utensil is a traditional Scottish stir stick made for porridge, sauces and stews. Its narrow diameter cuts through thick ingredients to break up clumps, and the wood won’t scratch surfaces.

Measuring pours (Lee Valley, $6.20 each or $16.90 for a set of three). Get the perfect measurement every time, whether you’re measuring oils and vinegars or drizzling syrups. The liquid fills the portioned reservoir and empties when the bottle is tipped. Five different measurements are available: teaspoon, tablespoon, one ounce, two ounce and free-flowing (for those who like to “eyeball it”).

Kernel Cutter (Pampered Chef, $8.50). Love fresh corn, but not necessarily on the cob? This curved blade makes it even easier to slice it off for use in salads, vegetable dishes or for freezing.

Staybowlizer® (Lee Valley, $16.95). Tired of bowls that slip while you whip? This non-slip silicon ring cradles bowls while you work — no hands required! The heat-resistant material makes it easy to slip in the dishwasher or use on a pot of boiling water to create a double boiler.

Over-the-Sink Colander (Lee Valley, $18.50). It can be tricky to manage a pot in one hand and a strainer in the other. This colander solves the problem with its extendable handles that extend to suspend it over the sink — allowing the cook to have both hands free. While the colander itself is made of sturdy stainless steel, the handles have a protective rubber coating to prevent counter top scratches.

Bamboo Prep Towels (Pampered Chef, $17.50 pair). Why a bamboo blend? Bamboo is ultra-absorbent and anti-microbial, making them handy. These towels also come equipped with a snap loop so they can be attached to belt loops or door handles for convenience.

Pineapple Wedger (Pampered Chef, $18.50) Think of it as an apple corer for a pineapple. This set of blades has handles on either side to make it easier to cut up a fresh pineapple — saving both time and money. Try grilling pineapple on the barbeque for a healthy summer dessert.

Professional Quad Timer (Lee Valley, $28.50). Cooks don’t make just one dish at a time, so timers need to multi-tasking too. This device has four independent timers that can be set to let you gage the cooking process or to remind you when it’s time to start the next dish. The timer combines an easy-to-use rotary dial with LED digital display, and even has lights to indicate which burner the timer is for.

Tupperware Can Opener ( Tupperware, $42.00). Manual can openers are a must-have item for the kitchen or emergency preparedness kit. While this one is a little pricier than most, it’s unique features make it safer to use for people of all ages. The blade is kept away from the food, preventing both contamination and sharp edges. It’s also ergonomically designed, making it easy to grip and twist.

Maslin Pan (Lee Valley , $76.00 for pot alone, $85.00 with lid). Popular in Europe, Maslin Pans are now breaking into the North American market. Shaped like a giant tea cup, it’s the perfect pot for making jellies, jams, candy and preserves. Its thick, heat-distributing base prevents hot-spots and fits nicely on a burner, and the sides flare out to a wide top for evaporation. A side and central handle facilitate pouring, and the pan can even go in the oven because it’s made from stainless steel.

(For more gifts for your favourite chef, see Gifts for foodies).

Please note: These prices are current as of April 2012, but are subject to change. For additional savings, keep your eyes open for sales.

Got a great gift idea? Share it in the comments.

Photo © kutay tanir

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