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Vermont Garden Journal: Seed Packets As Stocking Stuffers For Budding Gardeners

Seed packets make great, last-minute stocking stuffers for the gardener in your life.

Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas! As everyone scurries for last-minute stocking stuffers, seed packets often come to mind for gardeners. There's no better sign of hope than a few packets of vegetable, herb or flower seeds slipped into someone's stocking. While the sentiment is great, and brings smiles to everyone's faces, I have a few tips based on my years of giving and receiving seed packets as gifts.

First of all, know your gardener. If you're giving seeds to a beginning gardener or someone who has never gardened outdoors before, keep it simple. Stick with easy-to-grow vegetables, herbs and flowers that can be directly sown in the ground or started in a window three-to-four weeks before a last frost. Some examples are lettuce, peas, beans, cosmos, zinnia, basil and cilantro. These will be the most satisfying for a newbie gardener.

For experienced gardeners, make sure you know if they're an organic gardener or love heirlooms. Also, check if they're into seed starting before you buy unusual varieties of tomato, pepper, nicotiana, salvia and snapdragons. I once made the mistake of giving some unusual varieties of seeds that needed to be started indoors, only to find out the gardener had stopped indoor seed-starting years ago.

It helps to know the garden, too. If someone just has containers or a raised bed they may not appreciate 'Mammoth' sunflower or morning glory seeds. They just take up too much space. Consider dwarf varieties such as 'Spicy Globe' basil, arugula and baby carrots.

Finally, share some seeds you saved or have tried before so you can coach them along when they're trying a new variety. You can even give dried popcorn or beans you grew as fun gift to eat or plant, depending on their preference.

Now for this week's tip: move your live Christmas tree into a cold garage or shed right after the holidays. You don't want to keep it indoors too long or it will break dormancy.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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