If you plan to get something for the gardener on your holiday gift list, do it now. In case they have not dropped you any hints, here are a two suggestions.
Hori Hori knife: I use a Hori Hori knife more than I use a garden trowel for removing plants or for creating planting holes in my container gardens and perennial beds. Hori Hori knives come from Japan, where they were originally used for digging up vegetables. Their Japanese moniker comes from Hori, which means to dig. Hori Hori knives are also referred to as soil or garden knives.
Typically, Hori Hori knives have blades that are about 6 to 7 inches long and 1.5 to 1.75 inches wide. One edge of the blade is usually serrated for cutting woody roots, and the other edge is smooth and sharp. The blade is often concave, to help with digging. I favor garden knives with stainless steel blades that do not rust. For the sake of safety, I recommend buying one with a sheath to protect the blade and the gardener. It is also advisable to select one with a guard at the base of the blade to prevent the user’s hand from slipping down and getting cut when digging.
Prices of garden knives vary. You can buy a serviceable one with a plastic handle for $15 to $25, or you can get more expensive ones with higher quality blades and handles. I have an inexpensive Fiskars garden knife that I use all the time. In addition, I have a quality Japanese Hori Hori knife that I seldom use because it does not have a guard.
Typically, a Hori Hori knife blade is serrated on its left side, making it handy for right-handed gardeners, but you can also find garden knives with serrations on the right side. Lesche offers a digging tool where the right blade edge is serrated instead. It also has a substantial guard on the blade for tough digging jobs.
Harvest apron: I wish I had known about the Roo gardening apron before my tomatoes ripened this summer. Harvesting tomatoes is tedious. Invariably, I end up lifting the hem of my shirt to create a pocket where I place the harvested fruit. The Roo apron makers must know about my shirt trick, because their website says, “No more using your shirt to get vegetables in from the garden, simply put on the Roo, and fill the pouch.”
The Roo apron comes from a company right here in the Northwest, and is designed to make harvesting easier. It is made from industrial strength cotton with a moisture resistant nylon storage pouch. The pouch is created by a fabric cylinder secured to the apron with plastic hooks that release to form a chute for depositing your pickings in a bucket, trug or wheelbarrow.
Rather than a neck strap, the Roo has cotton shoulder straps that are adjustable for gardeners of varying sizes. There are also side pouches that allow for storage of gloves, a water bottle, cellphone or hand tools. The Roo apron is machine washable and comes in pink, purple, bright blue, green or charcoal. It looks like it could make the task of harvesting tomatoes and other veggies easier, but it also might come in handy when pulling weeds and deadheading. I hope Santa knows that it is on my wish list. If not, a Roo can be ordered at www.rooapron.com or from other online vendors at a cost about $35.
Marianne C. Ophardt is a retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.