Gifts for Grown Ups Who Love to Play in the Dirt
It’s fun to give holiday gifts that sparkle, but the best gifts for gardeners often come in decidedly dull colors. The useful, earth-kind products described below are all made or packaged in the state, notably free from gnarly supply chain woes. Might these gifts put a smile on the face of a grown-up who loves to play in the dirt?
Bring Soil Back to Life
When I told Monique Bosch of Wilton about my search for locally made garden products, she responded, “You can’t get much more local than 800,000 red wiggler worms eating organic juicer waste from local establishments.” That’s how many worms currently produce the compost products at Wiggle Room LLC’s Bridgeport vermicomposting facility.
Before Bosch and her son started the company, she had years of experience as a community food activist with a strong background in soil science. She also had experience with worm composting using a small stackable worm bin.
Then, seven years ago, her son, Justin Hawrysh, graduated college and wanted to start a local business. Equipped with a degree in mechanical engineering and using some vermicomposting equipment Bosch had saved from a defunct compost producer, Hawrysh went to work.
“Our goal,” says Bosch, “is to distribute highly nutritious compost using food scraps sourced from local, organic restaurants and to help bring the soil back to life.”
Wiggle Room products are certified for organic growing. In addition to castings and vermicompost tea, Wiggle Room sells composting worms and vermicomposting equipment. Reach them through www.wiggleroom.org.
For the Seedling Enthusiast
Once the holidays are over, it’s not long until the seed-planting season. Biodegradable Cow Pots will please seedling enthusiasts who worry about using plastic and peat.
The producer is Freund Family Farm in East Canaan, a dairy operation that began in 1949 and has, today, the longest-operating anaerobic cow manure digester in the state. It manufactures Cow Pots from the processed manure at the farm. Cow Pots received the USDA Biobased Product certification in 2020.
“It’s been an unusual and crazy two years for Cow Pots,” says Amanda Freund, a member of the Cow Pots team, “but it’s nice to see so many people getting into gardening and growing their food.”
“We are fortunate to have easy access and proximity to our raw material, cow manure,” she continues, noting that some overseas producers have supply chain issues.
Cow Pots are available from independent garden centers and mail-order garden suppliers. See www.cowpots.com/for-home-gardeners.
Decorative Mulch aka Horse Manure
With its deep brown color, Green Envy looks like decorative mulch and, indeed, it is an elegant top-dressing. However, unlike conventional bark mulch, it also amends soil with nutrients, promotes balanced pH, and adds organic matter. Use it in any flower, fruit, and vegetable bed.
Made in Middlebury from locally generated horse manure, Green Envy has no artificial additives, chemicals, or dyes.
This multi-faceted garden product helps the gardener, and it also helps reduce the waste stream. Company president Jack Sousa says that by using local horse manure, Green Envy helps reduce municipal waste and protects the horse farms from contamination. The company is 10 years old this year.
Selected Ace Hardware stores and independent garden centers sell Green Envy. It’s available in bulk at several locations. See the location finder at greenenvyproducts.com/where-to-buy.
Just Add Water:
Veggie Grow Kit
City Garden is a three-veggie grow kit from FibreDust LLC of Cromwell. A veggie garden in a box, the kits are as close to “just add water” as a grower can get. Designed for porch, rooftop, or patio, each box is complete with tomato, pepper, cucumber seeds, and fertilizer.
FibreDust imports coir (“coy-er), the byproduct of shredded coconut shells that form the growing medium, and packages the kits at the Cromwell headquarters. FibreDust executive Andy Pidgeon says that City Gardens are popular fundraising products for schools and organizations. Call 860-597-3844 to buy them directly or find them on Amazon.
Seeds for 2022:
Three Connecticut seed companies offer seeds (and gift certificates) for next year’s gardens.
John Scheepers’ www.KitchenGardenSeeds.com of Bantam offers a wide variety of standard, heirloom, and rare vegetable varieties. In addition to gift certificates, it has Holiday Packs.
See www.SelectSeeds.com of Union for a wide selection of standard, heirloom, and rare flower seeds.
See www.NESeed.com of East Hartford for organic and conventional vegetable seeds, as well as flower seeds, herb seeds, and supplies.
Read All About It
Connecticut Gardener Magazine started 27 years ago and continues to be written by local experts about local gardens, suppliers, and conditions. Publishers Will and Ann Rowlands bring it out five times a year during the growing season, both online and in print. One of my favorite features is the calendar of gardening-related events all over the state. The magazine explores challenging topics such as invasive plants and insects, pruning, and what to do in a drought. At the same time, it offers lots of ideas for plant selection and successful growing. Visit www.conngardener.com or phone 203-292-0711. There is a gift certificate option on the website.
Have a good time discovering the local products and services our fellow state residents create.
Kathy Connolly writes and speaks on landscapes, horticulture, and ecology from Old Saybrook. Kathy@SpeakingofLandscapes.com.