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The Greener View: Christmas Gift Ideas

Jeff Rugg on

Do you have a small fishbowl sitting around the house with a poor, dejected goldfish or betta swimming lazily in circles? The bowl is probably in need of cleaning, and chances are no one wants to do it. Well, now you can make that little fishbowl do some good. Back to the Roots wants to help every family experience the magic of growing their own food and make gardening a part of every school curriculum.

The company has a Water Garden aquaponics system with a fishbowl that grows herbs and microgreens on top. The fishbowl pumps water up through the lid, where the roots of the herbs are waiting for water and nutrients. And the roots filter the water, so the water stays cleaner and doesn't need nearly as much cleaning as the old-fashioned fishbowl.

We all know that grocery stores sell vegetables in cans. Back to the Roots has Garden-in-a-Can windowsill herbs that are very easy to grow. Just pop off the lid and the garden is ready to grow right in the can. The company also has tomatoes, chili peppers and shishito peppers that grow in self-watering 64-ounce Mason jars. The jars are already filled with soil and include organic fertilizer spikes. A miniature clay olla pot is placed inside the jar with the seeds planted. Just fill the pot, and water the soil once a week. Find out more on the Back to the Roots website.

Are you looking for a focal point in the landscape? Birdly Art creates bird and bug sculptures that move. Each piece is cut out of steel with a laser and has a powder-coat finish in a bright color. They are made in Oregon, and the company donates a portion of sales to habitat preservation organizations. Visit the website for more details.

Gardeners use garden tools all the time, but when it comes to working with trays of seedlings, small dish gardens or bonsai pots, regular trowels are too big and bulky. Gardener's Supply Co. now has the mini trowel. The shovel blade is only 3 inches long. It is made of hand-forged Swedish boron steel. The trowel has a lifetime warranty. Find out more at the Gardener's Supply Co. website.

Does the gardener on your holiday shopping list have one of every kind of plant? If not, then the book "1001 Plants You Must Grow Before You Die" by Liz Dobbs is the perfect gift. With a color photo and a nice description of every plant, this is a very thick book. It has indoor, outdoor, herb and vegetable plants. Reading through it will entice you to try more varieties of plants in your garden. I didn't do an official count, but I have a lot of plants left to grow if I want to get to all 1,000.


A lot of people want to grow some of their own vegetables but never seem to find the time to do it. "The Downsized Veggie Garden" book may help. It covers creative uses of small space -- whether it's outdoors, indoors, in-ground, in containers, on a balcony railing or even vertical. Garden expert Kate Copsey takes the reader season by season, plant by plant and offers essential tips about soil, seed starting, plant choices, nonchemical fertilizing, watering, the right container choice, veggie garden planning and planting, and much more.

You may already have edible plants in your garden. The book "Eat Your Roses" by Denise Schreiber covers the proper handling and preparation techniques for 50 different flowers. It also has all kinds of recipes, from appetizers and drinks, to main dishes and desserts.


Email questions to Jeff Rugg at To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



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