Not sure what to get your favourite gardener for Christmas? Just because the garden is locked away under a blanket of snow, it doesn't mean that gardening gifts won't be appreciated. Since Christmas is not long before seed-starting season, here are some seeding and propagation tools that are sure to be appreciated, ranging in price from "stocking stuffer" to "extravagant".
Dibber: This garden tool, similar in shape to a pencil but plastic, can cost less than a dollar. It can be useful for planting small seeds at uniform depths, and making holes for propagating cuttings. Just be sure the giftee knows what it is.
Paper Pot Maker: A little round, wooden object which, when you wrap newspaper around it, helps you create small, biodegradable planting pots for starting seedlings. They range from $12 to $20, and are apparently sometimes available in sets of two sizes. Your local garden centre probably carries them, but call ahead to find out.
Seedling Heat Mat: This heating mat provides gentle bottom heat to a seedling tray, helping more seeds to germinate more quickly. There are several styles available for between $30 and $60. Most do not come with a thermostat (which can be bought separately for about $50 to $60), but they aren't really necessary for most home growers.
Books: There are lots of great gardening books out there, for people who like to spend the winter planning and dreaming. While we're on the theme of seed starting, try Secrets of Plant Propagation by Lewis Hill; or try Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman for information on planting and extending the seasons in cold climates. It will be $15 to $20 for the paperback editions of these books, or buy a nice, illustrated hardcover such as the Canadian Encyclopedia Of Gardening for closer to $50.
Growing Lights: An adjustable frame with fluorescent lights for starting seeds and growing plants indoors can range from $100 for a basic model to over $600 (including shipping) for a deluxe model with three tiers. These can be difficult to find unless you are ordering from a catalogue, but your local Lee Valley Tools might carry them. Or if you're more handy than wealthy, you could almost certainly construct something similar for much less money.
These are some ideas to get you started, but if you are still short of ideas, try giving your gardener a gardening catalogue and a highlighter, and I'm sure you'll end up with plenty of ideas!