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Holiday Gifts for the Organic Gardener

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Finding the perfect gift for the organic gardener in your life may prove challenging, as local nurseries and garden supply stores often lack a satisfactory selection of plants, soil nutrients and accessories that are appropriately "green." Even in major metropolitan areas, it can be difficult to locate specialty seeds and plants that fit your recipients' stringent home garden requirements.

Here are five novel holiday gift ideas, all of which can be ordered from the comfort of your home via the Internet. We've even provided the hyperlinks, so click away!

1. Organic Mushroom Growing Kits

Organic mushrooms are often hard to find, so your friends and loved ones will appreciate the opportunity to grow their own. FungusAmongUs Inc. offers three different kits with easy-to-follow instructions. The Organic Shiitake Homegrowing Kit is the company's bestseller, while The Organic Oyster Mushroom Homegrowing Kit yields stunning mushroom bouquets. The Organic Lion's Mane Mushroom Homegrowing Kit produces a truly unique variety that boasts a flavor remarkably similar to crab sautéed in butter. Round out your gift with a selection of FungusAmongUs Organic Dried Soup Mixes, available in three flavors: Moroccan Porcini & Green Lentil, Smoked Oyster Mushroom Chowder and Spicy Shiitake & Vegetable. Each mix can be prepared in 20 minutes and serves four-perfect for a rainy day when Mother Nature will tend to the garden herself.

2. "You Can Grow!" Educational CD-ROMs

Giannangelo Farms Southwest believes in the concept of "avant-gardening"-a creative approach to organic gardening. Owners Frank and Vicky Giannangelo have produced four "You Can Grow!" Sustainable Organic Gardening CD-ROMs that feature organic gardening tutorials, planting techniques, tips on garden design and essays on the pleasures of earth-centric living. There are four titles available: "Basic Organic Soil Building Techniques," which focuses on types of soil, soil needs and composting; "Planting Techniques and Garden Design," which covers site selection, tools, how to plant seeds, the art of watering, and organic pest control; "Seeds of Inspiration," a spirituality-themed collection on the intersection of gardening and enjoyment of life; and "Introduction to Avant-Gardening," an exploration of creative growing, botany basics, and plants and their meanings. Giannangelo Farms specializes in growing gorgeous herbs, fruit trees and vegetables, providing produce to neighboring restaurants and resorts.

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From the Organic Authority Files

3. Organic Heirloom Tomatoes


TomatoFest owner Gary Ibsen sells more than 500 varieties of certified organic heirloom tomato seeds. The new kid on the block is dedicated to a culinary icon: The Julia Child Heirloom Tomato-the product of a 2001 conversation Ibsen had while lunching with the late French chef. When he asked if he could name a tomato after her, Child had one criterion: The fruit could be any variety, but it must be "tasty, my dear." The Julia Child is a 4" deep-pink beefsteak beauty with a robust flavor and juicy flesh. Act now, as Ibsen is limiting sales to 10 seed packets per customer. The Julia Child is a TomatoFest exclusive, and 6.6% of profits are donated to the American Institute of Wine & Food's educational children's programs.

4. Organic Culinary Herbs Kit + Breakfast in Bed

Smith & Hawken, one of the nation's largest gardening lifestyle retailers, is offering an organic Culinary Herbs Kit-pots of savory basil, cilantro and chives that can be grown on a kitchen counter or outdoors. Each kit includes soil, organic seeds, copper pots, a matching tray and complete planting instructions. And when the organic gardener deserves breakfast in bed, have Smith & Hawken's delectable Breakfast Basket delivered-an enticing foursome of organic blueberry and cherry jams, creamy peanut butter and honey, cushioned by a colorful kitchen towel and artfully arranged in a woven basket. Be sure to invite yourself to breakfast when the package arrives!

5. And Now for Something Completely Different: A Personal Cacao Tree!

Your gardening guru will never expect to receive his or her very own Cacao Tree-the coveted agricultural wonder that produces the world's chocolate-from Natural Selections Exotics. Each tree reaches a height of 15 to 20 feet and will bear cacao pods within approximately 2 years. Make sure your gift recipient can handle proper care and feeding: If not raised in a tropical climate, the cacao tree requires a heated greenhouse, shade and protection against the wind. If you're looking for a truly out-of-the-ordinary gardening gift, think chocolate-in its most embryonic form! Please note: Natural Selections Exotics does not bill itself as an organic grower, but the company's extraordinary lust for bringing "the odd, unusual, exotic, rare or seemingly unobtainable" to dedicated plant collectors has created a shopping nirvana for gardeners enthralled with varieties found nowhere else. Upon gift delivery, appreciative recipients can tend to their new additions using preferred organic growing techniques.

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