The right tool can make the right gift
If you are looking for some creative and helpful tools to use in your own garden, add these terrific gardening goodies to your holiday wish list. Or, consider gifting them to a gardening friend. Here's to a successful 2013 gardening season!
• Hand seeders: Indoor seed-starting season is just around the bend. Tiny seeds, like those of lettuce, impatiens, carrots and others, can be difficult to handle — especially for those with older eyes or clumsy thumbs. To make sowing tiny seeds a bit simpler, invest in a little help. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply (www.groworganic.com) sells several types of hand-seeders to aid in sowing even the tiniest of seeds. The Glaser Hand Seeder is a precision tool that sows one seed at a time, no matter how small, and the Landware Pro-seeder works by creating a vacuum that holds a single seed in place until you position it on the soil. It comes with several different “needle” tips to handle various seed sizes. And, there's even an inexpensive plastic hand-seeder with a variable outlet to control the release of individual seeds. Proof that, sometimes, even the tiniest of tools are a big help.
• Fiskars Uproot Lawn and Garden Weeder: I have written about this handy tool in the past, but I'm telling you about it again, because it is such a terrific piece of equipment. Fiskars Uproot Lawn and Garden Weeder is perfect for removing deep-rooted perennial weeds like dandelions and thistles, but it also works well for annual and perennial rosette-forming weeds like hawkweed, plantain, curly dock and purslane. The greatest thing about this tool is that you don't ever have to bend over! Constructed of four stainless-steel serrated claws and an ultra-lightweight aluminum handle, it works by positioning the claws over the weed, stepping on a foot pad to insert the claws into the ground, and bending the handle back (using the foot pad as leverage) to pop out the weed. The claws hold onto the pulled weed until you slide an ejection mechanism down to force the weed out into your collection container. This weeder has been recommended by the Arthritis Foundation for ease of use. There also is a deluxe model available, as well as a triple-clawed lower-end model. All are available at garden centers and hardware stores that carry the Fiskars tool line.
• Burpee Boost: Got a health-conscious gardener on your shopping list? Burpee Seeds recently introduced Burpee Boost — a new collection of six vegetables selected to contain higher levels of antioxidants. “Gold Standard” cucumber has five times more beta-carotene than other cucumbers, “Cherry Punch,” a small fruited tomato, boasts up to 30 percent more vitamin C and 40 percent more lycopene than other varieties, and lettuce “Healing Hand Salad Mix” has 40 percent more lutein and beta-carotene than the average salad mix. The collection is rounded out by “Sweet Heat Hybrid” pepper and “Solar Power” and “Power Pops Hybrid” tomatoes. Seeds are available from Burpee Seeds (www.burpee.com).
• Quick Twine Dispenser: If you, or someone you love, grows a lot of tomatoes, you know how challenging it can be to keep them tidily attached to their stakes or cages. The Territorial Seed Co. (www.territorialseed.com) is offering a Quick Twine Dispenser that attaches right to your belt or pocket and keeps garden twine literally at your fingertips (and snarl free!). Plus, the cutting blade never needs sharpening and it comes pre-loaded with 400 feet of natural jute twine. What a wonderful idea!
• Vegtrug Patio Garden: This item from Gardener's Supply Company (www.gardeners.com) is a must for gardeners looking to easily increase their growing space. This upright, waist-high planting bed stands on four legs and is easily accessible to all gardeners — without stooping. Winner of the 2012 Green Thumb Award for outstanding new product, the Vegtrug is made of wood with sturdy dovetailed joints and a porous, fabric liner. Its V-shaped design maximizes root growth and eases watering. The Vegtrug also comes in a compact size for smaller spaces. This is an especially great product for urban gardeners, patio or deck gardens, handicapped folks and kids.
• Seed-starting tool: For both the newbie and experienced gardener, look to Gardener's Supply Co. (www.gardeners.com) for a seed-starting tool just perfect for everyone. Their Advanced Propagation System (APS for short) is an exclusive structure designed to increase your chances of seed-starting success. Its five-layer layout begins at the base with a water reservoir. In the reservoir sits a peg-board with tiny channels that funnel the water up to a piece of capillary matting. This specialized fabric then wicks moisture up to the soil and roots of the seeding tray sitting on top. The seedling tray is then covered with a clear plastic lid that acts much like a mini-greenhouse. The system is so successful in part because seedlings are watered from below, keeping their foliage dry. Growers simply need to keep the water reservoir filled to ensure seedlings receive ample moisture. There is no chance of over or under watering your seedling. And, as added insurance, a few extra dollars will buy you a handy water-level gauge that lets you know when the reservoir is running low.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.