December 31, 2008
Here's the perfect winter book and a great one with which to start off the year.
While your outside garden is dormant and covered with ice and snow, you can still enjoy growing all kinds of flowers from bulbs. Bulbs for Indoors: Year-Round Windowsill Splendor by Robert M. Hays and Janet Marinelli discusses all bulbs that can be forced indoors. Available from Amazon for cheap ($.01 used or from $8.99 new).
December 26, 2008
Every once in a while, there is the sneaking suspicious that I'll get stuck in the snow. I'll park somewhere I probably shouldn't or the car will get buried by the snow plow in a parking lot. So, in early December, I switch the wiper blades to winter ones and take out the emergency snow shovel and stick it in the trunk. While I've only used it once, it sure is nice to know it's there.
Don't be too picky about the thing. The important thing is to get one and throw it in the trunk. The Fiskars Emergency Snow Shovel is as good a one as you'll find. It is 28" long, and has a steel shovel and fiberglass handle. You might throw your back out using it but that'll give you time to lie on the couch thinking about why it's not a good idea to drive in the snow.
December 25, 2008
December 24, 2008
There's no doubt about it. The ice chopper is one of my favorite winter tools. I've used it several times already and it's not even January yet.
The Ice Bully is the chopper of choice due to its carbon steel blade and rubber covered steel handle. It is made in the USA so your dollars are staying within the country, too. You might think it strange to order this online but stuff made in the USA is hard to find in the chain stores. This tool also doubles as an edger for flower beds when the grass is green.
Available from Amazon for $21.87.
December 21, 2008
December 19, 2008
If there ever was a cool garden gadget, this is it. The EasyBloom Plant Sensor senses temperature, light, humidity and drainage so you can put the right plant in the right spot. Put the Plant Sensor in the garden area you want to know more about and leave it there for at least 24 hours. Then take it out and plug it into your computer.
Search the database for plants that will thrive in that kind of environment. It will also help you diagnose what is wrong with an ailing plant that isn't doing well in that spot.
The best thing about this gadget, in my opinion, is that you can use it to find a micro-climate around your house or garden. Let's say you want to grow a plant or tree that really only does well in Zone 6 but you live in Vermont. You can place this plant sensor in that spot to see if it is worth trying to grow that expensive magnolia. Available from Amazon for $59.95.
December 18, 2008
Nope, it's not another weed wacker - it's a metal detector. Okay, so it's not a serious gardening tool, book or tip, but everyone needs a little fun now and then. And, you never know what might turn up after you rototill the garden in the spring. There's no better way to sniff around the dirt for treasures than with a metal detector.
Also, can you imagine returning home from work after it has snowed 6-12", trudging up the path, fumbling with your stuff, mittens, keys and WOOOOOPS the keys are now in the snow. But where? Keep this thing right by the door so you can find them easily. Alright, maybe that's a long shot but at any rate this is a fun gadget to play with. Available from Amazon for $84.98.
December 17, 2008
If you are going away for a week or two, and want your houseplants watered, these Aqua Globes might do the trick. They claim to keep a plant watered for 2 weeks, but one week is probably more realistic. Fill the globe with water or a diluted mix of water and plant food, and stick into the dirt in the planter. The water will slowly drain out of the tube of the globe while you are busy tanning yourself on a tropical beach (or out shoveling snow). The price seems reasonable considering they are made of glass - $15.40 for two Aqua Globes.
December 16, 2008
HO HO HUM. Here's to last week's ice storm and 12" of snow coming on Friday. Oh, and did I mention the Nor'easter scheduled for Sunday? Good grief, the winter is really starting with a bang.
The weather is frightful but we, as dedicated gardeners, can be delightful in winter especially while tending our AeroGarden.
The AeroGarden Seed Kit is a table sized garden that is perfect for the winter. This kit comes with seeds, plant food, a light and the container in which to hold it all. Perfect for a city-dweller who wants to grow herbs without all the dirt. Available at Amazon for $129.95.
December 9, 2008
The Asian longhorned beetle has been hard at work in the Worcester area. We first mentioned this destructive bug in August and it looks like it has devastated a 63-mile area in Central Mass. Inspect your own trees and keep an eye out for dime-sized exit holes from which the beetle larvae emerge after wintering in the center of the tree.
Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff, writes that some trees have over 100 exit holes in them. There may be even more trees coming down in the future because USDA officials recommended removing a total of about 20,000 trees - both infested and at risk of infestation. For now, Worcester is starting with 4,500 and will take down some "at risk" trees and inspect them. In addition to the loss of bird habitats, fall foliage and shade is the $30+ million dollars it will cost for just the first year of beetle eradication.
Read the full article here.
December 4, 2008
I received an email requesting me to sign a petition for Michael Pollen for the Secretary of Agriculture. The email said, "This petition is a letter to president elect Obama, urging him to appoint Michael Pollen as the Secretary of Agriculture. The other candidates that are up for election completely undermine the above mentioned objectives and all support big agri-business and biotech industries such as Monsanto. To protect your right to know what you are buying and what you are consuming it is essential that we prevent corporate interests from taking control of our global food systems. To create a holistic and sustainable agricultural future that is not based on economic, social, and ecological exploitation, it is critical that our Secretary of Agriculture be a forward-thinking circumspect, and environmentally minded individual."
Another petition already ousted Vilsack, a proponant of genetically engineered food and industrial agriculture, from the running. Maybe this petition will get some attention. If you are interested in signing it, click here.
For more information on who Michael Pollen is, listen to a podcast here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95896389 and here: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/bl/episodes/2008/11/27/segments/116803 and for information on sustainable agriculture here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/
December 3, 2008
This is the perfect gift for a gardener who has indoor plants or who propagates seedlings. All the tools are tiny so they fit into the hard to reach places of a houseplant and won't crush a tiny seedling.
Although small, these tiny tools are made of stainless steel with soft grip handles - better than what you find on most full sized tools. The gift set includes a mister, shovel, fork, spade, 2 kinds of clippers and a tote to carry them all in. Available from Amazon for $37.99.
December 2, 2008
Here's a great tool kit for a bonsai friend or relative. There are nine quality tools - ashinaga shears, concave cutters, wire cutters, a stainless steel root rake, stainless steel angle point tweezers, a leaf trimmer, a hemp broom and 1 piece of drainage netting for working with bonsai. It's all wrapped up neatly in a nylon tool roll which is just the thing to keep all those tiny tools from disappearing to the kitchen drawer, the children's room, or worse, the garage tool box.
This bonsai tool kit is available from Amazon for $97.75.
December 1, 2008
The Art of Natural Bonsai: Replicating Nature's Beauty, by David Joyce, is an incredible book that photo documents the author's bonsai trees over a twenty year period. The book took 30 years to create. Obviously, Mr. Joyce has a long term view of things and a wealth of patience, two necessary qualities for anyone embarking on growing trees of any size. All aspects of the art of bonsai are covered including containers, cuttings, watering, wiring, pruning and propogating. The preferences and requirements of various species are detailed as well. The Art of Natural Bonsai is available from Amazon for $13.57.