July 15, 2008
Virtual gardening is here. Well, it's in Japan anyway. The GardenSnob staff was not elated to hear this news and at first equated it with such non-essentials as striped beets and black hollyhocks. "Who cares?" and "Why would someone want that when the real thing is just out the door?" were some of the gentler comments. While contemplating this new development over a cold beverage, the staff did manage to broaden their thinking and come up with a few instances where this could be a good thing. Playing this game might crack the emotionless shell of that pale, sodden teenager who is addicted to violent computer games and won't go outside. It might provide some solace to a bed-ridden person who can't go outside. And it certainly would help to pass the time in an airport or on a plane where the environment is anything but natural. To this end, we recommend the Shiki-Tei gardening game where (oh, dear, it's not a real place!) plants grow and animals and birds come to visit.
July 14, 2008
When it's time to muck out the goat stalls or the chicken house or turn the compost pile, the footwear of choice at GardenSnob are Muck Boots (available at Amazon for $79.95). Don't bother with the knock off brands. They just won't last. These boots keep your feet warm during the coldest winter day with just one pair of socks. They are not overly hot in the summer either considering their heavy duty construction. We have the mid-height ones and wear them every day of the year. The short ones, however, are a different story. They are green and have a white inner liner for the first 5". So much hay gets stuck on this liner that it's as if they are lined with hay. It must be the "breathable airmesh lining". What a bummer! I've stopped using them because they are just too annoying. The hay pokes through any socks I'm wearing and also sticks to the socks which means one more step after taking off the muck boots and putting my house shoes on - picking the hay off my socks. If you don't work with hay, it probably won't affect you but if you mulch your garden with hay in the fall, save some time for picking the hay off the boot liner.
July 11, 2008
Your hard work needs an appropriate place from which to be appreciated and admired. This is a part of gardening that you must not skimp on. After bending over for an hour pulling weeds and sweating in the hot sun, there's nothing like taking a quick shower, grabbing a cold beverage, and lying back in your Pawleys Island rope hammock. This hammock will provide hours of needed rest and relaxation and can stay outdoors for the whole season. The wood is marine varnished and the rope is made from a very soft synthetic that is more durable and longer lasting than cotton. This perennial is worth the investment!
July 9, 2008
Yup, we're at the potatoes again. In our unending quest to avoid the bread lines (if they ever happen), GardenSnob is trying another remedy for that despicable pest, the Colorado potato beetle. The vacuuming was a runaway success and we've vacuumed the Green Mountain potatoes three times now. But since vacuuming potato plants might not be practical for some people, we've decided to give this a try. Diatomaceous earth is made by crushing the fossilized skeletons of tiny aquatic organisms. This fine powder scratches the waxy outer shell of the insect causing death by dehydration. It is completely harmless to all animals, fish, birds or in food (be sure to use food grade, not the stuff they put in pool filters). It is also a chemical free alternative for the control of insects around the house and for worms & parasites in pets and livestock. GardenSnob staff applied the diatomaceous earth (available at Amazon) to the potato plants by putting the powder in an ordinary kitchen sieve and tapping it over the plants. It was just like sugaring a pound cake, easy and simple. Be sure to do this on a calm day, however, so you don't breathe it in and so it lands where intended. Results are mixed so far. The abrasive powder immediately distressed the little buggers but they are still out there munching! Perhaps it takes a few days for it to kill the bugs, or this just isn't the stuff for these slimy pests, or we have such an intense infestation that we must use both vacuuming and diatomateous earth, OR we are addicted to the Quick Fix! Oh, no! not that - after all, the single most important quality of a gardener is patience (not available at Amazon). We will continue monitoring and update as necessary . . .
July 7, 2008
As one of the smaller miracles in the garden, hummingbirds are fascinating to watch. If you haven't planted flowers to attract them or don't have the space, try this pretty hummingbird feeder. It holds enough nectar for 3 days and is durable despite its good looks. Available at Amazon for $18.75. You can make your own nectar by boiling 1 cup of sugar in a quart of water. Some people use packaged food which is really just sugar with or without the red dye. The instant food is suspicious to me because it doesn't require boiling. I suspect there is some kind of mold inhibitor or preservative in it and so I would never feed it to my birds. Whichever food you use, make sure that it's clear. Red dye is harmful for everyone to ingest, and especially to hummingbirds because they're so small. It's also important to clean out your feeder every 3 days to remove any mold that may have started to grow. These tiny birds are highly susceptible to mold-related illnesses. For more information on hummingbirds, consult Peterson's A Field Guide to Hummingbirds of North America. 180 full color photographs.
July 6, 2008
Boo hoo, strawberry season is over (I know, I know, there are a few lingerers and they are worth picking). If you picked lots of strawberries and then found yourself laboring for hours over the sink with a knife, you really owe it to yourself to cough up the coin for a strawberry huller ($1.50 at Amazon). At GardenSnob, our strawberry huller lives right next to the sink during the month of June. When we put it back in the drawer in July, out jumps the cherry pitter! This might seem like a useless, kitchen gadget that you would never use, but it's not. Think back to last summer when you were making a 5-fruit salad - grapes, melon, raspberries, blueberries and cherries - what a juicy combination. After you started halving the cherries and mashing them to a pulp while trying to get the pit out (no, you can't put them in whole and let your guests choke on the pit, or worse, watch them spit it out in front of you), you realized it would be a 4-fruit salad and put the cherries back into the refrigerator. OXO Good Grips has designed a nice, hand held one (Amazon $11.99) that also works on olives. Bonus is that it locks for storage so there won't be any fights in the gadget drawer.
July 5, 2008
Everyone has been experiencing wacky weather lately. A good weather station like this one (Wireless Weather Station $62.53) can help you plan your garden time according to the weather and time of year. This one monitors barometric pressure, indoor and outdoor temperatures and humidity, and sunrise and sunset. GardenSnob staff especially appreciates the wide temperature range (-21.8°F to +157.8°F) so we can monitor the well being of the chickens, goats and pigs during summer and winter. We like to be prepared for any requests for colder facilities in summer or more winter coats when it's freezing out. HA! HA! Just kidding - we don't cool or heat our barn!
July 1, 2008
Now this is what we've all been waiting for! Rabbits, deer, woodchucks, neighborhood cats and dogs, neighbors themselves . . . say goodbye to them all with a big blast of water. This motion activated sprinkler fires short bursts of water to deter pests from your garden and lawn. The electronic eye senses motion for about 180 degrees so depending on your situation, you might be better off with two of them to cover 360 degrees. It's adjustable both vertically and horizontally and runs on a single 9-volt battery. Be sure that you sneak up behind it to turn it off or it will squirt you.
Heat treated, self sharpening wiggle blade aerates, mulches, and cultivates. It also has a 54" Alumilite handle with comfort grip. R.C. Johnson has this to day about the Hula Ho: "A good way to take care of weeds in gardens too large for hand pulling. Quickly and easily cuts them off at the soil line. You can clean out large areas of weeds in a short time and frequent use will stop weeds from returning with this tool."
At Flexrake 1000L Hula Ho
June 30, 2008