Picture Snob

May 24, 2010

The Search for the Perfect Timer continues


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It's time to get the hoses, the sprinklers and the timers out. It hasn't been terribly hot or dry, but nonetheless, summer is coming here in Northern California and with summer comes irrigation. I usually get set up with two timers in the garden plus some soaker hose on the strawberries as they are always thirsty(and hungry, but more about that later). Then I have one timer and a hose and sprinkler with each that I move around the yard to keep it nice and green.

What this means is that I have used many many timers to save myself the trouble of remembering to turn the water on, and more importantly to turn it off. I'm going to do a series on various times that I have tried, some successfully and some not. I got an Orbit Sunmate single port digital timer for review last fall, but waited until we might be using timers to review it. Digital means you can program it and single port means that it is to be used with only one hose and sprinkler.

It's supposed to be simple to program and indeed it is! You put in two AA batteries and turn a dial to clock set to put the current time in. No other buttons to push. That was a little startling. You just turn the dial to start time and set the time to begin watering. It's really simple once you realize that's all you have to do. The next dial setting how long you want the watering to be and you click in the minutes desired. Turn the dial again to say how often you want the watering. There you can choose every six hours up to seven day intervals. Then you turn the dial to Auto. I have to say this is one of the simplist timers I have ever programed. Even better, somehow I misplaced the instruction and was able to access them online and print them for myself without hours of searching and/or phone calls.

This timer has a rain delay so that you can stop the watering for a few days or less, and has a simple manual override so you can get an extra watering in when needed. I have hooked this on to the faucet and so far it has worked perfectly. All in all a smooth and very easy set up. Oh, but hey, if you're digitally challanged like me, you need to know to take the 6:00am plastic sticker off the time window before trying to set the time. I kept thinking it wasn't working, because the 6:00am didn't change as I tried to set the time. Duh! Otherwise for one port timers, this simple machine gets a 9 out of 10 for set up!

At Orbit Sunmate 91213 One-Dial One-Outlet Hose Tap Timer

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May 19, 2010

Peltor Professional Noise Canceling Earmuff - Save Your Hearing

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Now is the time we start up the mowers, tillers, and weedeaters. I want to remind you to protect your ears while using these machines. I really love running the mower and tiller. All the everyday concerns fade away and you are just connected to the job at hand, watching the grass fall away, or the soil become crumbly and ready for seed. I avoided ear muffs for years, thinking it looked dorky, but having lost some hearing in the high frequency range, now wear them faithfully while moving or rototilling. It really is much more peaceful as well as protecting your hearing. So a word to the wise here. Get the ear muffs.

This Peltor's dual cup patented Twin Cup design minimizes resonance that protects you from maximum high and low frequencies. This patented design provides the highest noise reduction rating for an earmuff tested in an approved laboratory. It is effective, lightweight, and comfortable.

At Peltor H10A Professional Noise Canceling Earmuff

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May 12, 2010

Mowing the lawn is good exercise and Lawn Boy is a good buy

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The last rain made the grass grow tall again. In May the lawn growth usually slows down and I only have to mow every few weeks. This much rain is unusual and the grass was getting high enough that the mower wouldn't be able to take it down.

But I really enjoy mowing. I put on earmuffs to muffle the sound and let the world fade away as I follow the mower around the yard. I have mowed the yard enough that most rock and tough places are gone. I let the cut grass fall on the lawn and leave it there. It builds soil eventually. If you catch it in a grass catcher, it does make good compost because it will get hot and help heat up the other compostibles.

I have a lawnmower with a Briggs and Straton mower. This one is a Lawn-Boy. All three models don't require and second thought or a second pull. If you want a lawnmower that is budget-friendly and back to basics, this is a good buy. There is no need to prime or choke when starting. Lawn Boy includes their 3 Year Tru-Start Commitment that will guarantee the mower will start on one or two pulls for up to three years or they will fix it for free. That is a boon to those of us who feel exhausted after pulling the rope on our mower multiple times. This mower has a free 3-year power train warranty and a 2-Year No Worry Warranty with full coverage. Moreover the Lawn Boy is carbon compliant so you're not polluting.

At Lawn Boy 10646 20-Inch 6.75 GT Briggs & Stratton Gas Powered Variable Speed Rear Wheel Drive Self Propelled Lawn Mower (CARB Compliant)

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May 7, 2010

A gardener's life is submits to the unexpected

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I got my cool weather seeds planted and the whole ground cover tilled under. It was warm during the day and cool at night. The weather hadn't really settled in yet, but I had a couple of hot days where I had to water the seedlings and I started thinking about getting out timers and hoses. And I realize I didn't have a working gentle watering spray for keeping the seeds moist. But last night it started raining and it continued all night and all day today. It is pouring cats and dogs, sheep and cows, turtles and frogs! No kidding. In California in the spring, it usually dribbles a little, sometimes you get a real rain, but this is a winter time downpour that is quite unusual.

And what does a gardener do about this? Well, I am sitting and staring out the window in awe as the rain soaks everything. If it clears up tomorrow then the carrots, beets, peas and lettuce I planted will probably be fine, but this is supposed to continue for a few days! I am particulary worried about the peas which I soaked before planting. I often use the technique of getting the seeds really wet and puffed up before putting them in the ground by leaving them overnight in a jar of water. It works well when the weather is hot, but when a rain comes, like this, and it's cool, then I can loose the seeds to rot which may be happening as I speak. Some of the seeds were starting to sprout and their survival wiil depend on how far along they are and if the roots are deep enough not to be drowned out in the puddles developing in the seed rows.

But nonetheless, this Orbit Hose Spray Nozzle has seven different spray patterns and all the reviews are raving about it so I think it is worth ordering. "I know the sun's gonna shine in my backyard someday."

At Orbit 58228D Lawn & Garden 7-Pattern Plastic Pistol Hose Spray Nozzle

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April 29, 2010

Troy-Bilt Tiller is one of the best for the gardener weary of hand digging

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If you are ready to buy a tiller, or need a new one, Troy-Bilt is a great buy. I had one of these tillers for twenty years and took it to the shop only once in all that time. And it got really heavy use. I tilled up raw land and where I live that means rocks and hard packed soil. One spring I tille our whole two acre meadow and planted it with seed to use for feed for our cows. It did the job and never complained.

Here are the specs for this machine:

The Pro-Line CRT features a premium Honda engine and counter-rotating design to break up hard-packed soil quickly and easily.
Small enough to fit easily between garden rows and with Just One Hand® operation, the Pro-Line CRT rototiller is also easy to use.

Counter-rotating tines for easy use and greater control

Cast-iron transmission with bronze gear drive

1 forward speed with power reverse

16" tilling width

10" tine diameter

Adjustable tilling depth up to 6"

Factory-installed protective bumper included

13" ag tires for greater maneuverability

2 year limited manufacturer's warranty - refer to online owner's manual for exclusions

Limited lifetime warranty on transmission

160cc Honda GC engine with 2 year manufacturer's warranty


At Troy-Bilt 21A645A766 Pro-Line 160cc Honda Engine Rear Tine Tiller

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March 31, 2010

Earthway Hand Operated Spreader/Seeder for seeding and fertilizing

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The Earthway spreader/seeder is ideal for broadcasting all types of grass seed; it works equally well for ground cover, as well as for the application of fertilizer. The Earthway features convenient spring-action rate setting control and a high-rpm gearbox, which provides a smooth, feathered-edge broadcast. It comes with a zippered nylon bag and a wide, shoulder strap to make extended use more comfortable. The oscillating shut-off plate prevents clumping and aids in flow control.

At Earthway 2750 Hand Operated Bag Spreader/Seeder

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March 4, 2010

A good beginning to the gardening season with Fiskars

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If you're dying to get out into the flower bed, or start a row of lettuce, these are the tools to help you along--a sharp-edged trowel, a transplanter, and efficient cultivator. They are made of cast aluminum and are lightweight but strong and come with a lifetime warranty. They feature a cushioned Softouch grip that is slightly oversized with a large, flat end pad that can be used to generate additional leverage when penetrating compacted soil. The grip¿s shape encourages a neutral wrist position to help alleviate fatigue. Notice the transplanter has depth measurements so that you don't have to guess about the how deep the hole should be.

I'm taking them out to the flower bed thisafternoon. I don't want to worry about slicing tulips and other bulbs in half and with a trowel, there's less chance of that. I'm going to plant the dahlias now that it's warm enough.

At Fiskars 7067 3-Piece Softouch Garden Tool Set

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March 1, 2010

Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Thermometer tells you when to plant

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This is a small item, but a powerful one. You know if you have ever planted peas or corn and had little germination that seed can rot in the ground if the soil temperature is not right. It should be forty degrees for peas and although corn can germinate at fifty degrees, it does not necessarily prosper at that temperature.

Roots are slow to develop at low end temperature and growth of the secondary root system is slowed. To be absorbed by plants, the nutrients must either move to the root via diffusion in water or the root must grow to and intercept the nutrient. At low end temperatures where the seed will germinate, but not proper, it may be better to wait until the soild warms still further and the new plant can prosper.

At Luster Leaf Rapitest Soil Thermometer #1618

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February 12, 2010

Johnny's Seed Catalog is unique among seed companies

Johnny's catalog just came and is very impressive. The company is employee owned and was started in the 70's by a 22 year old with $500 savings. The employees own 30% of the company and should own 100% by 2015 which is unusual and commendable. Ownership-Image.jpg

The company originates in Maine and as one might guess, is geared toward cool weather growing. The lettuce section is the most extensive I've seen, ten pages of familar and rare varieties, but a special section on baby salad mixes and another on micro mix varieties which are vegetable seedlings harvested while small and used for salad and gourmet cooking. They sell ounces and up to 25 pounds of seeds so they are used by large growers as well as home gardeners.

Many vegetable sections come with a very helpful chart showing the variety and the days to harvest, the color, disease resistance and other attributes of seed. The corn section is small, only three pages, but they advertise a an innoculant which should help corn survive in less than ideal conditions. There is a good explanation of SE, SE+, and Synergistic varieties which helped me understand what those labels mean.

This Spring Treat corn is a "slightly sturdier plant and better eating quality than Kandy Kwik, which Spring Treat replaces. Good cool soil vigor."

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They have an extensive selection of herbs from Angelica to Wormwood, eighteen pages and about thirty pages of flowers which includes some wildflower mixes. The tools and supplies section ha a lot of season extender items. Agribon is featured as both a lightweight insect barrier and a heavy weight heavy freeze protection of down to 24 degrees F. They show plastic and biodegrable mulchers which I've never seen before. A white on black mulch keeps the soil cool and the black side down suppresses weeds. They sell a red plastic mulch developed by Penn State which suppresses weeds, keeps the soil warm and hastens the ripening of tomatoes. It's not recommended for hot weather states.

Lastly, they sell a range of harvesting knives and tools and are featuring a Tubtrug which is a flexible food grade plastic tub to use for harvesting or for mixing fertilizer.
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They come in three bright colors and can be left outside with no harm from frost or UV.

At Johnny's Seeds

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February 3, 2010

Fiskars Telescoping Pruning reaches to the top branches of fruit trees

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The weather is right for pruning and the season for it is getting short. You want to take off those broken and crowded branches before the sap starts rising. So now is the time. These telescoping pruners from Fiskars should help you out. The fiberglass outer pole and aluminum inner pole extend to a full 12 feet, allowing you to trim upper branches from the safety and security of the ground. It has an extremely sharp cutting blade that cuts 1-1/4 inches with the pull of a rope or squeeze of the handle. There is a sturdy cutting head which rotates 240 degrees to enable you to choose the proper cutting angle. A 15-inch saw blade is also included for added cutting power.

At Fiskars Telescoping Pruning Stik #9240

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