Category Archives: Tools

Rainy day gardening

Gardeners looking for a great rainy day pastime should take a visual stroll through past issues of The Kitchen Gardener.  The very mention of this defunct monthly tweaks the interest of any gardener who was fortunate enough to have been a subscriber.


The Kitchen Gardener holds its very high standing as my all time favorite gardening magazine.  Learning past issues are available and featured at is as exciting as harvesting that first batch of peas or chomping down on a sun-ripened, freshly plucked tomato.  A quick look at any one of the photos or articles featured on any given day leads to a wealth of knowledge and experience beneficial to any gardener – seasoned or fresh.


My first visit after the website’s launch showed the photo of a seed starting rack.  I cannot swear to this, but I think the construction of my rack – the A-frame pictured in this very un-professional photo

lighted seed starting rack

lighted seed starting rack

is loosely based on this one.  My rack has one set of fluorescent lights for the top shelf and two for the bottom shelf.  My hubby, who thankfully supports my seed starting ventures, built the rack so the shelves lift out and the frame folds flat for storage.  I believe part of his motivation for building this was his desire to corral seed flats to just one area of the house rather than along every sunny window sill … though he may have been slightly urged by my complaints of not having enough sunlight or space to properly start seeds!


The Kitchen Gardener offers straightforward, practical, and well-researched advice from actual gardeners – people who know how tough it is to maintain clean fingernails, in spite of using gloves.  So if you’re looking to build a natural-looking garden trellis or bean teepee and lashing techniques that will hold your creation together go here.  Whether interested in carrots or befuddled by moles … the Kitchen Gardener has it covered.


Wondering why I might direct readers to gain insight via past issues of the Kitchen Gardener?  First, I applaud Taunton Press, publisher of the former monthly and the current Fine Gardening, in their willingness to keep Kitchen Gardener articles available.  Second, I hope they will find a market for a revamped monthly Kitchen Gardener.  Finally, I’m all for using and building upon the advice of those with hands-on, down-and-dirty knowledge … gardeners learning from gardeners.


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Filed under Edibles, Gardening, General, Seeds, Techniques, Tools

Great Garden Tools: Bagz-It

My husband advocates using the right tool for the right job.  Taking his advice, I am always in search of really useful devices to ease gardening tasks.  I stumbled upon one of these tools a year ago at the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show.  Actually my friend spotted it first and had she not stopped to investigate further, I likely would have passed right by the Bagz-It booth thinking it another gardening gizmo.  That would have been a mistake.


The Bagz-It looks like a large vinyl scoop with wheels.  The scoop end is large enough to accept a rake-full of debris.  The lower portion of the scoop lays flat on the ground so raking leaves, or shoveling mulch into the Bagz-It is easy.  When full you simply grab the handy handle, wheel your load to its dumping place, flip the wheel end up to remove the load, and wheel the Bagz-It back to your work area.  This New Hampshire-made unit is light-weight so it does not add a lot of extra poundage to your load, and the wheels easily roll over rough ground, through wooded areas, and up and down steps.  My commercial sized Bagz-It (30 inches wide and 46 inches long) saw its first use when it carried my show purchases from the convention center.  My friend bought one too – she and I made quite a spectacle as we wheeled our twin Bagz-It away from the show, down the stairs, through the main doors (we avoided the revolving ones) and into the parking garage.  Since then this giant vinyl scoop has eased spring and fall perennial bed clean up to the point that I don’t ever want to go without – it sure beats fighting with wind-blown tarps.  Plus it folds flat for easy storage along the garage or shed wall.


I’m now into year two with my Bagz-It – I would not have recommended it without giving it a good, thorough test transporting numerous loads to my compost piles, through wooded areas, up and down slopes and stairs – and despite heavy use it still looks relatively new and shows no sign of wear.  My friend has similar kudos, and we stopped by the Bagz-It booth at this year’s show to share our praise.  Take a look at the different sizes offered, read through the testimonials listed by others, and consider purchasing the size that will work best for you.  I have no connection to this product other than being a big fan, but if you buy one, tell them you heard of it here.


Filed under Conferences/Shows, Gardening, General, Tools

A blight?

The plant industry – gardeners included – has become dependent on plastic.  But most of the plastic used by the industry is not recyclable, so until the powers that be come up with either a method for recycling or reusing, it’s up to you, me, and everyone else who gardens to act individually.  If truly concerned about cutting landfill waste, we must begin to view plastic pots as a must-reuse resource.


I noted earlier that a local garden center provides a bin for area gardeners to dump their no longer needed plastic pots.  These pots, once sorted, either end up in the waste stream (if not reusable) or return to use at the garden center or with local garden organizations.  Nancy, at Ballek’s Garden Center explained there is no recycling market for the bulk of plastic used for planter pots.  My limited research shows the same … and this problem is not new – read this 1993 article.


So, until a ‘greener’ alternative arrives on the landscape, perhaps we all can

  • Be discerning in our purchases by purchasing plants in reusable containers,
  • Wash and reuse the plastic we have, and
  • Urge more garden centers to collect, wash, and reuse plastic at their locations.


Any other ideas?


Filed under Gardening, General, Techniques, Tools

Pots … old and moo?

As responsible gardeners, we should be concerned about the environmental impact of the hundreds of thousands of plastic planting pots placed into the waste stream every year, and with spring just around the corner (15 days to go), this topic comes to mind again.  Personally, I wash and store away any plastic pots I might be able to reuse, and in doing so I’ve avoided having to purchase a mountain of new pots.  I use smaller pots for indoor seed planting and medium sized pots as liners for my many decorative planters.  The larger pots come in handy when thinning and transplanting perennials, as potting-up the newly dug material facilitates moving the plants to other areas or permits me to easily house and water them until I find them a new home.  During especially busy periods, you’ll likely see a collection of yet to be replanted greenery neatly arranged in shady areas of my yard … all patiently waiting for their keeper to re-sink their roots into newly prepared beds.


Still, I’m unable to use many of the pots that come my way.  Fortunately, a nearby garden center sets aside an area specifically for collecting no longer needed plastic planters – a recycling bin I visit regularly during the growing season and after late-season clean up.  Come to think of it, I should find out exactly what they do with their collection … and report back.  Hmmm … sounds like a good topic for a future post.


In the meantime, you might consider using CowPots – that’s right, planters made from cow manure.  I was reminded of these by a fellow CT gardening blogger’s post about CowPots.  The creators were featured on the Dirty Jobs television show last year.  What a great idea to convert manure into planting pots – just the type of inventiveness we need more of – and they’re made right here in Connecticut.  Anyone out there used them yet?



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Filed under Gardening, General, Techniques, Tools