It’s Good To Be Odd

Last year I constructed a lattice-like structure for the garden.  It consisted of 2 by 4 foot metal  black grids supported by 4×4 posts.  I chose to use 3 grids because I knew that a odd number of items is generally preferred.  The structure stood for months and every time I looked at it, it didn’t look right.  I finally figured it out.  The grids were nearly invisible, but the 4 posts were quite noticeable.  It bothered me so much that I extended the lattice with a fifth post and additional grid.  Now I’m happy . . and felt I should expound a little on this concept of displaying an odd number of features.  I asked LaVille why an odd number of items is preferred over an even number.  She said that I was now dealing with art.  I didn’t fully understand her continued explanation.  Google to the rescue: “An odd number of details is more effective at capturing your gaze.  Odd numbers force your eyes to move around the grouping.  That force movement is the heart of visual interest.  It’s for that reason that a set of three is more appealing and memorable than something paired off in two’s.”  So, if you never considered the importance of displaying plants in odd numbers—particularly 3’s, give it a try.  The same principle applies to home decoration, but I’m hardly one to give advice in that realm . . but I have been watching a lot of HGTV lately.

Stan

Pop and Claw Those Weeds

          Here is tool you may find useful.  If you have a significant weed population that consists of a lot of isolated large weeds, this may be your baby.  The way this tool works is that you stab the tines into the soil in front of the weed.  You may push the tool deeper with your foot if necessary. 

Weed Popper
Weed Popper

Then, by pressing the lever at the back of the tool, the tines will pivot upwards and lift the weed with its root out of the soil.  The Weed Popper would not be useful if your weeds are growing among valued plants, nor would you use it to remove weeds in a lawn.  But let’s say you have a large property that you have protected with a generous application of mulch.  Isolated weeds eventually will appear and using this tool will keep you off your knees and perhaps be easier to use than a hoe.  If you google “weed popper” you can watch a video showing its use.

         

  Oh great!  It’s at this point that I tell you where to buy and how much.  Guess what?  As of 6/22/20, this tool is unavailable. 

 

All right—let me give you another option:

       

 

  The Fiskars 4-Claw Weeder works in a different fashion.  You stab the tool over the center of a weed and press it farther with your foot.  When you pull back on the handle, the 4 claws close on the root of the weed and yank it out of the soil.  I have had one of these weeders for well over a year and never used it.  I got it free at a garage sale.  I have no large weeds, so I went over to my next door neighbor and attacked the dandelions in his lawn.  I found it was extremely effective.  After the weed is extracted, you slide the orange handle down and the weed pops right off.  The only problem is you must hit the center of the weed in order to grab the root.  I have to admit that it was fun pulling out these weeds.  It was difficult to stop, but when I saw a path of dandelion carcasses all over, I realized that I had a lot of evidence to clean up.  The advantage this tool has over the one above is that the weed doesn’t have to be isolated.

            If you also have fun weeding, I think this may be the ideal tool to increase your joys in the garden.

The Fiskars 4-Claw Weeder is available at Amazon Prime for $41.48 or at Walmart for a few dollars less.

Happy weeding!  

Stan The Tool Man

Conniving Plants

It is hard enough keeping up with the invasion of weeds in your garden without having plants conspiring against you.  I am currently trying to eradicate both spurge and moss from the garden.  Since both of these terrorists are tiny and prone in development, they have found an ally in baby tears.  45 years ago we bought a 4 inch pot of baby tears.  Do I need to tell you more?  For decades it has been a challenge keeping baby tears confined.  Now to confound my frustration, they have buddied up with not only the moss, 2 species of spurge, but even the Johnny Jump-Ups have joined the conspiracy.  My response to these chums is “Burn baby, burn”!  You would think that the word would get out and the baby tears would stop there conniving behavior.  But, no—the battle ensues on a daily basis–and will until I run out of gas.

Oh, by the way, would you like a clump of baby tears?

Stan

Duplicity is Good?

I thought that duplicity was a good thing—having duplicates of things you value should be a good thing.  My wife straightened me out—as she is prone to do—that duplicity is not a desired trait.  So . . you can call this practice of having multiple items whatever you want—I still prefer duplicity.  Actually . . “multiplicity” is not a bad alternative.  Anyway, let me tell you about the extent of my duplicity—I’ll stick to garden related items.  The logic for my practice is many-fold:  It is so frustrating when you want to use a particular tool, and you can’t find it.  Having many around solves this.  I have four 2 x 5 inch trowels used for the daily hunt for weeds.  There are 3 or 4 moisture meters around here somewhere.  I have only 2 of those thinning pruners that I have shown you, which is scary—only two.  There are 2 sets of knee pads.  I only have one weed torch, but I seem never to lose it, so one will do.  What I am definitely going to have to buy is another pair of gloves.  I am constantly misplacing the one pair—so maddening.  Gloves are not something I think you can just buy online.  I think you really need to try them on before purchase.  3 gardening hats, 2 neck braces. And 2 forearm bands round out my multiplicity needs.  It should be mentioned that other than the problem of misplacement, there is also the consideration of wearing out a loved item and not being able to replace it.  So I would suggest that when you find a gardening item, or anything else that you really love, immediately buy a second (or third) one.  I have to admit that my fetish for multiplicity ends with my wife—I can only handle one of these at a time.  Anyway, where would I find another one as good as I have right now?

Stan

Potty Talk

I knew that title would get your interest.  Now that I have you, let me tell you about something I learned about replanting potted plants.  LaVille and I learned this while watching Gardener’s World on Prime Video.  It seems so simple, that I am almost embarrassed not to have known of it before.  When you are transplanting a potted plant either into a larger pot or into the ground, dig your hole, and then place the entire pot into the hole.  Adjust for height and add soil around the pot.  Firm it up.  Lift the pot and its plant out of the soil.  Pop the plant out of its pot and drop it into the perfectly formed hole.  If the plant is so overgrown that it interferes with packing soil around it, first remove the plant from the pot, set it aside, and use the empty pot to form the new hole.  For better growth results LaVille always adds Sure Start to the hole.

I hope you will remember this technique the next time you do your planting.  It is really efficient and effective.

Stan

Dippity Do Da

Every now and then I get a good idea.  I think the last time was June 14, 2005.  This new idea cannot be claimed as my own, but then at least the plan to pass it on to you is my own.

I was watching an episode of Gardeners’ World on Amazon Prime when they had a segment about a lady who had a garden with 1,259 pots—and I don’t mean dinky ones.  These were all different and some were quite large.  Sounds crazy, huh?  Apparently she inherited this pot fetish from her mother who had 700 pots.  Now, this is not the significant part.  What is—is that she watered all of these by hand using a watering can that she dipped into 21 different dipping containers that were spread throughout the garden.  These 21 reservoirs are kept filled by a drip system.  Now maybe you don’t mind dragging a hose around the garden, particularly if you have own of those expandable hoses that is light weight.  But consider this:  What if you had a large garbage can that was in a convenient place in the garden that you could fill once in a while and add a light dose of fertilizer.  Now besides not having a hose to mess which each time you water, you are regularly giving your plants extra nutrients.  Good idea?

We have been using this system for a month now.  I use a pump and long hose to fill two 55 gallon barrels—one on each side of the yard.  The water comes from our koi pond so it already has fertilizer added.  The plants absolutely love it.  LaVille uses a watering can that has a handle that runs fore and aft, so she can water with one hand with the other one free to test the soil moisture of each pot.  She only has one good arm left anyway.

She frequently loses track of the watering can, so I tried buying another.  I finally found the right style on Amazon Prime.  (Dramm  7 Liter Watering Can 12433, $38.22)  There are many models that are far less expensive, but they all have bales that are mounted crosswise.

Dramm 7 Liter Watering Can
Watering Can

So even if you don’t have a pot fetish, you may want to try out this new idea.  LaVille would never admit to a fetish, but with the added SPPC plants, she does have over 250 outside containers and 50 inside.

Stan, The Tool Man

Leaky Tires

Here’s some advice if you have a leaking pneumatic tire:

One of the four tires on my garden cart had a bad leak.  Every time I wanted to use it, I had to add air.  The next day it would be flat again.  I assumed that the inner tube had a hole in it, so with significant difficulty, I removed the tube, added air, and submerged it in a bucket of water.  To my surprise bubbles appeared not from a hole in the tube, but from the valve stem.  I happened to have an extra valve, so replaced it.  That solved the problem, but it would have been so much easier to test the valve stem before I went to all the trouble of removing the tube.  So my advice to you is that if you have a leaking tire, fill the tire, and then place a drop of soapy water over the valve stem.  If you are lucky, bubbles will appear and the fix will be easy.  You can order a tool and replacement valves from Amazon Prime:  Slime 20088 4–Way Valve Tool with 4 valve cores ($3.99)

Valve stem

Valve stems

Now that I think of it, perhaps the reason that the valve went bad was that it had no valve cap.  If that is the case also with you, you might consider ordering valve caps as well:  Samikiva Black (30 pack) Tire Stem Valve Caps ($3.99)  (Or you could call me—I have lots.)

 

 

 

 

I hope this solves your leaking problem.

Stan, The Tool Man

Moss Attack

For some reason this year my garden has been under an intense attack of moss plants.  I suppose the most likely cause is the drought we’ve experienced.  Perhaps moss plants sense a coming doom and have sent out a flood of spores.  Normally I blame unusual weed seed dispersal on my leaf blower, but moss plants are appearing where that cause is unlikely.  What I’ve decided is the most likely hypothesis is the fact that moss plants are growing on the roof—particularly in the shade of our huge hackberry tree—and the spores are being spread throughout the garden by the wind.

 I googled moss on roofs and learned that not only will moss plants tend to lift asphalt shingles, but also causes them to deteriorate.  More research revealed solutions.  There is a product called “Moss Out” that is designed to kill moss on roofs.  I thought $20 for a bottle was a little much, but I bit the bullet.  Before I applied a diluted solution, I spent two days scraping as much moss off the shingles that I could.  The most effective tool for this task was my trusty 2 x 5 trowel that I keep urging you to buy.  Then, using a hose, I washed the debris off the roof and collected the runoff in a rain barrel.  This seemed to be far more logical than using my leaf blower.  The moss plants are supposed to be first wet anyway.  I then applied the solution.

I checked the roof several days later, and frankly, was not impressed with the results.  Perhaps the moss was deader than it looks.  It’s not as though it’s going to wilt or something.  Not to be deterred, I moved on to the next idea:  Apparently the metal zinc is toxic to moss plants.  I have ordered a 50-foot roll of zinc metal sheeting.  When it arrives, I will install it along the ridgeline so the when it rains, the dissolved zinc will flow over the moss plants and kill them.  This is supposed to be a slow process and results may not appear for several months during the rainy season, but I am patient as well as persistent.

If you have experienced a similar attack of moss in your garden, you might simply need to look above you to find the source of the invasion.

Stan, The Moss Man

P.S. My wife insists on a disclaimer that I am not encouraging you to get up on your roof.  You might instead hire a professional moss scraper instead.

Replacement Bucket Handle

bucket handles
bucket handles

            I hate to throw anything away.  I go to extreme ends to fix something before I give up on it.  For example, when the plastic handle surrounding the bail on a bucket starts to crack, I wrap layers of duct tape around it making last years longer.  Recently I learned of a new device that solves this problem even better.  Now available is a replacement handle that will snap around the bail when the old plastic handle gives way.  The best feature is the fact that it is a larger handle that makes carrying thing even easier.  If you google Amazon, you will see that “replacement bucket handles” come in a variety of colors for about $2 each.  If you treasure your buckets as much as I do, I think you’ll give it a go.

Stan, The Tool Man

Gardening Wounds

Sooner or later you will injure yourself while working in the garden.  This possibility is actually increased by the fact that if you are using a tool I have sharpened, it will be razor sharp.  Your tender skin simply cannot resist the blade of a properly sharpened tool.  If there is any consolation, you will be surprised at how painless the cut will be.  You see, the sharper the cutting edge, the less nerve tissue damage there it.  And it’s not just the tools that can hurt you.  The garden is like a battle ground–with enemy thorns, rough bark, splinters, rock and concrete surfaces and just plain pokey branches just waiting for you to make just one careless move.  You might win the war, but sooner to later you will lose a battle.

 Now most of you will probably ignore the wound and continue your gardening chores.  I, however, cannot.  Any tiny skin puncture results a blood flow that simply won’t stop because of the blood thinner I take.  So I have to go inside and apply a bandage.  Here is where my advice comes in:  Use Nexcare clear waterproof bandages.  After washing the wound area thoroughly (do as I say, not as I do) and drying, apply antibacterial cream or ointment to the gauze pad, and stick on the bandage.  Now you are literally covered for days.  These bandages are unobtrusive and will remain stuck to you skin until you get around to finally removing it days later.  And voila, the wound is completely healed.  Now I realize that severe wounds are not treated just with a bandage, and although one of my sons swears by super glue to stick open wounds back together, you are going to have to use a certain amount of common sense in dealing with accidents in the garden.  In any case, stock up your medicine cabinet with Nexcare clear waterproof bandages and a tube of antibacterial cream or ointment.  You want to be prepared for that next accident that will occur.

Stan, The Tool(?) Man