About five years ago Ange bought a bunch of blue plastic fiber IKEA shopping bags at a garage sale. We re-purposed them for weeding and they turned out to be the best garden helpers ever. There are three sizes –small medium and large. They are lightweight with large carrying handles. What a find!
If you want a great weed assist, look no further than your pitchfork! When it comes time to weed I dig through the entire flowerbed with my pitchfork to loosen the soil and free up all the weeds. I have used this method for years and it is very effective, making hand weeding absolutely effortless.
Next to the pitchforks is the heirloom 'Aunt Helen's Iris.'
The days are getting longer, the birds are singing when I wake up in the morning and afternoon temperatures are nearing 60°. Spring is on the way. It's time to start thinking about what I will need to start gardening again. Here are a few things I like to have ready-to-go:
Let the fun begin!
Pictured above – 'August Wedding' in front with 'Bela Lugosi' in the background
Fall transplanting came to an abrupt halt with this weekend's 31 degree weather, harsh winds and snow/rain. I had planned to move a few more daylilies, but I guess at this point I'll call it good for the season. Realistically, this kind of October weather is not uncommon in Wisconsin.
Transplanting this fall was quite a bit easier because I used a new transplanting helper tool that Ange fashioned out of a 4"x4" piece of wood. This tool was especially effective when digging my larger plants to make them easier to handle. If you've ever dug out huge daylily clumps, you know how heavy and unruly they can be!
You can do this by yourself, but it is much easier with two people. When digging out a huge daylily clump with your shovel, you can raise the plant up and wedge this wooden tool underneath the root ball so it is easy to use a claw tool to remove the excess dirt. You can clean the root ball off completely by wedging the tool on all sides the plant. The plant will be considerably lighter, especially if the ground is heavy with moisture after a rainfall. Then the plant is easy to re-locate or move to the dividing table. I'll take any help I can get to make this (sometimes) strenuous job easier.
Pictured: The daylily being transplanted in these photos is 'Woman's Scorn.'
I can't wait to get busy in the garden with my new weeding tool, called a 'Carrot Design Cape Cod Weeder.' It was a Christmas gift from my dear friend, Sharon. She has one just like it and found it very effective at removing dandelions and other weeds, especially those close to the edge of sidewalks. The blade is stainless steel and super heavy-duty.
I had never heard of this garden tool before, and apparently that's not unusual. Cape Cod weeders weren’t known outside of the Cape Cod area until the 1980’s when Snow & Neally of Bangor, Maine began to market them throughout the country. The story about the Cape Cod weeder is that many years ago a woman living on Cape Cod designed this weeding tool. It is a knife-like tool used to slice weeds and loosen difficult soils. It is especially handy when working in tight places. Basically, it’s a curved forged steel blade secured to a wooden handle.
Now all I need is for last Thursday's snow to go away so I can get to work. Watch out weeds!
Information about the Cape Cod Weeder from: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/
Whenever I go to garage sales I am always on the lookout for this multi-use tool. Its official name is Vintage Metal/Wood English 3-Tine Hand Garden Fork, but I just refer to it as "the claw." It's one of my favorite garden tools. You can't have too many of them! They go for about $15-$30 on eBay, but mine are the garage sale version for $1 or $2. This claw is awesome! When transplanting daylilies the dirt from the root ball can be removed so easily. It makes what could be a hard job, easy. It's also great for uprooting shallow-rooted weeds.
We painted our two claws bright red and accessorized them with fluorescent tape so they don't get lost in the garden. Last week one accidentally got thrown into the field along with a bucket of weeds. Uh-oh, instant panic mode! Luckily, I quickly spotted and retrieved the claw in the pile of weeds thanks to the bright red paint and fluorescent tape. Happy me, because I'd be lost without it!
Here is our year-round garden helper (when it was new). We couldn't be without our 4-wheel drive John Deere. While working around the yard, this lawn tractor allows us to work smarter rather than harder. It has both a plow and a bucket attachment. Not only can it mow grass and plow snow, but it can effortlessly move huge rocks and large amounts of black dirt. When we dig up mature daylilies for dividing, the gigantic root balls are simply rolled into the bucket and driven to the dividing area. We have even pulled out trees and shrubs with the John Deere. What a terrific back-saver!
We love this cute little garden helper, too! She feels strongly that there's a fashion statement to be made no matter what the activity.
This photo represents one summer's worth of gardening measured in terms of garden gloves. Leftover, left-hand, left-useless gloves for right-hand-me. Wouldn't it be great if garden glove manufacturers would sell six-packs of left-hand gloves and six-packs of right-hand gloves? I would totally be buying that extra pack of right-hand ones. Or maybe one pair of garden gloves should come with an extra right-hand one or left-hand one, depending on your handedness. I would even welcome the upcharge for the additional glove. But I suspect (like a whole lot of other things) I will just have to deal with this and carry on. After all, manufacturers must manufacture and consumers must consume.
It's always a great day for me when I can complete a task faster and easier. This fall I had about 20 new daylilies to plant in my garden. Being picky-me, I carried a tape measure around the garden to measure exactly the amount of space that went between each plant. As I was working, the tape measure was getting all grimy and dirt was getting inside of it after being in the wheelbarrow and continually falling in the dirt. (Oops!)
Ange came up with an idea that was so simple, yet so perfect! He took my favorite shovel and put measurements on it with a permanent magic marker. This made my job SO much easier. No need to carry a tape measure around anymore -- and Ange got his tape measure back!
'tis the season for planting, dividing and transplanting daylilies. I'm enthusiastically in the process of getting all of my new plants in the ground to give them time to acclimate before the first frost arrives. I'm also dividing some of my mature daylily clumps into more manageable ones. By dividing the plants into smaller clumps, the roots don't have to compete for water and nutrients which invigorates the amount of bloom for the future.
Some of my large plants divide quite easily and I simply have to pull them apart into neat little clumps, but others have roots that are so tangled and intertwined that it is like digging into solid rock. Add some crabgrass to the mix, and you have a marathon challenge sitting in front of you. I kind of -- make that REALLY -- wanted to just get out the saw and call it done, but thought better of it. The less root damage, the better. For the more difficult plants, I hosed the roots off, let them dry a bit so I could see what I was dealing with. Then I inserted two pitchforks into the center and and broke the large clump apart.
After the clumps were smaller, I sat with a long screwdriver, carefully digging to get all of the crabgrass out. While the screwdriver works great, Ange wasn't thrilled with me using his prized tools to dig in daylilies. He came up with a clever solution by re-purposing a T-Handle Allen Wrench into what I call my 'daylily digger-gadget.' It works like a charm! This digger-gadget helps to get the weeds out. Then I can easily muscle the tiny clumps apart. The daylily digger-gadget has been my constant companion over the past few weeks.
Also note the stainless steel sterno pan/warming tray that I use to hold plants, and do 'surgery.' When I'm working on more than one plant at a time, each plant sits in a separate tray so as not to get mixed up. (I always keep the name tag with each plant.) Ange found five of these sterno trays at a garage sale for a dollar. They are sturdy, easy to carry, and can be hosed off easily. Plus they don't take up much storage space over the winter. In fact, I use one of the trays in my garden utility cabinet to store hand tools. I bet the sterno tray manufacturer didn't have gardening in mind during research and development!
Is this the best idea ever? My friend, Donna, repurposed a non-working grill as her planting station. In addition to being a great decorating accessory, it's also handy for storage. She keeps it on her deck for convenience. When Donna finishes potting up her plants she just closes up the grill top, sweeps the dirt off the deck into her flower garden, and voila, all looks neat and tidy. I thought this was so clever that I just had to share Donna's photos with you.
Our annual dump truck delivery of mulch arrived earlier in the week. Years ago when we were 'mulching rookies,' we had free mulch dumped at our house from the local township. Free is always good, but the mulch was quite chunky and there were often many large branches, and hunks of wood in it. Once there was even a shredded up shoe! We ended up spending quite a bit of time separating the usable mulch from the unusable mulch. Time is money, right? The amount we pay for our mulch is worth every penny. We always order 'natural' and make sure it is double-ground. Going through the shredder twice makes it fluffy and easy to handle. Now, as I weed I can immediately apply the mulch. I like to put down at least 4" on my flower beds.
Reasons I like mulch:
Time to get busy...the weeds are calling.
While gardening, I try to avoid lifting or carrying whenever I can. I use a plastic tarpaulin. I bought the tarp pictured at a garage sale for a quarter. It's a 4' x 8' one, which in 'tarp-land' is considered small. When I transplant, it's so easy to just roll my plant onto the tarp and drag it to where I want it - especially when they are large like this sedum I moved last week. Then when I dig the new hole for the plant, I put the dirt right back on the tarp and drag it back to the empty hole where the plant came from. I can simply lift the tarp and pour the dirt right back in the hole. Work smarter, not harder, right? Now, if only I could consistently follow that wisdom...
Gardeners also use tarps for weed control and shade protection.
Time for Liquid Fence! On one of the nice afternoons we had about a week ago I took some time to check out every single plant in my yard. While doing so, I saw deer hoof prints EVERYWHERE. Plants that were showing any kind of green were eaten right down to the dirt (aside from the daffodils, which the deer detest).
At our house, we routinely get 13-14 deer at a time that roam through our yard. A herd of deer can easily wipe out my entire flower garden in one evening -- and that has happened. Now we begin spraying Liquid Fence very early in the spring to let the deer know that our plants are disgusting to eat and to stay away. By July, Bambi and his friends just trot on by and don't even stop to investigate.
We generally mix our Liquid Fence half-and-half with our own tried-and-true concoction. With the help of an electric hand mixer we bought at a garage sale (outside use only - ha!), we mix up some of our own nasty stuff. This helps the budget.
Here's the recipe:
2 heaping tablespoons powdered garlic
1 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1/2 gallon milk (or more) with added warm water to almost fill the gallon container
Mix well with an electric hand mixer to make sure it won't clog up the sprayer.
We sprayed our first application yesterday afternoon. Let the training begin! Each spray can last up to about two weeks IF there is no rain. When it rains, we re-spray again on the first nice day. Oh, and if you have neighbors you may want to wait until about 8:00 pm to spray. It smells pretty rancid, but by morning it won't be so bad :) Works like a charm!
This photo was taken a few years ago when a young buck got caught in the cookie jar.
Does this sound familiar? You're wearing a brand new pair of garden gloves and they get a hole in one of the fingers after only a couple *hours* of use--in my case, always the right-hand. So I always end up with a huge pile of useless left gloves. Wouldn't it be nice to buy gloves just one at a time--either a left- or right-hand? But wait, that's a whole other topic. I'll set that thought aside.
Anyway, I searched online to look for more durable garden gloves than I presently had. I visited numerous forums to find gloves that other gardeners used and recommended. The overwhelming choice seemed to be Atlas 370 Nitrile gloves. They are not suggested for use with roses, though, as the thorns can puncture the gloves. Gardeners commented that they liked the tactile sensitivity, the toughness, and long-lasting ability. One person said they could even deadhead daylilies with these gloves! Okay, that sold me right there, since I usually have purple or red hands from daylily pigments pretty much all of July and August. I purchased one pair of gloves just to test them out last summer and I really liked them. They were very lightweight, yet durable. My pair of gloves lasted about three months, which (for me) was an all-time record!
So for Christmas I got a 12-pack of Atlas 370 Nitrile gloves in assorted colors. I know this may sound like a not-very-exciting gift, but it made me very happy. Can't wait to use them!
Last May I purchased the best garden tools ever! Radius tools. After using them for about a week, I ditched all my other garden tools...forever. And I haven't looked back.
Radius tools are ergonomic, lightweight, have a lifetime guarantee, and you can't lose 'em in the garden with the vibrant handles. They are so pretty that you may be initially reluctant to get them dirty! Weeding has become more fun than ever! Sort of.
Check them out at: www.radiusgarden.com/ Some of the big-box stores also carry them, as well as eBay and Amazon, etc.
if it's about
my backyard and garden, I LOVE to talk about it!