Great Garden Gadgets

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By William Moss

Everyone loves gadgets, and gardeners are no exception. Gadgets don't eliminate chores but they make the work easier and more enjoyable. To me, the term "gadget" is a term of affection, more personal and fun than the word "tool." A good gadget inspires you to use it. As you plan your 2008 garden, think about what gadgets might come in handy and be fun to try. To give you some ideas, here are a few of my favorites:

1. Garden Cart/Lawn Buddy

This mobile seat/storage compartment is a garden necessity. Not only does my Lawn Buddy save my back and knees while I'm gardening, it stores just about all my other gadgets. There is plenty of room inside for hand tools, gloves, seed packets, and even a bottle of Shiraz. Plus, it doubles as a toy for placating the toddlers while you work (remove the wine bottle first).

2. Coil Hose

Much smaller and lighter than conventional hoses, the coil hose is a space-saving watering hose perfect for apartment and condo dwellers. When not in use, the hose tucks neatly into a 3-gallon bucket or its original packaging for quick storage.

3. Hose Connectors

Urban gardeners that need to connect a water hose to a kitchen or bathroom sink will find these gadgets invaluable. It usually takes two connectors (one for your faucet and one for your hose). The garden hose connector can be found in the garden section of the hardware store. The faucet connector is usually tucked away somewhere in the plumbing department. Ask for help to make sure you get the right ones.

4. Watering Wand

A watering wand is indispensable for controlling water flow so plants receive a gentle spray instead of a soil-dislodging torrent. It's also the handiest way to reach hanging baskets. The foam grip is nice, but it is the bright colors that give it the "cool" factor.

5. Multipurpose Electronic Soil Tester

This soil tester allows you to check light intensity, soil pH, soil moisture, and soil nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium). Anything that gives so much information towards helping us understand our gardening environment is a must-have. This is not a substitute for a professional soil test (see Get the Scoop on Your Soil) but it will help monitor your garden and alert you to any major problems, such as a severe deficiency or toxicity

6. Garden Staples

These large, U-shaped wire staples come in handy when you are installing landscape cloth, chicken wire fencing, or another protective cover over the garden. They help support the fencing and close any gaps along the ground to exclude pests like rabbits, and some rodents.

7. CobraHead Weeder

This is simply the best weeding tool I have ever used! It's comfortable and easy to wield. CobraHead scoops out the taproots of dandelion and Queen Anne's lace as if they were ice cream. The same goes for the underground stems (stolons) of quackgrass and rhizomes of bindweed.

8. Quick-Ties Velcro Tape

The quickest and simplest way to tie up lilies, dahlias, tomatoes, and other top-heavy plants is with this Quick-Ties Velcro plant tape. Twine and string work, but it is not always easy to make a knot when your hands are buried in foliage. This tape locks together instantly. Because it's Velcro, it can be reused year after year.

9. Compound Action Tree Pruner

Pole saws make it possible for gardeners to prune their ornamental trees and large shrubs. I don't know how I could safely shape my 10-year-old gingko and crab apple trees without one. The compound action pulley system of this pruner effectively triples your cutting power. Use pole saws for minor corrective pruning and shaping. Leave major structural cuts and any work on large trees to professional arborists.

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