New Gardening Tools I Wish They'd Invent
Tools to make a New Gardener's Life Easier
I am a new gardener. I have transformed my grassy backyard into a secret garden. From having to deal with just a lawn and a border garden (which I barely mastered), I have "transplanted" myself into a world of thousands of new seeds of information of which I knew little or nothing about: planting zones, soil types, pest control, annuals, perennials, drought-tolerant, sun-loving, shade-loving, dead-heading, ETC., ETC., ETC... (as Yul Brynner in "The King and I" used to say!) So, in this bold new world of gardening, I have discovered some perplexing gardening issues that I sure wish someone would invent a garden tool for! I'd like to share some of my new experiences and challenges with you. Perhaps you know of a garden tool that has already been invented that can solve my gardening problems. I for one would bless you for them!
To Water or Not to Water
Are you Thirsty, Plant?
One of the most perplexing problems for a gardener is knowing how much water a plant needs. I have learned that plants range from those that need to be watered daily to those that could go for a long time without water and be happy about it! How do I tell if the soil is still wet beneath the mulch and the plant is OK or if it is dry beneath the mulch and the plant is clamoring for water?
So, I have learned that my sedum plants do very well in dry spells, but my Maltese cross "prefers" moist, well-drained soil. My yarrow could go for a while between watering, but my potted geranium likes to get a nice watering and then be left alone until the soil is dry! And I don't even know which plants are which yet! Oh my! What have I got myself into?
I think every plant should come with a little "pop-up" moisture meter that lets you know when that particular plant is thirsty! Wouldn't that be a great invention?
indoor plant watering system with timer to water up to 20 plants automatically for up to 40 days; great for watering plants while on vacation
for your potted plants- larger capacity (12 oz.) globe fits into short, solid ceramic stake that slowly releases the water
Plant and Garden Aids - Helpful Tools for the New Gardener
What do plants and flowers need to thrive? Soil, sun and water is the quick response. However, as I am discovering, it is not as simple as that. Gardeners have to consider the type of soil, the amount of sun or shade, the water needs of each plant, which plants are good "companion" plants, etc., etc., etc. New gardeners need all the help they can get!
Here are a few unique tools that can help with all of the perplexing issues that gardeners are struggling with. There are now sensors that let you know when it's time to water your plants. There are soil analyzers that tell you whether your soil is acidic. There is a cool new tool that analyzes the growing conditions of an area inside or outside your house, then plugs into your computer and gives you all kinds of helpful information about which plants would thrive in that area! Check them out!
inexpensive meter measures light, moisture and PH level
Rain and Outdoor Planters
Shelter from the Rain
To add a bit of color and interest to my garden, I added a few planters with annual flowers and herbs. I thought that my swan with the pink snapdragons planted in it looked gorgeous on the dry creek bed. My little angel planter looked so whimsical amid the new hostas. The strawberry planter in which I had planted chocolate mint looked and smelled wonderfully! On the patio swing side counters, I had placed two planters with lemon grass and rosemary (which supposedly repelled mosquitos). I also had 2 large citronella plants on the patio to repel those pesky little mosquitos from the sitting area. I loved my outdoor planters!!! And we were blessed with beautiful weather the entire time I was planting my garden and my planters.
Well, I had not envisioned what would happen to these beautiful planters in the event of rain! And, for my beginner's luck, here in Michigan we have had weeks of constant rain and thunderstorms! The first rain after I had placed my planters in the garden, I discovered that the planters were filled with water! I had to turn them over, trying not to let the dirt and the plants slide out with the water! So, the next time we had rain predicted, which turned out to be very soon and regularly thereafter, I ran around covering up the swan and the angel planters with plastic grocery bags so that the rain would not drown the poor plants. I stuck the strawberry planter and the mosquito repellent planters under the patio swing so that they would be protected from the rain. I dragged the citronella plants onto the covered patio so they would not get deluged. Then, when the rain is over, I uncover all of the planters and move all of them back to their places. WHEW!!!
This has become my new exercise routine each time rain or storms are predicted... which has been almost every other day for the last few weeks :(
There must be a better way! I wish someone would invent little umbrellas of different sizes that I could place in each planter that would protect my flowers from getting drowned in the rain!
Insulates your plants from the cold- 22 in. high- pops out easily and has 4 stakes to secure to the ground
Are You a Weed?
To Keep or Not to Keep That is the Question
As a novice gardener, a very important skill is to be able to identify your plants. I redid my entire lawn by using the "lasagna" technique- placing layers of paper, compost, soil, mulch on top of existing grass and weeds. This technique has given me a whole new area with which to play. So, I planted all of my plants and seedlings into my new field. Although I'm sure that there are not as many weeds as I had before I did this, there are still little green plants popping up all over the yard. Some I recognize as former weeds. Others, however, I am not sure of. "Hmmm," I think, as I see the little green leaves popping up. "Could this be one of the little seeds that I sprinkled? It looks like a flower. I guess I'll just let it get a little bigger before I decide whether to pull it out or not." And there are so many times that I have had to ask for help in identifying a plant or flower: "Can you help me identify this plant?" I will post on friendly websites. "Creeping charlie" they respond. "Pull it out or it will take over your yard!"
I wish someone would invent something to help novice gardeners to identify "good" plants vs. "bad plants." Yes- a special kind of soil that turns bright red whenever a weed pops up. "Here I am! I am a weed! Pull me out!" I would definitely buy that!
Weeding Tools and Plant Protectors - Basic Garden Tools I Know and Love and Yes, There Really are Plant Umbrellas
Even though there are some tools I really wish someone would invent, there are already many garden tools that come in very "handy" in a garden for working on those pesky weeds.
"Pull a weed, plant a seed." This is a final tip that I use and works for the weeds in my front lawn. I carry a little container of grass seed with me while I am weeding. When I pull out the weed, I immediately put a pinch of grass seed into the hole and cover it up. In this way, the grass grows to take the place of the weed I pulled.
I also discovered that there really are some plant "umbrellas" to protect plants not only from rain and frost, but also to use as little greenhouses when starting plants from seeds. Hope you find them useful!
love this tool for pulling weeds
Identifying Weeds - Is it a Weed?
Sometimes it is very difficult to know whether a plant that is growing in your lawn or garden is a flower or a weed. Here are some sites that can provide helpful information.
- Better Homes and Gardens
has photos and information on 35 different weeds
- National Gardening Association
Weed Library has photos and descriptions of weeds and is organized by categories of weeds
- MSU publication
document contains large pictures of weeds from the North Central United Sites- very thorough- identify weeds as seedlings while still time to control them
Have you had an extremely challenging problem in your gardening experience? Have you created your own unique solution to any of your gardening challenges? Please share.