Garden gadget geekery

Some women have a thing for shoes. Not me; I have about four pairs of shoes plus a few speciality pairs. Other women  have a thing for purses. That's not me either. I have one purse that rarely leaves the car. My weakness is gadgets. And gardening gadgets? Forgettaaboutit.

Here are a few of the new gardening gadgets I picked up this year.

1. When we added the deck onto the house during the renovation, we buried one of two hose bibs. That meant that in order to water anything on the back side of the house we had to drag a hose all the way around. With this faucet extension from Lee Valley we have our second hose bib back. We simply ran a 25-foot hose under the deck to the other side of the house. This has made watering our new trees and newly planted grass much easier.



2. I'm sure the safety instructions for the Red Dragon Weed Torch do not suggest torching something with one hand while taking a picture with the other hand, but I'm crazy like that. I've wanted a weed torch for some time but they are usually quite expensive and I was afraid to make that kind of financial commitment to something I wasn't sure would work. Then Genevieve at North Coast Gardening wrote a review of the Red Dragon Weed Torch for Fine Gardening magazine and for about $50, I figured it was worth a try. It uses a small screw-on propane can, like you'd use for a portable camping grill. So here's my take on it. I like it, because it's fun to burn stuff, but it sort of takes awhile to do it. It would be much faster to just hand-pull the weeds, but there are times when you just don't feel like bending over anymore and this is good for that. It works really well on very very small weeds and is the perfect thing for the stone and gravel path. I would recommend wearing full shoes with it (not flip flops like I usually wear) because there are times you need to stomp a bit to put out the flames. So while I'm happy with this tool, I don't think I would have been if I had spent any more money on it.





3. I'm always on the hunt for better ways to water and if you read the blog regularly or follow me on Facebook, you'll know that I get very frustrated with leaky, inefficient watering  tools. I've long been on the hunt for a good hose: One that isn't impossibly heavy, doesn't kink and still provides good water flow. Once again, Genevieve came to the rescue when she reviewed the Tuff-Guard Perfect Garden hose. This is not an inexpensive hose, but I don't mind paying a little more for quality tools that I'll have for many years. I ordered one (if you buy one, do a little Googling ... I found it at ATG Stores for a much better price than a some other places). It should tell you something that I ordered a second one within days of getting my first. The kink-free brag is totally right on. In fact you can't even squeeze this hose to stop the water like you can with other hoses. It's also quite light, which I really appreciated. Gen had warned me that it sort of has a mind of its own when it came to coiling it up, so swung by Home Depot and got a hose pot to stick it all in (so much nicer than just laying around on the patio). 

When I got the second hose I connected it and right from the get-go a huge bubble appeared in it. When I leaned in to look closer, it blew up in my face and there was a massive hole in my new hose. I sent it back (which was a super easy process ... sometimes these things can turn into customer service nightmares, but that wasn't the case) and got a new one and both hoses have been great since. I'm not reading too much into that second hose blow-up. I mean, manufacturing problems happen from time to time and the important thing is that the company stands by their products (it helped that Tuff-Guard had told me on Twitter that they guaranteed I would love this hose, so I felt like if there was an issue with the return I could have contacted the company directly). 

All in all, two big thumbs up for this hose.





4. More watering accessories are next on the list (and you can see a close-up of the hose in the next picture too). I buy lots of these brass quick couplers from Lee Valley every year. Since I use a variety of watering wands, nozzles and sprinklers, I put quick connects on all of them so I can swap them out easily. The brass ones are far superior to the el-cheapo plastic ones that you often find in the hardware store. No leaks!



5. I also got this bubbler soaker nozzle. I usually just turn the nozzle on and leave it at the base of a plant when I'm working on giving it a good soak, but that can wash dirt away. This bubbler is great (and inexpensive) it provides a gentle break to the water rather than having it come rushing straight out of the hose or the nozzle, meaning the plants get a good soaking, but I don't wash away all the dirt in the process. High marks for a really simple idea.


6. And the last of the watering tools that I got recently is a simple dial timer. I've never used a timer before and it has gotten me into trouble when I forget to turn it off. Last year I watered a section of the garden for more than 20 hours because I forgot the sprinkler was on. It was wasteful of water (and electricity to run the well pump non-stop for that long) and it's not good for the plants. Lee Valley (I was ordering anyway so I just started through stuff in the cart) says this is so simple it doesn't come with instructions and they are right. You just dial it to the amount of time you want it to run, or flip it to manual on when you just want to water by hand and you're good to go. Sometimes simpler is better.


7. From the simplest item I bought this year to maybe the most complicated (although it's super easy to run). I sprung for a Black & Decker Edge Hog. It's an electric edger and I'll just tell you right now, I love this thing. OK, it's not magic; you can't just run it along your beds and call them edged. You do have to follow up afterwards and remove a little bit of sod and push the soil up into the bed. I prefer to do this on my hands and knees with my hori hori, but you could do it with a sharp flat spade or a manual edging tool as well. In the past I've used a mezaluna edger that you step on to cut the edge and then followed up again with the hori hori. The Edge Hog is so much better. I spent probably 90 minutes edging all the beds on the front and one side of the house (including cleaning up with the hori hori and dumping the wheelbarrow). That's a project that would have probably taken me at least four hours without the Edge Hog and probably much more. And the edges are really nice. Check out the edge on one of the beds alongside the path.



I know it seems like a lot of new gadgets for the garden, but I'm really loving all of them and I think they make gardening (even weeding) more pleasurable. Just like a pair of Manolo Blahniks, only more practical and a lot more comfortable. 


Note: All of the products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. I was not supplied any samples (not that I'm opposed to that, mind you) and have not received any compensation from any product or company mentioned in this post. I just like this stuff and thought you'd want to know about it.

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