Category: Tools

Oct 9

Marty was wishing for one of these this morning as she made her fall cleanup rounds and never had the right tool at hand.

rover1.pngWhen she dog-proofed the bottom of the fence with chicken wire, she ran into dead branches and needed the tree trimmer. When she shoveled compost onto the raised beds, she spilled part of the load and needed a rake. When she stacked the tomato cages for winter, she need pliers to straighten out some of the wire.

With the Garden Rover there would have been much time saved and far fewer trips back and forth searching for the right tool.

The ergonomically designed Garden Rover works as a hand truck to carry heavy sacks and its makers say it rolls with ease over uneven terrain and can be moved with one hand.rover2.png

The Garden Rover has a place to bag leaf and garden debris, pouches and compartments for numerous garden goodies and even a beverage holder.

Check it out at Life With Ease, a family-owned company in New Hampshire with very interesting home, office, garden and garage products.

Oct 8

Cait thinks you might coerce neighbor kids into helping you clean up your yard if you were to offer them these Bear Claw Scoops, which look like more fun than a regular rake.

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If your neighbors’ kids are like ours, they will disappear with the job half done. (That’s because Marty — aka The Sucker — always pays them in advance, so they have no reason to stay.)

If that happens and the cleanup all comes back on you, these Bear Claws not only pick up a large amount of debris but they have supports over the back of the wrist to increase hand strength and stability.

rolling-sweeper.png

Cait also has her sights set on this Rolling Leaf Sweeper which, as she says, “Sure looks like it beats the hell out of raking.”

And don’t forget about the Power Rake we previewed in an earlier post. The Power Rake’s design lets you work the rake without having to lift it as much as a traditional rake.

Sep 10

Bulb-planting season is upon us and today we present three different tools to make that back-aching chore somewhat easier.
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We say somewhat because our soil is clay heavy and no spring-loaded hand tool holds up under attacks on that clay.

Planting bulbs in our raised beds is, of course, another story. The soil there is loamy, rich and a dream to drill down into - which is why Cait plans to plant bulbs this fall in those beds alone.

oxo-short.pngThe amazon.com

If kneeling isn’t your thing try the Fiskars extended bulb planter, seen at the top, which lets you dig the hole standing and then releases the soil back into the hole from the spring-loaded handle.

Shop around the ‘Net and at your local stores for the best prices and remember - there is no tool designed to make bulb planting effortless.

Aug 25

This amazon.com

backsaver.pngStout’s friends liked it so much they transferred the grip to their garden and snow shovels, rakes, push brooms, pool skimmers, paint extension poles, tree trimmers and saltwater fishing rods.

Its creator says this back-saving Gimpliment improves the performance of long-handled tools by transferring effort from the back to the legs, which lets the user stand up straighter under a heavy load and ease the strain on the back, neck and shoulders.

Click here to see a video of the backsaver in action.

Aug 12

comfort-grips.pngIf you have arthritis or limited hand strength, these neoprene grips with Velcro closures will give you a more secure and comfortable grip.

Machine washable, they wrap around tool handles to absorb shock and vibration and can be easily removed to shift them from shovel to rake to wheelbarrow to lawn mower handles.

Users of these grips say they love the cushioning, which makes tool handles larger and, therefore, easier to grip. Each set includes two grips.

Eds. Note: Cait also recommends these Bionic Gloves which have reduced her hand pain during much gardening and yard work this year.

Aug 11

trimmer.pngWe’ve had this amazon.com.

Cait, who has issues with arthritis, likes that she can adjust the handle for increased comfort and she doesn’t have to mess with gas, oil, tune-ups or having to fuss with a feed spool. This Black & Decker battery-powered trimmer automatically advances the string.

Granted, this cordless trimmer doesn’t have the power of a gas trimmer, but it gets the job done for us - unless we let things get too far gone, and then we start talking again about getting a couple of goats for our gone-wild suburban landscape.

Eds. Note: That’s how Take-Back-the-Yard Revolution Begins: first a smattering of chickens as the thin end of the wedge, then a couple of goats, and the next thing you know there’ll be a small herd of Jersey cows living on the patio next to Marty’s hot tub.

Aug 6

If a golf club lawn rates a 10 and a weed-filled empty lot rates 0, our lawn is a 4, well, maybe a 3.

Through the summer, our lawn progresses from a blanket of bright yellow dandelions to a field of white clover blossoms. (It’s quite pretty just not very American, if you know what I mean.)

It’s not that we don’t like our lawn, which is mini in the front of our duplex and huge in the back, where we have the whole thing fenced in as a common yard.

It’s just that it’s so much work for something that produces little more than lawn clippings for the composter and yet is a huge polluter because we own a gas mower.

We owned an electric Brill, which is perfect for flat small lawns. But our lawn is hilly on the sides and big and unruly in back. We’re heartened, however, by the newer electrics that promise more get-up-and go like gas mowers.

This video walks you through new electric mowers and an electric wheelbarrow, which we haven’t tried and want to know more about.

Eds. Note: Truth be told, it wouldn’t take much for Cait & Marty to convince each other to let the backyard grow wild - permanently. Or be taken over by pumpkin and squash vines. So much green chaos. So little time.

Jul 30

Those bastardly Japanese beetles have descended but we’re staying on top of them with this lightweight plastic pitcher, a little soapy water and a wood spoon.

beetle.jpgWe don’t use pesticides in The Gimpy Garden and so have to gather up the beetles in early morning and around dusk when they are having sex on the asparagus vines and are too caught up in their reverie to fly away.

Hold the pitcher under the beetles, bap the vine with the spoon and the beetles tumble right into the soapy water. At peak beetle season, we daily catch between 30 and 50 of the prolific little buggers.

Cait finds the pitcher and spoon lighter and easier - especially when she must reach - than anything else we’ve used previously to capture the little devils.

Eds. Note: Our posts and photos often give the impression that our gardens run smoothly and our plants always prosper. Were that the case.

This year we’ve had a terrible siege of blight that scalded the foliage of many of our tomato cans and several containers of cukes. Our basil has been decimated by beetles and Marty stepped on a bumblebee and her foot swelled like a boiled jumbo hotdog. Two days later, Marty’s rubber garden clogs tripped her up and she hit the concrete driveway hard. Finally, Marty has so many mosquito bites on her right now that Cait says Marty looks like a “bad addict” with needle tracks. Ahhh, Summer living.

Jul 22

Here’s a photo taken near dusk of another section of the Gimpy Garden. On the left is a 20-gallon garbage can growing Black Cherry tomatoes supported by one of Cait’s Crutch Tomato Cages.

crutch-photo.jpg Surrounding the crutches are metal buckets and old feed troughs growing heirloom Sun Berries - originally bred by Luther Burbank in the early 1900s.

The black cherry tomato is Cait’s favorite and they keep her happy with their complex sweet and red wine-tinted flavor. They’re a gorgeous color and grow easily and abundantly up to the first frost.

The Lemon Cucumbers are sweet, easily digested, prolific and hardy. Hands down, they’re Marty’s favorite cuke.

This was our first year growing juicy Sun Berries and they were a challenge but worth the effort. They’re remarkably like first cousins to blueberries with a bit more tang, and they aren’t terribly hardy but they can thrive in containers, which is nice.

We loved them. The birds loved them. And most of all those bastardly Japanese Beetles loved them. We harvested just enough to get a taste and get hooked.

Next year, we will grow three times as many and keep them covered in Learn more to ensure that we can go stark-raving piggy when those berries ripen.

Jul 8

Cait highly recommends Bionic Gloves - made by the people who make gloves for baseball players.

bionic.pngThese well-made gloves - the only ones endorsed by the Arthritis Foundation - support your hands with layers of stitching and padding. They come in styles for gardening, driving, tennis, horseback riding and golf.

Cait uses them more as utility gloves than down-and-dirty gardening gloves. The gloves make it easier for her to grip and hold shovels and rakes and to handle the vibration from the lawn mower. And she finds they lessen her hand fatigue when she’s paddling a canoe or kayaking.

For just plain old messy jobs like transplanting seedlings and filling containers with soil she uses cheapo Dollar Store gloves to spare her Bionics from getting soggy and dirty.

As for fitting properly, Cait says they do stretch out a bit and need to fit snugly in order to perform properly. So buy the size that JUST fits.

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