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Gloves
 
Good Gardening Glove Guide for Gals

Every Good Gardener needs a pair or two or three of great gardening gloves! This is especially true for Good Gardening gals who want the features and benefits of soft hands, protection from wet or dry soil, thorns and the overall drying effects on hands when working in the garden.

 

Gardening Gloves

Not all gloves are created equal and now there are gardening gloves for just about any gardening task and a gardener's personal glove preference. If you're still using those old-fashioned cotton gloves you might want to try one or some of these handsome and varied garden gloves.

 

What Makes a Good Gardening Glove?
  • Dexterity: which gloves will easily pick up a dime or quarter? Although picking up coins is not a gardening task, it's an easy way to look for ultimate dexterity. Feeling what you're doing in the garden helps get the job done easily and accurately. 

  • Protection: from prickly plants and wet, mud-like soil. (Many manufactures make gloves specifically for rose gardening; these were not explored.) 

  • Washability and longtime wear: the ability to easily clean and dry gloves was gauged on the individual materials of each glove. Durability is based on the materials of each glove. 

  • Sizing: many gloves are sold as "one size fits all," this does not settle well with this Good Gardener, as sizing helps with all facets of dexterity and the ability to garden up the task at hand. Price: none of the gloves were too expensive, so price was not a consideration. 

 

Here are the Gloves Inspected and Selected as Overall Good Gardening Gloves: 

 

Cotton Jersey and Spandex Gloves: helps keep hands protected from the sun and blister free.

 

Target-Nylon Spandex Gloves $3.99 (Picked up a dime) 

  • Form fitting glove 

  • Ideal for pinching bulbs 

  • For light gardening tasks 

  • Ladies one size fits all 

 

Rubber-coated or latex gloves: protect hands when doing wet gardening tasks such as picking up wet soil or leaves and are overall good gardening gloves. Consistently wet hands gives a propensity to "green thumb fungus" which can lead to uncomfortable and unsightly cracking of the skin. 

 

Master Grip, Atlas Glove, Nitrile-Touch coating $7.99 (Picked up a dime)
These are Jill's favorites by far! 

  • Resists punctures and abrasions 

  • Breathable 

  • Light weight 

  • Washable 

  • Sized-Small, Medium and Large 

 

Leather gloves: Protect hands from thorns and prevents friction and abrasion.

 

Smith & Hawken, Embroidered Leather Gardening Gloves, $28.00 (Picked up a dime) 

  • The longer calfskin is tanned, the softer it gets. 

  • These French-made gloves strike the right balance between suppleness and protection, with turned seams that eliminate chafing, and leather armor that bramble, crabgrass roots, and gravel can't conquer. 

  • Elastic at the wrist gathers for a comfortable fit. 

  • Unisex, in sizes XS and S for women, M, L, and XL for men. 

  • Hand washable with soap and water. This is a great feature.

Bottled Blooms

This "message in a bottle" takes the form of beautiful living blooms. A floral statement composed of one flower or a couple of flowers that have been enclosed in a bottle or vase. Decorative bottles with caps can be purchased for this project or make your own by employing a regular flower vase with an improvised cap. 

 

Bottled Blooms make a remarkable display. Best of all, because the bottle is sealed, the flowers inside last a very long time. Interestingly too, the bottled blooms look larger than real-life, as the glass magnifies the blossoms inside. 

 

Materials: 

 

  • Clear glass bottle with top or make your own- Use an ordinary vase but top it off with a cork or glass coaster that fits perfectly. 

  • (Optional) pea gravel, enough for the bottom of the bottle or vase. Some bottles or vases require pea gravel to keep the flower(s) in place.

  • Pea gravel also adds another dimension to the design. 

  • 1 to 2 stems of flowers- roses, carnations, freesia, snapdragons or alstroemeria work well. 

  • Floral clippers

 

Directions: 

 

  1. (Optional) Fill the bottom of the bottle or vase with pea gravel. 

  2. Fill the bottle or vase three-quarters full with water. 

  3. Next, insert the flower(s). If using pea gravel, insert the flower stem(s) into it. 

  4. Now fill the bottle or vase up to the rim with more water. 

  5. Seal the bottle or vase with its original cap or place your own improvised cap of top

Chalkboard Garden Markers

Labeling plants in the garden is sometimes essential especially when planting seeds or varieties not easily identified. Any Good Gardener can make almost instant garden markers with the help of spray-on chalkboard paint, available at most hardware or craft stores. 
These garden markers are designed with 4-inch tin pots and wooden stakes. Simply spray the chalkboard paint onto the tin pots and allow them to dry thoroughly. Non-porous surfaces work best, but clay pots can also be used. With chalk, write the name of the plant directly on the chalkboard finished pot for easy recognition of mom's favorite plants. Then set the inverted chalkboard marker onto a wooden stake that has been inserted into the planting bed.

 
Basic Hand Tools

Having the right hand tools is very important for efficient and easy Good Gardening. Therefore, purchasing the best quality tools that you can afford is a smart plan. Get your tools ready, because the first day of spring, is Thursday, March 20, 2003, which is the start of the gardening season. 

 

Hand Trowel:
Choose a sturdy hand trowel of cast steel aluminum or forged steel. Avoid buying trowels made of stamped steel, as the less expensive stamped ones bend easily under the strain of heavy soil. 

 

Shovel: 
A good quality long handled and pointed shovel is essential for general digging. Try to get one with a reinforced spine and a handle made of aluminum or fiber glass. 

 

Spade:
A spade is useful for digging trees and shrubs, shaping root balls and digging trenches. Get one that is either tempered steel or stainless steel. Tempered steel is hard and stays sharp for a long time, however, it can rust. Stainless steel does not rust but will not hold an edge as long as tempered steel. Try to find one with foot treads, this makes digging easier. Spades generally have narrower blades than shovels. Unlike conventional shovels, a spade's blade extends more or less straight down, making them a more efficient tool than shovels for digging. 

 

Garden Fork: 
A garden fork is an essential tool for turning over soil. Get one with sturdy tines (with a triangular shape) that doesn't bend easily. Some Good Gardeners feel a quality garden fork is the best cultivating tool in a gardener's arsenal. 

 

Four Tine Cultivator: 
This tool can replace the garden fork. It is excellent too for planting seeds, cell pacs and bedding plants. Four tine cultivators dig the soil deep enough for most plants. Modern gardeners prefer this tool over the garden fork. 

 

Three Tine Cultivator: 
Often referred to as a hoe, but it is not. A three tine cultivator works well to turn over soil and is a lightweight tool for raised bed gardening. 

 

Hoes: 
There are many different types of hoes on the market; all will do the job as long as they are sturdy. Remember that a hoe is not an excavating tool, it is used solely to shear off weeds, not to excavate soil. A two-way hoe is especially nice, as it weeds in both directions, back and forth. The disadvantage of a two-way hoe is that it is not strong enough to remove large rooted weeds. Make sure to keep your hoe sharp. 

 

Shrub Rake: 
A stiff shrub rake is useful for gardening and smoothing seedbeds. It is also a good tool for removing small rocks and other debris from the garden soil. Rakes are available with adjustable/telescoping handles for reaching under shrubs and along the far edges of the garden.

 
Test Your Soil

Growing healthy plants can be scientific. Testing the pH levels in soil gives an accurate and scientific measure of the acidity or alkalinity in garden beds. Plants indoors can benefit from a soil test as well. Testing the soil allows Good Gardeners to better equip plants with the nutrients they need to survive and thrive. 

 

Most houseplants come planted in good fertile soil created for a specific plant variety. However, as we water, fertilize, and then transplant our plants, they loose the soil nutrients, become too acidic or alkaline, and ultimately lack the nitrogen, potash or phosphorus they need to flourish. 

 

Outdoor soil is especially needy; that is why adding organic amendments is sometimes necessary. When soil is balanced, soil nutrients are unlocked and ready to provide plants with the necessary vitality to grow strong and resist disease. If the pH is too high or too low, these nutrients are blocked, fertilizer applications are wasted and disease and insect damage are more likely. 

 

All plants have a pH preference:

If you test your soil prior to planting, you can choose plants with the same pH preferences, and avoid those that will not do well in your particular soil. Of course, adjusting the pH levels in existing indoor or outdoor gardens will help plants continue to grow and develop. 

We find out our soil's health by also testing its 3 main macronutrients -- To raise the pH in soil add limestone. To lower the pH, add aluminum sulfate or sulfur. 

 

Nitrogen is synonymous with plant nutrition. It is directly responsible for producing leaf growth and green leaves. A deficiency causes yellow leaves and stunted growth. Too much nitrogen causes over abundant foliage with delayed flowering; the plant becomes subject to disease and its fruit or flowers are of poor quality. 

 

Growing plants also need phosphorous. It is the major component of plant genetics and seed development. A deficiency causes stunted growth and seed sterility. Phosphorous helps the plant mature, increases yield, fruit development and vitamin content. Phosphorous also keeps the plant resistant to disease. 

 

Potash strengthens the plant. It helps form carbohydrates and promotes protein synthesis that improve the color and flavor of fruit. Potash also fosters early growth, stem strength and cold hardiness. Plants deficient in potash are usually stunted and have poorly developed root systems. Leaves are spotted, curled and appear dried out at the edges. Plants that are lacking potash will not yield as many fruits, vegetables or flowers. 

 

When Should You Test the pH?

Testing is especially important before planting in spring and when preparing beds in the fall. However, testing soil any time of the year may help, especially if you feel your plants are not growing well.

 

Soil Test Kits & Gauges

pH Meter by Rapitest: $16.99: Simply push the probe into wet soil and the meter needle will indicate the pH on the scale from 3.5 to 9.0. With this reading you can check the list of over 400pH preferences to find those plants which suit your garden or houseplant needs. 

 

Garden Soil Tester by Sudbury $5.49:Fill the test tube ¼ full of fine, dry soil taken 2-inches below surface. Add lime test solution until tube is ½ full. Replace stopper and shake. Allow soil to settle. Compare color of solution with color chart. Most plants thrive in a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. 

 

Soil Test Kit by Rapitest $17.99: Tests Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potash and pH levels. Has 4 color comparators for each test, 10 tests each. 

 

pH Soil Tester by GreenTouch $7.49: 1.Prepare the soil sample for testing by removing all rocks, stones, clumps of grass etc. 2.Clean the surface of the probe and tip with a clean cloth. 3.Gently wipe the surface of the probe and tip with sandpaper. Wipe the surface of the probe and tip again with a dry cloth. 4.Place the pH test in the sample for 1-2 minutes. Be sure the soil is packed firmly around, and completely covers both probe and tip. This will acclimate the electrodes. 5.Remove the tester from the sample and repeat steps 2, 3 and 4. Do not move or disturb the meter when taking pH measurements. 

 

Professional Soil Testing Labs

If you would like to send or bring in soil samples to the following labs, they will test your garden soil for you. There are many more facilities around the Bay Area. There is generally a fee for this service! 

 

Anresco Inc
1370 Van Dyke Ave. 
San Francisco, Ca 94124 
415-822-1100 

 

Soil and Plant Lab 
352 Mathew ST. 
Santa Clara, CA 95050 
408-727-0330 

 

Croma Lab 
Pleasanton, CA 
925-484-1919

 
Cool Tools

The new year is here which means winter is too. It's a time when Good Gardeners are in the planning stages for spring gardening and allowing winter do 'its thing' in our gardens. 


In the meantime, it might be a good time to look at cool tools for future gardening efforts. The tools selected are available on-line at internet retailers and in some cases also found at their 'real' stores. 

 

Lavender Neck Pillow and Booties
www.smithandhawken.com

 

Neck Pillow $36.00
Snug-fitting neck pillow goes right to the source of muscle tension, melting away stress with the help of lavender's natural soothing powers. 

 

Booties $39.00 
Plump with dried lavender blooms grown in California's wine country, these soft cozy socks warm as they lift the spirit. Heating their removable lavender and flax seed inserts in the microwave for a minute or two works wonders. Fleece socks are machine washable in cold water. Fit women's shoe sizes 6-10. 

 

Multi-Tool
www.smithandhawken.com
$19.00 or $9.50 with purchase of $50.00 or more.
Six handy tools in one. This compact multipurpose tool includes shears, two pruning knives, and a serrated saw for tackling gardening tasks, plus a bottle opener and corkscrew for impromptu picnics. All fold neatly into the handle and store in the carrying case. Carbon steel blades. Weighs less than five ounces. 

 

Folding Trowel
www.leevalley.com
$7.95

A folding trowel is handy to have close by during your garden inspections. This one folds to a compact 5" x 2" x 1" and stores in the included nylon belt holster. The holster has a hook-and-loop (similar to Velcro®) strap that attaches to either a belt or a belt loop on your pants. 

 

Opened fully, the trowel measures 9" overall. It also locks at a 90° angle to form a unique planting tool that is easy on your wrist when putting in a lot of transplants. 

 

Made of stainless steel with a non-conductive ABS handle that doesn't get too hot in the sun or chill your hands in cold weather. Excellent value in a very useful tool. 

 

English Widger
www.rittenhouse.ca
$11.29
The English Widger is part of the great line of British gardening tools. Made of stainless steel, with a hardwood handle, this high quality tool is a cross between a trowel and a dibber. It's also great for levering plants out of pots, planting seeds and seedlings and for digging out the weeds that insist on growing right next to your perennials. Overall length is 13-inches. 

 

Toro-Super Blower Vac-Model 51591
www.homedepot.com
$59.97
The best selling and performing electric blower vac is now even better. The new, improved Toro Super Blower Vac has more power (215 mph), a 2-speed motor, and even easier conversion between blowing and vacuuming. With the exclusive Cord-Lock system and an easy-to-use bag for mulching (10:1 ratio), this is the tool every homeowner needs for year-round lawn and leaf clean up. 

 

Bionic Gardening Gloves
www.bionicgloves.com
$45.00
Designed by a hand surgeon, this gardening glove is meant for the normal, everyday tasks of hoeing, raking, digging, planting, mowing, pruning, weed-eating, etc. 

 

  • Patented and patent-pending features bring anatomy and hand function to the forefront of glove design. 

  • Anatomic relief pads for thumb, fingers and palm. 

  • Enhances comfort and helps lessen fatigue, vibration, blisters and calluses without interfering with hand motion. 

  • Specific designs for both male and female hands 

  • Provides optimal fit with maximum dexterity. 

  • Top-grade cabretta leather (washable) - extra supple which improves durability and comfort. 

  • Web zones for enhanced breath-ability, enhances air flow and moisture control. 

  • Motion zones for hand, thumb and fingers; improves flexibility, comfort and performance. 

  • Form-Fitting Wrist Closure System. Provides wrist support and keeps glove debris-free inside.

My best,