Garden Product Reviews

One of the unexpected perks of blogging is that occasionally a company will send me a product to try out. I’ve received liquified worm poop fertilizer (highly recommended) and a bunch of books on gardening and design.

About 6 weeks ago, the folks at Ethel Gloves™ sent me a pair of their Jubilee gloves. Ethel gloves are like cashmere sweaters–pricey, but wow! The palms are covered with synthetic leather and the backs of the gloves are a stretchy, but breathable fabric. They fit snug, but not too snug, and the elastic around the wrist keeps dirt out. Mine got fairly dirty after a few weeks of use, so I threw them in the washing machine and the dryer, and they came out looking fine. They are also rather cute. They cost $18 a pair retail–which is a lot for garden gloves–but if you are the kind of person who does not lose their gloves and you work in the garden a lot, Ethels may be a good bet.

The second product I want to let people know about is the CobraHead® Weeder and Cultivator. This was not a freebie. I bought one of these from a vendor at the Midwest Master Gardener Conference in July. It’s advertised as an all-purpose garden tool and I’ve used it to dig holes for transplants and to loosen soil, but its best use is in pulling weeds. The cobrahead is basically a sharp hook with a handle. On small weeds, a couple of quick passes with the cobrahead unearths the weed. On bigger weeds, you slide the hook under the crown of the root, making it much easier to remove the entire root. Yesterday, I pulled a bunch of weeds from my front garden in about 5 minutes with the Cobrahead. The short-handled version I have is $24.95 online. There is a long-handled version for a bit more.

Garden Tool Gifts

I’m not the diamonds and jewels type, and some of my favorite gifts of all time have been garden tools. Many years ago, at my request, my husband gave me an ice scraper for Christmas. Not a small one you use to scrape the ice off the car, but a full-sized one that is just perfect for prying big chunks of frozen goop off the driveway. Clearing the gunk off the driveway is a very satisfying and stress-reducing activity, and I recommend it to anyone feeling a bit claustrophobic from the holidays.

More recently, he gave me a beautiful pair of English tools, a square shovel and a spading fork. They make moving dirt or compost a joy. This year, I received an ergonomic trowel. It feels light in the hand, and the curved handle is supposed to reduce wrist injuries. Since I spend so much time on the computer and have seen many people with repetitive motion injuries, I’m careful about my wrists. I can hardly wait to start using the new trowel.

I also received two great garden books for Christmas: Melinda Myers’ Month by Month Gardening in Minnesota and a book on container gardening. Melinda Myers is based in Milwaukee and has written several gardening books for the Midwest. This one gives you month-by-month lists of what to do when in the garden. I’m sure I’ll be using it all year. Like many gardeners, I keep thinking of new ways to use containers. (My plans for next summer include an herb garden in containers on my deck.) My sister-in-law, who gardens in zone 6 in Indiana, gave me Stephanie Donaldson’s Practical Container Gardening. The book gives step-by-step instructions for 150 container combinations. It has a section on techniques for container plantings that I’ll be studying carefully.