The Greener View: Green Thumb Award-Winners Part 2
Last week, we talked about the new plant varieties that have won the 2018 Green Thumb Awards presented by the Direct Gardening Association (formerly called the Mailorder Gardening Association). This week we look at the tools category. The winning products are judged on their uniqueness, technological innovation, ability to solve a gardening problem or provide a gardening opportunity, and potential appeal to gardeners.
If you have had a flowerbed or vegetable garden for very long, you know weeds are going to pop up. The most organic way to remove them is to pull them or hoe them. Sometimes the ground is wet or it is just a pain in the back to bend over and pull them. For a long time, one of the best hoes was the CobraHead. It has a long handle with a thin blade at the tip. It pulls most weeds out better than a wide-bladed hoe because it moves less soil. The more soil that is flipped up with a hoe, the more weed seeds are brought to the surface that can sprout.
If you are already on the ground planting or pulling weeds, having a short-handled weeder and cultivator is very handy. There is a CobraHead weeder for that, but sometimes there is a need to get into tighter spaces, such as between the roots and branches of an existing shrub. We need a smaller device that is more like a strong fingernail to cut the weed off at the soil level without hurting our real fingernails.
One of the 2018 tool awards goes to the CobraHead Mini Weeder & Cultivator. It is described as a steel fingernail, and it comes on a convenient pocket-sized handle. It doesn't just kill weeds; it can act as a trowel to plant small pots, and it can make thin trenches to plant seeds in the vegetable garden. CobraHead tools are sold at many garden centers, so you should be able to find it locally.
The Kaleidoscope Tomato Tower fills a need I didn't know my garden had, but now I know and I need one. I have always thought that wire-basket tomato towers were ugly, especially when the garden is first planted. The tomato plants are only a foot high, and the garden view is filled with 4- or 5-foot-tall towers of scrap metal. The tomato towers are never straight and in line. They look all haphazard. Then the tomatoes grow too tall for the cages and flop over the top; they still look haphazard, but they are full of ripe tomatoes, so that makes up for it.
That is about to change. The Kaleidoscope Tomato Tower is over 7 feet tall. Most tomatoes will stay in the tower, but the tower itself is the real masterpiece. It doesn't even need a tomato plant to look nice. It is a work of art. It has colorful glass circles and steel rings to make it a focal point all year long. After the vegetable season is over, the tower can stay in place to make the empty garden look nice, or it can be moved to a new focal-point position.
Unlike most thin wires of normal tomato cages that can rust, the tower is made from powder-coated steel that is 5/16 inch in diameter. It comes with 14-inch-tall stakes for solid anchoring. The only reason I won't be ordering a few dozen of them to install with all my tomatoes is the $164.00 price tag. Besides, if the garden were filled with them, they wouldn't be so unique.
If your mailbox hasn't filled up with garden catalogs this winter, you can find companies that specialize in the plants you want at http://www.directgardeningassociation.com/list-of-current-members.
Email questions to Jeff Rugg at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.