I was in the marketing business for a while, so I appreciate when someone is passionate about their product. But some of the gardening gadgets that come across my desk are good, and some are really, really bad.
A woman called the other day promoting a gadget that calculates the sunlight in your garden. Here's what she told me:
"The most common mistake gardeners make is putting plants in locations with improper sunlight conditions. These plants do not thrive and gardeners are disappointed.
"It is not practical to stand in the garden all day and watch the path of the sun. We may not be aware that during the course of the day, trees, buildings, walls or fences block the sun, all affecting the amount of available sunlight in desired areas of our garden," she explained.
She was selling the SunCalc, a sunlight calculator that measures the accumulated sunlight that falls on a specific location of your property over a full 12-hour period.
Now I'm a busy gardener. But one thing I do have time for is studying the sunlight in my garden. It's not rocket science. Shade. Part shade. Sunlight. I don't need a $30 doohickey to figure this out.
A simple hook for hanging pots from your deck or other vertical surface is a product that I'll consider. The fellow selling the Terra Latch (www.theterralatch.net) showed me how easy they are to install, and how easy they are to use with pots from 4 to 10 inches wide.
The only problem with this hook is it only holds the pot, not a saucer, so you'll need to use pots with saucers attached. At $3 each, they are a good bargain. I saw these at the Cincinnati Flower Show, and the salesman suggested using silicone to attach saucers to the pots, which is a viable solution.
The Rain-Mat for hanging baskets is a 7-inch square that you put into your growing medium at root level as you plant each basket, hayrack or planter. These mats soak up water rapidly and provide a stable reservoir into which the roots will actually grow. They can reduce the need for watering to as little as once every seven to 10 days. I'll try this one.
Every gardener has had dirt in the car. Even when you use the plastic the garden centers offer, it seems something always falls over or leaks a bit of potting soil onto the carpet or seat of the car. There's a product available from Kinsman Co. (www.kinsmangarden.com) and from other places, I'm sure, that I'm going to purchase this season.