CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Garden gadgets galore! I'm a sucker for all the gadgets that are supposed to make gardening easier. But I'm also jaded -- so many of the products that tout simplicity are often complicated. It's like those things that end up in the back of the kitchen gadget drawer -- they are for one specific task that often can be done by common multiuse tools.
Here are a few, however, that pass muster in my book because they are inexpensive, unique or just plain useful.
I have plant supports for my peonies and other top-heavy plants that are circular, sometimes with a grid pattern in the circle, that I'll put out in the spring before the plants grow. But if I forget, well, it's goodnight Irene. It's really hard to control a plant in one of the circles once the plant has grown.
I found metal supports at Green's Feed and Seed that are quite promising. They are basically a half-circle on top of a stake, and they come in a wide variety of sizes. They are cheap, too -- from 69 cents up to $6 -- and they will fit any plant. I'm using some of the smaller ones on some houseplants, and I'll bet they would be good for top-heavy orchids.
I found similar supports online at www.leevalley.com. Each has an arc-shaped horizontal section, with small ribs to help hold leaves and stems in position, and a stake with a fluted tip to help secure the shaft in the soil. Available in two sizes: 5 3/4 inches long by 3 3/4 inches wide, and 7 3/4 inches long by 5 1/2 inches wide. Colored green to blend with foliage, they come in packages of six and they cost $5.95.
It's expensive, but it's really, really cool. It's called a new twist on a classic device. It's the World's Coolest Rain Gauge. Handcrafted in the United States, it's made of solid copper, steel and blue polycarbonate tubing. It's durable and attractive.
According to www.worldscoolestraingauge.com, "The solid copper water collection flute fits into a rust-resistant, powder-coated stand. Empty, it looks like a mild-mannered copper garden accent.
"But inside the flute, an unbreakable blue polycarbonate measurement tube and foam float wait patiently for rain. As rain falls into the collection flute, the blue tube rises to show water levels. Eureka! That's cool!
"It's the original floating rain gauge! Based on the Archimedean principal of water displacement, the unbreakable, easy-read measurement tube rises to show water accumulation."
The 24-inch stake rain gauge is $44.95 and the 9-inch tabletop gauge is $49.95.
An easy way to pump
I've already cleaned out and put away the outdoor fountain for the season. But scooping the water out was a mess. At www.slide-n-pump.com, there's a really nice pump that makes short work of pumping and siphoning water anywhere, all without the need of or danger associated with electricity and water. It's one-third the price of electrical pumps.
How does this fit in the gardener's toolbox? Well, it can be used to drain fountains, decorative ponds, birdbaths, post holes and even standing water in the tool shed.
Available in standard size ($24.99) or mini ($19.99) plus shipping and handling of $6 each.
This pump is for your rain barrel -- it works via solar power and is easy to install. It provides pressurized water directly from your rain barrel to your outdoor water activities such as watering your lawn or garden, running low-pressure sprinklers or washing your car.
Found at www.rainperfectpump.com, it pumps up to 100 gallons of water on a single charge. It fits standardized garden fixtures and is compatible with all major hose brands. While expensive ($147.95), it makes it easier to use rainwater, eventually saving money!