Gardener's Grapevine 2014.03.26

This week as the snow melted our year-old pup, Mitzy, let us know that the ground mole is back and awake. I am OK with her letting us know, but not with the way she let us know. We now have a giant mud hole in the middle of our side yard and a small dog that is no longer white. She gets more baths than any dog should and goes right back for another go at it.

Our golden retriever Simon, who we lost a few years back, was an excellent moler. He was a large dog and very crafty. Mitzy is not any of those things so the thought of her actually getting the mole is a bit frightening.

As soon as the weather breaks and the snow is completely gone, I will treat the lawn with milky spore again and set the traps around the perimeter.

Watching Mitzy in action makes me hungry to work outside. With that in mind, let’s look at gardening gear. Of course, you don’t need anything fancy or expensive to have nice beautiful gardens. I have learned, not just in gardening, but in life, that there is nothing better than a tool that works and lasts. There is also nothing as frustrating as being deep into a project and having your tools fail you, and needing to stop and go get new or repair the failed one.

Of course if you’re a-once-in-a-while-play-in-the-soil person who uses a plastic trowel from the local discount store and it works for you, that’s perfectly fine. I work on a very limited time schedule and love to be outside getting good and dirty, so I buy products I hope will stay around for years to come.

There are many excellent garden supply stores both online and off. Barretts in Adrian carries garden tools in every price and quality range. The online company I prefer is called Lee Valley. This company sells gardening, woodworking and hardware supplies. A place that sells those products knows their quality.

What I like about online shopping is the reviews. If you want to make a big purchase such as a car, don’t you do your homework and get opinions prior? Online there is normally a review system to tell you others' experiences and opinions of the products offered. With that said, it’s all in preference as to where you shop.

For the person who is going to be doing some serious soil playing, I recommend investing in reliable tools that last. You will tap your financial base , but usually a lot less than buying those cheap tools many times over. Sometimes the less expensive tools haven’t got the ability to get the job done efficiently, either.

Planting bulbs is a good example of this. Using a $2 bulb planter did not work at all and eventually wound up flying across the yard in frustration. However, a hard strong steel planter and auger make the job a breeze—unless Art comes along with his cordless drill with an auger on it and drills the holes for me. What I’m getting at, is to evaluate your tools now and have more fun in a few weeks when you venture out to get started. Gardening should be peaceful and enjoyable, not frustrating.