Got Knitting Needles?

Got Knitting Needles?

It has been a long time since I sent out a blog. No one has complained, but I will ignore the possible inference.

A cardboard box full of multi-colored, mismatched knitting needles

I just watched a video on TikTok (yes, I watch TikTok a lot). It showed another technique for testing the moisture content of a potted plant. Ya know how you stick a toothpick into a cake that you are baking to see if it is done. If stuff sticks to the tooth pick, you know it needs to go back to the oven. Now I have never done this myself, but LaVille seems to relish this procedure. Anyway, if you stick a knitting needle into a potted plant, where soil sticks to it upon removal tells you the depth of the moisture. I know I have touted the use of moisture meters, but I have found that the soil texture can vary the results. Besides, here is something new for you to experiment on. (Dont you just hate it when a sentence ends in a preposition?)


As you can see, I have quite a collection of knitting needles. I bought this batch probably 30 years ago at a garage sale for a little bit of nothing. Other than using several pairs to teach the grandkids to knit, none of these has been used by us because we prefer circular needles. (You should see some of my scarves.) So, if the box appears dusty, its because its been in the attic all these years.

Stan, The Knitting Man

Reach Hoe

Reach Hoe

Tool 3 feet long designed for work in raised beds.

Here is a tool that Phyllis Wilburn suggested as a solution for my knee problems. I was complaining about the difficulty of crawling around the garden after Birdseye Pearlwort. She says this tool is her primary weapon combating Common Bittergrass.

The handle is 3 feet long. This tool is designed particularly for work in raised beds or in tight situations where a long handle would be cumbersome. The hoe blade is narrower than a regular hoe. This allows the user to apply more force to the soil. The cultivator side is a bonus. If you are interested, you can purchase the Corona Extended Reach Hoe and Cultivator on Amazon for 17 dollars.

Stan, The Hoe Man

Watering Wand Problems

Watering Wand Problems

A watering wand still in the box.

Many months ago, I recommended the H2O WORKS water wand—the one pictured below. And it is a great wand . . . until the spray head gets clogged.

In my first article, I lauded the tremendous number of holes in the spray head—hundreds! These create a fine spray that won’t disturb the soil in a potted plant. But these tiny holes tend to get clogged.

Close up of a watering nozzle.

Now, there is a very simple fix—use your Phillips screwdriver (Don’t tell me you don’t have one of these!} and remove the 3 screws holding the spray head cover (again, shown below). Use a toothbrush (You better have one of these!) and clean the gunk or grit from the screen. Now, if this spray head simply had larger holes, there wouldn’t be a problem, but at least you are able to remove the clogs, which often isn’t the case with hose sprayers. So, if you have followed my advice and have purchased this sprayer, now you know how to keep it working properly—I would be depressed if I learned that you felt I had led you astray.

Stan, The Fixit Man

Scraper Tool

Scraper Tool

A shot of two scraper tools by the company Scrigit.

I just love it when club members go to the trouble of showing me a new garden tool. This one came from Lorraine. The photo is a little misleading in that it shows both a blue and a green plastic scraper. When you buy the Scrigit brand, you either get blue narrow blades or wide green blades. Lorraine ordered both packages and gave one of each. Now, although this primarily a household tool for scaping surfaces like glassware, windows, counter tops, stove tops sinks, bathtubs, and the like without damaging the surface (so the package says), Lorraine had it in mind for scraping labels off of plastic pots.

So, if you are a dedicated label scraper, you may wish to save your fingernails and make this purchase. If you check Amazon, you will find a variety of options including a set of three different scrapers for less than $5.

Stan, The Scraper Man

Burning Desires Gone Bad

Burning Desires Gone Bad

If you have followed my blogs, you will remember how I have touted the benefits of controlling weeds by burning them. The main advantage is that the weed seeds are destroyed along with the weed.

A collection of propane-fueled weed burners.

My experience with weed burning has evolved over the years. The first tool I used was the small green propane tank and torch you see on the pavement in the photo below. I would walk through our garden, bend over, and press the red button to produce a flame that cooked whatever weed I found. I would use a trowel to shield drip lines or valued plants.

When I joined Daisy Mah’s crew at the WPA Rock garden, I used this torch to fry the weeds growing in the paths. This slow process led me to advance to a much bigger torch. I attached a 5 gallon propane tank to a hand truck and wheeled throughout all the Rock Garden paths. It wasn’t long before all paths were weed free.

Recently, due to back problems, I was unable to bend over to reach the weeds. So, I bought a burner with a long tube extension that allowed me to burn weeds while standing erect. This system works well except there is no button to turn the flame on and off as you move around, and the flame is much larger than that produced by the smaller torch.

Well, a month ago, I was using this long burning torch in the garden, and I quickly burned some weeds next to the fence, and then continued to work my way around the yard. I was alerted by my wife, who had been indoors, that there was an emergency. And, sure enough, flames were roaring several feet above our fence. A nearby hose finally quelled the flames, but the damage was done.

What you see in the photo is the view from my neighbor’s yard. My new torch had ignited dry material on the other side of the fence and flames quickly engulfed the redwood boards. It did not help that daytime temps were around 100 degrees. Also, had there not been an open space at the base of the fence, there would not have been any fire damage.

A wood fence with large burnt sections.

When I have talked about the use of a torch to control weeds, I mention the possibility of burning a fence as sort of a joke. As it turned out, the joke was on me.

Happy (but safe) burning,

Stan, The Burning Man

Miracle Worker

Miracle Worker

You must have noticed that the cooler weather and recent rain has really slowed down gardening chores—that is other than trying to keep up with the constant deluge of fallen leaves. With extra time available, LaVille and I have resumed going to estate sales. Last Friday we went to a sale where I was able to purchase 5 pruners and 2 cans of spray paint for $2.

One of the pruners was really encrusted with rust as you can see below. I couldn’t wait to work the magic of a vinegar bath. I know this is old news for those of you who read the “Fun For 3 Dollars” blog from earlier this year, but I just couldn’t resist a repeat performance.

I used the old vinegar that is now stained a dark reddish brown and submerged the pruner for a day. You can see how the rust is now gone and has been replaced by a thin black coating. This is some kind of oxide that I have not been able to identify, but it serves as a barrier against future rust formation. Even if this layer is easy to remove with fine steel wool, it is best to leave it alone.  

Metal pruning shears.

Stan, The Miracle Man