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

The Dumpster Stomp

The Dumpster Stomp

Have you recently been frustrated by having more garden refuse than your bin can hold?  This has been my case in recent weeks as fall approaches and I have increasing amount of debris to get rid of.  I have found that by climbing into my bin, and jumping up and down, I can compress the plant material into a much smaller volume.  Now although this activity is a lot of fun, there are several dangers of which you must be aware.  The plant material itself can be a threat if there are sharp pokey things that might penetrate your legs.  Then too, the act of climbing into or out of a bin creates the possibility of a tumble.  Then too, if you compress the plant material too low, you may not be able to escape.  But I guess that’s OK since it’s an organic bin, and you are definitely organic.  Sounds like a gruesome episode you might watch on TV about a missing person.  Yuck.

I hope that you don’t have to face the weekly volume problem of garden refuse like I do.  The City of Davis doesn’t do street pickups for 6 straight months!  In any case, perhaps you should leave dumpster stomping to a local neighborhood child.  They would probably love it.

Stan, The Tool Man

Polypropylene Dolly

Polypropylene Dolly

Organic Dumpster Diving

How is organic dumpster diving different from ordinary dumpster diving?  Well, ordinary dumpster diving has been around for decades—ever since dumpsters have been created to store discarded items.  Organic dumpster diving is a more recent activity allowed by the recent effort to keep organic materials out of the landfill.  Now, searching through the contents of your organic bin may seem somewhat unpleasant, if not downright disgusting.  However, sometime a dive seems imperative.  Have you ever been working with a favorite tool, and after depositing plant clipping or weeds into your organic bin, that beloved tool has disappeared?  After endless searches has revealed no misplaced tool, the fear slowly arises that you have thrown away your tool.  This happened to me several days ago when my hand rake suddenly disappeared.  So, I pulled the garden refuse out of my bin.  No tool.  Then I went over to my neighbor’s bin, to which I had added my excess, and pulled all the plant material out and into a garbage can.  No tool.  Now I must admit that most organic dumpster dives are unsuccessful.  I figure the success rate is about 20%.  And sure enough, I later found the hand rake lying on the back of the Prius in the driveway.  I continues to amaze me how I will have absolutely no recollection of where I put something down.

So, I guess I’d have to say that organic dumpster diving is not something I think you’ll enjoy, but it is the only way that you can be assured that your treasured tool is not gone forever.

Happy diving (?)

Stan, The Tool Man

Duplicity is Good?

I thought that duplicity was a good thing—having duplicates of things you value should be a good thing.  My wife straightened me out—as she is prone to do—that duplicity is not a desired trait.  So . . you can call this practice of having multiple items whatever you want—I still prefer duplicity.  Actually . . “multiplicity” is not a bad alternative.  Anyway, let me tell you about the extent of my duplicity—I’ll stick to garden related items.  The logic for my practice is many-fold:  It is so frustrating when you want to use a particular tool, and you can’t find it.  Having many around solves this.  I have four 2 x 5 inch trowels used for the daily hunt for weeds.  There are 3 or 4 moisture meters around here somewhere.  I have only 2 of those thinning pruners that I have shown you, which is scary—only two.  There are 2 sets of knee pads.  I only have one weed torch, but I seem never to lose it, so one will do.  What I am definitely going to have to buy is another pair of gloves.  I am constantly misplacing the one pair—so maddening.  Gloves are not something I think you can just buy online.  I think you really need to try them on before purchase.  3 gardening hats, 2 neck braces. And 2 forearm bands round out my multiplicity needs.  It should be mentioned that other than the problem of misplacement, there is also the consideration of wearing out a loved item and not being able to replace it.  So I would suggest that when you find a gardening item, or anything else that you really love, immediately buy a second (or third) one.  I have to admit that my fetish for multiplicity ends with my wife—I can only handle one of these at a time.  Anyway, where would I find another one as good as I have right now?