Holiday Garden WishList – Top Ten Garden Tools for 2020

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Finding the right holiday gift for a gardener isn’t easy. Gifts that often appear helpful aren’t. And sometimes the ones that seem mundane can be fantastic. It can take years for growers to find gadgets and supplies they love. So how can friends and family find the perfect garden gifts this holiday season? We’ve got you covered! Here’s the top ten most useful and exciting products on the market for your holiday gift list.

#10 The Gift of Time

Even when a garden is optimized, growers typically spend 40% of their time harvesting. That’s almost half our total time in the garden! That’s why this tool can make all the difference. Check out these 5 Blade Scissors!

Why waste time harvesting your food, hauling it inside, pulling out the cutting board and knife, and using a bunch of energy and time chopping? Just grab the scissors and cut your harvest right into the bowl! And with five blades, you’ll save even more time and energy.

Check out the Video Review Here 

Even when you harvest leaves you want to wash first, you’ll spend one 80% less time and energy cutting with these 5 blade scissors. Plus, these multi-blade scissors come with their own special cleaning tool, making clean up a breeze.

#9 Garden Like A Superhero

Okay, so while this tool isn’t going to make you more powerful than a locomotive, you will be able to prune with 3 times the cutting power with the Fiskars 32-Inch PowerGear Bypass Lopper.

Fiskars makes great products in general, but this Lopper is made with reinforced fiberglass composite making it lighter than others.

It also sports a unique gear technology giving you more power without straining your hands, wrists and muscles cutting those thick branches. In fact, you can easily cut branches that are up to 2” (5cm) in diameter with this puppy. And the corrosion-resistant, non-stick, fully hardened blade means it will last a lifetime. In fact, they stand behind their product with a lifetime warranty and their claim to pruning fame: “This superior- grade tool is lighter, stronger, and more powerful than anything you’ve ever used.”

#8 The Mini-Superhero

For  smaller pruning tasks, check out our favorite tool in the garden, the Bypass Pruner by Corona . Because no two hands are alike!

The flex dial allows you to set the pruners to match YOUR hand size and to adjust to the size branches you’re cutting, reducing hand fatigue.

Combined with the full steel core handles and ComfortGEL grips for superior comfort it’s no wonder these pruners were a 2017 finalist in the International Design Excellence Awards.

#7 Love Yourself As Much As Your Garden

Body abuse is common in the garden. Growers, you know what I’m talking about. There is that weed that just won’t let go and you won’t give up even though you left the proper tool in the shed. Or you’re determined to finish shoveling mulch or compost even though you’re tired. For us seasoned growers, perhaps you simply turn your head to look at a beautiful butterfly and crick your neck. 🤣

A gardeners work is physical and it’s important to take care of your body and avoid unnecessary strain. Even having the proper tools can put stress on your body if they are poorly designed. That’s what makes these tools so great.

Easi Grip Long Reach Garden Tools Set of 4

Originally made for people with arthritis, these stainless steel tools are really just good for anyone wanting to take care of their body. They feature non slip soft grip handles that keep hands and wrists in a neutral position, taking the stress off hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders and backs with the ergonomic design.

The tools also allow gardening from a seated position as well. This is especially helpful for anyone with knee issues or where bending is restricted. The long handles allow for reaching to the back of the beds.

A long trowel, fork, cultivator and hoe are included in this set of 4. Don’t need all four? They sell them separately, so you can just grab the ones you need!

Want the short handled version? Good news, they have those too! Easi Grip Short Handle Set of 4.

#6 Worms in the House

Yep, you heard me right! Vermicomposting can now be done right in your family room with style… and without mess. While we haven’t tested this product out yet, we couldn’t wait to share this brand new composting bin for all of you who boldly go where no gardener has gone before!

Marketed as suitable for a family of 1 to 3 people, the design of this indoor ecosystem is super sleek. According to company, the Biovessel aesthetics were accidental as it is designed from almost two years of biological research, experiments, and observation on the process of food waste decomposition to maximize efficiency.

The ease of use makes it perfect for busy people; simply add food waste and it does the work for you. No more running out to the garden every time you need to discard your scraps (which makes it good for cold winters!). Even for large families, this Biovessel makes a great mini composter for smaller scraps.

There is a bit of monitoring of moisture, light, and pH levels, as with all composting. When done correctly, there is NO ODOR. And with the exception of the 7 Liters of bedding soil and 500–600g of composting worms, the Biovessel comes with everything you need to start composting.

This is an awesome learning tool for teaching kids about composting and encouraging good environmental habits. With so much waste generated by modern ways of living, this design brings sustainability home for even the most densely populated cities, transforming waste into one of the most precious resources on the planet: worm castings.

#5 Bringing the Indoors Out

We love nature so much that we talk about bringing the outdoors in most of the time. But in this case, we’re bringing the indoors OUT to save you tons of time and energy in your garden with one simple tool: a hose trolley.

A Hose Trolley is a greenhouse growers best friend. And
for the outdoor gardener who uses a hose to water, it
makes watering plants a breeze! It keeps nozzles clean,
reducing the chance of spreading plant diseases, prevents hose wear and tear, and eliminates potential for tripping and accidental plant damage that happens when hauling the garden hose all around the greenhouse.

There are many hose trolley’s on the market, but we chose one most likely to stand up to outdoor elements, so you can rig this in your OUTDOOR garden too (for those without greenhouses). This Hose Trolley Kit includes an aircraft cable corrosion-resistant stainless steel pulley, hose supports, rope clip, hose turnbuckle, 10 additional feet of hose to get to the spigot, a trigger released lance, and their best hose – the Gilmour Flexogen. It also comes in 75’ and 100’ lengths for the extra large gardens.

To see this hose in action and hear more about how it can work in the garden, check out Stacey’s Youtube Video: Overhead Hose Trolley for Small Gardens & Greenhouses.

#4 Craftsmanship at its FINEST

Few tools are hand-crafted nowadays. No tools that we’ve found can compete with the more common mass-produced tools on the market… with one exception.

Handcrafted Garden Tools

Made with hand forged steel, wrought iron, hand turned American Black Walnut wood, each tool is built individually using traditional blacksmithing techniques. Each tool is set into its own hand-turned hardwood handle so there are no welds increasing the strength of the tool.

Of all our years and experience gardening, we’ve never come across such beautifully handcrafted tools. Each tool is unique and put quite simply, a masterpiece.

This set of five garden tools is perfect for both beginner and experienced gardeners. You’ll receive a large planting trowel, a narrow perennial trowel, square hand hoe, pointed hand hoe, and a three- tined rake. So if you’re shopping for a special someone with an eye for high-quality traditional crafts and an interest in gardening, this collection will light up not just their holiday season, but every growing season too!

Want to get just one?

We recommend starting with the trowel or garden hoe.

#3 Garden Smarter, Not Harder

Garden set ups are often extremely costly. And when you’re just starting, on a tight budget, or renting your home, you don’t want to spend a bunch of money and time on your garden set up only to walk away later. That’s why we were excited to find these:

100 Gallon Raised Bed Grow Bags

These grow bags are just over 4 feet (1.2 meters) in diameter and 12 inches (30cm) deep. They have reinforced handles for transport and are reusable lasting three years in normal gardening conditions. And the best part? They are only $29.99 each. That’s only $10 per year for a whole raised bed.

While these raised bed grow bags are great for anyone who wants to grow, they are perfect for gardeners just setting up and those on the go. They’re also great for gardeners with physical limitations, eliminating material hauling, heavy lifting, and best of all ZERO labor. Buy, open, fill with soil media, and start growing!

Built to last, even commercial growers use them since they have superior aeration and drainage to raised beds with solid sides. In fact, the only products that Bootstrap Farmer sells are ones they use on their farm. So if you’re looking for the perfect raised bed for your gardener, this 100 Gallon Grow Bag is where it’s at.

Want to get more than one? Get 3 for $69.99. Oh, and one more thing: they’re also sustainable, made of food safe recycled plastic and felt.

Need something bigger? Check out the 200 gal bags.
 Need something smaller? They’ve got grow bags in 4, 5, 7, 10, 25 gallon sizes too.

#2 The Micro-Dream Tray

As a commercial microgreen grower, having the right trays are invaluable! So many of the trays on the market are downright junk and you’ll be lucky if you get two to three plantings from them. But these are different…

Meet the most amazing microgreen tray on the market.

Combine them with these extra strength 5×5 trays (also known as 801 inserts) made of heavy duty, recycled, food grade, polypropylene plastic and guaranteed not to warp or break. I was skeptical, so I put them to the test. And I cannot imagine going back to what I was doing before.

These trays are great for anyone wanting to grow more varieties per batch (fits eight 5×5 trays to one 1020 flat), reduce their environmental waste, and save money. Not only that, but their design provides better drainage than the traditional inserts, saving even more with reduced crop losses. As an added bonus, I ran them through the dishwasher with no problem. These trays are the stuff of dreams for micro growers.

Say goodbye to flimsy non-sustainable trays for good with Bootstrap Farmers’ superior quality 5×5 Microgreen Trays.

#1 The Garden Tower® 2

Grow up to 50 plants and vegetables in 4 sq. feet (1.2 sq meters) with this Garden Tower! So much thought went into the materials and design of this indoor or outdoor growing container there was no way it could be anything but number one on our list!

The Materials

The Garden Tower® 2 is made of 100% food grade HDPE (non-toxic, BPA & PVC free plastic) components), FDA-approved dye and UV-protection for health, durability and recyclability.

The Unique Design

Supporting up to 1,000 lbs, the feet allow the tower to be anchored securely to any platform while still being able to rotate 360° for optimized sun exposure and growing in tight spaces

Planting pockets allow for easy planting and fast harvesting.

For mobile growing, you can get the Premium Caster Kit.

With a patented GT2 vermicomposting tube right down the center, you can compost directly into the tower where plant roots can access nutrients and oxygen from the perforated holes.

Compost release gate allows for seasonal removal of finished compost not used by the plants & provides for aeration from below.

Removable compost/nutrient tea drawer can collect up to two gallons of nutrient enriched water for another pass by plant roots.

The Garden Tower®2 is perfect for growing lettuces, herbs, kale, chard, smaller varieties of peppers and other plants with smaller root systems. To top it all off, it comes with a whopping 5-year manufacturer warranty. This container can last up to twelve years in the harshest of climates!

With all the thought that went into this special grow container, it’s no wonder it was recently named the “Worlds Most Advanced Container Garden.”

The only question we have for the company is, ‘Is there anything you didn’t think of!?’

Order this unique container at their website here.

BONUS! For Your Winter Pantry

This isn’t a garden gadget. Actually, it’s for you, right now. While you’re busy running around prepping for your holiday season, we wanted to remind everyone to take care of yourself and give your body that extra boost your immune system will need to stay healthy.

As the immune support and other benefits elderberry provides us becomes more realized, good quality elderberry syrup is getting harder and harder to find, especially at an affordable price. This is your place to do that.

Our good farmer friend, John Moody and his wife’s potent elderberry syrup is the best on the market. You can get a huge 16 ounce bottle of their original formula for $24! That’s normally what a decent quality 4 ounce bottle costs! Plus, they have low carb, low honey, and an infant friendly formulas. No need to take it like a cough syrup though, use it in your everyday life; from hot teas and lemonades to glazes and marinades, elderberry syrup is for every day immune support. My personal favorite is as a spread for turkey sandwiches and on waffles!



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Choose the Right Type of Seeds for Your Vegetable and Herb Garden

Garden Planning

Last Updated: January 18, 2019

How do you know that what you eat is actually nutrient-rich and healthy? This is why many folks start growing their own vegetables and herbs. So you can lead a healthy lifestyle, free from weird chemicals and preservatives and free from chronic diseases, too…

Seeds are where you start your garden.

But the minute you start reading those seed packets, you see words like hybrid, open-pollinated, organic, conventional, naturally-grown, heirloom, or worse, there’s no label at all.

What do all these words mean and what do they mean for the long-term health of my body, my community, and the Earth? Is there a right or wrong one? What happens to my health if I choose the wrong one? Who can I ask that will help me understand? Aye, overwhelm!

CLICK HERE for the Quick Guide to Seeds for Your Vegetable & Herb Garden… and continue reading below for more detailed information.

Deciphering Seed Labels – 3 Main Types

The three main types of seeds are determined by HOW the seeds were grown or bred. They’ll either be Open Pollinated, Hybrid, or GMO. While it IS possible to have a combination Open-Pollinated Hybrid seed, beware of information that groups Hybrids and GMOs together. They are both man-made but VERY different!

Once we explore the three main types of seeds, we’ll dive into additional descriptions you may see, such as Heirloom, Organic, Conventional, and Naturally-grown.

Seed Type 1 – Open Pollinated

Open Pollinated means that pollinators like insects, birds or wind spread pollen and your seeds are a result of that pollination.

Why choose an Open Pollinated Seed?

While they can be a bit harder to find and more expensive, Open Pollinated seeds can produce plants that look and behave just like the parent plant. This is called “true to type.” Which is great when you have a flavor that you adore and you want to continue growing it! With ‘true-to type,’ you’ll always know what you’re going to get from your plant.

While not all Open Pollinated seeds are Heirlooms, all Heirloom seeds are classified as Open Pollinated and are passed down from generation to generation as part of a cultural heritage. If you grow Heirloom varieties, you’ll be eating almost the same exact food that your great, great grandparents ate.

But what if an ant accidentally cross-pollinates a zucchini and a pumpkin? The resulting seeds are Open-Pollinated because it happened in the wild, but they’re also a Hybrid. So while some Open Pollinated seeds are ‘true-to-type’, others are hybrids. This happens all the time in small gardens and it’s why there are so many strange and delicious variations that exist!

While these Open Pollinated anomalies are technically hybrids, a seed packet labeled as a Hybrid means people intentionally created it.

Seed Type 2 – Hybrids

Hybrid seeds (typically labeled F-1 by seed companies) refers to two plants being cross-pollinated intentionally by humans to create desired qualities like flavor, high yield, disease resistance, and heat tolerance to name a few.

Humans have been making hybrids for centuries to make it easier to grow more food with more predictability. Cross-pollinating is as simple as using a paintbrush to move pollen from one plant to another… just like honeybees.

Why buy Hybrid Seeds for your Garden?

A lot can go wrong in the garden, and Hybrids can stack the deck in your favor. If you’re just getting started growing food for the first time, you may want high-yield Hybrids to increase your odds of a successful garden.

For example, if you have a wet climate, you may want to look for tomato varieties resistant to fungal diseases. This way, you can enjoy more tomatoes each season and reduce the potential of your tomato plant succumbing to common fungal diseases like blight or leaf spot.

You can sometimes get the same effect by planting Open-Pollinated seeds and saving the seeds each year until the variety adapts to your local climate naturally. However, climatic adaptation of Open Pollinated seeds takes a couple seasons (if it even works for the variety you choose) so the man-made Hybrid can pay off in the short run.

Can you save Hybrid seeds from your garden?

If you plant your garden with hybrids and then save seeds from those plants, the next generation may or may not have the same traits you started with. It’s like when a brunette child is born from two parents with blond hair. The parent has a mixture of traits and you never know which traits will emerge in the next generation as the dominant trait.

If you like surprises, and have space to experiment in your garden, it’s fun to see what happens. But it is very unpredictable. Let’s say you let two tomato plants sprout from hybrid seeds. One of them might produce very little fruit that is similar to the fruit from the hybrid, and the other might give you a good amount of delicious fruit that looks and tastes nothing like the original hybrid.

So you CAN save hybrid seeds… just know you’re in for a surprise!

Seed Type 3 – How are GMOs different than Hybrid Seeds?

The final type of seeds are GMOs, Genetically Modified Organisms. Most recently, these seeds have been rebranded as BE (bio engineered) seeds. GMOs cannot happen in nature. GMO’s require a high tech gene splicing lab where the DNA of the seed itself is altered.

So any comparison that conveys Hybrids are similar or no different than GMOs is completely inaccurate.

Also, whereas Hybrids cross two related plants, GMOs cross genes from different kingdoms! Many GMOs splice bacteria genes with plant genes with the goal that these plants can later be sprayed with toxic herbicides and pesticides without the plant itself dying.

Part of the process that goes into creating GMO’s entails blasting these genes with antibiotics to kill unwanted cells. This creates an antibiotic resistant plant.1

Because of the uncertainty of the health risks of GMOs, many home gardeners choose to grow NON-GMO.

How to avoid GMO seeds in your garden:

It’s easier than you think to keep GMOs out of your home garden! While there are many additives, enzymes, flavorings and processing agents that are GMO’s, there are currently only ten plants that have GMO versions on the market: corn, cotton, soybeans, alfalfa, papaya, zucchini & summer squash, sugarbeets, canola, potato and apple.2

When you’re ordering seeds, take a look: many seed companies that serve the home garden market have agreed not to sell GMO’s by taking the Safe Seed Pledge. Currently, the only company that we’ve seen supplying GMO seeds to gardeners is Semini Brand seeds (a subsidiary of Monsanto). If you look at the Semini website, the GMO versions of Summer Squash and Corn are all labeled “B” for Biotech.

Note when this article was last updated (see top). If we hear of new GMO’s on the market, we’ll update here. And pleas Contact Support@GrowYourOwnVegetables.org with new developments that you hear about to help us keep this up to date.

So what about Organic, Non-GMO, Conventional and Naturally Grown Seeds?

Now that you know HOW each of the three types of seed was created, you might see one of these other terms on a seed packet. And you may have already seen these labels on the food you buy at the grocery store, too.

Why Conventional and Naturally-Grown mean nothing

There are no standards or checklists for these words to be used on seed packets. Naturally-Grown might sound like a good thing… but it means nothing. And conventional is just a word that people use to describe what is not certified Organic.

So if Conventional and Naturally Grown mean nothing, what is Organic?

Organic seeds are harvested from certified organic plants. This means the parent plant has met the organic requirements for that territory or region. In the United States, you will see the USDA Organic label which prohibits certificate holders from using non-organic sprays and GMO’s. So in the U.S., there is no such thing as an Organic GMO.

And just like food, there are seeds grown organically, but not certified, because the certification process is costly. Typically a seed company will tell you when that is the case. However, they have no way to prove that the seeds are actually organic.

If you want more information about your seeds, simply ask the company. If they hesitate to answer or you don’t feel comfortable with their answers, look for other companies who are happy to answer your questions.

If you buy Conventional seeds and grow them organically, is your food organic?

So why not just buy the cheaper conventional seed and grow it organically? Well you could. And with the addition of non-GMO labels (like Project Verified NON-GMO), many people are happy doing just that. There’s various research about how much or how little toxins are left over in seeds of a plant that’s grown conventionally. You just never know.

The advantage of buying Certified Organic seeds is based on principle. You’re voting with your dollars and supporting organic practices. Plus, you know what you’re getting.

What kind of seeds will you grow in your vegetable garden?

Most home gardeners grow a mixture of Open-Pollinated, Hybrid and Heirloom seeds. The decision typically comes down to taste, preference, and values. And those may change from season to season.

But now that you know what the labels on your seeds packets mean, you can make educated decisions on your way to becoming a steward not only of the land but your long term vitality.

Want a simple chart to remind you of all the differences? CLICK HERE for the Quick Guide to Seeds for Your Vegetable & Herb Garden

Sources:
Smith, Jeffrey M., and Michael Meacher. Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies about the Safety of the Genetically Engineered Foods You’re Eating. Paperback, 7th Printing ed., Green Books, 2003.

“Benefits of GMOs and Biotechnology.” Monsanto, monsanto.com/innovations/biotech-gmos/.

More Harvest, Less Work – Harvest Club Registration for Founding Members is OPEN!

Garden Hacks - Simplify routines

You may have heard the rumors about the NEW beta-membership program, called Harvest Club, that’s brewing over here at Grow Your Own Vegetables.

Whether you’re still trying to get started planting your garden or your garden is well underway, Harvest Club is the place for you to really move forward powerfully with weekly guidance.

We are dedicated to helping you grow more homegrown vegetables and herbs with less effort. 

The first three months are a beta-phase and it’s all about connecting with a community of awesome gardeners and getting inspired so you can finally get your garden done. Today’s the day! Join me as a founding member of the new Harvest Club.

Founding Memberships are only available until midnight July 2. Register for monthly plan here: https://growyourownvegetables.org/harvest-club-monthly/ Or BEST deal… register for yearly plan here: https://growyourownvegetables.org/harvest-club-yearly/

One tip to increase your yields… no matter where you garden

Garden Hacks - Simplify routines

Have you ever had something in the garden NOT go according to your plan? Sometimes it’s hard to shake it off and feel good again when the garden is a bit overgrown and everything feels like chaos. 

Here’s the good news: There’s something you can do to get CLOSER to your garden plans… to improve your results.

And anyone can do this. This is what makes my garden more FUN, too. 

Discover one thing that can totally change your garden overwhelm.

P.S. It’s coming… details about Harvest Club! Make sure you are signed up to my email list to hear all about it next week: https://growyourownvegetables.org

What’s eating my garden greens? (5 most common pests)

Mindset

You’re planting lots of food in your garden, specifically greens… and all of a sudden there’s someone else eating all your food before you have a chance to harvest it… ARG!

Everyone has some pests that show up in the garden. The first step is identifying which pests will be an issue for your local conditions. Here’s 5 (actually 6) of the most common culprits and how to tell which one you have.