Tool Winners of the Green Thumb Awards

By Jeff Rugg

January 18, 2017 4 min read

Last week, we talked about the new plant varieties that medaled in the 2017 Green Thumb Awards, which is presented by the Direct Gardening Association (formerly called the Mailorder Gardening Association). This week, we look at the tools category. The winning products are judged on their uniqueness, technological innovation, ability to solve a gardening problem or provide a gardening opportunity, and potential appeal to gardeners.

The Root Slayer shovel looks more like a fancy garden weapon than a shovel. The bottom edge of the carbon-steel blade is sharpened into a V shape. Both edges have a row of what looks like shark teeth that can be used as saws to cut through tree roots. The top of the shaft has a round handle that I have found to be very useful on other shovels from the same manufacturer, Radius Garden. If you need to cut through tree roots or divide a lot of perennials like hostas and daylilies, this is what you need. If your local garden center doesn't have them, find out more information on the Radius Garden website.

LED lights are becoming more common for many uses. The Happy Leaf LED V2 has red and blue LEDs that are tuned to wavelengths that plants use. It only uses 28 watts of electricity and lasts for 50,000 hours. It is only 18 inches long and will fit over a flat of seedlings. In tests that I have run comparing colored LED lights with standard florescent lights, the LED lights grew shorter, more compact plants, which is what you want in seedlings. Plants that grow long and tall are stretching for light and are difficult to transplant outdoors. The only concern I have is that the purple glow can be disconcerting if it is too bright. This light may need to be placed so it doesn't light up a whole room. Find out more on the Happy Leaf LED website.

As we start our gardens each spring, we often add some starter fertilizer. Natural Start has an exclusive balance of natural, organic ingredients, inorganic nutrients and beneficial microbes that are essential to overall plant health. It is a dust-free granular fertilizer that is easy to use. Simply mix it into the soil and water it to activate. It is recommended for use during the initial planting and every four to six weeks throughout the growing season. It is only available online on the GreenView fertilizer website.

Kitchen gardens growing microgreens are a great way to get organic salads with very nutritious ingredients. The Kitchen Garden Kit from Botanical Interests has the seeds and components you need to get your garden off to a fast start. The soil mix is made from renewable coconut fiber. Find out more on the Botanical Interests website.

Do you need an outdoor entertainment area that also functions as a garden? It's possible with the Plant-A-Bar from Gardener's Supply Co. The planter, which is 2 feet deep and 4 feet wide, has a folding dining shelf that is tall enough to fit bar stools underneath. Made in Vermont from wood that has been recycled into butcher block panels, the planter can grow small herbs to larger tomato plants. Your patio needs one. Find out more on the Gardener's Supply Co. website.

Email questions to Jeff Rugg at [email protected] To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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