Last week, we talked about the plant varieties that have won the 2018 Green Thumb Awards presented by the Direct Gardening Association (formerly called the Mail Order Gardening Association). This week we look at the tools and accessories 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. Gardener's Supply Company took home both awards this year. One is a complex garden tool, and the other is a very simple one.
The Bamboo Home LED Grow Light Garden is a modular system of high-intensity LED grow lights housed in bamboo frames. It features two modules (18 inches tall and 36 inches tall) that can be stacked or used separately to match the needs of the plants. The shorter is intended for seed starting and growing small plants, such as succulents or African violets. The larger accommodates taller houseplants as well as seedlings and transplants. A rolling base (sold separately) allows you to move the modules around as necessary. Each shelf has a galvanized tray to catch water. The high-intensity LED lights give plants the light they need at every stage of growth. This system is available from Gardeners.com.
The Vertex Lifetime Tomato Cage is made from aluminum wires joined together with heavy-duty nylon couplers that allow the cage to fold from flat to open to flat again in seconds. Drawing inspiration from the technology behind supertall skyscrapers, the extra-long wires that sink into the ground provide superior stability, while the cantilever design of the wires allows the cage to sway with the wind. Where a traditional cage would blow over, a Vertex Lifetime Tomato Cage will remain standing.
The allowance for some movement promotes stronger plant stem development. The wires have large hexagonal openings that gently cradle the branches and allow for easy access to the fruit when it's time to harvest. There are no welded joints that can break, and the aluminum wires will never rust, so this tomato cage will last in the garden for many years. There are two sizes, and they are available from Gardeners.com.
If your mailbox hasn't filled up with garden catalogs this winter, you can find companies that specialize in the plants you want at http://www.directgardeningassociation.com/list-of-current-members.
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 www.creators.com.