Rushed right into the middle of summer! Lots of new things to try and to think about. The new one for us this year was the introduction to the soil blocker for starting seedlings. We are impressed with the results after we have gotten to the stage of planting the seedlings into the gardens. The benefits of not having to use cell packs and getting the seedlings out is added to the benefits enjoyed by the plants. We were impressed with the size and vitality of the seedlings when compared to plants in other ‘containers’. We used only a #2 professional mix with no additives. With some experimentation, I discovered the proper moisture level to get the soil to compact properly so that the blocks would hold together. I was surprised how well they held during watering and planting, and had no problem with ‘clumps’ falling apart. Granted, it does use more soil but considering that the roots are not disturbed during planting, it is well worth the efforts needed to use the soil blocker. There are a couple improvements that could be made to the tool. More on that at a later time.

Another item I’ll share is the list of tools I find to be the best and/or most useful. These are tools that I would not want to garden without! The first is the spring wire rake. It is the most useful tool that I have found for leveling the soil after tilling or even for covering bulbs, etc. It will move dirt, if one wants to, on both the back and forward strokes, sifts the soil, and removes clumps. I have found this rake much more useful than the regular leaf rake or the traditional garden rake.

The second is the Telescoe, a type of loop hoe, which I use almost exclusively. It has a stainless steel blade that is easily sharpened and a telescoping handle that makes it adjustable to my comfort level. The ability to weed a four-foot wide strip right up to and between plants is priceless. The stainless steel blade does not rust and holds a good edge for a long time. I have even used this hoe to ‘till up’ a small section of soil when needed.  The third is a lopper that I just happened upon. Green Thumb seems to be the name. It is gear driven and folds down to about three-quarters size. I find it easier to use than many larger tools and even the ‘not so muscular’ girls are able to use it quite easily. It will easily cut thru two-inch branches. I have abused this tool very much with and it still works like new.

The fourth is the reverse-till tiller. If one is able to have two tillers, the reverse rotation tiller works up the soil into a very finely tilled texture and leaves the seedbed very smooth, nearly ready for planting without any further alteration. I would always acquire one as the second tiller as it does not ‘chop up’ plant material.

As flower growers, it is always great to find things that make our job easier and more efficient. Wishing you a prosperous and rewarding experience as you grow your gardens!

Quinton Tschetter

Tschetter's Flowers

Contact at [email protected]