Some of you may know that Dahlias are not my only interest. Although dahlias eclipse the passion I have for other things in my life, I also really enjoy a great game of baseball. Our local MLB team is the Seattle Mariners, and although the Ms have had many great players occupy roster spots in the past 20 years, they have yet to go to the "Big Dance."In recent years, the poor old M's have regularly occupied the MLB basement. I still tell myself, "There's Always Next Year" and I continue to love the game. Maybe some day, some day....we will do it right!
There is an expression in baseball that describes the ideal position player (non-pitcher); "The Five-Tool Player." This is an athlete who excels at 1) hitting for average, 2) hitting for power, 3) base-running (skill and speed), 4) throwing, and 5) fielding. These five tools continue to be the things professional scouts consider when evaluating young players' potential. As I've been working in my gardens over this summer, I have identified five tools that I love for this work. I thought I'd share them with you here:
1) Combination kneeler and bench. As a person with very bad knees, I am thrilled to have this cute little "flipper" that can be used in this position for sitting, or when turned over, gives me a soft spot to kneel, as well as sturdy metal side posts that I can use to push against when I return to a standing position. The kneeler (the bench flopped over) looks like this:
Cool, huh? I LOVE THIS! It came from Lowes, and you should be able to find one at your local hardware store.
2) Hand Cultivator/Weeder. This particular tool was one I bought at an estate sale for about fifty cents. It has a very thin blade, is very light weight, but surprisingly sturdy. I'd had one that a friend made for me, where the blade looped all around, rather than half-way, as this one does. However, it broke when I was working on some particularly stubborn weeds. So glad I found this one - it gets close to the stalk, under the leaves of the plants, and precisely removes that nasty morning glory, spotted spurge and purslane. The tools that show up in estate sales are often older but tried and true, so I heartily recommend garage-stalking for tools like this:
3) Stirrup Hoe. I think this might have a more official name, but this is what I call it. The stirrup shape is able to loop around bunches of weeds, carefully cutting down to the root, and removing the whole weed clump. If you don't have one, I can't imagine how frustrated you might get with the traditional hoes that many people use.
4) Mini-Rake. After you have removed those pesky weeds with your stirrup hoe, a mini-rake such as this one is just perfect for gathering them up. A larger rake is too big, and unwieldy. One like this is just the right size:
5) Golf Umbrellas. Take a stroll through your neighborhood Goodwill or St. Vinnie's to find umbrellas for dirt cheap. If you go on Senior Discount day (55+ usually is the eligibility point!), you can get 10 - 20% off - I think I paid $1.50 before the discount for these brand new golf umbrellas, which do a great job of 1) shading dark colors against harsh sunlight and 2) Cooling the temperature on our triple-digit days. Regular rain umbrellas work fine, too, but I like the span of the golf umbrella, and they stand up well in the winds that we have here. I usually duct-tape them to my dahlia stake, and in order to stabilize, will sometimes secure the umbrella by running twine from 4 points at the center of the umbrella to landscape staples, pushed firmly into the ground.
During this entire summer, I have not had a single one of these umbrellas blow away, and only once did this blue/white one in the front blow backwards. It was an easy fix, just pulling it back into the right position. My colors are so much better since I added these!
There are many other gadgets and devices that we all use in our gardens......Everyone needs to find out what works for them, and use it. Sharing your ideas often helps novice gardeners like me and others in our club. Do you have some favorite tools that you use? Let us know!
In 1964, our family moved to the Wenatchee Valley. My dad, Tony DeRooy, had just been hired as the first Landcape Supervisor at Rocky Reach Dam. Prior to that, he had worked for the Great Northern Railroad as the third of only three (ever) Superintendents of Parks. He had followed in the footsteps of my grandfather, Arie DeRooy, who had the position from 1934 until his death at Many Glacier Lodge on August 8, 1951. Growing plants, flowers and children was their life work. Anyone who knew these men, as well as the women who have stood faithfully by (thanks, Mom!) recognized their passion. This blog will be concerned mainly with dahlia and garden thoughts, but will also discuss things that are happening in the beautiful valleys, plains and mountains that we know as North Central Washington.