Showing posts from February, 2011
Tools of the Garden Trade-part 3- Chainsaws

If you are a homeowner, an avid gardener, or even a home-renter, at some point in your gardening life you have looked at a chainsaw at a store, and thought "I wonder how much work I could do with one of THOSE.....". I acquired my first chainsaw right after Hurricane Katrina roared through southern Florida in 2005, and had some rude awakenings about how to use a chainsaw, since I had no training with the tool. The first thing you find out is that  new chainsaws can cut wood at an astonishing rate. The second thing you find out is that they can cut anything else in their path with equally astonishing speed, including tables, sawhorses, cables, and any body parts or clothing in the chainsaw's path. These two discoveries can happen at the same time !

Chainsaws are useful but powerful tools, and need your utmost respect. The tool has essentially one purpose: to cut wood. It should not be used to trim bushes, old lumber, pati…
Tools of the Garden Trade- part 2- Pole Saws
 In this episode, we'll look at the next step up from hand-held cutting tools, the pole saw group. It is commonplace to see pole saws at big-box home improvement stores, and for most general home gardening purposes, such pole saw / lopper combinations work fine. As with all tools, there are variations in size, weight, cost, ease of use and durability. The same criteria apply for choosing one of these tools as for hand-held clippers or loppers. Some of the variety of pole tools are illustrated below, and the costs in the illustrated tools vary from about $ 30 to almost $ 300. Some of the extendable pole saws have exquisitely crafted and exceptionally sharp saw blades, with an equally exquisite price ( about $75 for a new blade). One must ask oneself if a really high end tool is really needed. For trimming an errant branch or dead palm frond, almost any pole saw will do, if it meets your needs. For trimming a really tough branch or fron…
Tools of the Garden Trade, part 1- Hand pruning tools

  After gardening for more than 30 years, I've seen a  LOT of garden tools, and used more of them than I really needed to. As with so many venues in life, skills and good planning are more important than the tools, but I will concede that good and correct tools are still important. I have witnessed many gardeners attempt to prune a tree with  a hand clippers, only to acquire a broken clipper, badly cut tree, and sore hands. I've also seen people use a chainsaw or string trimmer to trim a hedge, a lawn mower to trim annuals, a machete to to divide Crinum lilies, and on and on. The old sage advice of "the right tool for the job" is still true. As with many tools, there is a huge variety of garden and landscape tools to choose from. Each vendor states they have the "best" tool for every job, and sound, objective advice is getting harder and harder to come by. So how does a gardener choose the tool for th…
Preparing Your Garden for Spring
Here at Pinecrest Gardens, we are already starting our preparations for the onset of warmer weather and an "awakening" of the plants. We are also preparing for the onset of mosquitoes, spider mites, snails, and everything which might eat our plants. Each year when we start this process, we get quizzical looks from those I tell about the preparations, and I say that we are planning the processes of fertilizing , pest control, weed control, and planting. We will implement the plans in a month or two.  

 Some of our methods include using organic fertilizers which take several weeks to start breaking down enough to become useful. We'll apply the products now, and they'll take effect next month. We are fixing irrigation heads while the weather is amenable, as well as planning our fertilizer and mulch needs for the next 6 months. We'll take a new look at our nursery and holding areas. These areas are great places for insects and s…
Those #**# Snails !!

At some point in every gardener's life in the subtropics, you'll run into snail problems. It can happen at any time of year, but is especially prevalent in the warmer months of high humidity and rain. Snails can be devastating to many types of plants, and at the least, they can annihilate flowers and seedlings in short order, disfiguring a plant beyond sale-ability or show-ability. Why, if snails are prevalent in Summer, would I write a blog in January ?
Prepare yourself NOW for Summer's damages. This is the time to seek out where snails hide, remove their food sources, take preventative actions, and start a holistic program of control before the problems begin. Now is an excellent time to clean up stacks of pots, remove piles of rotting leaves under benches, kill weeds, and lift bags of mulch or soil off the ground onto pallets or racks. There are books written listing hundreds of methods of snail control, many of them by British authors. It must be e…