T he coming of spring reminds us that there are two types of gardeners: those who love the feel of soil between their fingers and sing praises over earthworms, and those whose idea of a day in the garden is dozing in a hammock.
The dozers are in luck because garden shops and catalogs are packed with time- and effort-saving gadgets and kits to give you more time in the hammock and less time in the dirt.
For beginners and those who don’t enjoy poring over garden books looking for compatible plants, a number of catalogs now offer preplanned gardens. You just pick the look you want, select one for sun or shade, and place your order. The plants are shipped at the correct planting time and you simply follow the diagram when you put them in the ground.
There are also several new mat-style products that come with seeds attached. All you do is place them on the ground and sprinkle them with water.
Here are a few of the things we found:
Fiskars Softgrip pruning shears
These shears are the latest in ergonomic design, with an ambidextrous lock. There’s a stem stripper and stem crusher built into the handle. Grips are soft-molded and made with a non-slip finish. Blades are carbon steel. Available this spring at Wal-Mart, Target and garden shops. For more information: (608) 643-4389.
Perfect for a cook who hates to garden. These 1-foot-square mats contain a mixture of herb seeds, including basil, chives, parsley and oregano. The mat itself is a wood-fiber mulch that protects the seeds from drying out. All you do is loosen the top soil, place the mat on top of the soil, and water. In seven to 10 days you’ll have a garden of herbs. Five mats in the pack should keep you supplied with fresh herbs all year. For more information: (800) 374-3823.
$9 for a nine-foot roll; $50 for a 100-foot roll
Do you keep sowing grass seeds, only to be disappointed when nothing sprouts? Could be the birds are feasting on your seeds or the rain is washing them away before they have a chance to take root.
Roll-Lawn will solve these problems. It’s a biodegradable mat used to protect seeds from washing out, drying out and being eaten. Just sow the seeds, cut the mat to fit the area (it’s green, which is encouraging), place it over the seeds and water as usual. Flower and grass seeds sprout through the mat. Available at garden shops or through the Solutions catalog; (800) 342-9988.
Garden catalogs all have a variety of preplanned flower gardens. You order one for sun or shade in the size to fit your space. Plants or seeds are delivered along with a planting diagram so you don’t have to figure out which ones grow tall and which ones are the ground covers.
Here are two that caught the eye:
Island Sun Gardens from the Jackson & Perkins Perennials catalog comes in two sizes: 30 plants to cover 100 square feet ($57.95) and 60 plants to cover 200 square feet ($99). Both include a variety of flowers in heights from six inches to six feet; (800) 292-4769.
Summer Sun Turbo Perennial from the Burpee catalog ($29.95) includes 10 plants ranging from pastel shades to intense color, 10 plant markers, planting instructions and a garden plan. Plants are shipped at the correct planting time; (800) 888-1447.
If your idea of gardening is a pot on the patio that just needs an occasional watering, a container garden fits the bill. The Burpee catalog has several varieties that come complete with a planter container, soil and seeds. The salad garden grows radishes, cherry tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers. The herb garden grows parsley, dill, coriander, oregano, rosemary and basil. There’s also a tomato/basil garden; (800) 888-1447.
Although it’s not exactly a preplanned garden, Capital Nursery on Freeport Boulevard (916-455-2601) carries something that comes close: wildflower mix by White Swan. You buy the right mix to attract hummingbirds or butterflies. All are droughtresistant. To plant them, just scatter the seeds on the ground and stand back.
Seedmaster Seed Sower
So you want to get close to the soil and sow your own seeds. The Park Seed catalog has a nifty gadget to help you put the seeds exactly where you want them. The Seedmaster Seed Sower is shaped like a trowel, but there’s a baffle that controls how many seeds drop out the end, and there’s a ratchet wheel in the handle that vibrates the sower, causing the seeds to jiggle down the chute; (800) 223-7333.
It looks like green masking tape, but there are seeds attached that are spaced exactly the right distance apart. You can get them for vegetables or for flowers. One tape is about 15 feet long. All you do is prepare the soil, lay the tape in place, cover it with a little dirt, water and you’re planted. We found them at Capital Nursery on Freeport Boulevard, phone 455-2601. Or they can be ordered from the Burpee catalog; (800) 888-1447.