Minibeds-On-YouTube

Dateline: 21 May 2017


For those who have not yet heard the big news, I launched a video blog on YouTube last week. It's called This Agrarian Life (Details HERE). I expect to be posting videos of my minibeds experimental garden on a regular basis. Here is another...


There are numerous other videos about gardening at My YouTube Channel. I will post the minibed movies to this web site, but if you wnt to see all of the films, you can subscribe to my channel at YouTube.



Making Whizbang Solar Pyramids
(A Most Excellent Garden Cloche)

Dateline: 2 May 2017

A single tomato plant, thriving inside a solar pyramid.

I've had a lot of gardening ideas. Some seem clever at first, and hold promise, but end up disappointing me. Then again, some actually work pretty well. Take, for example, Solar Pyramids. They are an idea I developed several years ago, and they work amazingly well.


I explain the story behind my Whizbang solar pyramid idea in my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners. For people who don't have the book, and who don't want to spend the money to buy a copy, I sell the chapter about solar pyramids as an inexpensive PDF download.

I am more enthused than ever with my solar pyramid idea after realizing that the unique solar cloches integrate perfectly with my Minibeds-on-Plastic gardening idea. The one difficult aspect of the solar pyramids was that they had to be sealed around the bottom perimeter with soil, but it turns out that is not necessary with minibeds. The minibed frame anchors and seals the bottom of the pyramids just fine.

The solar pyramids that I made, as I'm about to show you (with sewn seams), are no worse for wear after five years of use. The ones that I made by trying to fuse the plastic together with a hot putty knife have not held together.

The translucent superstrong woven poly from Northern Greenhouse Sales is remarkable stuff. It's incredibly durable and long lasting. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if these solar cones lasted me for more than 20 years. The plastic is UV resistant and it is only outside for a couple months in the spring.

So, I decided to buy a 10'x 12' piece of the superstrong woven poly to make more pyramid covers. I paid $69.60 for the piece, plus $15 for shipping. Total cost: $84.60.

However, to my surprise, the good folks at Northern Greenhouse Sales actually sent me a 12'x 12' piece. And I'm glad they did. I was able to get exactly 8 solar pyramid covers out of the 12' x 12' sheet, and I would have gotten only 6 covers out of the 10' x 12' piece. The point being, if you want optimal yield, order a 12' x 12' sheet.



In the picture above you can see the roll of superstrong woven poly, tape, scissors, and my pattern. I tell how to make a pattern in my Idea Book For Gardeners

I made that particular pattern back in 2012. When I was done with it, I rolled it up and stuck it in the rafters of my shop. It was pretty dusty and dirty but was still useable, as you can see in this next picture...



The only place I had to lay this all out was on my kitchen table (my workshop is too crowded). I taped the pattern in place...



Then I traced around the perimeter of the pattern with a Sharpie marker...



I proceeded to do that seven more times on the sheet of plastic, then I cut the shapes out with a pair of scissors...


The woven poly does not unravel after you cut it. Not at all. It's fused into a solid piece of superstrong material. After the eight pieces were cut out, my wife sewed the seams...




Here are the eight covers all sewed up and ready to use...



Here's a cover on the frame in my kitchen...



Here's a picture of one of the solar pyramid cloches in a Minibed...



Here's a picture of some snow-covered solar pyramids in my Minibeds-on-Plastic garden...



But, while the weather outside was frightful, the environment inside those solar pyramids wasn't so bad at all...



I have all kinds of seeds planted under the solar pyramid cloches.

Stay tuned for more details...

P.S. 
I invite you to read about how I think Thomas Jefferson actually invented solar pyramid cloches back in 1812. CLICK HERE to read the story.




Planting Into A Cover Crop
In The Spring

Dateline: 30 April 2017



This blog post may be the most useful gardening revelation I have ever shared....

If you have read my garden writings for long you know that I became interested in no-till gardening last year, and that I started growing some cover crops in my garden. The picture above is an example of what I mean. The garden bed on the right has a cover crop of oats and the garden bed on the left has a cover crop of mustard. As you can tell by the leaves on the ground, that picture was taken in the fall.

I did not have time to get any cover crops into my Minibeds-on-Plastic experimental garden last year. But, as I explain in my Minibeds-on-Plastic Report, cover cropping and no-till gardening will be an integral part of my whole approach to minibed gardening. So, please keep that in mind as you read this post.

If I were to till a cover crop (like you see in the picture above) into the soil at some point, that cover crop would be a "green manure." But with no-till gardening I'm not interested in expending the effort to till the green manure into the soil.

Rather, my objective is to grow roots underneath the soil and leave them in place. While the plants are alive, the soil ecology interacts with the roots, resulting in a healthy, LIVE soil. When the plants die, the roots in the soil die also and feed the ecology, while the biomass above can be utilized as a mulch, which protects the soil—again promoting life and biological activity in the soil.

Now, the other thing that a cover crop as I've just described it does, and the thing I want to emphasize here, is that it GREATLY improves soil tilth. It makes the soil more "mellow," which is to say, it is more easily worked. And when garden soil is easy to work, especially at planting time in the spring, it is a real joy.

This delightful reality was my recent experience in that oat-seeded bed you see in the picture at the top of this page. Here's a picture of that same bed during a thaw this past winter...


And here is a picture of the oat bed as it looked this spring...



If you look close, you can see some full-size leaves that were captured by the stand of oats in the fall. And I should mention that, as the oats were getting started, I sprinkled some shredded leaves between the rows. So the bed had the benefit of growing oats, along with some leaf mulch.

This next picture shows me digging a furrow into the same bed to plant some onion sets earlier this spring...


What you are seeing in that picture is a soil that is incredibly mellow and easy to dig in. In this case, a picture really doesn't tell the story like I wish it could. Suffice it to say that I have never had a spring-planting soil that was so easy to work in. I simply parted the oat-and-leaf cover and used my Whizbang pocket cultivator to fork a planting furrow under the string line. NEVER have I planted a bed of onions in the spring so easily. 

The soil tilth is far, far better than if I had just put a leaf mulch over it for the winter. I think there is a synergistic soil tilth result that comes with this sort of cover-cropping and no till gardening.

Here, for comparison, is another bed in my garden that had no cover crop, no mulch, and not even an occultation cover. This picture was taken on the same day as the picture above...


That barren bed is hard from exposure to rain and snow for the past few months. It needs some rain to get the pretty-much-lifeless soil into shape so the bed can be cultivated for planting. It will require a lot of WORK on my part, as compared to the bed with the oat cover crop.

The lesson here is clear and powerfully compelling. Cover cropping improves and maintains soil structure. It allows for very easy, no till gardening. I am persuaded more than ever that a system of simple cover cropping, along with no till gardening, in manageable minibed "islands", surrounded by an ocean of black plastic mulch, will make for a very successful Minibeds-on-Plastic gardening system. 

But the proof will come with my Minibeds-on-Plastic experimental garden as I commence to plant and tend the beds this first year of the experiment. Stay tuned for that.

Before I end this post, here's a picture of my garden taken a couple days ago. It is actually a picture of one of my elderberry bushes that I have bush-planted, as explained (for raspberries) in my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners. There are strings tied from each elderberry cane to the post.

The onion bed I wrote about above is visible in the background. I have planted three other beds (including that one with the hard, dead soil) to spring cover crops. One to oats. One to rye. And one to mustard. I am experimenting with each cover crop. I can cut them down and plant into the bed at any time.

Also, you can see some minibeds with Solar Pyramids in the background of the picture (some of the minibeds on the right have not been positioned and staked in place yet).

(click on any of the pictures to see larger views)




Planting Potatoes
In Minibeds

Dateline: 25 April 2017



Wood Prairie Farm up in Aroostook County, Maine has been growing certified organic seed potatoes for decades. They have an Experimenter's Special that caught my eye. An Experimenter's Special seems just right for a Minibeds-on-Plastic experimental garden.

Three seed potatoes from four varieties of your choice (17 different varieties to choose from) for $19.95. I chose the varieties you see above.

I decided to experiment by planting the three seed potatoes from each variety into four minibeds, as this picture shows...


I planted each seed potato 4" to 5" deep but did not cover it completely. I'll fill in the depressions as the potato plants emerge. Then I'll hill what soil I can (which won't be much) around the stems. After that, I plan to mound the bed up with shredded leaves. I have a lot of shredded leaves stored under cover from last fall.

Since I have some Whizbang Solar Pyramids, I decided to put one of them over each potato bed...


It may be that three seed potatoes in each bed will be too much. I also planted two other minibeds with a single seed potato in the center. One with King Harry and one with Island Sunshine. And I did not cover those beds with solar pyramids.

It will be interesting to see if the solar pyramids make a big difference. And it will be interesting to see what kind of yield I get with shredded leaves instead of a soil covering.

Growing potatoes in a group (referred to as a hill) instead of in a row is actually an old technique. 

I well remember the time my family visited Old Sturbridge Village in the fall, and in the garden by Freeman Farmhouse a man was about to dig up a hill of potatoes. He invited my three young sons to help. They dug up the hill, extracting the spuds using just their hands. It wasn't the first time my kids had dug up potatoes, but it was the first time they dug up a potato hill, and the first time they dug potatoes using just their hands.

Growing potatoes in Minibeds is not a practical way to grow a lot of potatoes. But it may end up being a practical way to grow some early potatoes for seasonal eating.

Elsewhere in my garden I have planted rows of potatoes for winter storage using a more conventional approach.




Planting
Potato Onions
In Minibeds

Dateline: 14 April 2017



I think spring is pretty  much here and I've been working in my Minibeds-on-Plastic experimental garden. Today I planted two beds with potato onions, as you can see in the picture above.

Those nine potato onion seed-bulbs weighed exactly 1 pound. They are part of last year's potato onion harvest. I saved the nicest bulbs for planting stock. It will be interesting to see how many pounds of onions I harvest from one pound of seed bulbs. 

Some people plant their potato onions in the fall, like garlic is planted in the fall. I may try that with a Minibed this fall. Speaking of garlic, here's a photo of some garlic I planted last fall in a minibed...


I have quite a bit more garlic planted on a raised bed elsewhere in my garden, but I wanted to get some in one of these Minibeds too. I'll see what kind of yield I get from 13 cloves in a Minibed-on-Plastic. As for the potato onions, 18 bulbs planted in two Minibeds is enough for this year. Potato onions are still a bit of a novelty for me. I will, as usual, grow quite a few storage onions using a larger bed elsewhere in my garden.

The beauty of these Minibeds is, of course, that they are so downright easy to plant and tend, as compared to any other gardening approach I've ever undertaken. The shredded leaf mulch I put in the beds last fall has protected the soil and provided food for the earthworms...



The earthworms are a good sign. I'm glad to see them. In the few Minibeds that I did not cover with leaves, the soil is harder and it's tough to find a worm. 

By the way, when I planted the potato onions in the two minibeds today, I did not cultivate the soil. I just parted the leaf mulch, dug the holes, and planted the bulbs. No till!!!

If you would like to learn more about potato onions, check out my Upland essays Potato Harvest 2016 and Potato Onions For Dinner.




New....
How To Make And Use
Solar Pyramids

Dateline: 5 April 2017


My recent post titled Solar Pyramids In The Minibeds generated an astonishing number of views. It must have been mentioned by a popular internet web site. Thank you, whoever you are.

That kind of interest got me to thinking that I should create an inexpensive PDF report all about the solar pyramids. If someone doesn't want to part with the money to buy a copy of my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners in order to learn all about this amazing gardening appliance, they can just buy the report.

So that's what I've done. The 11-page report has an introductory page, a couple preliminary pages from the book, and then the 6-page solar pyramid chapter. I tell how I came to invent the solar pyramid and how you can make and use your own solar pyramids. Then, the last two pages of the report have several color pictures of the solar pyramid.

I have been using solar pyramids in my garden for the last six years. They are well suited for germinating seeds and jumpstarting transplants. I think they can also be utilized for season extension too, but I have not tried that yet.

Cost of the PDF report is $2.50. You can order with the "Buy Now" button below. After you have completed the payment, a download link will be sent you you by e-mail.


Buy Now



Part 2 Of
My Son's First Garden

Dateline: 31 March 2017

It's a recycled Bella Rosa Wines billboard tarp!

Click Here to go to Part 1 of this series.

###

The 14' x 40' billboard tarp arrived yesterday, and there was minimal wind, so Robert and I commenced to get it in place after he got out of work. We had two perimeter sides buried before I thought to take the picture above.

Robert's wife, Danielle, is looking forward to getting some zucchini out of the new garden. She wants to make a zucchini relish that her mother makes. Excellent!

Zucchini (and other summer squashes) will grow great in a minibed-on-plastic. One (maybe two) plants in the center of a minibed will grow to overfill the space very nicely. Maintaining the minibed will be a cinch (a little natural mulch will keep weeding to a minimum), and there will be no encroaching weeds from around the bed to deal with.

Zucchini roots will be able to get the moisture they need from capillary subsoil moisture retained under the sea of plastic-cover surrounding the minibed. If there is a drought year and the zucchini plants show any sign of wilting, the bed can be easily deep-watered once a week using the super-simple Whizbang Bucket Irrigation concept I developed.

So, get your mom's recipe, Danielle. This will be the year you make your own zucchini relish!

Here's a picture of the garden area covered with the billboard tarp.




As you can see, the edges are nicely tucked into the earth all around. Wind will not be able to lift and displace the large sheet of plastic mulch. And Robert will be able to mow around the outside of the garden without shredding the plastic edges. 

Now the garden is ready for minibeds.

Stay tuned....



My Son's First Garden

Dateline: 29 March 2017


Robert is my middle son. He is 26 years old and works for the town highway department. He lives with his wife, Danielle, in the rural farmhouse where I grew up (from 9th grade on), which is only about 3 miles from where my wife and I now live. That's Robert and me in the picture above.

Robert expressed an interest in having a Minibeds-on-Plastic garden. I like that. He wants to grow cucumbers (lots of cucumbers), onions, summer squash, sweet potatoes. I suggested lettuce? No lettuce.

Robert told me he was willing to spend around $50 for a piece of billboard tarp plastic. So I ordered him a 14' x 40' piece of the material. The price was $45. There is an added cost for shipping, which is kind of a bummer.

I'm going to see if I can find a billboard company not too far from us and ask if they have used billboard plastic for less... or free. For now, we bought the plastic from the internet.

The billboard tarp is not here yet but this afternoon we dug a trench around the perimeter of the garden. You can see the trench in the pictures with this blog post. The trench is 13' x 39'. That will allow 6" of material to be buried around the perimeter. 

The land where the garden is going is behind Robert's house, on the edge of his field. He has big trees around the house so the garden needed to be out where it can get full sun for most of the day. That's pretty much rule #1 when you put in a garden.

The soil will NOT be cultivated. The plastic will go directly over the field grass and weeds that you see in the picture. After the minibed frames are in place, and the plastic is cut out of each one, I'll show Robert how to use a digging fork to "crack" the earth and loosen the soil. Then, the grass and weeds in the beds will be pulled. Any cultivation after that will be shallow. This will be a no-till garden, just like I explain in my Minibeds-on-Plastic Report.

At this point, I think there will be two rows of 10 minibeds on the plastic. 20 minibeds is not too small for a first garden. In fact, I think it is just right. 20 Minibeds can be very productive if properly managed.

For now, the objective is to get the plastic in place while the soil is wet and easy to dig. Then Robert can make the minibed frames. He thinks he can round up some used lumber to make the frames. If not, he can make a few at a time as he gets the money. Or, I see no reason why some flat rocks couldn't be used around the minibed openings. There are plenty of rocks around here.

I hope to chronicle Robert's progress with his garden, along with the progress of my own experimental Minibeds-on-Plastic garden. And if Everett Littlefield on Block Island can get me some pictures of his Minibeds-on-Plastic garden, I'll post them here too. I welcome pictures and comments from anyone else who wants to try this experimental (for now) gardening idea this year.

I should point out that I'm helping my son get his garden infrastructure in place. And I'll help him with the planting. But it will be up to him to take care of his own minibeds. 

I'm confident that he will not be overwhelmed with this gardening project (as often happens with first-time gardeners and a conventional garden). He's a busy guy but the whole minibeds-on-plastic concept is geared for easy manageability.






Solar Pyramids
In The Minibeds

27 March 2017


It's a rainy, overcast day here in upstate New York. There is still snow in the hollows, but my Minibeds-on-Plastic experimental garden is clear. So, today, in the midst of so much wetness, I set up some Whizbang solar pyramids in the minibeds. 

As you can see in the picture above, the solar pyramids fit the minibeds perfectly. And the plastic flaps on the pyramid covers fit under the minibed frames right nice. I didn't have the solar pyramids in mind when I decided on the minibed size last summer. So this is a pleasant surprise, indeed.

If you have read my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners (and visited the special hidden web site I created just for readers of that book), you are familiar with my solar pyramid idea. But for those of you who have not seen these unique garden devices, here is a picture I took several years ago that illustrates just how remarkable these solar pyramids are...


In the picture above, you can see a tomato plant inside a solar pyramid, and you can tell that it is a good size. In the background (on the right) you can see some smaller tomato plants. Believe it or not, all the tomato plants were transplanted into the garden on the same day, and they were the same size when planted. The tomato plant in the solar pyramid was in a totally ideal  growing environment, while the others were not. That made all the difference.

It's not a pyramid-power thing. It's a solar thing. And, as I explain in my book, this idea came from Leandre Poissson's excellent Solar Gardening book. Leandre made solar cones using an expensive rigid plastic. My solar pyramids are made using a much-less-expensive (but very durable) woven plastic. Here's a picture of Leandre Poisson with one of his solar cones...




The diffuse light inside the cone is ideal for plant growth. And the dynamics of the open top on the cone (with the bottom being sealed) play an important role in maintaining optimum growing conditions. The growth inside one of these things is nothing short of amazing.

It is much too early to plant anything in the garden, but I have been reading about winter sowing of garden seeds (thank you, Scott Cooper). I have a feeling that I can vary the common winter sowing approach and simply plant seeds directly in the earth inside the solar cones. When the soil temperature and environment in the cones is right (long before it is right outside the cones) the seeds will get themselves started.

If I can start tomatoes from seed, directly in the soil, in very early spring, here in upstate NY, and have them be at least as big as the usual transplants at the usual planting time, that would be quite an accomplishment. Same goes for some other crops that are not usually planted this early.

I've wanted to try this for a few years and haven't done it. This year will be different. I now have an experimental Minibeds-on-Plastic garden!

Stay tuned...



Insect Fabrics In The Garden
Current Options For U.S. Gardeners

Repost Dateline: 26 March 2017
(originally published on 25 August 2016)

ProtekNet 25gr insect barrier on hoop cloches in my garden.

My recent post about the Haxnicks lantern cloche, and the observation that such a screened cloche has been an incredible boon to four kale plants in my garden, has led me on an investigation into insect screen options for garden beds.

I have used Agribon-over-hoops to make cloches in my garden for years. It works very well for getting plants off to a great start in the spring. But as the heat of summer comes, Agribon cloches get too hot on the inside. They also restrict sunlight and air movement, which isn't necessarily a good thing. Other downsides to Agribon are that it does not let any rain get through and it doesn't allow you to see what's happening inside the cloche (without lifting the cover).

On the other hand, an insect screen cover allows more sun, air, rain and visibility, while protecting your plants from insects, deer, rabbits, rodents and hail. 

I have found three brand-name insect fabric materials made for the garden:

1. Agralan Enviromesh
2. Haxnicks Micromesh
3.  ProtekNet 25gr

I've purchased all three to see them and put them to use in my garden. Here are some details for you...

Agralan Enviromesh

Agralan Enviromesh is made by Agralan Ltd. in the United Kingdom. I purchased a piece measuring 8'6" x 16' from Greenhouse Magastore.

The Enviromesh is made of UV stabilized woven polypropylene. Color is white. The grid size is 1.35mm x 1.35mm.

Agralan Enviromesh has apparently been around for a long time. They say their fabric has a 7 year lifespan, but with care it should last at least ten years. That's quite a claim!

When I opened the Enviromesh package, my wife said it looked like flea beetles could get through. I read the literature included with the fabric and it says "flea beetle may be discouraged by ENVIROMESH, but it may  not give complete control." Well, that was a bummer. One of the reasons I want netting is to exclude flea beetles.

Then I read: "In situations where flea beetle is a serious problem, it may be preferable to use ENVIROMESH ULTRA FINE, particularly over very small plants."

The Ultra Fine has a grid size of .8mm x .8mm. So I went looking for the Ultra Fine Enviromesh. I can't find a US source. I've contacted Enviromesh in the UK, but they have yet to reply.

Haxnicks Micromesh

I purchased a sheet of Haxnicks Micromesh measuring 16'6" x 5'10" from Gardener's Edge. It is made of woven polyropylene. It is UV stabilized. It has a green-yellow tint. 

Grid size is .6mm x .6mm, which they say will exclude flea beetles. Lifespan is not stated. Haxnicks does not make the same durability claims that Agralan makes for their Enviromesh. The difference in durability is visibly evident. While both fabrics are strong, the Enviromesh looks to be much stronger.

The Haxnicks package indicates that their mesh is made in China. 

ProtekNet

ProtekNet appears to be the most popular name-brand insect netting in the United States. The company actually  makes several different kinds of insect netting. The most commonly available option is the 25 gram. If you go to THIS LINK, and click  the "Brochures" tab, you can download a chart that compares all the ProtekNet fabric options. For the discussion here, I'll stick to the popular 25gr netting. 

Johnny's sells ProtekNet 25gr in large rolls for hundreds of dollars.  I bought a 82" x 33' piece from Purple Mountain Tools for considerably less. The picture at the top of this page shows some ProtekNet-covered cloches in my garden.

ProtekNet is a completely different kind of netting material. It is made of knitted (not woven) polyamide, which I understand to be a nylon. It is soft and stretchy, while the woven polypropylene materials (Enviromesh and Micromesh) are much stiffer. When you cut ProtekNet, the fabric edges curl. That doesn't happen with woven polypropylene.

ProtekNet has a very fine mesh at .35mm x .35 mm. It has no problem stopping flea beetles, and even smaller insects.

It is recommended that if you use hoops with ProtekNet, they be PVC, not wire, because the wire may damage the fabric. 

The stated lifespan for ProtekNet is only 1 to 3 seasons, which I interpret to be one season (or two if you're lucky). Though the material is said to  have UV resistance, my understanding is that nylon does not have anywhere near the long-term durability of polypropylene.

Conclusions

I like the stretchy ProtekNet for my small hooped cloches. But I don't like the idea of it not lasting. 

The Enviromesh looks like a vastly superior product. But the flea-beetle-excluding size  apparently isn't available in the United States. :-(

Other Options?

Yet another UK company (Gromax) makes a product called Gro-Net, which appears to be comparable to the Agralan Enviromesh (though the Agralan company disputes the long-term viability of Gro-Net). I contacted the Gro-Net company and the salesman was on vacation. But he's supposed to get back to me soon. It looks like their product is not yet available in the US. 

I'm not aware of any other insect netting material in the US that is specifically made for garden applications. I am curious to know if anyone reading this knows of other products. Or, do you have personal experience with any of the products I've discussed here?

There appears to be an opportunity in this country for someone to come up with a product on par with the UK Enviromesh. That is to say, a UV stabilized woven polypropylene that is made to last for a decade or more.

In an upcoming post I will tell you about a new approach to gardening that I'll be trying next year. And I'll show you the different netting materials on some hooped cloches.


Update 
For more information on this topic, please see my blog post titled, Everything You Need To Know About Enviromesh Insect Netting.




Whizbang Pocket Cultivators
On Sale Now
(Limited Supply)

Dateline: 23 March 2017


If you have read my blog writings for awhile and/or you have read my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners, you already know all about the Whizbang Pocket Cultivator. I call it a pocket cultivator because it fits in your pocket, like this...


A lot of people, upon first seeing the pocket cultivator say, "That's just a fork!" Well, they just don't understand.

It was a fork, but after it is cut to length and a bulbous taped end is created, the fork becomes a comfortable tool for stirring the soil around plants in your garden. I almost never go to my garden during the growing season without my pocket cultivator. The tool will be especially useful with my Minibeds-on-Plastic experimental garden this year.

As an entrepreneurial experiment, I have made a limited number of Whizbang Pocket Cultivators like you see in the picture above. By limited, I mean I made only ten of them. They are for sale here, first come first served, until they are gone.

These pocket cultivators are Deluxe versions for two reasons. First, they are made from vintage silverplate forks that I bought at an antique store last summer. There was a box with hundreds of pieces of old silverware and I sorted through them all to get the ten forks-to-pocket-cultivators that I'm selling here.

It so happens that some old forks are really heavy duty. Not all old forks—just some. And these ten forks were exceptionally strong. After getting them, and making the ten pocket cultivators I'm selling here, I figured I would just find some more vintage forks on Ebay with the same manufacturer's name and buy them. So that's what I did. And I was profoundly disappointed to find that they were not nearly as strong. So they are not going to be pocket cultivators.

If I make these pocket cultivators again, it will be only with vintage forks I've found in antique shops, and have had a chance to see just how strong they are.

That said, please keep in mind that if you buy one of these Limited Edition, first production run Whizbang pocket cultivators, you should not use them to dig potatoes in clay soil, or anything like that. You can dig somewhat with them but if you do so, you should grasp the fork down close to the tines so the handle-to-tine connection doesn't bend. These vintage forks are strong, and they will serve you faithfully for many years (as long as you don't lose them), but they will bend if you put a LOT of bending stress on them. The primary function of these little cultivators is to stir the soil surface, snag little weeds up close to your vegetable plantings, and make shallow planting pockets in the soil. They'll smoosh bugs too.

The second reason these pocket cultivators are Deluxe is that I've double-dipped them in Plasti-Dip. So they're even more comfortable than cultivators with ends that are just tape-wrapped. They're also easier to find with the bright red color. I don't know how long the Plasti-Dip coating will last, but it's pretty tough, and even if it eventually wears off, the tool will still be perfectly functional. Here's another picture showing a couple of the Deluxe pocket cultivators I'm selling…



Every pocket cultivator is a little different. The forks themselves are different, and the hand-wrapped, hand-dipped handles are different. That's because the handles are carefully hand-crafted by yours truly. There isn't a doubt in my mind that you will appreciate this unique gardening tool.


The price is $21.95 each, and that includes first class postage to any US address. I hope to make more of these for next spring, but these ten pocket cultivators are the only ten I have for now.

UPDATE 3/26: All the Pocket Cultivators are sold. Thank you.