Gardening Tips

Choosing the Right Glove for the Job
By: Brenda Ibey

Are you like me? You get out in the garden all geared up to attack those weeds that have been annoying you for weeks. You grab some gloves that you found in the garage, they’re a bit big, but you think they’ll do the job. Then, after about two minutes off come the gloves? The fingers are too big and clumsy, the dirt is getting inside and they’re slipping off as you work. Frustration sets in. So you start working without gloves. Oh I’ll soak my hands later to get this ground in dirt off. Good luck!

Not only is it bad for your skin, fingernails and cuticles to get them covered in dry dirt, but just think about what else might be lurking in the soil of your garden. Of course there are millions of good bacteria, but what about the neighbour’s cat? Does he visit your garden and leave little gifts for you? It is pretty disgusting when you put your hand into one of those treasures. Old nails, other garbage, thistles etc. these are all things that you can find in the garden amongst the weeds. Finding proper gloves that you’ll keep wearing are key to protecting your hands as well as your health.

When I tried the Miracle Workers gloves, I was amazed. These gloves are snug fitting and yet they breathe. I can easily get a grip on the weeds that I’m trying to pull. The cuffs are well fitted so I don’t get dirt falling inside the glove, and the backside is a fabric that breaths so your hands don’t get hot. Plus my fingernails stay clean! These are great gloves for the fidgety work that goes on in the garden. Miracle Workers are made of Nitrile, which is great for people with latex allergies and they’re washable!

If you’re going to be doing some shovelling, moving or picking rocks, or other tougher tasks then the Botanically Correct glove is the right one for the job. Similar to the Miracle Worker, but made with a tougher palm. These gloves are also breathable, have a tight cuff and provide a good grip for the task at hand. There is also a version of this called Tough Guys glove which is great in cool weather as it has a light lining of insulation. Men also like this glove for its durability.

Working in cold wet weather offers a whole new challenge. Whether it is working in a pond, washing the fall harvest with the garden hose or cleaning out the eaves the Best Gardening glove is the one for you. These gloves have an extra long cuff, they’re made from a waterproof fabric and are tough enough to protect you from rose and raspberry thorns. They’re even great for doing the dishes!

The Foxglove is an elegant glove on Oprah’s “Favourite Things” list. Designed by a professional horticulturalist, Foxgloves’ use of modern fabrics allows complete dexterity while protecting nails, hands and wrists. Made from a combination of tough, long lasting nylon and form fitting spandex, Foxgloves help make your gardening work a joy, while providing the protection you want and the comfort you deserve. The Foxglove is a great gift for the gardener in your family. I also use mine for winter photography, liners under my mitts or when driving.

Please drop by The Avant-Garden Shop or visit our online shop to find your perfect glove. We’re here to help you make the right choice. All of our gloves are washable.

Pruning Made Easy
By: Brenda Ibey

How many pruners do you have? Do you make the annual trek to one of the Big box stores each year and add another $10 pruner to your collection? There’s a reason why it only costs $10.00. Here the adage of “You get what you pay for” comes true.

Pruners are tools that can either help you in the garden or hinder you. Choosing the right one will make a big difference in the long run.

Pruners need to be stainless steel so they don’t rust. A rusted tool cannot be repaired so ends up in the garbage. What a waste of money! Also ensure that the blade can be sharpened. Poor quality tools will get dull in no time and make your efforts more difficult.

The blades, springs and handle should all be replaceable. This way you can fix the tool rather than throw it away when something breaks. Ask questions next time you’re out buying a tool. Look for quality tools that will last and get your money’s worth!

The pruner should have a safety latch and you should be able to open it with your thumb. Two-handed pruning is inefficient.

Pruners should fit your hand comfortably and not cause rubbing or stress on your hands. You might be pruning for a few hours and working your hands hard so a comfortable fit is key to being able to end the day without pain.

It helps if your pruners are brightly coloured as well. Green pruners are likely to be lost in the garden very quickly. Look for red handles or wrap some bright tape around the handles so they’ll be easy to find.

There are two styles of pruners: anvil and bypass. The job that you’ll be doing with your pruners will determine the style of pruner you need. Anvil pruners have an upper cutting blade that comes down on a broad blunt blade, which crushes the wood leaving a ragged edge. The anvil pruner works best for dead wood or branches that have already been removed from the plant. The bypass pruner slices very close together with very little damage to your plants. The bypass pruner also allows you to cut very close to the plant eliminating long stubs on the plant. Because of the “clean” cut there is also less chance of disease entering the wound.

At The Avant-Garden Shop we have two lines of pruners, one for the beginner and one for the avid gardener. I prefer the “Felco” line of pruners- they will last for many years and meets all the suggested requirements listed above. My favourite is the Felco Ergonomic Pruner. These pruners are remarkably comfortable to use. They fit your hand well. They come for both right and left-handed gardeners. All of the working parts are easy to disassemble and clean, and the Teflon-coated blades are simple to sharpen or replace. Plus their handles are bright red-so you’re less likely to lose them!

Drop by the store or check out the selection of pruners available through our online shop. We’ll help you choose the pruner that best suits your needs.

Fall Garden Clean-Up
By: Brenda Ibey

Every fall season as plants start to die off, people ask me should I cut down the dead material or not? Well the answer is “both!” Hostas and other soft leaved plant material should be cleaned up and removed. Also any diseased leaves should be removed and put out with your green waste collection or buried in the ground (don’t put diseased material in your compost pile.) The plants that should be left un trimmed include those such as Purple Cone Flower which provide seed for the birds in your garden. The stems also help to gather snow around their bases protecting them from the cold.

Remember to store or turn over your concrete planters and birdbaths before it gets too cold. Water sitting in these containers can freeze and cause cracking. Also don’t leave concrete sitting on stone or concrete for the winter. Water will get underneath these items and freeze also causing cracking and splitting.

Rake up leaves and save for covering up your perennials. Wait until there has been a good frost and then the leaves can be raked over the plants that need it most. Also keep a bag of leaves next to your compost pile so you can continue to compost throughout the winter. Everytime you put food scraps in the compost pile place a layer of leaves on top. This will create a good carbon-nitrogen ratio to get your compost cooking come spring time!

Fall is also a great time to plant trees. Drop by The Ecology Park to find some beautiful native trees to enhance your outdoor living space. Since the trees have no leaves at this time of year, and it’s not hot out, they’ll adapt much better to their new surroundings than they would on a hot summer day.

And the most important thing of all – get out and enjoy the fall season, the colours and fresh air. It may be your last chance for a while.