Garden gadgets

Here are some new things for the garden world


Published: Saturday, March 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 28, 2003 at 11:10 p.m.
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A rack that can store most of your lawn tools in about 2 square feet can free up a lot of room in the garage or toolshed.

Special to the Sun
There's no stopping inventors when it comes to creating devices that make life easier, or more convenient, for people. Gardeners are not left out.
Here are some gadgets and things that you may see as the weather warms and people emerge from their winter chrysalis:
  • Flat-free wheelbarrow tire: Nobody likes to waste time, and nothing is more time-consuming - or more frustrating - than a flat wheelbarrow tire, whether caused by a nail, glass or just months of sitting idle.
    But there is a good replacement: a flat-proof tire made up of hundreds of thousands of microscopic air cells trapped in a matrix of tough polymer elastomer. The tire retails for about $45 and is available in standard black and gray, as well as vibrant red, blue, yellow and green.
    For more information, call toll free 877-FLATPROOF or visit the Carefree Tire Web site at www.carefreetire.com.
  • "I just want to say one word to you, Ben. Just one word."
    And, if you remember the movie "The Graduate," that word was "plastics." And it, in the form of vinyl, is finding its way into decorative garden accessories.
    You can add a wishing well or one of several decorative arbors in the back yard, install a vine-climbing trellis, or create a bench for your deck or patio - and you'll never have to worry about maintenance. Unlike wood, they are totally weatherproof, require no painting or staining, will never peel, blister, splinter, flake or rot, and are impervious to moisture and termites.
    There are several manufacturers; one is Presidio. For information or to order, call 800-515-2459, or visit the Web site at www.e-presidio.com.
  • Pretty poison: Overwintering plant pests, such as aphids and earwigs, are also waiting for the first growth of spring. You can get rid of these annoying insects safely and effectively without using chemicals by using concentrated pesticidal spray oil from Concern.
    The all-natural non-poisonous and non-toxic spray - made from emulsifiable canola oil - kills aphids, scale insects, fungus gnats, whiteflies, scale, mites and many other common garden pests. It controls insects in all stages, from eggs to fully grown, and also acts as a taste repellent against other nibbling pests.
    Concern is part of the Safer brand families of non-poisonous and/or low-toxic pest control products for yards, lawns, gardens and flowers.
    For more information, visit the company's Web site at www.victorpest.com.
  • Loupe-de-loupe: Keen observation is essential to sustainable gardening. Sharpen your vision with a 10x pocket loupe from Seeds of Change. See insects, flowers, and even your soil like you never have before. It's only $10; visit www.seedsofchange.
    com.
  • All lined up in a row: A storage rack that does it all in a small space, yet gives you access to various tool sizes and accessories, is indeed a handy thing to have.
    Florian produces one made of green plastic material and has a pocketed soft bag handing in front to store your smaller garden accessories. It can store up to 40 tools - both long and short-handled - and it only takes up 2 square feet. It's $30.
    Visit www.florianratchetcut.com or write American Standard Co., 157 Water St., Southington, CT 06489.

    Lawn mowers

  • Humvee of the mower world: Imagine mowing an acre of lawn in less than 10 minutes and having more time to play golf or tennis or be with the family.
    The Dixie Chopper riding mower, called the world's fastest lawn mower, has a ground speed up to 15 mph, or 30 percent faster than other mowers. A simple formula - miles per hour times width of cutting deck divided by 120 equals acres per hour - shows how important ground speed is in reducing cutting time.
    A mower with a ground speed of 15 mph and a 50-inch deck, for instance, can cut 6.2 acres of grass in an hour. A mower with a ground speed of only 9 mph and the same 50-inch cutting deck will only cut 3.75 acres in an hour. For more information, visit the Web site at www.dixiechopper.com.
  • Robomower: Robomower mows the lawn by itself, with no human operation after setup. Well, mostly.
    You set up low voltage border wire and pegs around the yard so Robomower's computer-controlled guidance system knows where it needs to cut. It's run by a rechargeable battery pack and mows a 2,500-square-foot lawn on a single charge. It has a mulching blade.
    The downside is it works better if you have a perfectly square (or round) yard with no flower beds, trees or walkways. And it tends to leave patches unmown, so you have to use it several times a week to make sure you have complete coverage.
    It costs about $700. For more information, go to the Friendly Robotics Web site (www.friendlyrobotics.com) or call (888) 404-7626.
    If you're determined to have a robot cutting the grass, however, there is another choice.
    Husqvarna (www.husqvarna.com), a Swedish company best known for chain saws and motorcycles, recently introduced the Auto Mower. Far lighter at just 15 pounds, the Auto Mower stays outdoors all the time and finds its own way back to a charging station that can be hidden under a bush.
    The biggest obstacle is cost - a whopping $1,500, plus professional installation running $200 to $500. (Think of how many times a human-powered lawn service could come for that price.)
    Call 1-800-448-7543.
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