Fall 2017 Mercantile
Check out our editors’ favorite equipment choices for the home and garden this season, including our favorite weeding tool, a great vermicomposting bin, an upcycled bat house, and more.
By the Heirloom Gardener Editors
Photo by Mortier Pilon
Here at Heirloom Gardener, we’ve started brewing kombucha. Those of us who enjoy the fermented beverage look forward to sharing some on hot afternoons after working in the office garden. We use the 5-liter Mortier Pilon Kombucha Brewing Jar($59.95), which is the first fermentation crock designed specifically for kombucha. The interior of the jar is 100-percent glass, and the white components on the outside of the crock are made of nonreactive, BPA-free plastic. The jar’s cloth filter allows air to move freely in and out of the jar, and the chalkboard surface around the edge of the lid allows us to record the date and flavor of each batch. There’s also a tap valve, which makes pouring ourselves a drink easy without all the mess of removing the SCOBY. Our brewing vessel even came with a recipe booklet. We’ve enjoyed this crock so much that we decided to carry it in our store, beside a plethora of gardening books and tools.
Photo by Cobrahead
Editor Russell Mullin is a huge fan of the American-made, short-handled CobraHead Weeder and Cultivator($24.95). “It really gets down to business,” he says. The CobraHead’s sturdy, curved neck pries out weeds with ease and provides an ergonomic design for digging and cultivating. Its small, sharp blade (fittingly described as a “steel fingernail”) allows you to create seed furrows in even hard-packed soil, and makes it possible to shave down encroaching weed seedlings with precision in closely-spaced plantings where a traditional hoe won’t fit. The CobraHead also has a robust, ambidextrous handle big enough for double-handed use and made out of a recycled composite that provides a sure grip and resists the elements. There’s even a long-handled version if you prefer to work standing up. It’s a simple, versatile, and lightweight tool that has a multitude of uses for the home garden. Whether it’s weeding, cultivating, planting, digging, or harvesting, the CobraHead delivers.
Photo by Lehmans
Bats may have a spooky reputation, but they’re great allies when it comes to ridding your property of pesky mosquitoes. There are plenty of DIY bat house plans out there, but if you’re looking for a small pre-assembled house to install near your garden or pond, Lehman’s Upcycled Bat House ($29.99) is a great option. The Amish carpenters who build these boxes source the wood from old mushroom beds. Because mushroom bedding is acidic and high in salts, there’s a natural “treatment” on the cypress and hemlock boards that leaves it naturally rot-, mold-, and mildew-resistant. These bat houses come ready to install, and no staining is necessary.
Photo by Rebecca Martin
When Bob Blomberg would walk through his garden to prune, weed, or pick up debris, he found carrying a bucket everywhere he went to be inconvenient. To keep both hands free and to save himself trips to the compost pile, he created the Gardener’s Hollow Leg($24.99). It’s a handy fabric sack with a belt that buckles around your waist, leaving your hands free to harvest, clear debris, or just tidy up. The patented ring shape of the opening makes it easy to add material to the bag, and a handle on the bottom makes emptying a breeze. The harvest sack is available in 1 or 5 gallons.
Photo by Nature’s Footprint
Vermicomposting is an attractive technique for gardeners hoping to maximize compost quality, or for urban homesteaders who need to operate efficiently in small spaces. Vermicomposting employs worms to process food scraps into nutrient-rich castings for soil. TheWorm Factory 360($119.95) boasts stackable bins that create easily manageable layers that can be independently moved. The worms quickly adjust to the design — most of the population will move upward to the fresh food, leaving castings behind in the lower trays. This design is ideal for the kitchen, where you’ll frequently add organic matter, such as newspapers and food scraps. Outdoors, the layered design helps prevent critters from digging through the entire container. Our favorite feature is the spigot, which we use to drain off excess moisture as compost tea.
Photo by Patagonia
Patagonia’s Iron Forge Hemp Canvas Work Wear line for men and women was launched in August 2017 and includes double-knee canvas pants (with a gusseted crotch for men), multiple work jackets, and a line of durable work shirts. The line is defined by the use of industrial hemp-blended fabric that doesn’t need to go through an awkward breaking-in phase to wear well. The new line is more than eye-catching and comfortable — it’s practical. Each pocket has been thoughtfully placed to maximize usage without compromising mobility, and the built-in safety features account for possible hazards for a wide range of careers and hobbies. Because Patagonia understands that we all work (and play) hard, they offer a generous repair policy for fixing or exchanging any damaged items.
Is there a garden or kitchen product you can’t live without? Tell us about it! Email a short description to Letters@HeirloomGardener.com, and you may see your top tool featured in an upcoming issue.