Category Archives: Tools of the Trade

EarthMinded RainStation: The ultimate rain barrel?

EarthMinded RainStations semi-review

Back in early February, I ended a podcast on Water-Wise Gardening with a short interview with Edwin Beck, who helped design the EarthMinded RainStation, so of course I mentioned both him and it in the parallel post. But I discovered I had way too much to say on the topic for that post, so here’s the rest.

First, I’d better say that this isn’t really a full-fledged product review, as I haven’t used the things myself. (Yet.) But it’s such a whole-hearted endorsement that I feel compelled to add that no, I’m not getting paid to do this. (I won’t endorse a product for a price, period.) But while I’m being upfront and center, I’d better be thorough about it and admit that people whom I feature in a product spot on my podcast do get approached by Matrix Media (the syndicating company) as potential sponsors for the show. So Rain Station might turn up later as a sponsor. If I’m lucky. At present, though, at the time of this writing (9:46 p.m. Mountain Time on Thursday, March 15th, 2012), there is no financial arrangement between me and Mr. Beck.

When Edwin and his partners designed the RainStation water barrels, they had in mind a few modest goal: They wanted to make a product that’s easy on the eyes, the environment, the user, and the user’s basement. Continue reading

Podcast #20 – Water-Wise Gardening


The Show: Water-Wise Gardening

Tom Christopher

Guests: Thomas Christopher – author, lecturer, gardener – on how and why to save water in the home garden.
Edwin Beck – entrepreneur, designer, consultant, gardener – on a rain barrel, EarthMinded RainStation, that’s even more environmentally friendly than most.

And while we’re on the subject– How do you save water in your garden? Add your ideas and experiences to the comments below.

The Show

image from Timber Press

The statistics in Tom’s introduction to The New American Landscape: Leading Voices on the Future of Sustainable Gardening are enough to make you want to fall on your pitchfork in the gardener’s version of the old Roman custom of falling on one’s sword when the battle was clearly lost.

Now some of these stats, I’d seen before–for instance the fact that about 30% of water used by residences goes to water lawns and gardens. But the claim that 36 states would face chronic water shortages by 2013? That’s next year. This was a new one on me. And the fact that Southern Florida, which gets 55 inches of rain, has a water shortage? How could this be? (If you don’t believe these are facts, please feel free to take it up with the EPA and the Gov’t Accounting Office, a.k.a. the GOA.)

Given such statistics, how did Tom manage to avoid is own pitchfork, much less encourage us to avoid ours? Continue reading

Gardening should get you dirty

Parseley and cilantro

Let me be clear: I HATE shopping, and will put it off almost forever. Nevertheless, as has been true all too often this spring, I spent most of my gardening time yesterday in the car doing errands. Gardening time! In the car! Ack! More money than I care to admit has gone into the garden in the form of fencing, amendments, row covers, strawberries, and a dozen other items.

Continue reading

Soil blocks #2: How to, Q & A

Well, this isn't quite the “tomorrow” so casually mentioned in my last post; I must learn not to make such promises. Life's been even more than usually busy, for the past week has included both Abdoulaye's departure and a visit from one of Steve's most excellent brothers. The former event leaves us bereft, but I suspect Abdoulaye feels rather differently, as he's returning to his wife of a just a year and a half. He certainly sounded cheerful when he called this afternoon, as did she. More about Jeff's visit tomorrow soon, but for now, on to soil blocks.

Soil blocks from top

The Mini 4 (left; 2" blocks) and Micro 20 (right; 3/4" bocks)

Q: So what the heck are soil blocks,
and how do you make them?

As mentioned in my last rambling post, soil blocks are free-standing (pot-less) compressed chunks of soil used for starting seedlings. They're made using special molds which consist of cubes or sets of cubes with open bottoms and moveable tops attached to a spring. Two are pictured above. Apparently those tools are sometimes referred to as "blocks," while what they produce is called a "soil block," but to avoid confusion, I'll refer to the tools themselves as "molds."

Continue reading

Product evaluation: stepable lawn aerator

Put on your thinking caps, people, it's quiz time.

Study the picture below, then select the answer that best explains the little turd-like objects in the grass:

Lawn aeration plugs

a) Kate has acquired a dozen constipated Corgies which all became unconstipated at precisely the same time and in precisely the same place.
b) The dispute with the neighbor has become serious.
c) She’s been aerating the lawn.

Continue reading