Living

Think beyond gloves for gardeners

KENNEWICK -- Usually at this time of year I share some great gift ideas for the gardeners on your holiday list.

Repetition is boring, so this year I would like to talk about some unusual gift ideas for gardeners.

When looking for new ideas, the first to catch my eye was the Wearable Gardening Stool. This stool gets strapped to your bottom side with a harness and you "carry" it with you wherever you go in the garden.

An adjustable harness made of soft nylon is attached to a sturdy 11.5 inch wide plastic seat. Beneath the seat is a peg or pedestal leg that's height is adjustable from 13 to 18 inches.

For cushioning, there is a coil spring at the bottom of the leg with an anti-slip base. As the gardener moves from place to place, the attached gardening stool goes along too.

The stool was originally intended for use by farmers when milking cows. When the University of Wisconsin's Healthy Farmers, Healthy Projects began looking for efficient farming tools they came across the stool and wondered if it could help small scale vegetable farmers increase their efficiency. They found that the weird strap-on stool helped lessen the stress on farmers' backs and knees by letting them sit instead of bending over or kneeling to plant, weed, or pick.

The wearable gardening stool can be purchased on-line for about $65 from Clean Air Gardening (www.cleanairgardening.com) who feature "environmentally friendly lawn and garden supplies."

On the same site you can find special "High Tech Plant Examining Glasses", sunglasses with purple lenses and bright yellow frames. The purple lenses supposedly help you see stressed green plants because they block out the green color reflected from the chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants.

Unhealthy plants that are stressed by drought, nutrient deficiencies, or drought will be an off color green or even yellowish. Since the glasses block out green, the wearer will see black or gray instead of green. Sick or stressed plants will show up as different colors, such as red, coral or pink, allowing wearers to discern the problem earlier than they would without the glasses.

According to Clean Air Gardening, the $70 glasses use technology developed by NASA scientists. I must say I don't know if these glasses work or not, but I do know that some individuals who are color blind and can't perceive the color green, are able to see plant stress more easily than others.

You no doubt have heard of a plastic eating utensil called a spork that's part spoon and part fork. Well, English gardener Rob Todd came up with the idea of creating a new garden tool that is part garden spade and part garden fork called a "Spork."

According to the official Spork website the Spork "cuts in like a fork and digs a spit like a spade. It chops roots, slices turf, and breaks up heavy ground." The head of the Spork has a sharp jagged edge for cutting and is made of hand-forged carbon steel.

De Wit, who manufactures the Spork, is known for making quality garden tools. You can order the Spork for $70 online from leevalley.com.

One thing I know for sure is that a gardener wearing a pair of High Tech Plant Examining Glasses glasses along with the Wearable Gardening Stool and digging with a Spork will be the talk of the neighborhood.

* Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for the Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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