It is true. New garden tools, gadgets, and products fascinate and excite me. While browsing through my garden mail recently, I ran across some items I am tempted to buy. Here are two of them.
PittMoss: Because there are mounting concerns about the sustainability of harvesting and using peat moss in potting mixes, I am always interested in mixes that use new materials to replace peat. A new line of mixes contains PittMoss. This stuff was invented in the kitchen of Mont Handley as a potential replacement for peat moss. It is made from recycled newspaper combined with a proprietary blend of organic additives that provide minerals and nutrients. In photos, PittMoss looks like newspaper that has been shredded in a blender.
The company indicates that “PittMoss has a structure comparable to peat moss, aeration similar to perlite, nutrient absorption equivalent to vermiculite, moisture holding capacity similar to coir, and biological activity resembling compost.” It sounds great, but this last characteristic worries me a bit. “Biological activity” could be decay fungi continuing to work on breaking down the cellulosic fibers. The company admits that it is not unusual to see mold growth in mixes containing PittMoss, but indicates that these molds are not harmful to plants and are likely to be “higher fungi” that could be beneficial to plant growth.
PittMoss is marketing three products: Organic Potting Mix, Soil Conditioner, and Ready-to-Grow Mix. They are primarily being sold in the eastern U.S., but can be bought online directly from the PittMoss company (pittmoss.com). I hope to try their Ready-to-Grow mix and see how well it performs over time. I have yet to see any peat moss substitute that performs as well as the real thing.
DeWit Garden Tools: Many of you know I am a fan of garden or hori-hori knives because of their usefulness in the garden. I recently came across a similar tool that also looks very handy. It is the Rock N Roll trowel from DeWit Garden Tools. This trowel has a blade that is narrower than the regular garden trowel, allowing you to dig deeply in tight spaces between plants. It works well as a transplanter, plus with its 3-milimeter thick blade it is built to withstand the rigors of rocky soil. Their Snake Tongue trowel is similar but has a sharp forked tip that is good for digging out pesky weeds.
On the DeWit website (dewittoolsusa.com) you can find an overwhelming number of hand tools, hoes, weeders, diggers and more. In addition, they have a line of “junior tools” designed for gardeners like me with smaller hands.
The DeWit company got its start in 1898 when Willem de Wit started a blacksmith company in Holland. With steel blades and ash wooden handles, their tools are built to last and become family heirlooms. Look for DeWit tools at your favorite garden center or online retailer.
As noted last week, our warm spell in January followed by some pretty frigid weather has plants and gardeners wondering what to do next. For example, WSU recommends that you apply your crabgrass preemergent or “preventer” herbicide about two weeks after forsythia is in full bloom or when the soil temperature at a depth of one inch is greater than 55 degrees for at least a week. The soil temperature this week is about 39 to 36 degrees at a depth of two inches, but my early-blooming forsythia is already flowering. Based on soil temperature, it is much too early to apply crabgrass prevention. I hope we do not have to wait long for the real arrival of spring.
Marianne C. Ophardt is a retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.