Gadgets & Stuff

Bagging with BAGZ-IT

I’ll get this out of the way right off the bat … I have not received the following items free, nor have they been sent for my review.  The truth is I simply like my BAGZ-IT products and want to give credit where I think it’s due.  Here’s what I’m talking about.  This big vinyl scoop on wheels, the LG-BAGZ-IT and it’s “mini” sized sibling.

BAGZ-IT front   BAGZ-IT side

I bought my residential-size BAGZ-IT at the Connecticut Flower and Garden show three years ago.  It’s been great for garden-bed clean-ups and fall leaf collection – since it’s edge lays flat on the ground I can easily rake the millions of acorns our oak tress drop onto the lawn.  When the big green scoop is scooped full, you simply pick up the handle and roll the whole thing to your dumping area.  Because the entire unit is light-weight, I can easily rest the open edge against the upper edge of my welded-wire compost bins and pick up the wheeled end to dump the BAGZ-IT contents into the compost bin.  For things I don’t plan to compost, I simply wheel the loaded BAGZ-IT into the woods and use the same maneuver to empty contents onto piles there.

The light weight of the unit allows you to easily roll it over logs, up and down stairs, and over other uneven surfaces.  I must admit I was a little unsure the size of the wheels would allow heavy loads, but so far so good.  The manufacturer claims you can haul firewood in the BAGZ-IT, but I have not done so.  I’d rather save this handy-dandy tool strictly for gardening-related uses.  And I do wish I could stand it unit upright, but it’s not designed to do so.

It’s easy to store this 21” wide, 24” tall, 46” long unit along a garage or tool shed wall because it folds flat – try that with a wheelbarrow.  Still, the residential sized unit is a little too big to toss into the car when heading off to work away from home.

So at this year’s Connecticut Flower and Garden Show in February I picked up the mini BAGZ-IT.  Same tear-resistant vinyl, same wheels, also folds flat, but measures less than 18” wide and high, and 34” long.  When open, the mini holds 30 gallons of dry material, as opposed to 9 cu ft for the residential model.  The smaller size allows me to roll it into my perennial beds for early spring clean up, and the mini stands upright.  Plus it has a handy tool pouch on one side, closed with Velcro, to hold unused tools.  It also has a snapped strap to secure any long-handled tools you need to cart to a work site.  I caution you, though, remove any tools from the side pouch before doing any heavy dumping.  I nearly lost my favorite Hori-Hori knife when it fell out while I had the mini BAGZ-IT turned upside down.

If you need to study more photos than mine above, head to the BAGZ-IT website and scroll through the many photos there.  You can also order the bags there … unless you live in New Hampshire where a few retailers carry them, you can only get BAGZ-IT online or at a trade show.

I don’t often suggest products, but this is one set of tools that really help this aging-but-refuse-to-quit-heavy-gardening-body get jobs done.

Gadgets & Stuff: PlantCam?

November 17, 2009.  Every now and then I come across a gadget that I can’t resist posting about.  Yes I know posting might give some free publicity, but … you can take a quick look at past posts in Gadgets & Stuff category and you’ll see most ask, with a slight touch of sarcasm, “Really?”

You know the Facebook adds that pop up on the right side of the page; those the Facebook gurus suspect you might be interested in based on your activity?  The ones most of us ignore?

This one popped up on my Facebook page today, and for the life of me I cannot figure out why anyone would use this product.  Couldn’t you just walk outdoors and watch your flower blossom – in real time with real eyes?

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The Timelapse PlantCam automatically takes photos of your garden growing and stitches them together to create a fast-forward movie!

Am I missing something here? Is this really worth $79 … even with free shipping?

If anyone out there in Internet land has used PlantCam, I’d love to hear about your experience – positive or negative.  I’m trying to keep an open mind.  I suppose it could be a nice gesture to set one of these gadgets up so a bedridden gardener can view the progression outside where they cannot wander.  But, the web ad does not give enough information for me to even consider the PlantCam for this use – hell, I can’t even get their informational website video to run well!  How long does PlantCam record?  How large a view does it record?  What’s the resolution (my favorite photographer will like this question!)?  How tall is the mounting stake and is it adjustable?  And, how sturdy can what appears to be a single mounting pole really be?

In my yard, one run through by a mole or vole would topple the PlantCam in an instant.  Hmmm … wait a minute … I wonder if I could entice one of my really savvy underground rodents to pull the PlantCam down into its tunnel.  Then I could watch these little creatures as they devour the roots of my plants.  Maybe the PlantCam comes with a strap that would allow said rodent to mount it on its back.  RodentCam!  Or, perhaps the PlantCam people could come up with the DeerCam … simply provide a larger strap so gardeners could sneak up to one of these monster rodents, hook on the Cam, and then we could record deer eating our vegetation.  Now either of these would be useful!

Take note PlantCam people.  You’re going to have to come up with a whole lot more information, and do a bang-up job of convincing, for me to believe this product has any value.  And, for the sake of full disclosure, I am not seeking a freebie to test, nor do I … thank goodness … have a financial tie with any PlantCam manufacturer, distributor, or advertising agency.

Quick Notes: plant, rain barrel bargains

Annual impatiens and lobelia brighten hosta plantings The weather may not say summer but the calendar does, and once that happens plants begin to go on sale.  Taking advantage of these sales helps cash strapped gardeners fill empty or ailing containers and stock up on any fillers still needed to brighten a dull bed.  One local farm  – Staehly’s – has dropped the price of annuals in 4 to 4.5 inch pots.

Annuals purchased at this time of year have usually been potted for quite some time.  They are often root bound and tired.  But most will perk up when given a new home in which to grow and a little trim of all spent blossoms.  When transplanting these annuals, make sure to loosen roots that have grown into a tightly wound mass.  This will encourage roots to spread out in their new pot or in the ground.  With a little extra TLC these late purchased will likely to reward you fully.

Connecticut gardeners have had enough of the rain – I’ve spent more time this year draining water from the saucers of my potted plants than I have watering.  But dry spells frequently follow wet spells, so in spite of feeling like we are growing gills, or being grossed out by yet another slug sliming along the rim of a potted plant, it’s wise to plan for water conservation.  East Haddamites can take advantage of a perk made available by the Earth Charter Community of the Lower Valley, an organization that promotes sustainable living.  Through a deal with The New England Rain Barrel Company, residents can order rain barrels for about $40 less than regular cost, and $4 of each order is donated to the Earth Charter group.  Order online now and rain barrels will be shipped to Ballek’s Garden Center and can be picked up on Sunday, July 12.

I’ve not tried using rain barrels yet, but continue to consider setting one or two up.  I’d love to hear the experiences any of you have had using a rain barrel to collect water run off from a roof.

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