Over the last weekend, I spent a very productive evening trimming back and wiring yearling Capsicum peppers for bonsai. In the process, I went digging through the big toolbag I use for holding my gardening tools and realized “You know, if someone didn’t know me, they’d have all sorts of suspicions about what I planned to do with the stuff in here. Hell, they’d have those suspicions if they did know me.” Ten years of serious horticulture, combined with a packrat mindset for tools that comes from my father’s side of the family, and most of the tools in my collection would make for props in one hell of a PBS series.
It’s worse when I bring these out at plant shows, ostensibly to pluck a dead leaf from a terrarium arrangement or prune back a recalcitrant weed that escaped notice until right then. Between the tools themselves and the heavy bag I use to haul them around, I have to explain that no, I’m not doing Harry Tuttle cosplay. When your father is an engineer, it comes with the territory.
With that in mind, it occurred to me after talking with friends that some of these tools, handmade and otherwise, might be handy to other horticulturalists as well. If it works, feel free to track down your own, or make your own, for that matter. Half of the fun is the sharing.
The first unorthodox tool is a bit too large to fit into the bag, but it’s a lifesaver for trimming plants in pots, arranging miniature gardens, or otherwise handling containers that need to spin a bit. Professional bonsai growers use turntables made specifically for the purpose, and there’s nothing wrong with these in the slightest. However, when working with smaller arrangements, I needed something with that flexibility, but lightweight enough to be carried around easily, and with a storage space underneath. Some have these, but the price is a bit iffy.
Thankfully, the detritus from the dotcom era left very affordable and usable alternatives. Every morning when I look at the flatscreen monitor on my work computer, I note that while it’s over six years old, it’s still better than the CRT monstrosity I used to have. Back when cathode ray tubes were the only options for computer monitors, the more showy had their beige monitors and their beige desktops accented with equally beige monitor stands, and those stands were designed to handle a lot more weight than is needed today. Hence, they show up in charity shops on a regular basis, and they’re perfect for miniature garden work. Adjust the wingnut to the proper tension, cover the assemblage with a waterproof cover, set your pot in the center, and spin away. Even better, if it wears out, replacement parts are easy to obtain, and you can even touch it up with a touch of paint to get rid of that Nineties-era beige and make it easier to wipe off after a repotting session.
And that’s the start of it. Keep checking back for more.