March 23, 2017

Weather: 50s, but damp.

The prep work continues. I should be starting seedlings indoors, and getting ready to plant by the second week of April. Personally, I think I will wait to plant outdoors until May. The weather has been too wacky to trust.

Somehow, over the years, I have managed to collect a lot of tangled yarn. I have been spending the last few hours untangling to some success.  I have gathered the yarn into 12 inch lengths and have been braiding them. I will be using these to tie up my bean plants and tomato plants later in the season. I like the idea of using yarn as it will not harm the stems, and is biodegradable. Over the years I have used a bunch of items, each with a pro and con.

PROs

  • Twist Ties: Easy to obtain (on bags of bread or other groceries), easy to tie together or individually onto small stakes.
  • Shoe Laces: Easy to cut down to the length you need, biodegradable.
  • Leather straps from Handbags/Worn belts: strong enough to be retied when needed, wide enough to support the stems.
  • Rubber Bands: always have some around (seriously I have NEVER bought any and yet I have over 50 in my house), great to loop around a stake without having to tie knots.
  • Strips of shirts/ old ripped socks: Easy to obtain, gentle stem support.
  • Ribbon/Lace/ Lanyard String/Gift Wrap Ribbon:  Very cute and colorful when the garden is not in bloom (you can color code the plants too for identification), easy to tie, always seem to have some around.

CONs

  • Twist Ties: Have you ever noticed that there is a piece of wire in them? So when that plastic coating wears away after a few weeks of being exposed to the weather you are now dealing with a knotted loop of tiny wire that will slice your fingers and the plant stem.
  • Shoe Laces: I think I’ve replaced my laces three times in the last 10 years. Unless you own a lot of shoes this is not practical. Besides more and more shoes these days are being made without laces. Laces may soon be a luxury item.
  • Leather straps from Handbags/Worn belts: What in the living daylights has been put on these things? They do not decay, but will either become brittle and rock hard (real fun to untie) or so pliable that they untie themselves. You will be lucky if they last two seasons. Also, unless you collect these from your friends and neighbors, do you even have more than two or three of these in your house?
  • Rubber Bands: Important word of the day: RUBBER. Rubber does not react well to heat, water, and stress. Ever hear a Splat-thump? Ever have to search for tomatoes that got flung catapult style across your garden, porch, and yard when the rubber bands holding your fruit full 5 foot tomato plant snapped? How about pay for your neighbor’s car window that got shattered by a tomato flying at 5 miles an hour? If that sounds like a good time to you, by all means, use rubber bands.
  • Strips of shirts/ old ripped socks: When these things get wet, over and over again, they shrink. The knots are almost impossible to untie and they will start to rot. Better to use them on the adult plants, instead of the starter ones as they will be wide enough for a gentle support.
  • Ribbon/Lace/ Lanyard String/Gift Wrap Ribbon:

    • Ribbon: Cloth ribbon is a different material than clothing these days, but it frays and some strands are stronger than the others. It can be a mess.
    • Lace: Pretty, but does not support the stem correctly.
    • Lanyard String: This is plastic, and oddly durable, but very difficult to tie into knots, tends to slide up and down the stems & stakes, and once knotted it will not come undone. EVER. I have had to wait until after the growing season, pull up the stakes and the plant and try and pull the string apart. It will stretch quite a bit. I have some steaks that I have used for the last 5 years with faded, stretched out Lanyard Strings knotted to them like some strange war banner. At this rate, the steaks will rot away first.
  • Gift Wrap Ribbon: No. Just no. This is a bad idea from the start. It frays, cuts into the plant, is difficult to knot, will not unknot after getting wet and is not biodegradable or safe for birds to use in nests. Honestly, they need to stop making this.

 

So this year I will try braided yarn. This way I can control the length, make it wide enough and thick enough to support the plants properly and it is biodegradable and good for bird nests.

If this doesn’t work, well I’m sure there is something else around this place I can find to use for next year.

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