An Alameda Garden: July 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Giving Ethel Gloves a Workout--Plus a 10% Discount for Readers

I've never been a fan of work gear that's been "prettified" in order to appeal to women. Whoever it was who decided that women would do more home improvement jobs if only they had a powder pink tool kit should be hit over the head with a pretty pink hammer. Too often product designers decide to go for "the pretty" at the expense of functionality--not a good trade-off for any kind of tool or gear you depend on to help you get a job done.

So it should be no surprise that I was skeptical about the new line of Ethel Gloves. These gloves are definitely pretty, in a variety of colors and patterns ranging from a hounds-tooth check to a fleur-de-lis print. But after a week or so of gardening in them, I have to admit that they're more than just pretty.

To start with, they fit really well. Having small hands, I'd resigned myself to the idea that if I wanted sturdy work gloves, I'd have to settle for something that was always at least a little too big. The small size Ethel Gloves fit me perfectly with just enough give in the stretchy fabric to make me almost forget that I'm wearing them. I also liked that in spite of the snug fit, the fabric seemed breathable enough that they didn't make my hands sweat.

The reinforced and rubberized fingertips seem sturdy but aren't so thick that they leave you fumbling around. I was still able to get a really good grip on whatever I needed--tools or weeds or even delicate seedlings. I haven't tried using them around anything really thorny yet and I suspect they might not be sturdy enough to prevent piercing by your average rosebush.

Last but not least, the gloves clean up well. I've had other gloves that were not washable and very quickly ended up looking like some crusty old thing that had been excavated from an archaeological dig. Ethel Gloves are machine washable, however, and they didn't shrink in the wash either. As you can see in the photo at the right, they came out with a few sap spots still showing, but otherwise as good as new.

All in all, these gloves work well for me. If you'd like to give them a try, the people at Ethel Gloves are offering a 10% discount off the usual retail price of $18 for readers of An Alameda Garden. (When you place your order at, enter the discount code "Alameda." Offer good til 8/24/08.)

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Friday, July 11, 2008

The Ones That Got Away

Every time I grow zucchini, I make the same mistake. I turn my back for a couple days and this happens:

Will I never learn?

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

My Other Car Is a Garden Cart

A while back the nice people at TroyBilt offered me the opportunity to review one of their products. They have an extensive line of power equipment for the outdoors, everything from mowers to tractors to snow throwers. Given the size of my property and the fact that snow is just an urban legend around here, I didn't think I'd find anything that I could really use and report on. But then I saw it on their web site--a beautiful red garden cart--and it was love at first sight.

To understand why I'd be so turned on by a garden cart, you have to consider that as a single person, I do an awful lot of solo schlepping. Piles of mulch, bags of potting soil, who knows how many big, heavy terracotta pots--I've lugged it all, and I have the chiropractor bills to prove it. I should have invested in a wheelbarrow years ago, but whenever it came down to spending the money on plants or a wheelbarrow, the plants won.

But following my request to TroyBilt, the cart arrived via UPS in a very large, flat cardboard box. There's a slight catch--assembly required. It's not too awful to put it together, although I did have to call the manufacturer (Agri-Fab) to send some screws that were missing, and there were also a couple of extraneous holes in the side assemblies, which I can only assume were put there to confuse me (it worked).

However, now that I've got the thing assembled, love is in the air again--and on wheels! It rides very smoothly and moves easily over mulch, concrete edges, and stepping stones. The product specs state that it will hold 300 lbs., and I believe it. It feels quite sturdy. It has two wheels and two legs, so it's much more stable than a wheelbarrow, but it still has the pouring ability of a wheelbarrow because the front end slides up and out, making it easy to dump loads of mulch or compost. It even has four slots on the front end to hold garden tools.

I'm very happy with this garden cart and if you think you could love one to, hurry over to Garden Rant, where they are holding a giveaway for five (5!) of these beauties. That's no small swag--these garden carts retail for $149.99. But don't wait because you have to enter by Monday, 7/7 at 5pm EST.

Selfish as it may seem, I'm keeping mine--first, because I really like it and it's a huge relief to my aching back, and second, because if the price of gas goes up much more I may have to hitch the cats up to it and leave my Beetle in the driveway.

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th of July from Alameda

Alameda is a bit of an anachronism in a number ways, but never as much as on the 4th of July. Alameda is about the only town left in the bay area that has a 4th of July parade and Alamedans seem determined to make up for all the other communities that sit out the holiday. The tradition that came of age here when Alameda was still a Navy town has grown and evolved into an event that strives to be both patriotic and at least somewhat relevant. Hence, this year's parade theme: "Clean and Green."

I have no parade pictures to post because, alas, I did not attend. (Horrible confession that reveals a questionable part of my personality: I hate a parade!) But the SF Chronicle has a nice write-up and it's worth checking out if for no other reason than that it features a picture of a woman dressed up as a compost bin. (And you were wondering how I was going to tie this in to gardening, weren't you?)
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