Friday Free For All: The Best Gardening Tool

I thought that we would look at the best gardening tool today. Yes, it’s subject to what you need to do the most of, but I know what my favorite gardening tool is. This tool annhilates deeply tap rooted perennial weeds like dandelions and also helps to loosen the stolons of bermudagrass. It can save your fingers from the prickly thorns of pigweed and can allow you to get to the root of newly sprouted Chinese elm trees. With it, you can separate large clumps of crabgrass and goosegrass so that you can remove the entire clump. So what is this magical tool?

The lowly asparagus weeder.

best gardening tool

The asparagus weeder pictured here looks awfully fancy. Mine isn’t. It has a plastic handle and it’s been dulled by the soil. But it works. And it works everytime. I think I paid between $5 and $6 for mine.

There are some awfully fancy gardening tools out there. And I like some of them. But nothing beats an inexpensive tool that does everything you ask of it. So what do you think is the best gardening tool? Is it a shovel? Hand pruners? A particular saw? Share your experience with other Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers by leaving me a comment below or sending me an e-mail. If you enjoy being part of the Mid-Atlantic Gardening community, join our e-mail list (upper right hand corner of this page), become a fan on Facebook and follow me at Twitter. Happy gardening!




June 15, 2012Permalink 1 Comment

Friday Free For All: The Soil Cube Review


I’m really excited about today’s post as I get to review a product known as the Soil Cube. Clayton Jacobs of Deeply Rooted Organics was kind enough to send me one so that I can review it for you all. As a reminder, I will give you my honest opinion and would never endorse something that I don’t believe in. It is my job to earn your trust so that you can depend on me to give you honest answers…no BS allowed!

What is a Soil Cube?

A Soil Cube is just what you see below. It is made of two 2″ soil chambers that you fill with potting soil or your own special soil blend. The handle is the piece of wood that touches the soil chambers and the push bar is the piece of wood located at the top. In this picture, the Soil Cube is resting on the tongs that are used to easily remove the cubes from the planting tray at a later time.

Soil Cube
Here is the Soil Cube in all of its glory. It is a very simple design that allows you to make 2″ blocks of soil for planting your seeds.


How does the Soil Cube work?

To get started with the Soil Cube, you need to select a potting mix that works well for seedlings. I stopped by Home Depot and picked up Miracle Gro’s Organic Choice potting mix since I didn’t have some of the items that Clayton recommends in his directions. I’m disappointed with the contents of the potting mix I chose. It looks to me that it is just peat moss with a little pine bark included.

Soil Cube Review

The next thing that you’ll need is a tub in which to put the potting mix. I chose a small (approximately 12″ x 18″) plastic tub that I had lying around. I filled it about 3/4 of the way and added water. Clayton recommends to wet it until it reaches oatmeal consistency.

Soil Cube Review

According to the directions, you need to push the Soil Cube through the soil to fill the chambers and then press the chambers against the side of the tub to tightly compact the soil. So that’s what I did and this is what it looked like:

Soil Cube Review

Soil Cube Review

And now comes the magic right? It’s time to release the soil cubes into the tray. Here we go…

Soil Cube Review

Failure. But I don’t think it was the Soil Cube’s fault. I blame it on operator error and the potting mix not being wet enough. So I added a little more water and this was the result…

Soil Cube Review

OK so we’re getting there! The little divots in the top of the cubes are where your seeds go and I can see them this time. I was very excited so perhaps that accounts for the out of focus shot…sorry about that! I continue on in my journey of soil cube making and after about 3 minutes, this is what I ended up with:

Soil Cube Review

Thirty-two 2″ cubes of soil to plant my seeds in. You may be able to tell that my first cubes are in the top right corner and my last ones are in the bottom left. There is definitely a technique to mastering the Soil Cube but once you get the hang of it, you move right along.

So what’s my overall opinion of the Soil Cube?

I think that it is well worth the $36 investment (that includes shipping). I have a strong hankering that if I had chosen a better potting mix or had blended my own as Clayton recommended, I would have had better results in the beginning. I am interested in seeing the outcome with a true seed starting mix and I plan on updating this post when I obtain a bag.

The only concern that I have is that my indoor seed starting area is very small and I can’t fit as many seeds in the area as I can with the Jiffy pellets that I have used in the past. I want to expand that area so perhaps now I have the perfect reason to do so! I am excited to use the Soil Cube with some of my veggies that I want to have as larger plants when I put them in the garden. Veggies like tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will be thankful to have such a large area to spread their roots.

I highly recommend the Soil Cube to all of my Mid-Atlantic Gardening readers. Don’t be frustrated if the first soil cubes don’t turn out perfect. With a little practice, I think that you too will be impressed! If you’ve used the Soil Cube, leave me a comment with your thoughts below or e-mail me at Happy gardening!