Category Archives: Gardening

The Essential Tulip-Planting Companion

In the spirit of putting down roots in our new home, Travis procured over 400 tulip bulbs for us to plant around the house. I think his purchase was inspired, in part, by the magical experience that I had a few years ago when I visited him in Washington at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival that takes place a short drive north of Seattle….

Tulip Festival 3

Tulip Festival 1The festival included fields of tulips that stretched as far as the eye could see, lighting up the grey day in a kaleidoscope of luminescence. It was UH-MAZING. If you’re a flower nerd like me, you can go here to find out more about the festival.

Not surprisingly, when our box of 400 tulip bulbs was delivered, excitement swelled in my chest as I thought about all of the wonderful colors that would greet us next spring. Then I realized that 400 tulip bulbs meant digging 400 holes, and my excitement shriveled up like a raisin in the sun.

9855446Fortunately, Travis had a plan! Cue drill-powered planting auger, stage left.

This little tool is a tulip-planting HERO. Powered by a cordless drill, it makes extremely quick work of digging perfect 4-6″ holes for tulips and any other bulb that has to be buried sufficiently below the ground. In less than forty-five minutes, we planted the first hundred bulbs in a sweeping wave around our side door.

It probably would have taken even less time if someone other than me was planting the tulip bulbs, but I have to measure the holes at least twice to be sure they’re the appropriate depth, gently tuck each little bulb into its hole, possibly sing to it, and then ever-so-carefully cover it back up with dirt and peat moss. There’s no rushing this process.

So, in summary, I’m not a huge fan of mono-tasking tools, but this one was absolutely worth every penny of it’s $19.95 asking price on Amazon. Soon we’ll get the rest of the tulip bulbs planted and then sit back and wait for the rainbow come spring!

Tulip Festival 2


The Case Against Tomato Cages

My very first tomato plant was a hybrid variety that I bought on impulse at a flower fair in the last few weeks of my senior year in college. I named it Mater, and it lived quite happily in a large container on the back porch of our house, safely ensconced in a shiny new tomato cage.

The next year, there was Mater the Second and a few squash plants. The year after that, there was Mater the Third, and even more vegetable plants. What began as an impulsive little purchase had grown into a steadfast interest in gardening. I think the tipping point was the year I realized that if I bought seeds instead of plants I could get so many more plants for a fraction of the cost!

Because my Mater and its back-porch progeny did well with a tomato cage,  I assumed that the legion of tomato plants I was starting from seed would also do well in tomato cages.

Naturally, then, I thought I was so clever when I bought 20 used tomato cages off of Craig’s List for $20. What a deal, right? They sell for anywhere from $2.00 – $8.00 per cage, depending on where you’re purchasing them, and here I was buying them for a dollar a pop. I was sure I had scored a brilliant bargain, until this happened:


The tomato cages started falling like dominoes under the weight of my ripening tomato bounty and some were straining so hard against the weight of the plants that they had split apart at the seams.

Evidently, even determinate tomatoes can out-grow a tomato cage, and when paired with loose, sandy soil like what I had in my raised garden beds, the plants will literally pop the cages right out of the dirt! Rebar reinforcements help, but after this summer of #tomatofails  I plan on relinquishing the tomato cages, too.