Top gardening posts of 2010

2010 has been a pretty exciting year for CheapVegetableGardener.com.  Bringing on a significant number of more readers and many great mentions by some large publications, I thought I would mention the top 5 posts of 2010 which helped this happen in case you missed them.

image Being kicked off by an awesome mention in a New York Times article and subsequent interview on Science Friday on NPR, this article on making your own tomato planter held the #1 spot.  By taking a two liter bottle, a little spray paint, and a chopstick (or small stick) you can make your own upside down tomato planter.
image This article has received some decent traffic from numerous sites but the mention on lifehacker.com is what put this one on the #2 spot.  Now if you are trying to make a little profit from your extra harvest or just trying to save a little extra money at the grocery store this post lists the top vegetables for your gardening square foot.
IMG_1516 Want to start some seedlings indoors without spending a fortune on lighting?  Check out this Christmas light LED grow box post which has held the #3 spot.  All it takes is a couple of strings of LEDs (purchased during after Christmas sales of course), a Rubbermaid container, a drill, and a little patience you can have your own indoor growing apparatus.
IMG_4590 Sometimes I got busy in the early spring and forgot to water my neglected seedlings in the grow box in my garage.  To solve this problem I made these great little soil sensors using galvanized nails and Plaster of Paris.  Check out this post which help the #4 spot for the full build instructions.
Raised Vegetable Garden Finally after some personal trial and error the #5 post of this year goes into detail on how to create a new garden bed.  This covers the basics of picking the proper location and also some cost benefit analysis for using various materials (cinder blocks, wood, chiseled wall blocks, bricks) to build a new bed.

Gift ideas for gardeners on your Christmas list

Maybe you are looking for something to add to your Christmas list or a fellow gardener you still need to buy for here are a few items on my list…let me know if anyone needs my address (smile).

image Have some on your list just starting out with gardening (or has been very unsuccessful in the past) how about the PlantSmart Digital Plant Care Sensor?  You simply turn the device on and place it in your problem area for 24 hours and plug it into your computer and it will provide important info on temperature, humidity, and light intensity.  Too see a full review of the EasyBloom (same product different name) here.
image The Japanese Hori Hori Digging Tool is probably the most versatile tool you can get for your garden.  It has a curved blade great for planting and weeding.  The serrated blade can easily cut through small branches or break off a piece of twine two tie up some tomatoes or to take on some vengeance on pesky garden pests…but wait there is more flip it over and it even measure the depths of your planting holes to make sure you planted those bulbs deep enough.  This is definitely a welcome addition to any gardeners stocking.
image The AeroGarden with Gourmet Herb Seed Kit is a nice system to get your gardening loved one a way to use their cold green thumb during the wintertime.  Using a special CFL bulbs and automatic timed watering using aeroponics you can have delicious herbs growing on your kitchen counter for easy use in your cooking.
image Now the Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruner is a little more expensive than the ones you normally would find in your local home improvements store, but for a tool a gardener will use for many hours every season a quality tool like this can easily last a lifetime with minimal care.
image Finally there is a little something for the little ones.  The Kid’s Size 3 Piece Gardening Hand Tools is great to give your gardening helpers their own tools to assist in the gardening task…I can also say from personal experience that these tools can come in handy for light planting when you don’t feel like walking back to the garage to get your Hori Hori Digging Knife

Strawberry picking Robots

image

Well this is not the first time we have seen robots harvesting food and probably not the last but a team in Japan has created a robot that selectively picks strawberries that are at least 80% red.  Though this might be good enough for the average consumer at the grocery store, I would personally insist on closer to 95% and hold off until they are a slightly darker red for some extra delicious super ripe berries.

They estimate that this robot can reduce picking time by by 40% but at 9 seconds a berry I am pretty sure I can easily keep up with this monster…though I eventually have to sleep and eat so the numbers may work out.  I also would have to make the assumption that this is being targeted for growing hydroponic strawberries given even with my primitive human vision I need to move some leaves around to see most of the berries I pick in my back yard.

There is no word on the cost of this strawberry picking robot but you can check out a video of this bad boy in action below.