Cultivate Your Garden with Contemporary Contraptions

Mason bee house. Photo courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company,

By Vicki Spencer, Master Gardener

As a child I looked forward to Saturday afternoons when my dad would say, “Who wants to go to the lumber yard?” We would pile into our old ’49 Mercury and drive to the Hugh M. Woods hardware store where I would tag along as my dad searched for supplies to complete his latest project. I still enjoy perusing store aisles for the latest gardening gadgets, and now I can peruse internet aisles, too.

This year, I was delighted to find a variety of raised garden bed frames that can be assembled with minimal effort — no experience or expensive tools required. Just decide how large you want the bed and go online to find the frame of your choice. Greenes Fence Company has several cedar frames with tool-free dovetail assembly. You simply slide boards into corner joints to form the frame and attach caps for a finished look. Or you might like the modern industrial look of EarthMark’s different colored corrugated metal frames, which come with a lining.

Once you build your raised bed, you might want to give your wrists relief from the repetitive motions of planting and weeding. Radius Garden has a natural grip trowel with ergonomic grip that gives more leverage with less stress on your wrist.

Tractor scoot with side basket. Photo courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company,

Gardener’s Supply Company is my go-to source for many gardening needs. If bending and squatting is difficult, it has a tractor scoot with side basket, which might just be the ticket. It has a comfortable, adjustable swivel seat and pneumatic tires to travel across rough terrain. The side basket makes it easier to plant or weed without standing up.

Vertex cage. Photo courtesy of Gardener’s Supply Company,

This year, I decided to buy its A-frame cucumber trellis, which allows planting rows on both sides. The cucumber vines grow up and over the trellis, and you can plant something small, like radishes, underneath. I also like its new large tomato tower. Last year my tomato plants grew so tall and dense that my cone-shape towers were inadequate. Staples are sold separately to anchor them to the ground. These items were attractive to me because the hinges fold flat for compact storage.

Other fun items from Gardener’s Supply are plant and row markers in wood or metal and mason bee houses. These bamboo structures provide a place for small mason bees, which do not sting, to nest and breed. They are decorative and perfect for hanging in pollinator gardens.

Another way to find new gardening innovations is to attend your local home and garden show. This year I was fascinated by STIHL’s iMow robotic mowers. The sales rep told us robotic mowers have been available in Europe for years, but recently made their way to the States. The dealer installs the mower by mapping the mowing area, laying down perimeter wires, positioning the docking station and programming the mowing requirements. Then you simply relax while the robot mows according to schedule and docks itself to recharge.

Gardener Vicki Spencer has an eclectic background in conservation, water, natural resources and more.