Unorthodox Gardening Tools – 7

Assorted brushes and hairpicks

In the process of accumulating the gear in my toolbox, the Czarina has been there behind me, questioning my sanity the whole way. She already questions my sanity when it comes to finding interesting containers that work well as planting enclosures, and when it comes to the plants and arrangements I bring to shows? I admit there’s a certain satisfaction in having her worry about an arrangement she thought would be a bad idea and having it sell within the first hour of a show. In fact, I let her know this, and then go back to biting the heads off chickens.

She does this constantly when I find an Unorthodox Tool. Sure, most of the time, her questions are along the lines of “You aren’t planning to shove that up your nose again, are you?” This is a reasonable query. It’s when I find something with a very legitimate and practical use, and she immediately checks it for snot, that I get bothered.

By way of example, looking through the discounts and remainders section at my local grocery store comes across all sorts of odd things, including items that you didn’t know you needed until you came across them. At the top of that list is a set of makeup brushes, originally assembled at the beginning of the Great Recession during that push for environmentally friendly products. It shouldn’t be a surprise that while people value these sorts of products in principle, they rarely pay double or triple the price of a similar conventionally-manufactured item when they’re having to choose between groceries and rent that month. Hence, I found this collection, complete with a hemp wrapping, alongside tie-in toys for The Bee Movie and dented cans of gazpacho beans, and figured “Hey, for $4, why not?”

Now, as to why a gardener might need makeup brushes, consider the joys of hand-pollination. Yes, a paintbrush set will work perfectly well for hand-pollinating roses, orchids, or Sarracenia pitcher plants, but having something this handy, with as soft a surface on the brushes, makes pollination a little easier. Oh, and the mascara brush comes in handy for when my eyebrows get completely out of control and I have to brush them back over my head.

The other two items to the right stay wrapped up with the makeup brushes, and they also come from the Health & Beauty aisle. The black brush was one that came with a batch of hair bleach, and it gets quite a bit of use for bonsai and miniature garden arrangements. The brush is fine enough for detail work, strong enough that the bristles don’t fry out immediately, and cheap enough that I can get an easy replacement if it wears out. The other, pointy end makes a good dibble, as well as a lever to tease out roots or pebbles, so both ends get a lot of use when I’m trying to shape nebari on a tree or pepper.

And the white paddle on the right? This also came from the hair bleach, and the flat end doesn’t get much use other than for stirring or shaping small batches of soil or glue. The thin end, though, has a hook at the tip, and that thing is perfect for pulling thin cord or twine through holes in wood or stone. It’s also handy for snagging junk out of pipes and drains, so it gets even more use in pulling hair out of shower plumbing. Yeah, go ahead and laugh, but you have no idea how much cat hair can line the inside of a shower drain when you’re in a hurry to drain the tub.

More to follow…

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