Family Summer Garden Pruning

Organic Family Garden in Need of Pruning
Rain and organic fertilizer and more rain (and a smidgen of sunshine) create a wonderful combination that leads to the need for pruning in the garden.  An especially overcast, rainy week left our vegetable plants clambering for space while crowding out the chance of sunshine and air reaching the lower vines.  This was making plants susceptible to rot.

Squash plants required the most work, with their gigantic leaves reaching far into the aisles between our raised beds and out into the yard.  We trimmed as many as every other leaf on some squash plants and helped them go vertical when possible, opening the plants up for more air circulation.  We picked some wondefully ripe summer squash, while several smaller fruits were starting to grow.
Summer Squash with a Hint of Excessive Dampness 
Most tomato plants had a lower stem that was nearly brushing the ground, increasing the plant's chances of rot or inviting pests.  So, we trimmed the lower one or two stems from each plant.  They had grown from scrawny things to around four feet tall.  They'd started producing small, green fruit.

Organic Leaf Lettuce
The leaf lettuce bed is providing enough that we shouldn't need to buy lettuce at the store all summer.  We can trim some and leave the base of the plant to regrow more lettuce, possibly reseeding one more time before summer's end.  We're absolutely loving the fresh dill growing on the edge of the lettuce bed.  This makes an easy addition to just about any salad, sandwich or dip for the summer.

At a recent #GardenChat Twitter party we met CoronaToolsUSA from Corona, California and were thrilled to win some free floral snips and bypass pruners from them along with an adorable garden apron!  The combination of these two compact tools gives me the ability to trim everything from delicate tomato stems to larger branches, and their red, ComfortGEL handles even made them comfortable on my hands.  Corona Tools is known for its limited lifetime warranty and its reputation for durable, even professional-grade garden tools.  

As a Safer Chemicals blogger, I was, however, concerned that these cool tools required a warning label on their packaging that, "This product contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects and/or reproductive harm."  When I called customer service, the company explained to me that the red dye number 2 in the red tool handles contains a small amount of lead, and that's why the company is required to include the warning sticker.  I appreciated their being forthright about that and will continue to use them, although I would not want lead in anything my children use.  

I'm hopeful that garden-friendly companies like Corona will continue to look for the safest possible formulations and that a reform of our nation's outdated chemical safety laws will help with both market certainty and customer education about what goes into products.  On a related note, the Ecology Center recently studied several garden hoses and tools (not sure which brands) finding chemicals of concern in several of them.  It's further evidence that consumers, big retailers and US-based businesses like Corona would all benefit from a reform to make sure the substances going into innovative products are always safe.  I adore my new garden tools and look forward to many more seasons of growing food and flowers!

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