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A gardener’s workbench

Every gardener needs a place where the pots, potting soil, tools, plant tags, and all the odds and ends of gardening projects can be marshaled. That place is a potting bench. Of course, a potting bench is a practical thing, but it stakes an aesthetic claim in the garden, too, and makes a statement.

A potting bench in a comfortable corner of the garden becomes a hard-working spot where gardening tools and ambitions come together. Here combinations for summer flower pots can be tested before they move to center stage in the garden. Ideally, there should be shelves for storing extra pots, a rack for hand tools, and drawers or bins for hose nozzles, twine, gloves, knee pads, and snippers.

A potting bench in a garden shed, protected from the weather, can become a gardener’s private retreat, but even if it’s just in the shade under a tree or in a corner of the patio, it’s still like a gardener’s studio. Here are some ideas for potting-bench essentials:

  • A bin for potting soil: use a big nursery pot, or buy a trash can with a lid.
  • A plastic scoop is handy, or use a flower pot as a scoop.
  • Plastic flower pots: you’ll need them when you dig up perennials to share with friends.
  • Seed-starting supplies: fiber pots, plastic six-packs, and seed-starting potting soil.
  • Plant labels and a pencil or marker. Wooden labels are fine for seed starting; you’ll want longer-lasting plastic or durable zinc labels for perennials and shrubs.
  • Fertilizers, and a plastic bin with a top to protect them from rain.
  • A watering can and hose nozzles.
  • A trug or bucket for small hand tools: trowel, pruners, a weeding fork, twist-ties, and a ball of twine and scissors.
  • Gardening gloves.
  • Plant stakes and tomato cages.
  • A bench brush or whisk broom to keep things neat.
  • Make room for a couple of chairs, too, so you can step back from your projects, sit down, and admire the garden around you.
Read the next Article: Holiday Gifts for Gardeners

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Gardening Tip of the Day

  • If the best looking melons in the garden had little or no flavor last summer, the problem may be the variety planted. Some melon types do better in a region than others and only trial and error or an experienced local gardener or county extension agent can guide you.

    Occasionally the problem is the soil. It may lack sufficient nutrients or the pH can be too low. Dig in compost or rotted manure before planting. Melons do best in neutral to slightly alkaline soil. Have your soil tested and if the pH is below 6.5, amend with lime. Sometimes a lot of rain near the time of harvest will dilute the sugar in melons affecting taste. Watermelons will regain their sugars if you hold off harvesting for a few days. Cantaloupes will not.