Daily Archives: January 12, 2011

A Touch of Spring: Ceramic Garden Markers

It is winter and that makes me think of garden planning. About this time last year, my neighbor and I sat down, paged through a seed catalog and came up with a joint order. This year, my husband and I will be setting up a greenhouse, thanks to the generosity of my mother at Christmas. She wants to be able to pick a lemon off a lemon tree the next time she comes up to Canada! This is the greenhouse we’ll be putting up…the 4′ x6′ EasyStart, which is called a season extender. We can always add to it later if we want. It’s made by a German firm called Hoklartherm and is sold in N. America through Exaco. I actually am still considering a Danish Juliana, but if the shipping isn’t too onerous, I’ll go with Exaco. (If any of you have any experience with either, I’d love to hear about it!) It’s snowing now and this is all advanced planning. Gardening will be more complex this year, though, because I have to learn how to use a greenhouse, not just have one. In addition, I have to plan my raised bed vegetable garden and other plots. So, I do want to start working on garden markers now, so they will be ready when the time comes. Ceramic garden markers. Let’s peruse a couple of sites that sell markers and decide what we’d like to do, make or buy.

These Earthmarks Herb Garden Markers are nice and they sell for $3.50 each. The artisans who make them say they achieved what they wanted only “after several months of testing various clay bodies, underglazes, patinas, materials for the stakes.” In addition, their markers are “made of high-fired stoneware in an attractive terra cotta color, the names were impressed into the clay and after an initial firing in a kiln, the lettering was underglazed and a soft verdigris patina was applied, then they were fired again.” So, as you can see, it’s not as easy as it looks and there are a number of considerations if you’re going to make your own. Artisan Hands on etsy.com makes these Veggie Garden Stakes, which are great: they won’t mildew or stain. I rather like the type on these, too. They’re cheerful and have nice, unobtrusive colors. The artisan says they are “cut from slabs of stoneware, stamped, glazed and fired to cone 6 in oxidation.”¬† I’m rather partial to these garden markers below because the minimalist design appeals to me. Made by JustWork, they come in a set of six for $18 U.S. They ship from Canada, so you’ll have to factor in shipping over the border. The site says these are made by Pottery with a Purpose, “handmade by potters who will both benefit financially and creatively from your purchase, and who face barriers to work such as physical disabilities, mental illness, addiction and homelessness. JustPotters operates out of a basement studio off Commercial Drive.” I like the idea of getting something this nice while I’m helping support¬† people in need, which is something that is unusual in this market and a refreshing example of social action. The last ones I’m showing can be reused, which is a good thing. You could use an old-fashioned grease-marker on them, but other things would work just as well. With the pre-stamped styles, however, you’d have to buy enough markers to cover each type of vegetable you grow, which could become pricey, and might be another reason to think about making your own.

If you’ve decided to make a marker similar to the one shown by Earthmarks, at the top of the page, here’s a tip: if you place plastic wrap over the rolled out clay, then use a cookie cutter over the plastic, you’ll have a nice rounded edge on your disk after you’ve lifted the plastic up. A woman named Cathy who used to teach at the art centre gave me that tip and it’s a good one. As you may have surmised, there are quite a few variables to consider if you choose to make your own, as the Earthmarks site makes clear. You may simply want to buy instead of make. In any event, the tips of my heather show new growth, snowdrops, narcissus, and tulips are next and soon we’ll be able to use our new garden stakes!

(Note: If you haven’t taken my Reader Interest Poll, please do…it’ll be up until Feb. 1 and you can find it by using the search box at the upper right. Thank you!)

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