Lowenfels: Yes, it's still winter -- cuddle up with a gardening catalog

Jeff Lowenfels

I need another garden tool like I need to pay more taxes. I have enough already to get the tasks at hand done. You are probably in the same boat. Still, who doesn't like to look? It can't hurt as long as you don't get out that credit card. Just click around and look.

For example, take a look at The Garden Shop Online ( gardenshoponline.com ). Lots of pretty interesting garden tools here. In fact, they carry all sorts of tools from all sorts of countries. The descriptions on some of the items are truly priceless. For example, describing a potato harvesting scoop "I hardly know what to say ... this is a gigantic scoop to harvest potatoes and sift out the dirt. If it was a little bigger, it could be a heavy duty squash racket."

Next, I found myself lusting over a British-made Dutch garden hoe over at Bulldog ( bulldogtools.co.uk ). I also considered how much easier it might be to turn the compost pile leaves with a three-pronged cultivator. If you want a different kind of fork, however, they have dozens and dozens of them. And that is not all, by any means. Tools galore. These are not your cheaply made product, but no spade, shovel or fork should be. Their U.S. supplier is Clarington Forge ( claringtonforge.com ).

You have to check out Old Garden Tools ( oldgardentools.co.uk ), another British tool company, if for no other reason than they carry horse boots. Right, and all different sizes of them too. There are some pretty unusual, old tools here that I am quite sure you have never seen. Check out the lawn grooming section and key in on "Lawnmower History A." And aren't some of the tools used to groom lawns amazing? Only the British would love a lawn enough to use scissors.

Of course, I suppose there is an English garden writer somewhere extolling the wonderments of the American tool catalog, Lee Valley ( leevalley.com ). We take them for granted sometimes what with all the hullabaloo over English garden tools and all. They have quite a selection of tools. Right now, I have my eye on the softwood kindling splitter (not really a garden tool, but in that section nonetheless) and was intrigued to see "melon cradles," which will be great to grow watermelons someday here when global warming catches on.

I was looking at flame weeders for dandelions at Way Cool Tools ( waycooltools.com ) when I saw the vegetable bed flamer with 5 torches. Let me at them! They have at least two different kinds of garden blade sharpeners, always worth looking into to keep your existing tools in top shape.

DeWit tools have a reputation as being top-notch and you can see some at Tindara Orchids ( tindarorchids.com ). Take a look at the Spork. It sure bit into even the most compacted soil. They also have a whole bunch of wicked- looking hand tools.

Finally, there is Garden Tool Co. ( gardentoolcompany.com ). I am not sure I believe in "Ladies Gardening Tools," but they have a whole bunch of smaller handled tools designed for smaller hands that ladies are supposed to have. They too have a whole bunch of DeWit tools, including one whole section for raised bed gardening. Check out the Sneeboer dandelion digger and the crack weeding brush while you are there.

This is the last of the month's columns on catalogs and webalogs. As I always say, note that you really don't need to buy anything from a catalog. You live in one of the great gardening centers of the world and virtually anything you need can be purchased locally. Webalogs and catalogs are for learning and to take up the time we have waiting to get out there and really garden.


--Alaska Peony Growers 2014 Conference: Friday-Saturday at BP Energy Center. Info at alaskapeonies.org . I am speaking -- twice!

--Alaska Botanical Garden: Register for the Annual Spring Workshop, March 14-15 at alaskabg.org .

--Plant Dyes Workshop: 2-4 p.m. Saturday at Bell's Nursery. There's a $6 materials fee. Register at alaskabg.org .

--Spring weather: Do not let it fool you. We have months to go before we garden outside. Stay off lawns and out of garden beds.

Find out about Jeff Lowenfels' books at http://tinyurl.com/TeamingWithMicrobes and http://tinyurl.com/TeamingWithNutrients.