Gardening with Vision Loss

This month we were joined by a special guest, Master Gardening candidate Lisa Haynes, who shared low vision tips on gardening safety, organization, weeding and seeding, and more.

November 7, 2019

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Audio Transcript



Hadley

Hadley Growers – Gardening with Vision Loss

Presented by Tiffany Mpofu and Debbie Good

November 7, 2019

Tiffany M: Welcome, all of you, to Hadley Growers. I am a learning expert with Hadley. And I will also be your host for this discussion. Along with me is Debbie Good. She is also a learning expert with Hadley.

Also, too, along with us, we have Lisa, who is working on her master gardener project. She is going to be a guest speaker for us today. We are so delighted that she will be sharing ideas with us about gardening when having a vision impairment. Lisa, I'll hand it over to you.

Lisa: Great, thanks, Tiffany. Hi, everybody. Lisa here from Orlando, Florida. I am in week 9 of a 13-week master gardener program here in Orange County. What we do is an eight-hour class every Tuesday from September through December 17th. As part of our program, we were all required to do a 10-minute presentation about something that interested us. Many of the presentations had to be based on research information. That is the whole premise of what we do. Everything we do is scientifically based.

I kind of took a different track and I talked to my director. I said, "I'd like to do gardening for individuals with low or no vision, or blind, visually impaired, so that my colleagues could understand what it's like for us to be in the garden, and what special needs we may have." I kind of took a turn on it as well, that we have a plant clinic that's open Monday to Friday, 8:00 to noon, 1:00 to 5:00. I started teaching my classmates how to work with persons with blindness, visual impairment, low vision, no vision. They were pretty receptive to that because of all of us are living with this, I don't have to do that.

What I will be talking about are a couple different topics that really kind of helps us get around the garden. We'll be talking about safety in the garden, how to find your way around the garden, keeping it together... the tools, that is. Naming our plants and defining where we plant our rows and the plants, and defining that, and planting seeds.

Starting from there, if it's okay, let's talk about safety in the garden. Because we had to do research based, I went to the CDC. And the one thing that struck me and struck everybody in the class, because this pertains to everybody who works in the garden, the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends that we all are up to date on our tetanus and diphtheria shots. We all have our hands in soil. Soil has microbes. Soil has bad things in it. We need to be up to date on that tetanus shot. I don't know about many of you, I have cut myself in the garden in the soil. I kind of jab myself. I do silly things. So, I'm making sure that I do have my tetanus shot on board.

One thing to go along with that though, is I do have a Kevlar glove. Kevlar glove will not stop a shovel or a trowel from going into your hand, but it will slow it down. And I use the Kevlar glove when I'm cutting vegetables as well because I've nearly lopped parts of fingers off. I'm very, very careful about that.

Debbie G: Lisa, can I ask a question? Sorry.

Lisa: Sure.

Debbie G: You said Kevlar glove. I'm not familiar with that word. Could you spell it out for us?

Lisa: It's K-E-V-L-A-R. I got mine on Amazon. It's just a white glove that is made from a material that should prevent cuts. Police officers bulletproof vests are made out of Kevlar. Obviously, a lot tougher Kevlar than a $14 glove I get on Amazon. But, by using that Kevlar glove, it does slow down knives. It will slow down getting cut.

Debbie G: That's great. And we already have a question from Sue. So, go ahead, Sue.

Sue: I just wanted to comment on those gloves. Get them in the fishing department part of your stores. Those are the same gloves used for preventing fishing hooks from going into your hands. Also, from getting your filet knives from going into your hands.

Debbie G: Thank you, Sue.

Sue: You're welcome.

Lisa: Yeah, thanks, Sue. That's great. To kind of go along with safety in the garden, be organized. I think we all have to live our lives in a very organized fashion, so we know where things are. But when I was talking to my colleagues, they don't have to be organized because they can find their tools. They can find things. Then, along with it, and, for me, this is very important. I have retinitis pigmentosa and I still have enough vision that I need to be very careful. I wear fully wraparound sunglasses to prevent the sun from getting in my eyes, and a large brim hat. I have heavy pants. I have heavy work shoes. I am physical in the garden. I'm the one that does everything in the yard. So, I do protect myself with all of those kind of... Personal protective gear is what it's called.

I'm sure most of us have had this happen. I trip over the golden retriever. But tripping hazards are tough for all of us. Hoses, cords, my tool bucket. When working with cords, if you have... I have a hot pink power cord. 50-foot power cord. That helps me see it even in the grass. Research has shown that items that are white, pink, and blue are easiest for persons with low vision to find. This hot pink cord does it for me. Now, that said, I did cut one off using a power tool. My hedge trimmer once. So, I'm still kind of careful.

Along with that, keep a phone with you or have an alert system for your family and neighbors. I found this interesting in the research that some people keep whistles or other loud horns and things with them, that if they get lost in the yard, family and neighbors know if they hear the whistle, they hear the horn, to come and help. That way, if you're out, particularly in a large garden, you can let people know that you're going to need a hand.

These are two things. This is do as I say, not as I do. I have vining plants. Down here in Orlando, the Asiatic Jasmine is just this beautiful border plant. But, it's a vine, and it's a very tough vine. And I have fallen. Stories of people falling and breaking wrists and hips have started coming out to me and talking with other master gardeners.

Then, don't install plants that are going to attract bees and other insects that sting. Once again, I have a huge butterfly garden, pollinator garden. Typically, pollinators are docile, but if you do kind of get in their way, they're going to lash out at you. So, that's kind of where I am, safety in the garden.

The next part is how to find your way around the garden. One thing I read was to have a waterproof radio to mark your space in the garden. If you're working in a raised bed, or if you're working in a way that you're trying to follow a row, put the waterproof radio at the end of the row or in the bed so that you can hear it and find your way to that bed, and maybe keep going your way around the bed, or to get out of the bed.

This, I think, is for all of us. Have level pathways. If you have a large area, use different types of pathways, whether it's pavers, or a rock, or a mulch that could be different colors, or different types of substrates for your pathways, so that you could border your garden with a white rock. Or you could put in a large bark mulch, or a small shredded mulch to help you find your way around. But you have to be careful that the walkways are level and that they have good traction.

Working in raised beds. I know some of us have talked about this. They're great, especially if you have other different abilities. If you are in a wheelchair, or if you are dealing with an aging body like I am, sometimes having a raised bed is a good way to go. The only thing about working in a raised bed are the edges. If anybody's walked into the edge of a bed, you know that the corner can be pretty nasty. What I read is that you could get one of those pool noodles. Slice the pool noodle, and then glue it, staple it to the corner of the raised bed. That way, if you bump into it, it can be a marker to get around the bed. But also you're not going to be banging up your shin on the bed, the raised bed, and hurting yourself. To also get around-

Debbie G: Okay, Lisa.

Lisa: ... Yeah.

Debbie G: Yeah, sorry, we have two hands up. I think it was back when you were talking about safety, and I jumped the gun and didn't wait long enough for people to raise their hands. So, actually, we do have two hands. I'm going to call on Sue right now.

Sue: Yeah. The thing about the safety, make sure that when you have markers... My husband likes to stick these little flags up in the yard, so that maybe I will see them. Well, that's fine if I am on one of the days when I'm really seeing well. But if it's a day when I'm not, I'm just as likely to walk the dog and drag the leash right along, and knock those things out of place so that next time when I can pay attention, I miss it because it's in the wrong place. We have what they call popcorn trees, and those roots are right at the surface level. If I didn't know where that stupid popcorn tree was, I would trip on it every single time. Just a word of caution.

Lisa: That's a really great idea. Well, that's good, I-

Debbie G: Thank you, Sue.

Tiffany M: Yeah, thanks, Sue.

Lisa: Yeah, thanks, Sue.

Debbie G: Let's hear from Irene now.

Irene: Yeah, I think you got to it on my statement. It's when I am working... I school horses all the time. One of the things that I do, further to your radio, is I have one radio hanging on the side of the house. You'll be very impressed to hear, Debbie, it runs Radio Canada, which is overly en français. The neighbors are not impressed. It's a talking one. Then, because I have to work in the paddock in circles, which is not quite the same thing and I'm probably going faster, but then I put another radio on the corner of the barn. It allows me to work between those two soundwaves. The other radio has, let's say, a country music station on it, so that I am totally oriented all the time.

Yes, very good on the smartphone. I have that set up with Find My iPhone, so that when I end up on the border of the creek, or down in a mud hole or something... They've rescued me three times now, which is rather good. The Find My iPhone is connected to all my family. That is a really effective method as well. Once you move on, I have one more thing, so go ahead.

Lisa: That's a wonderful idea on Find My iPhone. That way the family can find you, particularly in your situation, where you're out and about. My yard isn't huge, so my family can kind of find me. But when you're out and living your life in a large kind of way, that's a wonderful way to help people make sure you're okay.

Tiffany M: Absolutely.

Irene: Yes, yes.

Lisa: Cool. So, we talked about the pool noodles. Oh, and this is iffy, install rope fences on stakes with the caps on top to either help you find your rows, or help you get around the garden. You could use different textures of ropes. You can put different flags on ropes. The big thing is that you cap your stakes. A cheap tennis ball slit open on the top of a stake is a really great way not to hurt yourself. If you bump into it, it shouldn't hurt as badly. But that's the big thing. You always want to make sure that you've got all of your sharp edges covered up. I feel like I'm preaching to the choir, where I wasn't in my group, and I know you guys know a lot of this. So, I hope I'm not just like beating you over the head with stuff that you already do.

One thing I've learned is I've installed garden edging, particularly where it separates from my bed to my grass. I run my wheel of my mower right along the edge of that bedding, my little edging. It does a really good job of guiding me around and taking my time. It guides me around because I have a bunch of curved beds.

Install sensory plants. I didn't get to do this piece of it. One of my colleagues talked about sensory plants. But you could put citronella plants in your herb garden. You could put lavender in your butterfly garden, so that you can smell your key plant and know that you are in this particular area of your garden.

I tried this. It worked really well. I have one of those little two foot, three-foot-tall flag posts with a little 18" flag on it. I use that as a marker to prevent me from mohawking the yard. When I'm mowing, I miss strips in the yard all the time. When I put my little flag out, I aim the wheel of my lawnmower to the flag. Then, I move the flag over and I mow backwards. You just keep moving your flags, or your traffic cones, or whatever, around so that you can aim your mower or other equipment towards that. Yeah, and I've got that. That's kind of my piece on finding your way around the garden. Does anybody else have any other ideas?

Debbie G: Okay. Let's hear from area code 254.

Sharon: Hi, Deborah.

Debbie G: Oh, hi, Sharon. I recognize your voice. How are you?

Sharon: Awesome. It's amazing how you, and the one that's with you, how she explains things too. I don't think I told you, Deborah, but I'm learning more about gardening myself, and I imagine it's going to take a little while to get a bean come up. I was thinking. I know you all was talking about gloves and all. I don't know if they got them here in Waco, but would those gloves be like rubber? Would that would help also, in gardening? Or would I get another kind of gloves that would help with that?

Lisa: We have tons of bugs here and a lot of them sometimes aren't really good neighbors. So, I have leather palmed gloves that I use. Then the gloves come up my wrist. There are other kinds of gloves that could come up almost to your elbow, if you were sticking your arm into your herb garden, where you're going to have a lot of pollinators. It kind of depends on your dexterity and how your hand's going to work. My hands are losing some strength. To get a full leather glove isn't going to work for me, but a leather palmed glove does.

Sharon: So, it depends on how your hands do and different things, right?

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. Particularly, if I'm out there plucking delicate weeds, I've got to use a different glove than the kind of glove I'm going to use when I've got my hedge trimmer, and I'm using a power tool, or heavier equipment, than trying to pluck weeds out of the garden.

Debbie G: Very good. We have a question from... or a comment on area code 414. Go ahead.

Area code 414: Hello. I have a question and a comment. First of all, I want to know how you would affix the swimming pool noodles to which you referred earlier. Then secondly, while I am a city gardener and do container gardening only right in the middle of the city, I know someone who's a very well experienced, avid gardener, who is visually impaired. Also, he was a columnist as well. He has his garden with tires that are stacked so high so that it's his method of having the garden up at a higher level by stacking these tires. He's had a great deal of success with that for his physical conditions now, as well as good gardening results. So, that's my comment as well. So, thank you for answering the question about the noodles.

Lisa: Sure.

Tiffany M: That's a great idea. Also, too, using landmarks similar to the tires. If there's a fountain, or if there's just little landmarks close by or near your garden, that could be a nice way for the layout of your garden.

Lisa: It is. That's a great idea. I picked that up a little bit later, but I'm glad you brought it up now. Fountains, chimes, anything that is going to make noise can work very well. The problem with some of the fountains is that they do have power cords, so you need to be aware, or bury the power cords so you don't trip. But, yeah, that came up quite a bit in my research. That those kinds of auditory notes, that add beauty to your garden, are really great ways to go too.

Let me double back. On the affixing the pool noodles, there are all sorts of different cements, meaning glue cements that you can use. I like... There's a two-part glue that you could get at Ace or Home Depot or a shop like that, where you squeeze the two, essentially, syringes together. You mix up the glue and then you just kind of smear it on, and you just slap in onto the wood. So, a glue would work. Or even just long nails that you pound all the way into your bed, if you don't mind having extra nail holes in your bed. Those would be the kinds of things I would use.

I've not gotten into container gardening here. I think that's the next thing I'm going to do because we're about ready to go into our cold season vegetables, and I'd like to give that a shot. I've got some old pool noodles sitting around the pool here. So, I'm going to see what I can do to get those on there.

Then, on the tires stacked up, I just saw yesterday, an illustration that they took like a big truck tire, and then they took a smaller tire, and then they took a smaller tire, so that you have a tier. You could plant draping plants around your bottom tier, and then have less draping, or other interest plants in the middle tier, and then do your showy, tall thing in the top. That looked like a really neat way to go. It was a beautiful presentation.

Does anyone else have any other comments or questions? Cool. We can double back always. The next piece is keeping it together. I mean the tools. I personally use a tool caddy. It's just a small little $15 hand carry tool caddy that I have. It's got some pockets on it. It's black, so it's not the best thing, but it's durable. I have yellow caution tape wrapped around the handle so that I can find it. I keep my tools in it, like my trowel, and my weeder, and some of my other things. I wrap that yellow caution tape around those tools, and I leave trails hanging out so it's like a big bow on this thing. I've got almost a foot of caution tape on both sides. It has really helped me find my tools when I've dropped them, or I've gone to kind of do something else and I'm like, "Oh rats, I lost my trowel." So, having those kind of stringers coming off of that has been a really big help for me.

I wear cargo pants. I know that's not always what everybody wants to do, but I'm finding that keeping my most frequently used tools, like my nippers, in my cargo pants, helps me keep track of them. Now, the big issue with that is... This goes back to safety. Make sure that they're in a pocket that you're not going to impale yourself, particularly if you have your nippers. I put my nippers in upside down, so the handles are down in the pocket and the nippers are up. It just makes it easier to grab them and not get poked by them.

Something else I had read was tie a rope to your tools and then attach it to either your tool caddy or your pants, your belt. Something like that so that you're... This is kind of a funny thought, but you're dragging your tools along with you, and you know exactly where they are because they're hanging off your body or your tool caddy. So, I don't know, what do you all think about that? Do you have other tricks that you do and use to keep your tools together?

Debbie G: Let's hear from Sue. Go ahead, Sue.

Sue: Yeah, one of the things about the caddy, go to your local restaurants, and the ones that serve dill pickles probably will just give their buckets to you. Those make excellent tool caddies. It's deep. It'll hold those pruning shears as well as your smaller tools. If you're going to put tools in your pants’ pockets, take a old leather glove, make sure that it doesn't have holes where it shouldn't, and use that to put the blade of your tool into. So that if you fall, if you trip, it'll have to go through that leather first.

Lisa: That's an excellent idea.

Debbie G: Thank you, Sue.

Tiffany M: Thanks, Sue.

Debbie G: Irene, go ahead.

Irene: Thank you. Thank you very much. Sue, that's what I have always been looking for is the best method. Because I regret to say, I'm still into paring knives. My favorite tool of choice, because I hack down a lot of grass. I do that by hand, and I'm not too comfortable with the side, and some of this grass that's growing here, I... I think they call it pigweed. No, they don't call it pigweed. There's some kind of grass that they grow.

So, what I have done is I use a serrated bread knife. It's a really expensive one. I can't remember. It was some kind of a... Somebody forced me into it. This bread knife has a serrated edge, so I think it's a little too big to go into the finger of a glove, but yeah, I think I'm just going to go and-

Anyway, on the rope thing, I have masses of binder twine. I have to feed square bales to the horses, and I have used huge amounts of binder twine. One of the things that I teach all the family is how to braid. So, I think just bits of string and rope are sort of good, but to get a three, or six, or a nine braid on whatever twine you're using, certainly makes it last a bit longer. I like the idea of tying any kind of tool that I can onto the... I wear a belt. Pants would never stay up otherwise. But the same with you, huge numbers of pockets and a heavy leather belt. I think those are my ideas on that.

Lisa: You bring up a good point. Even like a worker's tool belt could work. A leather tool belt that you buckle around your waist would be a good thing too. You could put some things in and, being leather, your knife, or small pocketknife, or something, could be in that and be safe too.

Irene: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, yeah. I've seen them at the hardware stores. The leather belts.

Lisa: Yeah.

Irene: Just haven't got around to finding out what's most effective for me.

Lisa: It's all trial and error. And the more I research, the more there's people trying all sorts of really interesting things to be able to maintain their lives in the garden and outdoors.

Irene: Yeah, I have no sight at all, so I have definitely had, over the last 70 years, I have had to adapt the gardening from some eyesight... I have retinitis pigmentosa, so adapting the gardening over the 60 years of gardening is really... You have to get the ideas on how to adapt.

One of the things that I use, which is probably not safe, so don't anybody repeat this. Apparently, they have... I like that, eh.

Lisa: I do too.

Irene: Uh oh, it's getting recorded.

Sue: Don't let Ed know.

Irene: No, no, I'm teasing. I was started out with, and Sue would probably tell us more about this, you know the black fabric that you put down between the rows to hold the weeds down? Apparently that stuff encourages scutch grass. That's the word I was trying to come up with. This stuff encourages massive root development of scutch grass, and it doesn't decompose.

So, one of the things apparently that might be better, and I have a method of holding it down, it's called compost. Of course, that gives you some footing as well. Is any of the places who use cardboard, for shipping cardboard, don't like newspapers because it's got way too many chemicals on the print, but my assumption is that the brown cardboard is probably more useful in the garden because it decomposes, and it's also giving me an edge and a spot of footing to... First rain, and it's definitely not something that you're going to slide on. So, that goes between all the rows, and allows me to identify that I am not on the plants, that I'm between the rows of plants. That's a good one.

Lisa: That's a great idea. I'm writing that down. That's great. Wonderful. How about if we... Let me see. We are at 3:36, well 2:36. How about if we talk about how we name our plants? This is something that could pertain to even people doing indoor container gardening. If you're doing different plants and you can't always remember what is what, there's some really nifty tricks that you can use.

One was to use popsicle sticks, or popsicle sticks with different colors or textures. Then, like staple a bead, or staple certain textures of ribbons to them. Now, you have to remember what is what. So if you put in a popsicle stick with a bead, it could be lettuce. A popsicle stick with two beads could be radishes. So you have to remember what you've done, but it's a real quick way, in a pot, or in a row, to say, "Oh, okay, this is where I am and this is the particular plant that I'm using."

I know for those of us with low vision, we could do something like writing a name on a large card and then laminating it. I bought some plastic name tags and I used permanent markers. Within a week and a half, I couldn't see the name of the plant that I had put in. I don't have enough vision to see pencil on one of my little plant name placards. So, going in and using this large card and laminating it could work really well. I know some of you folks do use braille. There are braille label makers that you can put on sticks or posts to name your plants.

This is another interesting one that could just be something interesting in your garden. Use rocks that you've painted bright colors, or that you've added textures to, to define your rows or to name your plants. When we did a tour up in Canada, they were talking about how the native individuals would leave little totems to say this is where you turn right to head back home again. So, I've started thinking that could be a really nifty way to mark a row, or mark a plant, is to create my little rock totems that I could say, "Okay, I turn left here to go and find my lettuce." Does anyone else have any ideas on ways to name your plants, what works in your garden?

Debbie G: Let's hear from Sue.

Sue: Yeah, one of the things that you could do is put your name, if you can read, or even if you can braille, put it inside a sandwich bag and zip it closed. Making sure that when you attach this thing to a stake, or whatever, that the card hangs so that the opening is on the downside. That way you'll have it for a while longer.

Also, one of the things that we have found out is that when you have something labeled, if it is on a popsicle stick, pencil will last a whole lot longer than something like your dark sharpie. Don't ask me why, but so often that the sharpie will just wash away after several months, and you have no idea what you've got planted unless your memory is super good.

Lisa: With that, how do you maintain the pencil, then? Do you use like a magnifier to see it at that point?

Sue: I haven't actually used that, but this is something that they say works. I try and memorize what I've got planted in different areas. I know that I've pulled up my plants that I have wanted and left the weeds there because I pulled the wrong thing. But after a while, I can't tell the difference. I've got some real pretty somethings growing and I don't know whether it's a weed or a something that I want because the leaves don't make sense for what I remember having planted there. And the smell doesn't register. There's just enough different that I get mixed up. So, if you're going to use pencil, just try to keep it as dark as possible. I think it goes to the number three after the number 2. Number 2 is your common pencil. I think that the numbers get larger as they get darker. But that's what you want. You want a darker pencil. Another option is, if you know somebody who's into wood burning. Wood burning would last longer than a sharpie.

Lisa: Wow. That's a great idea. Wow.

Tiffany M: Also, too, going along with memory, possibly keeping a chart or a map that could help out with that, with knowing which plant, or flower, or vegetable is placed in the garden.

Lisa: So simple, and I never even thought about that. That is just an excellent suggestion.

Debbie G: Let's hear from area code 414. Go ahead.

Area code 414: Hello again. I'd like to put in a couple of points about a outdoor container garden. I usually have about 16 or so containers. Half of them are in the front of my townhouse, and the other half are in the back. So, I do more by memory as far as the color of the flowers are concerned. Because I use transplants, I can tell the herbs by touch easily. On my front porch, for example, I have a round café table on which I put flowers, and then a smaller round table, and then two end tables on either side of the bench, and such like that. So, I remember where I put which container.

Then the other help is that I've, through the years, purchased different containers that are slightly different. So, I can tell by the make and the size of the saucer under the container, "Oh, well, I'll put my pink geraniums in this particular kind of container." That helps me to know the pink ones from the candy-striped ones and so forth like that.

Then in the back of my townhouse, I have a ledge onto which I can place three good sized containers, or four. That's around a very small deck, which I like to call a stoop because it's so small. But I do put them there so I can remember which I've put on the ledge, as opposed to which I put on little plastic tables that I just have purchased at a Ace Hardware, versus a round, more aluminum type, not real wrought iron, but aluminum. So, by the type of table where I put them helps me to remember the color.

And I've often thought about doing this on a map, as someone had suggested, but I think one of the great advantages and beauty of a outdoor container garden is that after a couple of weeks, I can shift my plants around. I can shift the containers around and create a new type of setting. That's one of the aspects that I really enjoy about container gardening. That I can group the plants differently throughout the season. It's just, I guess, my pension for moving furniture indoors, that I like to move plants outdoors. I just wanted to give those couple of suggestions. And thank you.

Lisa: That's great. Thank you. That's a wonderful idea to have your flowers on different tables and different kind of places that you can remember where they are and what's where. I really like that idea.

Debbie G: Let's hear from Irene.

Irene: This is what I wanted to talk about earlier on, and I knew you'd get to it. Identifying your plants. Back to my trusty smartphone. I use an iPhone. There is now something called WayAround. It's technology that not everybody's excited about, but this would work for you, if you're into smartphones. It's W-A-Y-A-R-O-U-N-D. These are tags that you put on your plants, your sticks, your door, and you then go to your smartphone. It's the same as what the other lady was talking about, is make a map. Each of these tags is identified with the plant, and you can apparently reuse the tags. I haven't got to it yet. Just haven't had time. But that is an awesome way to identify plants. And the other one, back to the phone, is the... Let me get it. Be My Eyes and Aira. Those are two really excellent apps. I lost it.

Lisa: I've been registered on Be My Eyes to help people and I've never gotten an ask yet. I've heard of that. But, man, the idea of using tags that your iPhone app would pick up and tell you where you are, or what you're looking at is just unreal. What a cool thing.

Tiffany M: Yes.

Irene: Yeah, you can get all the tutorials on YouTube. That's why I gave you the actual spelling.

Lisa: There's a project for me for tonight. That's just great. Thank you. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. That's exciting. Wow.

Irene: Yeah, and all the plant identification apps that I have gone through, none of them are very accurate. I think we had... I have a granddaughter with eyesight, so we had a bowl of apples... No, it was a bowl of tomatoes. She took a picture of it, and it came back being informed that it was apples. So, they're about 25% accurate. So, that's a tough one to work through if you're trying to work your way through... We have poison parsnip and various other nasties that I thought could be useful with plant identification, but they're not very accurate.

So, the other one is the Aira. I got the boys... Well, there was a bunch of them. I got them to sort out which plant identification app could be useful to a totally blind person, and there's none of them. So, that's my story. I found none.

Lisa: There's one that is based primarily with Florida plants and I've had the same experience. 25% accuracy and it was an exercise in frustration. They're just not where they need to be yet to be really useful. I agree totally. Cool.

We kind of talked about this next little piece. It's defining our rows and plants. It came up when we were talking about finding our plants. Put plastic silverware next to your plant, particularly when you're putting in new plants, or if you are working with a smaller plant. So, a fork is going to be lettuce until you can have the texture and the feel of the lettuce to know what it is. Plastic silverware is cheap. You can plug it in the ground, and when you're down with it, you can recycle it. That's a good way to mark your plants if you want to try and find your small plants.

This is a personal favorite of mine. I read you can put wine corks in the ground with little flags on them to mark your plants. Yeah, I know. Our new thing is learning about wine, so we have plenty of wine corks that I can put in the ground to use as a marker for my plants. And it's not going to hurt anything. There are no chemicals in it. And they might kind of biodegrade if you leave them in long enough.

Something else I found really cool is take your pots... when you buy plants, wherever you buy your plants... take the bottom off the pots, and then when you're planting a smaller plant, plant your plant... Let me see, how do I describe this. Put the pot in the ground without the bottom. Plant your plant in that pot. For me, I was thinking those white pots that I can get down here. So, I essentially plant the bottomless pot in the ground, and then plant my plant in the pot. As I'm walking down the row, or I'm walking around my garden, I could see that white pot in the ground and then look at my plant. It's a good visual marker. Once again, it's like if you're sowing your garden and you want to be able to see your lettuce or whatever, you can actually put that pot in and have it be a white pot, or a different color pot. Then you can find your plant easier.

Then we talked about sensory plants and how to define your space. It's 10 til. So, does anybody have any comments or ideas on how you define your rows or your plants?

Debbie G: Go ahead, Sue.

Sue: Okay. On the sensory plants, don't forget that as they grow, they are going to shoot their babies out in a spiral. They don't just go helter-skelter off of mama plant. They actually will form a spiral going out. Yes, you have to be extremely careful near your sensory plant. Don't back into it, not even by accident. They are quite sharp.

I also wanted to mention that sometimes your plants will actually change the colors of the flowers. For instance, one of my friends was just telling me today that her mums, at a summer wedding, were yellow. Now, those mums are re-blooming, and they're orange. And, out in my front yard, my zinnias, on one part of the zinnias, the side that goes toward the street, they are now purple. On the side that goes back away from the street, those are now orange zinnias. They had been multicolored up until just recently. So, your plants may actually change colors on you. That was something that I was only aware of this week.

Lisa: That's great. When we lived in Ohio, I've had mums that have kind of, I don't know, talked to each other and said, "Hey, we're all going to change color this year and be a whole new plant." So, I've seen that happen, but I haven't had that happen with my zinnias. It's too hot down here to have a good zinnia growing season, which really makes me sad because I do love those plants. I think they're just so beautiful. But that's really interesting. Thank you.

I guess... Let me see. I'm keeping an eye on the time. The last thing I wanted to talk about was planting seeds. We talked earlier, or last month, about using pelleted seeds. Somebody suggested using a plastic tablecloth and putting holes in the plastic tablecloth to insert your seeds so that you can do it in the house. Cut your holes at your specified distances, and then put your seed in that way. Somebody last month talked about creating a slurry of cornstarch and water and putting the tiny seeds in that and then sowing the seeds. Like put it in a Ziploc bag and using it like a pastry bag. Put your seeds in a tissue or a paper towel and lay it in the bed.

Then, my favorite, I took a yardstick and I got my Dremel tool out. I notched one side of it every two inches, and I notched the other side every four inches to use as a marker grid. Then, another thing I saw was you put a channel down the center of a yardstick. Open up a channel and then you can use that channel to very specifically put your seeds in.

Tiffany M: This is Tiffany. I also heard, Lisa, that using a egg carton, and that you can sow seeds that way too so that you have the spacing between them.

Lisa: That's a great idea. I like that a lot. Yep, you could put little holes in the bottom of each little egg area and you can have your spacing done.

Tiffany M: Yes.

Debbie G: Sue has a comment also. Go ahead.

Sue: Yeah, on the egg carton, just like with peat pots, make sure you cut them open. You don't have to totally take them apart or anything. Just cut them open so those roots have someplace to go. Sometimes those roots are so tender that they get confused when they come up against the cardboard or the peat. And your plant will die. But if they have an escape hatch to go out into the soil, then you know that your plant can continue living.

Lisa: That's good to know.

Debbie G: Okay, we have five more minutes, so we do have a hand raised by Irene. Irene, can you just have a quick comment, and then we're going to start wrapping up.

Irene: Yeah, thank you very much. Yeah, oh, thank you very much for all these ideas. I really appreciate them. The way that I planted the garlic is... I had to plant garlic this fall. I had the same packing that I got with the cardboard boxes. They use unused newsprint sometimes now to pack the garlic. The really interesting thing was I could drive the garlic bulb through the newspaper, and I could tell where my spacing was because I was crackling newspaper all the time. So, isn't that a cool one? I like that one.

Lisa: That is good.

Irene: I could hear the newspaper, so I knew where the rows were for the garlic. Thank you, Debbie.

Debbie G: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lisa: That's great. Well, that's all I have.

Tiffany M: All right. Well, thank you so much, Lisa, for all the great ideas and sharing some great information with us.

Lisa: Thank you all for inviting me and also for listening to me. Most of all, thank you all for sharing your ideas. I think I've almost doubled the number of bullet points that I have to share with my classmates because of all your great ideas.

Debbie G: Tiffany, would you like to share your email address with everyone so-

Tiffany M: Sure, yes, absolutely. Yeah, so if you all have any questions or anything after the discussion, you can reach out to me. My name is Tiffany Mpofu. I'm a learning expert. My email address is tiffany.mpofu, and I'm going to spell that for you. It's M for Mary, P for Paul, O, F for Frank, U, at hadley.edu.

Debbie G: Tiffany, would you also welcome people to email suggestions for future Hadley Growers?

Tiffany M: Sure, absolutely. Any suggestions, comments, they're all welcome, so please feel free.

Debbie G: Okay. Thank you, everyone. This is Debbie Good. I learned a lot too. Tiffany-

Tiffany M: Yes.

Debbie G: ... are you going to say goodbye to... And thank you so much, Lisa. Wow. What a fountain of knowledge you are.

Tiffany M: Yes. Thanks, everybody. Have a great afternoon.