Make your own garden and tree labels that will survive the seasons with these suggestions from Jim Sellmer.
Premiere date: Feb 29, 1996
Wisc Gardener Transcript:
Shelley: One of the saddest chores I have in early spring is heading out to the garden to see what survived the winter. It's a chore made even more difficult because a lot of my labels look like this! I can't read 'em! Some are missing; some, I think, were eaten! I'm with Jim Sellmer, to talk about labels for the garden.
Jim: Shelley, labels are very important. One of the big questions from new home owners is "they have apple trees, and they want to know what they are? I can't identify them from the apple?" What I normally recommend, is to take aluminum like this. You can use a ball point pen to scribe the name into it then tie it, loosely, around the branch.
Shelley: So it doesn't girdle the branch.
Jim: Exactly, and check it regularly to make sure that it's still loose.
Shelley: Great idea! Of course, then, you don't get free apples!
Jim: That is a problem! You need to think about what you're doing. That wooden one works really well, but it breaks down. It starts out like this...
Shelley: And after a year, it looks like that.
Jim: These are fine for vegetable gardens and annual beds.
Shelley: Seasonal or temporary.
Jim: Also, the plastic ones are the same way. You can use a permanent marker on it, but it fades.
Shelley: I use a pencil, and I can still read it. But after a couple seasons, they just shatter.
Jim: They break down, exactly.
Shelley: What do we look for that's more permanent? What about the cute ones?
Jim: There are designer labels made out of ceramic. One of the problems with these if you use a permanent marker, it will fade and you'll have to re-write the name.
Shelley: If you can remember! This had a name on it! I don't know what it was! Also, I found that a lot of these shattered from the extreme cold weather we get.
Jim: They will break down.
Shelley: What's your ideal for a permanent label?
Jim: Well, as far as permanent labels go, a good one that works is a zinc label. You can use a permanent marker on it, you can scribe into it or you can use a press-on label.
Shelley: I know some people who have worries about using press-on labels, like this one.
Jim: I've had gardeners tell me they've gone for several years with those with no problems.
Shelley: So, they're not going to fall off quickly?
Jim: No, not at all.
Shelley: This style, in fact, is a favorite of one of the founders of the Madison Hosta Society. She writes in very fine handwriting with a permanent marker on them. I can't read my handwriting, so I would prefer this.
Jim: I think it's a good way to go. The other option is to do your own.
Shelley: So, you make them yourself.
Jim: Your own recycle kit. It works very well. We have an orange juice can lid, and you can use a press-on label or you can use a permanent marker. They both work very well. Use a nice hanger or other piece of wire.
Shelley: You can replace them when the plant dies.
Shelley: We're looking for something permanent, probably metal, something that won't fade and hopefully won't be eaten.
Shelley: What if you can't remember what you planted?
Jim: That's a big problem!
Shelley: Here's this for a great solution! Thanks, Jim.