Garden Label Choices

Garden Label Choices

Part of Ep. 401 Waiting for the Snow to Melt

Make your own garden and tree labels that will survive the seasons with these suggestions from Jim Sellmer.

Premiere date: Feb 29, 1996

TRANSCRIPT+
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.

Jim:
Exactly.

Shelley:
We're looking for something permanent, probably metal, something that won't fade and hopefully won't be eaten.

Jim:
Exactly.

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.

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