Excuse me for a moment while I admire my own pun. Well, nobody else is going to do it for me after all.
OK, I’m back with you. Nothing very exciting about this post really, but I hope it might be helpful. I don’t know many people who have the luxury of being able to pot up their plants and leave them in little groups with one label so that they never get mixed up. I’ve tried this numerous times but every year, the weather turns suddenly chilly/haily/apocolyptically hot and seedlings have to be ferried in to a more appropriate place. And although I love all my little seedlings and they are really all individuals, when it comes to it…one tomato variety is pretty much like another when it’s only a couple of inches high.
So, labelling is necessary and once in a fit of industriousness I wrote a whole post about different ways to label plants. I bemoaned that lolly sticks were good but hard to obtain in quantity. But recently I realised that you could buy them buy the skipload (well, 1,000) on Amazon – intended for crafts, rather than food, I think. With postage, they work out about 1p a piece, and after checking on Twitter to see if it was a good idea* I forked out my pennies and I am now the proud owner of these little things. I thought they would be a bit thin and splintery but they’re actually quite smooth and feel sturdy, easy to write on with a fine pencil. They are about 11.5cm by 1cm (not 1.5 as described but I thought that was a mistake). Even allowing for natural decomposition I hope to get at least two uses out of them, and it also means I can generously label any plants I give away.
When they eventually become unusable rather than having to be binned, I can compost or burn them, and if you’re aesthetically-inclined, they do look a lot nicer than plastic, too. Sue Beesley of Bluebell Cottage Gardens pointed out that you can even buy coloured ones – how cute would they be on a plant stall? You can also buy slightly larger sticks which would probably be better for row markers or plants in beds: I found in some places these were called “tongue depressors” (say aaaaaah!).
All this reminded me of the chip forks I linked to in my original post – you can get 1000 of these for around the same price as the lolly sticks. I can’t find dimensions, but they are probably a little wider, and a little shorter, than the lolly sticks. And of course if anyone passes by with a bag of chips you’ll be ready to spring – I wouldn’t recommend using a lolly stick to spear any kind of prey, potato-based or not.
I would rather like to have a go at pyrographing (which I don’t think is a word) labels on to them in proper ice-lolly style but my partner doesn’t want to let me put his metal stencils in the fire and who can blame him…
*(thank you to @sarahlimback @emmathegardener and @suebeesley for your encouragement – not to mention Emma’s note that Sarah Raven sanctions their use, and you can’t get a higher authority than that can you?).