in praise of the tip bag, my debris-gathering tool
LIKE LINUS WITH HIS BLANKET, I drag it behind me wherever I go. It’s my trusty tip bag, a debris-collecting tool I never thought I’d take a fancy to, having been a bushel-basket or wheelbarrow type for years. But bushel baskets got harder to score, and there are some spots in my lopsided garden where the wheelbarrow won’t do. So drag a bag I do, when I’m doing things like this:
- When edging, for instance, trimming off bits of turf where lawn meets bed.
- When weeding, of course.
- When deadheading.
- And like mad during garden cleanup—which this extra-rainy year seems to have been a pretty much nonstop affair.
- (When pruning or raking leaves, a tarp is probably a better choice, and I’ve got them in many sizes to suit the scale of the job. It’s easy to drag branches, or piles of fallen leaves, away on a tarp.)
I’ve worn out a number of tip bags in my time, but generally speaking they’re pretty resilient creatures. I like the size-XL wide-mouth types, but you can get them smaller, more upright (like a giant beer can), or square, or even one that you wear. No kidding. Good if you are up on a ladder, for instance.
I even turned some fabric nursery “pots” with handles into smaller tip bags, when I wasn’t happy with them for growing things, into tip bags.
Most come with stiffening rings that you insert into the top lip, so the bag stays open. But as you can see from my photo, my tip bag’s usually at half mast, because I skip that feature. Just a quirk. Floppy is fine with me.
I’ll admit I still feel sentimental about the bushel baskets—a.k.a., fruit baskets—that I used to be able to score at curbside outside the green grocer on trash nights. I loved getting them for free. (You can buy them by the dozen—but I don’t need a dozen.) They didn’t visually “shout” in the garden as much as today’s unnatural-colored tip bags, but they didn’t hold as much, either. More trips to the heap, or at least to the wheelbarrow, required.
I’m not a lover of fancy garden gadgets, so the humble tip bag: just my speed. What’s your garden-cleanup partner? Bag, bin, basket, barrow, cart, tarp?
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