TWO YEARS AFTER FIRST MAKING it my New Year’s resolution, then failing to come through and failing again, I am finally labeling my garden with tags that will last. No more plastic strips for me; make mine metal. The answer comes in the form of the M-11 Dymo labeler, available at the best price I could find (about $195) from A.M. Leonard tools, a favorite source. Perfect to buy with a group of gardening friends and share for a lifetime.
Half-inch aluminum or steel tape threads through the embosser, whose alphabetized click-wheel you turn, followed by a squeeze of the handle that punches the chosen letter, one after another. And so on. A built-in hole punch readies the tags for wiring—either to branches or to metal stakes pounded into the ground beside herbaceous things. Or you can hole-punch the labels with an awl (shown) and a hammer.
You’ll have to find suitable stakes with holes (I haven’t) or make your own (I am, following a tradition I learned from the gardeners at the public garden in New York called Wave Hill, using eighth-inch rectangular aluminum bars that I cut and then drill at one end). You can get the metal bars at any big hardware store; while you’re there, get the right drill bit for that more rugged form of hole-punching.
Update 6/26: Saw some interesting and MUCH less labor-intensive choices recommended by my friends at Apartment Therapy you may want to check out.