Mercantile October/November 2017

MOTHER's product picks for October/November 2017.

October/November 2017
Compiled by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors

Greenhouse Bucket

Photo by Rebecca Martin

Garden Cloches

$35.97 for three buckets at Greenhouse Buckets.

A mobile way to protect seedlings and sensitive plants, Greenhouse Buckets are clear, 5-gallon containers that shield individual vegetables from late frosts, low temperatures, wind, and insects. Easy to stack and store, the buckets, made with a UV-stabilized translucent material, have a 14-inch-diameter base and are 14 inches tall. On sunny days, the internal temperature of the bucket is 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit higher than its surroundings. A vent ring on the top of the bucket can be adjusted to help regulate the temperature and humidity.



Editor Rebecca Martin appreciates the convenience and mobility of these U.S.-made garden cloches. Because she gardens in a windy climate, Martin uses the optional heavy-duty ground pegs (sold separately at $1.99 for three) to keep the covers in place. “Last spring, when a late frost threatened, it took me only a few minutes to drop a couple of buckets over my fledgling tomato plants,” she says. “That beats struggling with row cover or sheet plastic in a high wind.”


cheese kit

Photo by Kyra Haas

DIY Cheese Making Kits

$25 at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Store.

The perfect gift for novice cheesemakers, Urban Cheesecraft’s DIY Cheese Kits were developed by Claudia Lucero, author of One-Hour Cheese. The kits come with the tools you’ll need to make your own cheese from scratch: fine mesh, 100 percent cotton cheesecloth; a glass dairy thermometer; non-GMO, vegetarian rennet tablets; non-GMO citric acid; and pure, non-iodized flake salt. Depending on your kit, other carefully selected and tested supplies may be included. Regardless of the kit you choose, just pick up a gallon of whole milk from the store, and you’ll be ready to go.



Editorial intern Kyra Haas made mozzarella using the corresponding kit, and she appreciated the detailed instructions. “I had never made cheese before, but the kit’s illustrations for each step let me know if my cheese in progress was on the right track,” she says. “I was very pleased with the end result — it tasted as good as mozzarella I would buy from the store.”

Each kit comes equipped with enough supplies to make eight batches of cheese, so you’ll not only be able to learn the cheese-making process, but you’ll also be able to refine your new skills and experiment with shapes, herbs, and recipe variations.


Oliver Industrial Hikers

Photo by Joanna Voigt

Industrial Work Shoes

$140 at Oliver Safety Boots.

The comfortable steel-toed Oliver Industrial Hikers manage to be incredibly durable, breathable, and waterproof all at the same time. The boots come in low- and mid-height styles, and a polyurethane cage encompasses the foot, locking in place when laces are tightened for an individualized fit. The boots are slip-resistant, and flex grooves at the heel and mid-foot increase the shoe’s elasticity.



Mother Earth News Editorial Director Hank Will finds his Oliver Industrial Hikers are perfect for a variety of tasks. “Whether jumping in and out of the tractor or slogging through a muddy corral, my Oliver boots provide stability, cushioning, traction, and great ankle support,” he says. “That they keep my feet dry is an added bonus.”


Weed Dragon

Photo by Rebecca Martin

Flame Weeder

$82 at Flame Engineering.

Red Dragon’s Weed Dragon torch kits are compact propane torches perfect for obliterating any weed around your home and in your garden. The torches deliver a flame temperature of about 2,050 degrees Fahrenheit. The Weed Dragon attaches to refillable propane tanks with ease, and the fitting requires only hand-tightening to keep the fuel in place. Operating at up to 100,000 BTU an hour, the Weed Dragon has power beyond its small size. Made in LaCrosse, Kansas, these flame weeders are great if your goal is to avoid using glyphosate on your property.

Editor Rebecca Martin purchased a Weed Dragon for her own use, but her husband quickly co-opted it. “He likes the satisfaction of watching weeds crackle, char, and curl under the flame,” she says. “Dandelions will take a couple of flame applications before they’re defeated — but the same would be true for chemical weed killers.” Less hardy weeds, such as crabgrass, are gone in seconds.


Gardener's Hollow Leg

Photo by Rebecca Martin

Gardener’s Harvesting Bag

$24.99 at The Gardener’s Hollow Leg.

When Bob Blomberg walks through his garden, he doesn’t like to carry a bucket. But even when he does light maintenance, Bob’s hands fill up well before the work is done. To save himself — and gardeners like him — trips to the compost pile, Bob created the Gardener’s Hollow Leg. This handy fabric sack buckles around your waist, leaving your hands free to harvest, clear debris, or just tidy up. The opening’s patented ring shape makes it easy to add material to the bag. The machine-washable bag holds up to 5 gallons of harvested material.

Editor Hannah Kincaid recently took the Gardener’s Hollow Leg Junior (1 gallon; $19.99) on a hike, using it to store the red clover she collected. The bag allowed her to move freely through fields, grabbing the blossoms when they caught her eye — without worrying about a bucket or basket in tow. “There’s a small pocket on the front of the Gardener’s Hollow Leg for storing shears, a hori-hori knife, or any other small harvesting tools you may bring along,” she says. “I’m really happy to know about this product, and I would recommend it to any of my friends.”


Patagonia work jacket

Photo courtesy Patagonia

Hemp Work Clothing

Various prices at Patagonia.

Editor Hannah Kincaid already looks to Patagonia when she needs quality outdoor and adventure gear, so when the company announced its new line of durable workwear for farmers, gardeners, ranchers, and other hardworking individuals, it seemed too good to be true. “It feels like a more comfortable, attractive, and durable version of Carhartt,” she says. “Plus, this new line is coming from a company with an incredible sustainability record that’s willing to repair items rather than see them go to a landfill.”

Patagonia’s iron-forged workwear line was launched in August 2017, and includes double-knee canvas pants (with a gusseted crotch for people who need it), multiple work jackets, and a line of durable work shirts. All the items are made from tear-resistant, sustainable, hemp-blended fabric that doesn’t need to go through an awkward breaking-in phase to wear well. The new line is more than eye-catching and comfortable — it’s practical. Each pocket has been thoughtfully placed to maximize usage without compromising mobility, and the built-in safety features consider possible hazards for a wide range of careers and hobbies. Because Patagonia understands that we all work (and play) hard, its repair policy covers fixing or exchanging any damaged items. A release of warm-weather workwear items is planned for January 2018.




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