I've been off sick and wanting to do something related to growing stuff. I found a box of embossable plantt labels and wrote names of plants or grafts or trees to attach later, so I'll know what I did and when.
Which led me to think about labels.
In the past I tried wooden popsicle sticks. I thought, biodegradable and renewable. Unfortunately, they biograded in place in a short time. It's so wet here, and they are soft wood.
I tried cutting strips of plastic from sturdy plastic bottles, like laundry detergent bottles. They cut OK with scissors, take some effort but that's OK. But even using a laundry marker, the labels fade in a season. Purchased plastic labels, the same thing. I do re-use them for vegetable rows or container plants, after scrubbing off last year's writing.
I bought some stainless steel markers for my iris and perennial bed. Those last, probably, a lifetime, but again, permanent marker writing, is gone in a year.
I've read that some people cut slices out of soda pop cans. Those are soft and thin enough that if you place them on a newspaper and write firmly with a ball point pen, they make permanent embossed labels. Unfortunately, I don't drink pop or beer. Also, I'm concerned they would be hazardous due to sharp edges.
Currently I'm using some labels I bought via amazon. One set was copper, and with some effort writing with a ballpoint pen, they look like they will be permanent. The others are smaller, aluminum tags that can be hung from sticks or branches. They emboss in the same way. Not too expensive.
I might be the only one who labels plants. Any thoughts on your label methods, if you do use them?
I've not had a lot of experience with labels, but I'm using them more each year. I've also not kept a record of how long my labeling lasts, but from memory, I'll give you my experience.
The permanent pens I use are "Sharpie INDUSTRIAL SUPER PERMANENT INK". They still fade, but I think they last longer than the regular "Sharpie Permanent Marker" pens.
I used the industrial ones on some stiff pieces of white plastic cut from garbage cans from the $1 store, and after one season, they still looked bright. I haven't used them again because I wanted an easier to see marker among the plants, as well as easier to install. This fall, on my several kinds of peas, I used some large plastic stakes made for tying tent lines to. I'll try to remember to report the results.
I've tried popcycle sticks, too. They're good for one year only. In the garden, I use redwood fence stakes but don't write on them. I just make a graph paper map which serves as not only an identifyer, but dates planted and other information, like quality of the product, etc.
I've made maps off & on. I keep telling myself to learn a how to make maps on the computer.
Do redwood fence stakes hold up for more than a couple of years? It would be pretty when new, and I love the color of weathered redwood.
I have a potter friend who made labels for me. It is a lot of work, took a lot of time, however friends often do those kinds of things. He is retired and drives his wife crazy, so he spends his time at a pottery shop. When I dug out my huge compost pile, I found one of them discolored by decomposing organic matter. A little water and soap, and it returned to its former beauty. He made a hole at the top, then curved heavy copper wire so the labels hang down. The wire is about two feet long and I can put them in the ground so they don't fall over. If they are too long, I can cut them to size.
I will ask Cary to get a photo of them. I'll send it along later.
Joan, does each ceramic label have the common or botanical name fired onto it? Or do you write the name on the label?
I could see having a rough area for using a lead pencil. I read that pencil - marked labels last longer than ink. Clean off and re-use next year?
I already looked online for ceramic shops. I don't know if they let someone come there and make their own items. They have such shops here, where you can paint a glaze on the existing items and will fire it.
I could see making labels that show the variety, botanic name, common name, and date planted or started. Might mean too big of a label. Or, have one with each - they could be like colorful fruits hanging on the tree.
Only the common name. For the other information, I have that in my journal.
I googled on ceramic plant labels. I like this idea a lot. Now just need to find a place that lets people make their own ceramics.
But for me, less artistic, and more informational
Ripens Mid Oct
Planted March 2014
Ripe mid July
Bud Grafted 5-2014
I like that idea. Having the expected Ripe time there is nice information to have. The many different styles and making them is inspiring. I like the photos of elderly making tiles. Nice way to keep them involved in community activity.