Kevinitis(5)March 10, 2013

For the past three years I have tried various methods for labeling all the varieties I have grown from seed. I tried those plastic label sticks you can buy at the store, but those are expensive. I have tried popsicle sticks labeled with sharpies. After a few weeks in the ground the marker smudged off and the sticks more or less disapear. The only way I have truly been able to keep track of what I have planted is to make a map or just remember. So I am looking for some fresh ideas that are economical and effective. What do all of you do to label your plants?



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The only method I have found that holds up under the weather is vinyl blinds. They can be bought cheaply new or used. Just cut them into strips and use a regular pencil to write on them. Which can later be erased, or use permanent marker. I have some that are a couple of yrs old and still readable.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:57PM
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tdscpa(z5 NWKS)

I'm a belt and suspenders kind of guy. I use a map, but also, for convenience out in the garden without my map (and for the neighbors who harvest from my garden), I use a Dymo Labeler to print a name label I stick to a plastic strip wired to my tomato cages.

I also believe in Velcro. In making my map, I alphabetize my planting varieties. That makes it much easier to remember where in which row a particular variety can be found. ( I usually grow about 50 varieties/year.)

This post was edited by tdscpa on Mon, Mar 11, 13 at 1:15

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 12:58AM
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carolync1(z8/9 CA inland)

Great ideas, tdspa. A map can be a big help.

I use smooth white plastic knives or spoons from Walmart (from the knife, fork and spoon pack) marked with a chemical/UV resistant laboratory Sharpie from Staples. For maximum name retention, write on both the top and bottom of the knife and either bury the bottom half or tape it to your tomato cage, covering half of the knife with UV resistant painter's duct tape (whitish). Even after the longest, brightest summer, the name will still be there when you remove the tape.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:19AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I use cut strips of aluminum pop/beer cans and write hard with a pencil or ballpoint pen on the blank (non-decal) side of the strip. Permanently engraved that way on the strip. You can wire/tie/staple the strip to the cage.


    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 5:30PM
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squirrellypete(z7b AL)

I also use the plastic knife approach. There is a salvage store near us (not junk or second hand stuff, but new stuff that's been closed out of other retailers or maybe has a damaged box, that kind of thing). They often have BIG boxes of the plastic knives, good quality ones in 500, 700 and even 1,000 packs. I've paid something like $12 for 700. Takes a long time to use 700. Sams Club and Costco also sell large boxes for relatively cheap compared to buying smaller amounts at Walmart or grocery stores.

As for writing on them, sharpies do fade quickly. Paint pens on the other hand last years even in the sun. They can be a little more aggravating to write with but you get the hang of it.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:36PM
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sue_ct(z6 CT)

I am no help here but am interested in the replies! I plant into solo cups and write the name on the cup with a sharpie, then fill the cup with soil to weigh it down and press it into the soil next to the plant. The first 2 years it worked great, but last year, maybe because I used Hefty instead of Solo cups the names washed off. I was thinking about using a china marker this year and am open to suggestions. I like the idea of only doing the labeling once and putting it on the cups means they can't get knocked off, removed and put back in the wrong plant, etc. I label say 10 cups of one variety then plant them al,l then go on to the next, etc. Since I give a lot away, I don't want to label 100 plants 3 times, lol. Thanks for asking this question, I hope you get a lot of different replies and suggestions.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 9:18PM
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I spray paint my Popsicle sticks white then use a sharpie to write on them.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 10:43PM
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Great ideas guys, anyone else do something different?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 10:53PM
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pinterest has some cute ideas. i have seen some take flat rocks and paint them, then paint on the plant name and if your feeling creative paint the veggie. Others have taken paint stitcks, paint them, the using a paint pen, write the name on one end.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 12:22AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I use miniblind labels with paint markers. They're cheap, easy to make, and the writing lasts. A drawback is their flimsiness; to get them in the ground without bending, stick a trowel into the dirt, then insert the label into the slit.

For those not familiar with paint markers, they look like the standard fat office marker, but come in different widths and colors. You'll find them in a crafts store (Michael's, Joann Fabric, Hobby Lobby, etc.) or Walmart's craft area. In my experience, the line is always thicker than expected, so I try to buy a narrow size.

Years ago, I searched GW and the web for label ideas, and I still have that doc. Here are some of the other ideas:

= Someone claimed the longest-lasting paint markers are DecoColor. Others preferred "nursery marking pens" from catalogs, or "pens made to write on livestock tags" from feed stores.

= Strips cut from milk or bleach bottles, yogurt cups, or other plastic containers.

= Wooden craft sticks (think tongue depressors).

= Thicker types of vinyl or wooden blinds. Some people ask for trimmed sections at big-box stores.

= Self-adhesive aluminum plumber's tape over wood or plastic. (Like aluminum can sections, these are engravable.)

= Plexiglas scraps from a frame shop.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 2:51PM
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I make Aluminum Foil Labels. They can last up to seven years if made heavy enough.

Click the link below to see how I make them.


Here is a link that might be useful: Aluminum foil labils

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 8:56PM
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However you choose to label your plants back it up with a map. Mark the plant locations with their names. Then after the map is done, scan and save and/or copy and print a few duplicates. Stash one in the garage or shed, one by your computer, one in your glovebox, and one between the mattress and boxspring ;-)

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 1:55AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

**bows to trudi_d**

Squirrels have been known to dig up labels ... and frequently enough that I'm not entirely sure it's squirrels.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2013 at 2:51AM
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Popsicle sticks are best for labeling. You can use this stick as a marker for the every subsequent plant. You can label the name of plant on one end with a pen or electronic label marker and stick the other end in the soil on the edge of pot. You can also stick some special watering or lighting instructions on it.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 12:20AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I like a longer marker, since some of it will be in the ground, some of it will be covered with mulch, and I need enough above the mulch to know what variety it is.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 1:58AM
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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

Length is one reason I favor the mini blinds -- you can cut them to the length you need. I also use a paint pen because I found that sharpies wore off over the course of the season.


    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 6:54AM
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My seed containers can be outside for months at a time through frigid and very inclement weather, tags are really iffy for lasting out there. Fading and critters are the big problems. Before I fill the containers with soil they go upside down, I slap on a piece of duct tape to the base of the container and label it with an industrial sharpie. No fading and no blowing away and no critter can get to the label when its stuck to the underside of the pot.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:00PM
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The industrial sharpies are good. I too try to label below ground incase the top labeling fades. I started out with plastic knives but removed some miniblinds so now I think I am set for life. For those that are interested, I see used blinds at the thrift stores all the time.

I like Daves method of writing (engraving) on soda cans. I will try that.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2013 at 10:36PM
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If you use mini-blinds, make sure they were made in the past few years. Older mini-blinds may contain hazardous levels of lead, which you probably don't want ending up on your hands or in your soil.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:42PM
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Yeah the Dymo, since i can't reed my own writing. There 2 Letratag models, one is hand held the other flat surface type.
Both work the same, both have date stamp, numerical, symbols and borders. The plastic labels stick to any surface and last throughout the year.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 12:41AM
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harveyhorses(7 Midlothian Va)

Great thread, my popsickle sticks do not last more than a month in the ground, i see a lot of responses have theirs in pots, maybe that is the difference. I like the engraving, if I can get my sister the artist to do them I'd be set! Mine stay in the ground for the entire growing season. Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 3:03PM
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Wire coat hanger with a crook bent at the top (you can get three markers from one hanger). Put tape (I use white duct tape) across the main wire and over to the bottom of the crook. Use your favorite pen to mark with. These markers can range from 8" tall to 18" tall depending on how you cut them.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 9:47AM
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I write the names on surveyor's tape with an industrial sharpie and tie the strip to the top of my cages.
One roll of tape will makes countless labels that last all season.
The tape is available at most any hardware or home improvement store for cheap.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 1:34PM
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