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Do you love your watering can?

Do you love your watering can?

When it comes to watering cans, gardeners do indeed fall into two camps: those who love their watering cans and those who think the first camp is batty.

For watering flats of seedlings or a collection of potted plants, watering cans are tops. But why do people spend $62 for a watering can that does essentially the same job as one that costs $7.50? Passion.

For example, there's something irresistible about a beautiful copper can, and some people are willing to shell out $38 to have one around. These gardeners will lovingly shine the copper (every watering leaves a spot or smudge), or enjoy watching it mellow to artistic, splotchy green.

Others have strong feelings about the virtues of brass spray heads. (Did you know that spray heads are officially called "roses'? Very romantic.) These gardeners admire the uniformly spaced pin-prick holes, the subtle curve of the rose, the glow of the brass. But they don't just see the beauty: they'll remind you that these heads produce a soft spray that is perfect for watering delicate seedlings.

But even spray-head fans admit that after they have gotten over the thrill of the fine craftmanship, they sometimes take the rose off and never look at it again.

That's because most people use their watering cans primarily for two purposes: watering potted plants indoors and outdoors, and applying liquid fertilizer. With both these tasks, a wide soft spray is usually a nuisance; a can with a curved spout is what you want, as shown below. (When you take the spray head off a long straight spout, you'll find that it tends to overshoot the mark as you water.)

What about the no-nonsense gardeners who use their neon-orange or see-me green plastic can until it's cracked and battered? They've got a point, too. The plastic won't fight back if you stub your toe on it. The inside won't corrode if you neglect to empty it after use. And you can squash a plastic can into the garbage can when its earthly duties are over.

Price is a major factor. Plastic wears out faster than metal, but you'd have to wear out eight plastic cans before you'd be out the $62 a deluxe metal can might cost. The key to prolonging the life of a plastic can is to remember that sunlight is its worst enemy; always store it in a shed or shady spot.

When you're ready to buy, consider these factors

Once you've decided which watering-can camp you're in, consider a few factors that apply to all.

First, balance. Whether metal or plastic, large cans (1 1/2 to 2 gallons) are fairly heavy when full. A can with a broad, somewhat shallow bucket and an extra-long spout is less tiresome to use, since the weight of the spout helps balance that of the water (see the large watering can in the photograph on the facing page). In contrast, deep cans with fairly short spouts require more effort to tip.

Size is important. If you have many outdoor plants to water, you'll probably feel that the convenience of a 2-gallon can is worth the extra effort in hoisting it around. Indoors, you'll find the half-gallon size the most useful--unless you have so many plants that your house looks like an indoor jungle. For tiny plants, the small-spouted pint can is best.

The spray head is a key consideration if you'll be using the watering can primarily for watering seedlings in flats or new plantings outdoors. A brass head will give you a fine spray that won't dislodge tender plants. Many plastic spray heads-- like the one pictured above right--have large irregular holes that produce a coarse spray that splatters the soil and batters the plants.

Check your nursery, garden supply center, or hardware store for watering cans. If you can't find the model you want, or want to order one of the models shown here, see page 209 for sources.

Photo: It's love at first sight with some watering cans. Many gardeners fall for the maroon finish, long spout, and brass rose of the painted steel 1-gallon can ($52). The 3-pint copper can is hard to resist with its shiny finish, clean lines, fine spray ($39)

Photo: Luxury model vs. no-nonsense plastic, 2-gallon size. Metal cans like lower one (galvanized steel with brass handle and spray head) look good, last long, have fine spray heads, but they're expensive (this one is $36), heavy (17 1/4 pounds full), and should be emptied after use to avoid corrosion. Plastic wins no beauty contests, won't last long, and has coarse spray, but it's lighter (15 pounds full) and inexpensive ($7.50), no great loss if it breaks

Photo: For precision watering, the curved spout places water where you want it; until you get used to it, the straight one--with spray head off--tends to throw water farther than you expect

Photo: Squeezable watering "can' delivers fine spray to seedlings. This one holds 12 ounces
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Sep 1, 1986
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