Life in the Garden: Top Picks

valerie rice apron


I’m all about accessories, even in the garden. Here are some of my favorite “extras” that I use to take my garden from basic to beautiful.

organic garden fertilizer

First Step, Fertilize

Cottonseed Meal

Great produce is the result of great soil. Every time I plant a seedling cottonseed meal gets sprinkled atop.  It’s an excellent, natural source of plant nutrients. And it’s high-density of organic matter is a match for all soil types. Its slow release is gentle on seedlings and it’s safe to use. There are lots of brand out there, just be sure to find one that’s organic.

Gardner & Bloome Harvest Supreme

I am a bit of a brand snob when it comes to my mulch; by far the best product I have tried is Harvest Supreme. This super-fortified soil amendment is great for flowers and veggies. It gives them all the good stuff they need to really take off.


Then, Protect Your Plants


Ladybugs are a great garden addition. Who knew they were so aggressive? They go on attack after aphids, mealybugs, spider mites and other garden pests. At my local garden store I bought a container of 1,500 (enough for an average size yard) for $10.00. They are “pre-fed” which I gather is the gold standard of ladybug buying.

Decollate Snails

Predatory Snails

My sister got my attention at a recent spree through Roger’s Garden with these predatory snails.  They are also called “decollate snails.”  These bad boys are pretty much trained assassins for your brown garden snails. Yes, snails that eat snails— it’s a bit of a Donner Party scenario, but I’m waging a war here.

Now, Protect Yourself!

rubber gloves

 Latex-Free Rubber Gloves

I have yet to find “garden gloves” that I really like to use, they are usually ill fitting and bulky. I prefer to wear latex-free rubber gloves—I find them at my local Smart & Final. They don’t irritate my skin, are soft and flexible, protect my hands and I still can really feel the texture of the dirt, which is part of the fun. They hold-up pretty well, too. A single pair will last through more than a days work. (Bonus: These gloves are also great for housework).

sun hat

Sun Hat

I’m always on the hunt for a good sun hat and I have my eye on this one at J.Crew. A good sun hat protects your face but also makes you feel pulled together and cute when you’re knee deep in fertilizer and predator snails.

sunscreen with pump

Supergoop! Sunscreen

I love anything in a pump (now, if I could get one for my Sauvignon Blanc) and this Supergoop! Everyday SPF 30+ goes on like regular lotion and doesn’t have any harmful chemicals. It’s gentle enough for my kids, too.

valerie rice apron

Photo by Evan Janke

Garden Apron

How can I not include the garden apron? I designed my first garden apron out of personal necessity, now the Garden Apron is the best seller of my collection. It protect your clothes when you are out kneeling in the dirt. Then, just throw it in the laundry and you’re good to go making dinner for the troops.