The best way to label garden plants | Alys Fowler

Plastic, wood, slate or metal? Alys Fowler has the answer

Labels matter. Particularly when you are confronting a tray of compost or a faint line scratched out in the soil. You may believe you will remember what you planted, but you won’t. Or at least you might at the beginning of the season, or for the first few trays, but once spring gets a hold and every week there’s something new to sow, then one row quickly fades into the next. Perhaps you think that keeping the packet will be enough of a reminder, and it may, but I spend my life flicking off bits of seed packets that have splattered across my clothes after going through the wash hidden in pockets. A good durable label is essential.

Most labels are made from white plastic, and there’s a reason for this – you can spot them against the dark soil and they can be easily read. They may look a bit of an eyesore if dotted everywhere, however. Black labels are a good alternative, but you have to use a special white pen – and this defeats the point. If you write in pencil (ink often fades in the sun and gets worn away by soil), you can bury the label. Bury it behind the back of the plant, so you’ll always be able to dig around a bit and find it. Plastic labels are easy to reuse: to clean them, rub them with wire wool. (This is the perfect time to do such a job.)

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