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New Device Collects Pesky Pine Cones - Articles Surfing

One of the benefits of being a garden writer is that you get all kinds of stuff to try out or read. Books, tools, fertilizers, magic fairy dust that will make anything grow; you name it. Some of it is good, some of it not so good ' some of it is exciting, some of it not so thrilling. And then once in a while you come across stuff like the CONEIVORE.

The first time I saw it was when my editor handed it to me with a puzzled look. It was too big for the mail box so she had it in her office. It looked like a three-foot long piece of white sewer pipe only with yellow end caps. I had to read the name plastered on its side slowly. Was I reading this right ' CONEIVORE, not carn-i-vore. The name did give me a hint as to what this gizmo does: It eats pine cones.

Yeah, right. It eats those pesky arboreal bombs that plague any Inland Northwest homeowner with ponderosa pine trees. If the wind doesn't drop these spiny projectiles then the squirrels use them for target practice. The target? You, me, the dog, whatever, they don't care.

Curiosity got the better of me though, so I took it home to try it.

Test number one: Assembly. On further inspection, I found there were handles inside the tube that had to be mounted on the outside. Now I had a three-foot long piece of sewer pipe with yellow handles and caps on it. The cap on the top of the tube was actually a freebie replacement cap. Hmm, the assembly instructions worked and the manufacturer actually put in a freebie! Two points to the good.

Test number two: The directions said that the tube would pick pine cones off the ground so you don't have to bend over and scoop them up. The slotted cap allowed pine or any other cone at least 2 to 6 inches to slip into the tube when the tube was pushed down on it. The tube would hold 15 to 18 cones at which point you could dump them. All to be done while you stand upright. The instructions said the tool would also pick up cones from many other conifers besides ponderosa pine. OK, simple enough. I'm ready to thump and go.

I have a back yard full of cones and raking them up is my least enjoyable garden task. Least favorite in that I once offered our then fourth grade daughter 10 cents a cone if she'd pick them up. After about 20 minutes she came in and said, "Mom, I stopped counting at $45 worth." Darn these newly learned math skills! We anted up.

Tool in hand I located the first victim. Putting the bottom of the tube over the cone, I thumped. No more cone. Another thump and another cone gone. I repeated this about a dozen times and realized I wasn't feeling tired or grumbling at bending. Hey, there could be something to this. I emptied the tube in the wheelbarrow and went back to thumping. In the space of 15 minutes I had a half wheelbarrow full of cones and was enjoying myself. Score 10 points for the gizmo. This one belongs in the tool shed.

How do gardeners get a hold of this?

It turns out that the CONEIVORE has its roots in Cheney, and it came about when one gardener wasn't going to let health issues sideline her.

It was Sept. 25, 2002. Debra Seefeldt had been out three times already to pick up falling cones in the yard of her family's pine-covered 10 acres near Cheney.

"I had just had my fifth surgery within two years," she wrote, "I went in the house and sat down and looked out the window, I just started crying. I love the trees but really hurt when I pick up the cones." Enter an idea her father-in-law Milt Seefeldt had started developing 10 years earlier, but since then had been gathering dust in her garage.

Seefeldt quickly learned that bringing a new idea to market is no easy task. Metal collectors on the pipe were replaced with plastic. Then the right plastic had to be found. A patent had to be applied for. Finally, there was the challenge of finding suppliers and manufacturers. And in the midst of all this was more surgery.

Seefeldt kept all the prototyping, product development and manufacturing right here in the Inland Northwest. She got help from talented local engineers and machinists. The tool's parts are manufactured in Post Falls. The packaging is done in Spokane. And most importantly, Seefelt persevered and brought CONEIVORE to market in the fall of 2004.

She hopes CONEIVORE will help anyone who hates to pick up cones or can't because of limitations.

"It will help you enjoy your pine trees again," she adds.

Fast Facts


CONEIVORE IS be available at www.coneivore.com or 1.888.CONEWIZ (1.888.266.3949) The price is $34.95 plus S&H.

Submitted by:

Pat Munts

Pat Munts is active in the Spokane gardening community, working four days a week at South Hill's Tower Perennial Gardens, writing a monthly column for the Spokesman Review's Home and Garden section, and heading Plant-a-Row for the Hungry, the holistic wing of the Garden Writers' Association.

Second Harvest recently appointed her coordinator of Spokane Community Gardens, her newest undertaking.



Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).


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