Who invented the garden hose?

By Marion Owen, Fearless Weeder for PlanTea, Inc. and
Co-author of Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul


Tom Hanks' "Power of Four" solution

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The year is 1652.
The place: Amsterdam.

A 12-year old boy, named Jan Van der Heiden, watches in awe as the city's town hall burns to the ground. The event makes a lasting impression.

Twenty years pass. Van der Heiden and a group of men, standing on ladders along a canal, fill a watersack which is supported in a trestle, with buckets. From the trestle, water flows in a linen hose down to the fire engine tank below. And the first fire hose is born.

The linen hoses are soon replaced by leather, which are hand-stitched, a trade that was common in Holland's seafaring industry. It isn't long, though before more uses are found for Van der Heiden's invention and the first garden hose is born.

Every gardener needs at least one hose. But how do you tell a good hose from a bad one? Like most consumer goods, not all hoses are created equal. Some may even be hazardous to your health.

Garden hose

So shop for quality. Good hoses are made of natural rubber or reinforced vinyl. The bottom line is, avoid cheap hoses. They give you more trouble, as they tend to kink, twist, crease and sprout holes.

And before you go to the checkout stand, read the label. Consumer Reports recently issued a special warning. Unless your garden hose is labeled "safe for drinking," do not drink from it, or supply water from it to pets, or the vegetable garden. Hoses are often made of reprocessed materials from the automotive industry, and can contain enough lead to pollute water with up to 100 times the amount the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers safe.

Some things never change. In Van der Heiden's day, hoses had to be of high quality for safety reasons. Remember that, next time you water your garden.

Keep your hands in the dirt, and your dreams on a star. -- Marion Owen

Thanks for visiting and please stop by again. I'll put the coffee on!

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