Friday, November 13, 2015

Restoring moldy tags

As I've posted previously, I use the Avery paper string tags to mark my crosses. The positive points are their ease of use, decent cost and availability. The negatives are that slugs and snails LOVE eating the paper surface, particularly the side with graphite on it where you have written the cross. My Toy Fox Terrors are finding them great sport to pull off and eat before they harvest the hips, which remind them of tomatoes. Every tomato within reach is already gone, so the "balls" on the roses are the next "harvest". 

Because of the long season and wonderful weather, I can use the same tag two or three times a year before it is too worn and needs recycling. But, due to the heavy fogs and dews and the temperatures, the paper supports the growth of mold, often making the tag unreadable by the end of its useful life. 

I harvested some ripe hips this morning from seedlings I raised this spring, and was disappointed I couldn't read what pollen parent had been used. I was excited by the seedling's performance and apparent fertility and I honestly wanted to know who the other parent was. The tag was too dark gray/black from mold to read the graphite writing. I had an idea, which worked like a charm. Unfortunately, I hadn't photographed the offending tag prior to trying the idea, but I did photograph the next worst tag to demonstrate how successful the idea is. 

I put the tag on a dirty breakfast plate which was slated for the dishwasher anyway, and dropped two drops of straight bleach on the paper. Almost instantly, the mold disappeared, leaving the tag perfectly legible! I have my information and the tag had served its useful life anyway, so it was ready for the trash whether I could read it or not. Simple!