To anyone who's ever sat in the backyard and brainstormed, Jill Plumb and Rob Lenney offer inspiration, even hope. The two inventors struck pay dirt with their ideas for common gardening problems.
Their simple solutions with catchy names have garnered national attention.
CORNERNING RAISED BEDS
“It’s been the most incredible year,” said Plumb. She once studied plant science at the University of California-Davis, and “to come back to plants at age 56 is an absolute joy. I never would have guessed this could happen to me at this time in my life.”
Plumb, a high school and adult education teacher, wanted to put raised vegetable beds in her Woodland backyard. “I put some napkins in the napkin holder, and it hit me,” Plumb said.
The MBrace was born.
After making that napkin drawing in January 2009, Plumb perfected and patented her invention — a set of metal brackets — before it debuted this year. Made of recycled sheet metal, the MBrace makes an instant corner for 16-inch-tall raised beds. Wood planks — such as two-by-fours or two-by-eights up to 12 feet long — slide into the brackets and are held solidly in place.
Thanks to sales on her website, www.artofthegarden.net, and 30 Northern California garden centers, the MBrace is being used by thousands of gardeners after just one season on the market. Peak Performance of Lodi, Calif., makes the MBraces; a set of four costs $165.
Lenney started in the gutter — the rain gutter. He and partner John Lewis owned a gutter-cleaning business. They continually ran into the same problem: gutters full of leaves and gutter guards that didn’t work. In 2003, Lenney created the Gutterglove, which blocks out leaves, debris, even sand, and never needs cleaning. Stainless-steel mesh covers aluminum channels that let rain flow through the gutters while keeping everything else out. This month, Consumer Reports rated the Gutterglove Pro as the No. 1 professionally installed gutter guard it tested.
Gutterglove has several versions, starting with LeafBlaster at $5 to $6 a foot installed, to Gutterglove Pro, $15 to $20 a foot. The company also introduced a warmed Gutterglove IceBreaker that prevents ice and snow buildup. (Learn more at www.gutterglove.com.)