Pike Bartlett had a bad habit – at least according to his wife.

Whenever he’d bring vegetables in from their garden, he’d dump them in the sink, along with whatever dirt and fertilizer was still clinging to them, for washing. “My wife was constantly yelling at me to wash the vegetables off before I bring them in the house because there were bugs and fertilizer and all kinds of things on them,” Bartlett said. “I started looking around for something suitable to wash the vegetables off and couldn’t find anything. She said ‘If you can’t find anything, make something.’ ”

That was 15 years ago. Bartlett, president of Bartlett Bench & Wire Co. in Friendship, put on his thinking cap and designed “Pike’s Original Maine Garden Hod,” which became the first product in a new company called Maine Garden Products. His inspiration was a clam hod – the baskets clammers use to hold the clams they dig for at the shore. The ends of the garden hod, which is made in Howland, are pine, and the handle and dowels are made from maple wood. The basket is made of a vinyl-coated galvanized wire mesh so that vegetables can be washed neatly outdoors before bringing them inside.

Bartlett has a patent on the garden hod, but sells them wholesale to about 100 different gardening centers, seed catalogs and other businesses – including Sur La Table – with their names and logos on them. In Maine, you can buy them online at stores.mainegarden.com, Lisa-Marie’s Made in Maine in Portland, Window Panes in Bar Harbor, and other local retailers. The original garden hod holds two pecks (16 quarts) of vegetables and sells for $44.95. A smaller version that holds half as much sells for $39.95.

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