Life on the Balcony Vlog #1 – Soil Scoop Review

by Fern on October 29, 2009

in Product Review

UPDATE: Jayme of aHa Modern Living just sent me a discount code for Life on the Balcony readers who would like to try the soil scoop. If you use the code “balcony” (without the quotes) you’ll receive 10% off. This deal expires on 4/11/2010.

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I am so, so, so, sooooo excited to have finally finished my first vlog (video+blog) post. I had some technical difficulties, but finally figured everything out last night.

This first video blog post is about a great tool called a Soil Scoop. Jayme of aHa Modern Living sent me the scoop because she thought it would be a great multi-purpose tool for container gardeners. I have to say, I totally agree! If you have a soil scoop and a pair of bypass pruners, you can do pretty much everything needed to create and maintain a beautiful container garden.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Louise @ Buddy Garden October 29, 2009 at 8:13 am

Great job Fern! I love your first vlog. Love to see more!


Angela October 29, 2009 at 11:17 am

Hi Fern, I found the music incongruous, hmm don’t know how to spell that, I mean it did not fit. I think it would have been nice to have loud birdsong in the background at the beginning and end.
The rest of the video was absolutely fine. I wish we could have seen the bit where you actually did the scooping though, even if it was messy.
Looking forward to the next one.


Fern October 29, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Thanks Louise! I have videos planned for all sorts of topics, like starting seeds indoors, growing tomatoes in containers, how to plan iris bulbs, etc.

Angela–Thanks for the constructive criticism. My brother is a communications major in college, specializing in video, and he’s going to help with the into and outros and also film some of my next videos so I’ll be able to have some better angles and the like. But with this video I did everything myself, so the camera had to stay on a tripod with me running over to turn it off and on, which limited what I could really show.


Caron Golden October 29, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Congratulations, Fern! Very nice vlog debut. Love the concept of the scoop and will probably be ordering one soon. I need to repot herbs and it looks like it would be hugely helpful breaking up a large root ball!


Anarchy in the Garden October 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Great job Fern! Loud birdsongs have been done and are a little antiquated. Shoot I’m going to play punk rock in mine! Looking forward to more videos!



Fern October 29, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Adriana–How are you getting around copyright? Or are you just ignoring copyright (in true Punk fashion). I would love to have used music from a band I like, but didn’t want to get in trouble, so I used PodSafeAudio.com

Daffodil Planter October 29, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Yeah Fern! Great video! Looking forward to the rest of the series.


Laura Livengood Schaub (InterLeafer) October 29, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Fern, I’m just starting to play with video too; and now I’m inspired to do a vlog (maybe about my bamboo?) I need to learn about basic editing (I know how to cut bits out and annotate, that’s it!) but I think the more you can do it in a quick, easy soundbite, the better! Working with your bro would be great; much easier with two people. But good for you to get this out on your own! Oh, and I wouldn’t have music at all, keep it simple!


Jenny Peterson October 29, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Hey Fern, great job! You made me want to try this Scoopie thingy! I’m thinking about adding some vlogs to my site, too, and hadn’t even thought about copyrights with the music.


Kat October 29, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Nice job on the vblog! I really like the opening graphics. Very retro/cool. The Soil Scoop looks like a nifty tool to have.
I think I would have liked to have seen a little less information about where it came from (made it feel a bit more like an infomercial for aHaModern Living than a straight review.)


Jayme October 30, 2009 at 7:17 am

Just curious…how many out-takes did it take you? Man, I’m still plagued by the start, stop and giggles.

Thank you again Fern for such an awesome review, and for a video first-timer, you absolutely rocked it! I can’t wait to see you “grow” as a vlogger.

Happy Digging,



Theresa/GardenFreshLiving October 30, 2009 at 7:27 am

Excellent job Fern! I love your first vblog. You spoke clearly and gave perfect instruction. Way to go!

I also like your graphic/logo at the beginning. It was definitely what I would think of as “you”. Liked it.

I don’t think it felt like an informercial because it is important to say that you got it free to review. And I liked that you mentioned it right off at the beginning. Perhaps Kat thought the bit at the end was too much? Hmmmm…You could just do something short and sweet at the end, like “for ordering info…” or just have a graphic. But the fact is that you like it and you wanted us to know where to get it. I don’t have a problem with that.

The best part was when you said “a little birdie told me…” and then a crow calls out in the background. Perfect timing. Did you hiring him to do that? LOL

Great job Fern. Can’t wait to see more.


Fern October 30, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Kat–Regarding the review/infomercial line. To be honest, it’s a fine line and I’m not sure where exactly it is. I really appreciate the feed back and will continue to tweak how I present future videos. I’m definitely a work in progress! ;-)

By law I have to say where I got the soil scoop, and it’s the ethical thing to do anyway. It’s not really fair that bloggers are held to a higher standard than magazines, for instance, but it is what it is and I would be upfront even if it wasn’t the law.

You should know that I would NEVER promote a product if I didn’t personally like it. I have passed up the opportunity to receive things for review that I know I don’t like (a particular variety of gloves, and chemical fertilizer, for starters). I know first hand that aHa Modern Living provides great customer service, so I felt confident that sending LOTB readers their way was win-win. You guys get a great product, at a great price, with great customer service, and a young business owner gets (hopefully) a boost in sales and some added name recognition. In this day and age of international mega-corporations undercutting the little guy and providing substandard products and services to us little people, I want to do what I can to highlight great small businesses that are doing things right.

Anyway, I just wanted to stress that I hold myself to a high standard of ethics and that you (and everyone else) can trust that when I say “I love this product” I really do use it and like it.


Fern October 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Laura–I had a great experience using Windows Movie Maker. It was very easy to use and allowed me to cut the clips, put them together, insert transitions between clips, add music, etc. I’ve also heard great things about iMovie if you’re using a Mac, unfortunately my Mac only has Tiger on it and can’t be upgraded to Leopard (which is what iMovie needs to work properly).

Jenny–Yeah, tons of potential land mines to step on these days. Check out http://www.podsafeaudio.com for music by independent artists who have given permission for their music to be used in podcasts/vlogs.


Fern October 30, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Jayme–TONS of out takes. Maybe 20-30 tries that I couldn’t use because I said something stupid, made a weird look on my face, forgot what I wanted to say, etc.


Kat October 30, 2009 at 2:37 pm

Fern I know you aren’t on aHa Modern Living’s payroll. :)
And I agree it is a fine line between product review and infomercial. For me it sort of crosses the line when you state the vendor’s name or list their website more than once (unless of course you are reviewing the vendor).
And just so you know, I only mentioned it because otherwise you did one hell of a job. I look forward to seeing more in the future.


GenYgardener October 31, 2009 at 8:14 pm

I bought my mother a soil scoop 5-10 years ago. It’s still in great shape even after years of use in Michigan clay and being neglected out in the elements. It is probably my mother’s favorite garden tool. They’ve been hard to find for a while–mom wanted to have at least 2 on hand–so it’s nice to see them coming back on the market.

In other words, Fern ain’t lying when she says it’s a good tool!


Fern October 31, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Kat–No worries. I really appreciate all the constructive feedback you and others have provided. Law school gave me very thick skin, so don’t worry about offending me accidentally.

Theresa–Thanks! My husband didn’t believe me that the crow call was real. He thought I added a clip of the crow from an iPhone app I have that will play real bird calls. :-)

GenY–Yeah, I honestly don’t know how it would be possible to damage the metal scoop part short of driving over it with a car. Glad to be able to confirm that it will last a long time!


Sue November 1, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Super video – well done. You look as if you’ve been presenting for years.


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