A week until it’s officially spring, when a gardener’s fancy turns not to love but to tools … which handy old standby to replace and which enticing new gadget to try. Every gardener needs a basic spade or two, a garden fork, loppers, pruners, limb saw, and a couple of rakes … and every gardener has their own list of must-haves. On top of my must have list is the invaluable Hori Hori knife … the nasty looking weapon leaning against my garden bag. It has a heavy steel blade that cuts through roots, acts as a trowel, pries up rocks, digs out weeds, and generally becomes an extension of my hand during gardening season … at least it has for about the last 20 years. When not in hand it’s either in the back pocket of my jeans or sitting ready in it’s own pocket of my garden bag.
For garden bags – I’ve had two. The first was canvas and similar to the suede version I’ve used for the last 5 years or so. Suede is definitely superior to canvas, but the canvas version served well for many years before it developed holes in the bottom of the pockets where sharp tools wore away the material. The bag shown here came from Brookstone – it was a great gift – came with the green handled tools. All good quality and comfortable to use, but apparently only available in their retail stores – I could not find them listed online. The suede bag has three matching pockets on the long sides with elastic cords to hold handled tools in place. The pockets on each end are great for plant tags, seed packets, and smaller items like twist ties and bandaids. The interior section is large enough to hold a couple of folding pruning saws, a ball of garden twine, and multiple pairs gloves.
For gloves I get one pair of good quality suede palm and breathable backed work gloves like those from West County Gloves. And if last year’s pair is still usable, I relegate them to hauling wood or moving rock until they finally succumb. This system insures there is always one pair of heavy work gloves ready to protect my hands. For everyday weeding, planting, etc, I purchase at least four pairs of latex coated work gloves – two are always with me in case one set becomes too wet or dirty, or I accidentally brush against or grab poison ivy. Again, any latex gloves that remain from the previous season come out early on when I’m likely to encounter mud. I also have one pair of long, arm protecting, heavy gloves designed to protect from thorny jobs.
Some of my other tool faves are the scuffle hoe – simple back and forth motions glide the sharp hoe edges just under the soil to slice off pesky weeds – and a four-prong cultivator which is great for incorporating compost or other amendments into the top few inches of soil and stirring up compacted shredded wood mulch. I also protect the sharp edge of my long handled edger so it’s ready whenever I need to neaten up borders between grass and planting beds.
I currently have a good selection of digging tools, but I plan to add a narrow digging spade and another digging fork to my collection and these will both have round, ergonomic, padded handles. I’m not above pampering my aging body a little with well designed digging implements. Besides these, I want to try a hand tool that’s supposed to scrape the annoying small weeds that love to sprout between the pavers in our front walkway. The Lee Valley Garden Tools catalog calls it a crack weeder. Interesting name that conjures up all kinds of disturbing visions, but I won’t go there.
I’d love to hear reviews from anyone who has either the ergonomic round handled tools or the, ahem, crack weeder. Also, come back soon to learn how I like the latest addition to my collection of garden implements. Here’s a hint … it’s the smaller cousin of the Bagz-It I purchased a couple of years ago. Now that our snow is gone, I just need the rain to stop so I can roll the new Bagz-It out for its maiden run.