Cool Tools

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Cool Tools

When I first started cooking in my own home, I found it very difficult although I’d cooked with my mother for years. Pretty soon, I discovered it was because my tools were cheaply made, and many weren’t worthy of the task. To make a pie crust I needed a dough blender, and I didn’t own one. However, once I invested in this great tool, pie crust became, well . . . as easy as pie.

The same caveat holds true in the garden. Without the right tool for the job, breaking sod covered in Bermuda grass becomes a lesson in annoyance. With time and experience I also learned although a chainsaw is mighty handy, but power tools don’t give me a thrill. Instead, hand me an excellent rake, a garden fork, or a decent shovel, and I’ll toil happily all day.

I think it’s because I like being close to my plants and the soil in which they grow. Going slow helps me to see what is happening in the garden from crawling insects to the early onset of disease. I also love the feel of a well made tool, one which is balanced and strong. Recently, I’ve noticed companies are making better quality tools for the home gardener, and I’ve purchased several of the new ones and retired those which were worn out or not up to snuff. The ones I use all the time are:

A good bypass pruner. We all have our favorites, and if you place an anvil pruner in my hand, I’ll keep digging through the tool bucket until I find a bypass. In spring, I prune a lot of roses, over 90 at last count. I need a pruner which makes a sharp angled cut. I have a touch of arthritis in my hands, and the PowerGear® bypass pruner is easy to use because the handle moves as it cuts. I don’t own the aluminum version, but it is pretty and appeals to my girly-girl heart.

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These  Cuts+More scissors are the coolest of the new tools I’ve seen lately. They are like a Swiss Army knife in a larger package. There is no toothpick, but the tape cutter edge can slice open endless bags of soil, mulch and compost. You can also cut light rope, twine and wire all with the same tool. There is even a scissor sharpener built right in.

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Two good shovels, one rounded and a D-handle garden spade are a must. For me, the D-handle is the most important part. It’s easier to carry into the garden and simple to position because I can use both hands. The teardrop shaped shovel is obviously built for digging, but it’s also good for scraping the last bit of compost from the sides of the bin. On the other hand, the square shovel can cut a border edge and works great in the leaf pile. I need both, and if I’m feeling really flush, I’d also buy a sharpshooter shovel for post holes and to dig around plants.

Decent rakes are needed for more than falling leaves, although I’ve discussed them at length before. If you afford both, buy a narrow rake for between the plants and a wider one to gather the leaves in a large pile.

Loppers now come in all sizes, and I think the PowerGear® loppers are especially handy because they make pruning jobs so much quicker. I use the seventeen-inch PowerGear® 2 Bypass Loppers for reaching in between rose canes where the prickles will let you in, but then scratch your arms on the way out. A good pair of rose gloves also helps protect tender skin, but they were a later investment.

Of course, a gardener also needs a transplanting trowel and a bigger trowel for planting bulbs and smaller plants. I love ones which don’t rust in the garden if I forget and leave them outside, and aluminum fits the bill. They are also lightweight and soft to the touch so my hands don’t tire so soon.

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 These are the main tools which travel with me as I garden. Many remain ready in the garden bucket while others are only pulled into action for special jobs. When I wrote about tools on my blog recently, one reader lamented how she didn’t have the funds for so many. To be clear, I gathered my tools and developed my preferences over a lifetime of gardening. Some I’ve worn out and replaced three or four times because I want to continue growing and planting until well into the sunset of my life. Good tools are an investment no matter what your hobby. They make our jobs easier so we can enjoy the beauty of our labor when we rest . . . make that, if we rest.