Five Tools For Starting A Garden

“I say, if your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.” - Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

If you had seen me come inside from the garden the other night, you would believe I was living by that quote. I was out kneeling in and around the boxes pulling out some very resilient weeds. Being that it is August, they grow just as fast, if not faster, than most of my plants. Staying on top of them can be a real challenge. So challenging that had I just been using my hands, I may have gone insane!

The invention of tools for the garden has really increased the efficiency of gardening. More time is spent admiring and harvesting food and less time is spent digging and weeding due to a number of clever tools. And the best part is, you do not need a shed full of tools to become successful at gardening. That’s not to say you can’t get that shed of tools if you want one!

For me, I can safely say there are five main tools that seem to be in my hands the most when gardening. Some are rather cliche and well known, but others aren’t as familiar to most people. So whether you are just beginning your garden, or are a seasoned veteran looking for new tools, here are my favorites.

1. Shovel

This one is almost a given. In this case I am talking about a large shovel and not a hand shovel. If you want to make putting plants in the ground easier, you default to a shovel. But because I practice a “No Dig” approach to my garden, this tool doesn’t get used all that much. I find that it is used most when putting in new fruit trees or plants that are being transplanted from a large pot to the garden. Otherwise, I leave this tool in the garage and keep my digging to a minimum.

2. Pitchfork

Image result for The farmer's wife painting png

If you’ve seen Grant Wood’s painting “The Farmer’s Wife”, you’ve seen the pitch fork that the farmer is holding. This is such a common farming tool that whenever you see images of peasant farmers rising up to fight their tyrant kings and masters, many of them are holding pitchforks. But what I have found is that this is not all for show. I use my pitch fork more than almost any other tool on this list (sparing one).

When you employ the “No Dig” or “No Till” method of gardening, you lay new compost on top of your beds at the end of the season for the next year, and you’re done. If you are like me, you try and make as much compost yourself as you can. To create and work the compost, the pitchfork is the undisputed champion. It gathers material up so well. The prongs can get under bunches of plant matter easier than a solid shovel will, and grabs more as well. You can use it to rake things together, spread material out, and even break up clumps.

I could not garden the way I do without this tool.

3. Hand Pruners

This tool gets used in a number of different instances. I rely on my hand pruners during the late part of winter and some parts of the summer months to prune my berry bushes and fruit trees. You need to make clean cuts when pruning to avoid the plant contracting diseases. And a sharp pair of pruners will do that.

The second thing I use these for is to cut out, from the base, old plants at the end of the season. Rather than dig them out, I cut them back and let the roots rot in the soil over the winter. Again, using the “No Dig” method. The worms have to eat something right?

Make sure to clean your pruners after cutting each plant to prevent disease spread!

This Felco hand pruner is very similar to the one that I currently have and is highly recommended by fruit tree experts like Michael Phillips.

Felco F-2 Classic Manual Hand Pruner

4. Dutch Hoe

No matter what you do, weeds will always be apart of the garden. Trying to keep clean isles around your plants can be challenging and necessary in order to prevent too much competition and stress. Removing new weed sprouts from the roots can be done very quickly using a dutch hoe. The square blade cuts through the ground and pulls the weeds out. I use this to scrape the top of the soil to pull out new weeds quickly. It works much better than a traditional hoe and does an excellent job. Well worth the money.

5. Hori Hori Knife

Hands down my favorite tool to use in the garden is the Hori Hori Knife. It seems there are few things this tool can’t do. It is in the shape of a trowel and can be used like a hand shovel. One side of the trowel has more of a cutting blade to be used to chop plant stems. The other side of the trowel has teeth to be used like a saw. I especially like using this when hand weeding. Because the blade is thin, using the knife to pry up deep rooted carrots does not disturb the soil as much as a thicker shovel might. I highly recommend this tool and I NEVER go out to the garden without it.

This is the one that I have and swear by. It comes with a nice case to keep it protected when stored.

Nisaku NJP640 7.25″ Blade Hori-Hori Stainless Steel Tomita Weeding Knife

And those are my five favorite tools to use in the garden, and probably could get by with only those if I wanted to.

What are your favorite garden tools? Post them in the comment section below.

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About the Author

Geoff has been growing plants and vegetables consistently for the last 6 years and actively experiments with, and writes about, all aspects of gardening.

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