The most satisfactory definition of man from the scientific point of view is probably Man the Tool-maker.
― Kenneth Oakley
Who moved my hoe and where is the spade? What do you mean you left it somewhere?
Our garage has a pile of long-handled garden equipment leaning against it in the most central possible place for people to see our mess. There are handles with nothing on the end, ends with no handles, kid-size tools, old tools from grandparents, new tools from the local hardware store, tools the neighbors have left, tools we have borrowed, tools we use constantly and some we never use. Sound like a lot? There is a similar pile out by our main garden. (And yet, what I need is never handy.) This is not a ringing endorsement, I’m aware. But, there is good news! You do not need a dozen tools to garden. You will be well served by a few, well chosen items.
Having some basic tools, especially when you are getting started, is critical. As you continue in your gardening journey you may find there are other purchases you need/want to make.
Start with a hoe, a garden rake, a long handled spade and a hand spade or garden trowel. The cardinal rule with all equipment is to buy as high quality as you reasonably can or be prepared to replace it. Sometimes this means finding older pieces. We have found that old hoes can be sharpened and have handles replaced and some cheap, newer versions just break.
There are several different hoes on the market. I like rectangle or triangle blades, which are called by different names. I have never used a stirrup hoe so if you have a strong opinion about them, speak up.
Garden rakes are the heavier duty type of rake. The fan style are called leaf rakes. You may want one of each but start with the garden rake. You will use it to smooth and level soil and remove debris.
A good long handled spade is important. It may not be the only shovel you want but I can’t imagine being without it. As with all tools, it should feel good in your hand. It will have weight on it when you move it so I like the newer, lighter types for this. My back doesn’t need any extra work.
Ah, the hand spade ( I stick with this term because “trowel” is a mason’s tool in my mind). I break these. I have yet to find one I cannot damage but I’m sure they are out there so I am doing my homework. I’m dreaming of something that can handle some deep prying into heavy sand without bending and doesn’t mind (read rust) being left overnight jammed crudely into the soil waiting for the work to resume in the morning. Here are some to look into: http://thesweethome.com/reviews/the-best-garden-trowel/
You can get basic tools at your local hardware store and all over the internet. Here are some retailers to scout:
https://www.lehmans.com/ This place has everything. Preppers and homesteaders, get out your wish lists.
http://www.earthtoolsbcs.com/html/garden_tools.html I discovered Earth Tools in Mother Earth News.
https://hosstools.com/# Hoss is a domestic company.
You will spend a lot of time with some tools. Don’t be afraid to name them or decorate them if you want. Should I find a spade I love, I shall name her Bertie.
You should also consider a wheel borrow and irrigation or a hose. These items will be discussed when we talk budgeting next week.
We didn’t create a home for our tools when we set up our gardens and, since the tools didn’t build their own home, they still don’t have a proper place when the day is done. As I mentioned earlier, they generally go in one of two piles leaning up against something, which means I have to move them all to mow and edge. This is silly. We now own wall mounts so they can be hung by the main garden and I’ll be getting to that project in the near future. Don’t do it this way. When you are planning your garden, plan for everything you will be using there. If you can, keep your tools close. It shouldn’t mean trekking across your property to get the hoe when you run out to grab a tomato and notice you need to hoe some weeds or rake your mulch a bit. (Everyone is that easily distracted, right?) Convenience is your friend. Planning creates convenience.
Chew on this
We have ruined more than just wheat.
To continue with the theme of the aforereferenced article, I suggest watching King Corn. It is available on Amazon. It is a simple film that lets you draw your own conclusions. If you didn’t grow up in the corn belt, this may be new to you and very informative. If, like me, most of your life has happened in a corn field or next to one, it may be funny, charming or dull.
Happy eating, Katy