The right tool can make all the difference.
I’m a bit embarrassed that it took me so long to learn this. I struggled with certain tasks in my garden for far too long before I accepted that I was making things much harder for myself than they needed to be.
Now I save up for certain tools that I once considered “frivolous,” and I really, really do try to put them away before it rains. Mostly, I succeed at that.
Here are a few of my favorite tools and how I care for them:
- Bulb planter: I struggled with bulb planting for ages before I watched how easily Monty Don planted bulbs on the British television show Gardener’s World. I ordered my own hand-held bulb planter and used it to sneak bulbs in amongst the perennials in my flower garden. It worked beautifully. This year, I’ve added a stand-up bulb planter, and I’m excited to use it planting daffodils out in the lawn. So far, the only care required for these tools has been hosting the dirt off after use, drying, and storing in my garden shed.
- Japanese hand weeder: This is my favorite weeding tool hands-down. I use it to quickly slice through the soil, churning up weeds from beneath. Unfortunately, I often lose them in the weeds! But these tools are inexpensive and easily replaced. I do however try to wash mine after use. They can also be sharpened with a metal file.
- Light-weight, collapsible water hose: It sounds like hyperbole to say a hose changed my life, but this fabric-covered hose did just that this past year. Our summer was more dry than usual, but in the past I have neglected watering during dry spells because I struggle to move heavy hoses around. This hose stretches unbelievability far and is so easy to move around. I love how quickly it collapses, meaning I no longer have the eyesore of long hoses draped all over my yard or sitting in big, lumpy piles. Here is a review of several garden hoses from Popular Mechanics, including two expandable hoses, which is the kind that works so well for me.
- Terra cotta pot and pot brush: I’ve shared my love for this humble container material before. At the end of the growing season, I empty my pots onto the compost pile, saving the broken bit of pottery at the bottom that I used to cover the drainage hole. Then I wash and scrub out the inside with a pot brush like this one, though I’m sure any stiff, wire brush would work well. Though I don’t personally take the extra step of using bleach or some other disinfectant in my pots, I know some gardeners are careful to do that. Instead, I scrub them out as best as I can and leave them to sit in my garden shed all winter. If left out in the rain and snow, terra cotta is more likely to crack. When these pots do crack or break, I save the pieces to use as filler at the bottom of other pots.
Here are some of the items I use to care for all of my garden tools:
- Rubbing alcohol: I use this to wipe down my pruning shears when I am pruning roses. This cuts down on the chance that I will carry disease from one rose bush to another. Disinfectant wipes are also convenient for this task.
- Sharpening file: I use a file like this one to keep my shovels and shears sharp.
- Sharp wire brushes: Sharp metal brushes like these are amazing for quick cleaning of tools that have become gummed up with sap or plant oils.