Often, I write about gardening on the cheap because I am passionate about getting more people to try out this wonderful hobby and lifestyle. Too many folks out there would like to try gardening but don’t know where to start. They usually find themselves overwhelmed and intimidated by all the gardening gadgets and gizmos they find at the local gardening store.
The truth is, you don’t need all those things. Many, if not most, of the gardening gadgets on the market are completely unnecessary to your gardening success. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that there are a few really good tools that will make your life easier in the garden.
Here are a few:
1. A good quality garden trowel. This is, hands down, the garden tool I use the most. Whether it is for transplanting my veggies into the ground, potting flowers, or even just scooping compost or mulch, I typically reach for my trowel. Don’t buy a cheap one that will break in half – buy a quality one that will last you for years.
2. A heavy-duty shovel. Sometimes the garden trowel just isn’t enough…like when you are planting trees or digging holes for bigger plants. Just like your trowel, you shouldn’t buy a cheap, plasticky shovel that will break easily. Invest in a good shovel, and it will be years and years before you have to replace it. One word of caution: Keep your shovel (and all metal garden tools) stored out of the rain or you’ll find it will rust quickly.
3. A hoe. This tool will help you cut through weeds and cultivate your soil. There are many types available. Most all of them work well for chopping weeds and pushing soil. I don’t use my hoe on a regular basis, but I use it enough to call it a necessity for any serious gardener. (Double so, if you find that you deal with weeds more often than not!)
4. A bucket or two. Or seven, or 10! Don’t have a wheelbarrow? No problem. Just use a bucket, as they are very handy multipurpose tools. A deep, cheap plastic bucket will allow you to haul weeds, mulch, compost, water and more. Load it up and transport these items around the garden. Who cares if they get dirty? They’re buckets! Best of all, you can flip the bucket over and use it as a stool when you get tired.
5. A fork. We’re not talking about the kind you eat with… but instead the kind farmers use! You don’t need a fancy cultivator or aerator if you own a garden fork. The fork is a useful tool for breaking up large amounts of roots or vegetation in the ground that is being dug. The fork is also the best tool for “stirring” your compost bin or pile, and it comes in handy for slinging rocks out of the way while you’re cultivating your soil. If you like to use double or triple-dug gardens, you simply must have a fork to help you do the work.
6. A soil rake. It is, quite literally, used for raking soil. I use my soil rake so frequently I couldn’t live without it in the garden. It’s great for raking flower beds, removing large patches of weeds after a bed is done for the season, moving gravel or mulch, and I’ve even used my soil rake in a pinch to kill a copperhead!
7. A quality watering hose and sprayer. If you’ve ever fooled around with a cheap hose and half-broken sprayer, you already know what I’m talking about. There is simply no substitute for a durable, strong hose and sprayer, especially if you live in a climate that requires you to do a lot of watering. Soaker hoses can be worth their weight in gold if you have a large garden. Just embed them in your garden, turn them on and there’s no fussing with knots and dragging a hose around.
8. A pair of pruners. A small, handheld pair of pruners will do for cutting almost anything you need, from tomato branches to rose bushes. I like my handheld pair because I can close them and put them right into my pants pocket while I work in the garden. I do own a large pruner for cutting bushes and small tree limbs – but I hardly ever use them! Make sure any pruners you buy are made of quality materials that won’t rust immediately, and keep them stored properly so they’ll last you a long time. You may also want to grease them from time to time.
9. A pair of scissors. There are fancy “gardening” scissors on the market but the ones I use are just a good pair of kitchen scissors. I use them to cut lettuce, prune delicate plants, cut back houseplants, harvest veggies and more.