Garden Tools and Tricks I Can't Live Without!

(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Over my years of gardening I have acquired many tools and tricks that make my job easier or more successful. Some have been easy to acquire, some a little more difficult, and some were the result of my DDH's creativity in wanting to make my (and his own) work easier.

I thought it would be a good time to share this kind of information, as I know we all have things still to learn and still lots to do out there.

If I had to choose just one favorite (a difficult task), it would be this hand weeder, I believe of Japanese origin. If the occasion arises that I want to give a gift to a gardening friend, this is always my choice. And once they have one, they love it too. Note that it doesn't come with the red handle. This was DDH's idea after he saw me digging through the compost pile on several occasions to retrieve the one that I lost.

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Second choice would be my "garden workbelt." You hardly ever find me out there without this charming accessory strapped around my waist. It holds my Felco, a folding knife, and a pair of binoculars (I am an avid bird watcher, too.)

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Aslo high on my list is the canvas carrying bucket. This is a fairly small one I got when they first came out, and I have been unsuccessful in finding its replacement. It has lasted for several years, and is finally wearing out. Darn!

There are lots of copy cats but they are usually a bit larger and not nearly as durable.

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

My "hoopie hoe" is by far my favorite for weeding the veggie garden.

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

And, a wonderful gift from Rarejem, a weed wacker that I can actually handle. This is a real bonus now that I have acquired the responsibility of edging the yard.

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

This was one of my DDH's inventions for me. My "teewine" bucket with a cutter attached.

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

I find that a bamboo rake is highly superior to the larger, heavier varieties.

This message was edited Jun 10, 2009 9:02 AM

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

And a small hand rake is a must for getting leaves out from around delicate plants. Next to it is my heavy duty "digger" that is great for doing just that and also really good at getting the roots of buttercups out.

This message was edited Jun 10, 2009 8:48 AM

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(Judi)Portland, OR

Well Sharon thanks a lot! Now I have more tools to get!!! Since I'm new to gardening I have some basics but I can see a few I could really use, like the Japanese hand weeder. I have an old-fashioned metal bucket I use to carry around tools, and fill with weeds. I love that bucket! Oh, and I think I need a hand rake. And hoopie hoe.

(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

And my large garden cart is an absolute necessity in a yard as large as mine and, to me, well worth the cost.

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

One last entry for now. I find surveyor ribbon very handy to mark new things that I don't want to weed whack, plants that I have dug to share, cuttings I have made (marks-a-lot for naming.) It is also great on the ends of hoses you want to find the connections for that seem to get lost in the greenery.

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(Judi)Portland, OR

I do have a wheel barrel/barrow (which is correct?) to carry large pieces of slate that I got when my son was making a stone patio. I have a small city lot but that thing is still useful! Filled with ice, it makes a great place to hold wine and beer for a party.

(Julie)South Prairie, WA(Zone 7a)

I love the idea of this thread Mom. As we have similar stuff, I won't have much to add, but do have a couple of things that I will post when I get home.

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

My favorite tool is the spade that belonged to my dad. The handle is perfect for me. I use it for everything. I don't think I could use a regular shovel now, I've been spoiled by this.
I see some things I could use. I really need to get organized and keep stuff together. ^_^

Walterville, OR

Today's favorite tool of the day: OFF! ^_^

Edited to add: I meant to say - thanks for posting this. Great info!

This message was edited Jun 10, 2009 5:05 PM

(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

I hear you on the OFF. Haven't seen so many mosquitoes since I left MN. At the EWA house they were so bad that we didn't even want to walk the yard to see what was new. Here in S Prairie, they are not bad, but any is bad here where we seldom have any.

(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Another idea, that came to me as I was not doing it: When you feel the need to use kneeley pads when you are on your hands and knees, use two. When you have to switch positions, you can just move to the next one rather than do acrobatics to move the pad. Repeat as necessary.

I thought everyone had this routine down pat until I had a friend come help me in my garden last year. It was a new concept to her, even though she has been gardening as long as I have.

(Julie)South Prairie, WA(Zone 7a)

OK, Now that I am home, I can add a couple to the list.

I love the idea of being organized, but most of the "organizer" things (the bucket caddies, etc) are IMHO more of a pain in the butt than anything. I just can't be that compulsive.

I did find one type of organizer that worked wonderfully for me though. Bought one of these shoe rack thingies for my husbands shop when I was helping him get organized, and absolutely fell in love with the idea.....for my garden shed. Needless to say, he got bins instead and the shoe organizer went into my pumphouse!

Nadine..notice that OFF has it's own compartment!

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(Julie)South Prairie, WA(Zone 7a)

And if you don't have waterproof shoes...especially in my yard....you just aren't a PNW gardener!

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Mountlake Terrace, WA(Zone 8a)

My favorite tool in the garden is what I call my #1 shovel. It is a small version about 2' long with a blade about 6" wide.

Kirkland, WA(Zone 7b)

Spading fork, mattock & hand rake.
I'm checking out carts - must upgrade!

Walterville, OR

Though my husband and I have had this property a few years, we are pretty clueless about gardening so this thread has been very helpful. The two kneeling pads -- great idea. I also love the shoe organizer and would never have thought of it. Speaking of shoes...I just went to the muck boots website. The Daily Clog is going on my Christmas wish list!

(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

I see a couple of comments on shovels. Is this the one that is being referred to? It is my absolute favorite for 'delicate' jobs.

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(Judi)Portland, OR

I actually got a child's shovel and it works great for little jobs.
The 'two-knee-pad' trick is so smart. I go through all sorts of contortions to move my one pad along.
And Muck Boots! I don't like those shoes with the holes in them - you always have to take them off and shake them out. I want Muck Boots! No, I NEED Muck Boots!
This is a great thread.

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

Sorry, I don't have a pic, but my dad's spade is flat-edged and the handle is only about 3' long. The long-handled shovel looks the one on the left in your Pic, PNW. I will use the long one for certain things, but my go-to one is my dad's. Probably for other reasons than just being handy. :) I also love wearing his old overalls in the garden. sigh

(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Another of my DDH's acquisitions for my use in the garden. My little red wagon.

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

I was thrilled to discover these gloves at the PNW Flower Show a few years back. Gloves that actually fit my hand, and actually last more than a single weekend!

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Those of you who have been following the Slug threads already know about our ammonia/water spray bottles. We named them "Sluggo".

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Woodinville, WA(Zone 8b)

A good dollar store is a great place to get knee pads and inexpensive hand spades and shovels as well as inexpensive plant supports

(Linda)Gig Harbor, WA(Zone 8a)

PNWMountainGirl- And thanks to you I can crawl all over my yard and using my Japanese hand weeder!

(Julie)South Prairie, WA(Zone 7a)

So I am attributing this to Katye from Sammamish, and if it was someone else, please forgive and correct me...

I got the suggestion to use hog wire to support plants this spring, and I am absolutely in heaven! The montbretia in this picture were just done the day the picture was taken, so the effect isn't wonderful, but gives you the idea of how I have used it. The two blue geraniums have been surrounded for a few weeks, and they are looking the best they ever have. They are not mashing the plants surrounding them, and don't look like a sausage tied in several places like they do if I use stake and a twine.

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(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Sure would like to see everyone's special tricks and tools on this thread!

Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

My favorite absolute first is my debris loader. It is a big 7" vacuum hose that sucks, chips, shreds, and cleans up about anything in its path but rocks. I use it to vacuum off mulch in the spring and then it is chipped to be made into soil and use it to blow compost back on before I re-mulch what I cleaned off. This makes for spectacular soil and no harm to plants. This is a picture of my lovely girl.

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Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

Great ideas. Would love a debris loader.

BTW HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SHARON. Hope it's a great one!

(Julie)South Prairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Sofer....OOOHHHH! Your lovely girl is wonderful!!!! I do all of that by hand...it would be a dream to be able to just suck up the maple leaves for shredding and then blow them into the garden! I spend days mulching in the fall, and have yet to find a shredder that didn't require endless unclogging when the leaves are damp.

No. San Diego Co., CA(Zone 10b)

Sharon, I have that same folding bucket and mine is wearing out too. The big ones have their uses, but are not as handy.

Similar to your weeder, my fav tool is my CobraHead weeder http://davesgarden.com/products/gp/view/2/
I have arthritis and this is much easier on my wrists and hands. Many ways to use it, too.

Love this thread!

Kathleen

Woodinville, WA(Zone 8b)

I can't live without my mattock for edging, sod removal, digging in clay. It looks like what Sharon has identified as her "digger".

Nex is my hori-hori knife - a must for dividing Hostas, Ligularia, Pacific Iris, Lilies. It will cut through anything.

Though I try to avoid the use of plastics, it's hard. My new toy this year is my plastic trug. In fact, I have a couple now. The medium size is just right for filling with weeds and then can be grabbed by the handles and carried with one hand. I'm contemplating poking a couple of holes in the bottom for drainage so that a bucket of weeds that gets left out in the rain doesn't fill with water. They carry these at Fred Meyer in the gardening section. Shope often, though, because the medium size seems to go first. http://www.tubtrugs.com/tubtrugs.html

I will have to look into a Japanese hand weeder. I've heard many good things about them.

(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Kathy, the hand weeder is at Mclendons for 7.99, or you can get the "better" product at Smith and Hawken for 19.00. They also have a left-handed one there. (S&H)
For those of you outside our area, Mclendons is online also.

(Sharon)SouthPrairie, WA(Zone 7a)

Kaper, I will have to try to find the cobra head...isn't it amazing that the most useful of the tools are hard to find? Guess that way very few three pronged "weeders" would ever be sold again.

Sofer, that is a real beauty in my eyes, too. If my DDH were still alive, I am sure he would be trying to create one for R J and me right away!

Kathy, what does your hori-hori knife look like? RJ and I discovered that placing the shovel where you want to divide and then hitting the shovel top edges with a "pounder" saves a lot on the bottom of shoes and feet. Perhaps you have a better alternative there.

I think you can tell how fond I am of the useful tools, as they all have affectionate nicknames...........

This message was edited Jun 12, 2009 2:44 PM

(Linda)Gig Harbor, WA(Zone 8a)

Happy birthday Sharon!!

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