Essential Gardening Tools and Gadgets: The New, Old and Gold
If you spend any length of time gardening, you develop a rhythm. Mowing the lawn is always done in the same direction. You prune your shrubs in a particular way that suits your spouse, and you generally plant the same favorites in your vegetable garden. And slowly but surely, you stop using half of the tools in the tool shed, gravitating to only a few of your favorites.
I cannot tell you how many specialized shovels I have in my shed. But for myself, I like to be mobile. I have a very large parcel of land and the attention span of a gnat. So in the midst of pruning, I may be distracted by a dandelion flaunting its existence beneath my roses. I am lazy about getting a new tool, so I tend to carry what I need much like a one-man band. As such, the tools need to fit in my pockets or be strapped to my waist.
New: The Ring WeederA new little gem that recently came onto the market is the Ring Weeder. Small in size, this tool is perfect for weeding those densely planted perennial beds or vegetable plots where larger tools won’t fit. It is a shorter version of the old hand-weeding tool your mom used to have. It fits in your pocket and easily slips onto your index finger when the chickweed taunts you. As inventor Vinnie Suozzi explains, “The Ring Weeder allows you to get the whole root, which will save you time and effort in the long run. If Edward Scissorhands can do it, why can’t I?” In addition, the Ring Weeder works great for getting mud out of the tread of your boots and cleaning the dried grass clippings off of the bottom of your mower.
Old: The Hori HoriBy far my favorite tool, the hori-hori Japanese gardening knife is the ultimate multi-purpose tool and a must for any gardener. They are approximately a foot long and strap to your belt in a scabbard, always ready for use. The blade is sharp on one side and serrated on the other, which makes it perfect for cutting through roots as you dig. I use it as a weeder, bulb planter, knife, saw, and digging tool. It has a ruler on the blade that lets you measure how deep you are planting bulbs and is great for evenly spacing transplants for those who are finicky about those things. It also works great in the fall for dividing perennials or cutting old twine used for tying up those unruly plants. Hori-horis are available at most reputable garden centers, but do not go cheap: Buy a good one and it will last you forever.
Gold: The Ultimate Plant ClipI have tried to carry twine or twist-ties with me, but as you might imagine, my pockets are full. I found that the twine kept wrapping around my tools and the twist ties kept getting pulled out of my pockets when I pulled out a tool, and they invariably ended up left behind. Then I found these handy plant clips made by Global Garden Friends. Appropriately named the Ultimate Plant Clip, these handy clips are reusable and do not cause damage to the plants you are tying up. Made of recycled plastic, they do not provide a place for fungus or mites to hide like twine does. There’s no risk of tying them too tight or causing a stress point where the plant might bend over in the wind. These clips are perfectly engineered – that is, except for the fact that they sometimes come out of my pocket like a barrel of monkeys. They can be purchased at the Global Garden Friends website or on Amazon.com.
Add a good hand pruner and water bottle to these three essential garden gadgets and you will get lost in your garden for hours Don’t like to keep your tools in your pockets? A simple apron will do the trick – at least until your football buddies come over.
Michael O’Loughlin is an OSU wildlife steward and master gardener. He was presented with the Horticulture Award by the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs in 2008 and given lifetime membership. He was also presented with the Tree Steward Award by the city of Tigard, Oregon. When he is not producing home and garden shows or testing gardening products, he is volunteering at school gardens. You can follow him on Twitter @molfamily.