New gardeners get the most excited about seeds, but gardening tools are essential and deserve some of your attention too.
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When Matt and I moved to Sunny Side Up a few years ago, we were excited to start our gardening adventures. For the first time ever, we had some significant garden space and planned to fill it with all kinds of tasty produce. And gardening adventures they were, but not so much the prosperous kind. We researched and read and bumbled along experimenting with different techniques and tools. And, we sunk more money into it than we should have. Big lesson learned there. It’s better to walk before running where gardening is concerned!
If this is the year you’re going to give gardening a whirl, you’re in good company with SO MANY people who are discovering the joys that come with it. When you have veggies and fruits like this that you can just pluck from your own garden, it’s really awesome!
Before you dive in headfirst, though, here are my best tips on tools so you don’t overbuy.
Basic Tools Every Gardener Should Have
Let’s Start With Your Garden Size
If you’re only going to be growing in pots, a tiny space in your backyard, or maybe even a vertical planter like the one I have, you won’t need more than some basics.
Watering Can or Pitcher
You don’t need anything fancy. We still have two brightly colored plastic watering cans that we keep in our garden shed. When I’m busy in the garden, and Matt’s busy in his workshop, distractions abound. It’s nice to have a few that can be easily located when I’m likely to get pulled away from the task at hand.
Okay, they’re not really tools. However, they’re essential for small space gardeners. You can spend a bundle on quality gardening pots and glazed decorative containers. I’ve never cared for flimsy fiberglass containers. The only thing they have going for them is their lightness. We were fortunate that the previous owners of our homestead left a bunch of decent terra cotta pots behind when they moved. Before you run out and buy new pots for your backyard or patio garden, check out Facebook Marketplace or hit up some moving and estate sales. For a fraction of the cost, you can find some beautiful used, glazed options in all kinds of sizes.
Gardening or utility gloves are a necessity. They keep your hands cleaner and less germy. They also protect them from skin irritants like weeds and even a bit from the odd accident with a tool. Men tend to like bulkier gloves, but I have small hands and prefer a slimmer fit. I like these.
Gardening tools like trowels come in all kinds of price ranges. You can buy them at your local hardware store or online. Trowels are great for planting flowers and transplants. I can’t do without mine! I can’t find mine online now, but I love this heavy-duty one that’s made in the USA. When it comes to tools, I’ve found cheap versions just don’t last. In my opinion, it’s best to spend a bit more on good quality tools. If you take good care of them, they’ll be the only ones you buy as long as you garden.
Hand-Held Pruners or Multi-Tool
I consider this tool to be essential, too, but it really depends on what you’re growing. We have two sizes, and this is the smaller one.
I use them to cut larger veggies like squash off the vine instead of yanking, which can damage your precious plants. They come in handy for pruning raspberry brambles and smaller fruit trees before spring officially hits. And I love using them to cut flowers and big bunches of herbs.
Additional Tools for Larger Gardens
Once you expand your gardening space, you’ll find a few more tools that may come in handy.
I use our pitchfork to turn the compost over in our bins. With the weather gradually warming up, I’ll be going out there as soon as the snow is gone. It’s also great for adding straw to our garden beds.
Not to be confused with a yard rake, the sharp tines on garden rakes like this one make quick work out of clearing out garden beds at the end of the season.
For young weeds in small spaces, I’ll use a trowel or a garden hoe to dig up those pesky things. They’re also nice for creating shallow rows for seeds in larger garden beds.
Post Hole Digger
I’ve found post hole diggers to be an amazing aid in the garden. Instead of using your garden hoe to hack away at the soil, you can use this instead. In one movement with this tool, you can create a clean, perfectly sized hole for your transplants. It’s also easy on your back. And if you’re actually going to build a fence, you now have the bonus of having the tool. ?
I sometimes feel like going out to our garden is the equivalent of over the hill and through the woods. Especially now, when I need to toss food scraps in the compost bin and it’s freezing and icy outside.
This summer, it will be a similar feeling, but under a scorching sun. At some point, if you have a large garden, a wheelbarrow makes sense to purchase. Do you want to take ten trips back and forth or just a few? Enough said.
Gardening Tools You Don’t Need
You’ll see all kinds of gardening supply companies selling fancy-schmancy harvest baskets and totes. Unless you have bumper crops going, you don’t need anything much larger than a colander or two to collect your veggies in on a daily basis. I toss mine in them and blast the dirt off of them with a garden hose before bringing them into the kitchen.
Many seeders have discs to plant the various seeds you’re planting. If your garden is massive, it may work for you. However, in my experience, you can just as easily plant seeds with your own two hands in the time it takes you to keep changing up the disks. They also take up storage space.
I hope this information saves you time and money when it comes to gardening. As always, start with the basics and see how they work out before you pull the trigger on purchases you may regret. Here’s to an amazing, upcoming gardening season!