Spring is here and soon it will be summer. Time for enjoying the garden. What tools will you need to turn your garden into a showplace that the neighbors will envy? That will depend on several things.
Let’s start and proceed from the ground up. What is your soil like? If you’re lucky your soil will be soft and easy to dig. Unfortunately that is not always the case. In some places topsoil was removed and sheepsfoot tampers used to pack down the soil before house foundations could be built. This made the houses stable, but made the soil good for nothing but patios. If, however, you are determined to have a garden, do not despair. If you are young and strong, get a hoe .If you are older or not a big fan of the gym, consider investing in a hand held battery driven cultivator. If you are dealing with a lot of land, you will need the kind of cultivator you can ride on.
To decide what to plant and/or what fertilizers and soil amenders to use you will need to measure your soil pH. Soil pH meters and test strips are available at hardware and garden shops, or you can try homemade methods that are beyond the scope of this article.
Commercial soil amenders and fertilizers are available for various soil types. If your soil is clay you will need an amender to break it up and soften it. Different plants need different types of fertilizer, and the same species can need different types of fertilizer during its life cycle, so do some research. Packages of fertilizer have numbers telling you what percent of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium they contain. For instance, 10-15-12 would contain 10 percent nitrogen, 15 percent phosphorus, and 12 percent potassium. Most plants thrive in a slightly acid pH of 6.0 to 6.5, so if your pH is below that or if you have a plant that prefers a more alkaline (higher) pH, you will need to add limestone to the soil.
If you live in a cold climate and need to plant your seeds indoors, buy some flats or small clay or plastic garden pots. Or you can save egg cartons and plant a seed or two into each compartment. A potting bench in a crafts room or service area of your house makes a good place to work. Probably the largest gardening tool in the world is the greenhouse, which is great for creating a whole environment for growing seedlings for transplant or exotics in a tropical setting.
If you intend to plant trees* and bushes you will need a large shovel.It can also be used for digging trenches for vegetables. The kind with the pointed end is good for digging into soil. Smaller digging tools are good for planting seeds,vegetables, bedding plants, and bulbs. (Some gardeners swear by bulb planters, but a small digger will do). An inexpensive ruler can be used to ascertain the right depth for planting.
To rid your garden of weeds you must eliminate their roots. Otherwise they will grow back. Larger weeds can be pulled up effectively by hand, but who wants to wait that long? To catch them early get a weeder. It has a handle at one end and a sharp, inverted point at the other for digging out those annoying weeds by their roots.
If you have a small area such as a rooftop garden, a watering can will suffice for providing moisture. For hanging plants a small watering can with a long spout will enable you to reach them. For plants on the ground, get a gallon sized watering can to keep from having to make too many trips to the spigot. For a larger area a hose will do, and has the added advantage of allowing you to attach a fertilizer sprayer. Attach a nozzle to allow you to control the size of your spray droplets. This is especially important for watering seedlings, which can be destroyed by too heavy a flow of water.
When your trees and bushes begin to thrive, you will soon need to trim them. A small pair of clippers designed to be held in one hand will work at first. As your plants grow larger, a larger hedge clippers, designed to be held with both hands, will cut larger branches and help you to maintain an even hedge.
In the autumn most trees begin to shed and you will need a rake to clean up your lawn or garden. For leaves an inexpensive rake with aluminum tines will do. If it is windy and your trees shed twigs all over the yard, consider a sturdier rake with steel tines. Which brings us to the subject of composting. Special tools are not strictly necessary, because old leaves and garbage will naturally become compost if you simply pile them into a corner, but that can appear messy when you have a dinner party out on the patio. Special composters are not only neater, but allow you to aerate your compost by turning a handle. The sides are designed with open spaces to allow air to circulate through your compost. If you do use the pile in the corner method of composting, a pitchfork can be used to aerate your compost. Get a long kitchen thermometer to measure your compost’s inner temperature.
If you have the space a garden shed is a good idea for holding all your tools. If not, they can be stored in your garage or other storage space. Small tools can be stored in a bag designed for that purpose. Gardening bags have many pockets for holding small tools and packages of seeds. They make it easy to carry things around your garden and put them back while staying organized.
So take a moment to consider what your garden will need. What kind of soil and climate are you dealing with? What do you want to grow? And where? Planning ahead will ensure that you get the tools you will need for your successful garden.