Gardening season has become full swing here in Idaho with our average last frost date come and gone – are you itchy to have the garden completely planted and feeling behind? Are you already planted for the season? Stalling and protective of your baby plants? Do you risk it early and have faith it’ll be ok? Or just plain haven’t had time yet so it’s not done? I’m in the last of these categories currently – but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy in the garden getting ready for plants! Over the last decade, I’ve learned how critical my tools are to a long term sustainability in gardening can be.
No two tools are created equal. I am an advocate for understanding what kind of job you need done and shopping for a specific tool created to that job. I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest nightmares in gardening is the monumental task of weeding! It wasn’t such a large task when my garden was only 10×10 or 15×15… but now I grow a garden that is over 30’x60′ and I need to expand it more!. Weeds are a daily irritant but I have a tool that I SWEAR BY! (and my kids think it makes me look wicked cool in shadows walking around with this thing….
Funny little thing, but this is my ‘hula hoe’ or sometimes called a ‘scuffle hoe’. I have owned this exact one for years. This thing is magical, trust me. It is SO easy to use that my children can easily handle ‘weeding the garden’ along side me. I say along side me because you do need to be thorough in weeding and they aren’t quite up to that thoroughness yet – but they love this tool! I am actually buying a second one that is intended for using on your hands and knees in hard to reach places – but I just think of this one as kid sized!! It’s very simple to use. You swipe it back and forth just under the surface of the soil and effectively chop off the tops of all the weeds. It’s very simple science – plants need sunshine in photosynthesis process. If you cut off the greens constantly, they starve themselves to death – some quicker than others certainly. Overall though, this addition to my garden has cut down on so much work! I quickly swipe it on my pathways in between rows (even on pine mulch!), in between my plants, etc. It’s not sharp so I don’t worry about my children touching it – a huge bonus to this busy mama of 6. I need safe, useful items around my garden – don’t you? Seriously, if you garden, buy this. I bought my original one at a local nursery and I know our big box stores have them too (locals – NEON, D&B, TSC and all Home Depots/Lowes have them usually!). I hope to give my glowing review of the short handled one in another month or so but just looking at mine, you would see it’s years of use and more years to come!
Another thing I’ve learned along the way is how you water matters. If you think of the million ways to water a garden, I have tried those ways. Overhead watering? Yep. Flooding? Yep. Drip line? Indeed. On a timer? Yep. On a whim? Definitely. The supplies are endless. I’m so grateful for my husband and his continued amazing efforts at helping me navigate watering trial and errors over the years. Now we happily use a combination of watering styles including flooding for some lovely plants and this drip line for other things. I’m really busy. I need easy most of all – but within a tight budget. I appreciate my drip line for water conservation efforts (hello lower water bills for those of you who don’t have irrigation!), ease of use (I turn it on at night and let it run overnight while I sleep for some things) and my kids love to count the drops as we first set it up every year!
My final favorite gardening tool seems like an unlikely choice but hear me out – I have had a couple animals on our homestead (just a few right? chickens, turkeys, rabbits, goats, pigs, dogs, cats and of course 6 feral kids that rock my world!) and as such an owner of animals, I’m no stranger to assembling fences but I have got to confess that I have done it the hardest way possible for YEARS. Yes, I had t-posts and fence panels but how exactly did those t-posts get in the ground? Well, my glorious husband put up with my cheap ideas and between the two of us, we got them in the ground with a sledge hammer for years…. What IDIOTS. Last year, I said enough was enough – I bought a t-post pounder. Game changer! I use t-posts all over the garden – hello trellis holders for all sorts of things and never once did it occur to me to buy one of these over the last decade until I bought pigs last year. As I set out to place my posts for bean and cucumber trellises – I was amazed at how easy it was. In a quick 5 minutes, I had posts in the ground and began to lean ranch panels on them for a trellis. What a difference from years past where I had to nearly kill myself to get a post in the ground. Don’t be the idiot I was, buy a tool and move on to better things.
Really, gardening is a love affair of a lifetime. I’m so happy to have found some things that have helped enormously. These tools have made it easy and quick to begin my gardening season with joy instead of frustration. These are my favorites right now to start my gardening season – what are yours?