Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.
The use of tools to grow food dates back millennia. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still find a new favorite tool.
This year’s new toy is a multi-tasker: It’s a 30-inch attachment for an electric drill designed to dig holes just the right size and depth for bulbs. I haven’t had a chance to use the Roto Digger for its intended purpose yet, but I’m finding all sorts of uses for it in the meantime: It’s a much more efficient stirring stick for the compost pile than my pitchfork. And it’s an awesome weapon against weeds or unwanted plants with long, sturdy roots like the ever-spreading ferns. You need an electric drill to make the auger turn in soil; a cordless isn’t likely to have enough oomph. And if you give it too much power, you might need to reverse the direction to get the attachment back out. But it made much shorter work of thoroughly taking out the pesky ferns, and made much smaller holes than I would have made trying to dig them out with a trowel or shovel.
It’s certainly a welcome addition to the tool treasure chest, and probably makes my top 10 list somewhere. Here’s the rest:
9. Ah, Velcro. Green hook and loop fasteners get a clematis started on a trellis and keep sprawling tomato vines in line.
8. My camera. I can’t seem to remember what my plants look like in spring, and don’t always recognize the gaps in my garden, but my camera lens captures all that.
7. My upgraded shovel. In every garden aisle, there always seem to be a choice of options with a wide range of prices. If I ever go with the cheapest option, I invariably find myself back in the store buying the next level up. Entry-level shovels aren’t up to Blue Star roots, it turns out.
6. Wire cloches, the kind that keep rabbits from nibbling every last bit of heuchera Crème Brulee and look OK while doing it.
5. Chicken wire. Stupid rabbits.
4. My aluminum trowel. It’s got a rubber handle for comfort, and it’s never bent under pressure.
3. My Fiskars garden scissors. I keep two pair: one for inside work on bouquets and one for outside tasks like trimming back tomatoes, picking bouquets and cutting netting. The Fiskars garden shears also come in handy, if I ever get around to pruning
2. Atlas Nitrile gloves. I went through at least a pair of gardening gloves a year before I bought these three years ago. They’re tough enough to handle whatever comes their way but stay supple and the finger ends don’t break. (But I break out the longer gauntlet gloves with leather palms for working around the roses.)
1. Hands down my top tool really isn’t one: It’s impossible to beat bare hands for some tasks. It’s murder on the manicure, but great for getting things done.
What’s on your top list of favorite garden equipment?
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