Tools of the Trade
My most favored tools are a set of brick jointers made by Marshalltown here in the US. As Rod watched me struggle with traditional gardening tools while planting tight crevices, he got an idea. He offered me these masonry hand tools. I have not given them back! Not only can you pack tight places, but also dig and scoop just about everywhere. Yes, most crevices are a roomy couple of inches wide. But more often, some piece of the facing stone comes a little closer to its mate, even kissing at times. These tools make all the difference for getting deep into the crevice. They come in varying sizes, from 3/8" or 3/4" on one end to 1/2" or 7/8" on the other. They are approximately 10 1/2 " long. The S-curve fits them nicely to the hand. To find them, just look at your local hardware store. Even the big chain stores carry them for sale. Talk to a local mason.
The next star in the arsenal of productivity enhancers is one I acquired many years ago. White Flower Farm used to sell this as a swoe. Now, they sell a stand-up, long handled version so-called. I have it too, for the vegetable garden summer weeding detail. It is good for keeping after german-weed (local name for Galinsoga ciliata) before it gets over a few inches high. But it is not nearly as handy a tool as its short handled cousin, which does duty in all the gardens, from the vegetables patch to the perennial beds to the rock garden. There is nothing like it for getting the odd dandelion seedling or tubby yellow-dock root (Rumex crispus). Before Rod graced me with the set of brick jointer tools, this tool did most of the duty in the crevice garden.
|Snow Stake Marker|
The hand trowel, of course, is essential to any garden tool bucket. My taste always runs to those with wooden handles and a forged steel blade. It is just that much easier on the hand. (I do keep a few plastic handled ones in the plunge bed year round. That way I never need to go look for one - especially handy if it is early or late in the season. But sand is not difficult to excavate.) The wooden handled ones are comfortable for prolonged work anytime. My hand does not sweat during the heat of summer as it does while using the plastic handled ones for any length of time. I like a bit of a sharp point on the blade too. Sometimes the soil here is compacted, from the clay or sod or such. A sharp point dispatches all resistance and saves the wrist from impact. Also the wide forged blade is of perfect size for making short work of a job. It gets it done now! Naturally they are worth having the handles replaced when the wood deteriorates. But there are inevitably losses due to oversight. I have not seem any lately for sale like this, so always check tag sales in the area.
I keep two sets of hand clippers in the pot. Depending on my mood and hand agility, I reach for one or the other. The anvil pruner is a little heavier in the hand, but is great for routine work. (Mine is a vintage product, again available at most local tag sales. I should note, Goshen is up the valley from the old Seymour Smith manufacturing plant, now defunct, which probably accounts for the plethora of goodies at all the garage sales.) As my hand tires from a long stint of pruning, I will reach for the Florian rachet-cut pruner, which multiplies my hand strength "by 700%". Why don't I always user the Florians? Well, ratcheting is a double work operation. And when the Florians are not enough, there is always the lopper.
|Seymour Smith Snap-cut|
|Snap-cut Timberline Loppers|
|Japanese Weeding Sickle|
|Smith & Hawken Hand Fork|