Question: How many hand tools do I own? Answer: Over 40
Question: Do I use them all? Answer: No.
More than 10 of those were impulse buys, and never used! I share my favourite 10 Hand Tools I cannot do without. If a tool is not found in its place, in the shed, you have one very unhappy Rekha.
I don’t use a Rotavator to get the ‘first dig’ done, after Winter, or a Tiller to bring the soil to a fine tilth, prior to planting. Instead, to dig I use a Garden Fork to either turn the Green Manure in or to get ‘air’ into the soil. After a day or two of ‘drying out’ the soil, use a 2 Prong Hoe to bring it to as fine a tilth as possible.
Once the soil is ready for planting to begin, my all time favourite tool, a Planting and Weeding Knife is the first tool I pick. This tool not only picks deep rooted weeds easily but cuts through the planting position easier and the Transplanting Trowel is kept alongside as a back up. Since the Planting Trowel and majority of these small Garden Hand Tools like a small Hand Spade are approximately 30cm (12″) in length, (which is the spacing between rows), with the ‘metal part’ of the tool being approx 15cm (6″) , I use this as the ‘distance between plants’ guide, making an easier job, without always using a garden ruler for spacing between plants. Note: a majority of vegetable and flower plants have a 15cm spacing recommended (at the least).
String Line (as in the pic below) is a must use for me. I don’t function very well if planting is not done in straight line in a large space, eg allotments. Small raised beds, using old scaffold boards to get straight lines and distances between plants is a great idea too . I know plants don’t mind where the roots are buried. But I certainly do!! These strict spacings are appreciated when it comes to weeding, inspecting and harvesting. These spacings make tasks so much easier; place a board between the rows in order to get the job done, without causing damage to the crop around.
Although I own several branded String Lines. I still prefer to use my Dibber which cost 10p and a small Bamboo stick at the other end. Turning the dibber to keep the tension in the String. Job done.
Weeding is a job best tackled when weeds are tiny and just breaking through the soil. In my early allotment days I left this job a couple of weeks and weeds seem to be having an unruly party! Since then, never uttered the words “I will come back to that job another day”. When the weeds are little I simply take a Long Handle Weeder for the areas on the plot to get between the plants and rows. For the raised beds I use a small Hand Fork. In the Greenhouse the pots get the soil aired by using a tiny fork which came part of a much loved gift set . This tool helps with less plant and root disturbance in pots.
My final 2 are a pair of Secateurs and pocket knife. They always come around with me on the plot, never to be tempted to just break off a branch or pull a vegetable off the plant. These actions could shock the plants from producing further crop. Again a hard lesson learnt over the past years.
These are my top 10 hand tools used on the plot. Do you have a favourite hand tool that you cannot do without? Connect with me here or on any of the Social Media platforms mentioned below.
Happy Gardening, Rekha.