Do you have the right tool for your gardening job?
Every time I read the account in the Bible of God cursing the earth and making gardening a “painful toil,” I wonder if West Texas got a double dose. I am so grateful to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for educating me on the Earth-Kind principles that not only conserve resources but ease some of the labor for hard-working gardeners. For more on this, go online to aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu for more information.
As I have gotten older and creakier, I have looked for other ways to ease the strain on my joints. Three shovels that are helpful in my clay loam soil include:A wide-bladed shovel with an ergonomic D-handle and extra-wide step that adds a little extra oomph to my effort.A narrow spear head shovel has replaced the old sharpshooter in my arsenal of tools. The pointed tip on the blade slides easily into the soil. Many years ago, I bought an 18-inch shovel for one of my young grandsons to use in the garden. I am short, so this may not be universal, but mine has proved to be invaluable for my use in small spaces or for planting 1-gallon or smaller potted plants. The diminutive size is lightweight.
The recommendations following are from the article “Investing in the Right Tools, Gadgets, Equipment, Accessories Will Keep You Gardening Forever” in the September/October 2020 issue of Texas Gardener magazine, with their gracious permission. The author is Skip Richter, who is an extension horticulturist in Brazos County and respected garden author.
If you are interested in starting your own seeds indoors, Skip recommends:Quality lighting, such as high-output fluorescents and LEDs with an inexpensive timer.Seed-starting mat that provides warmth to aid in germination when temperatures are cool.Bottle-cap sprinklers, plastic caps that screw on individual-sized, single-use plastic drink bottles. Lightweight row-cover fabrics for protection of seedlings outdoors.
If you seed larger plots of ground, consider a precision seeder that “rolls down the row dropping seeds at the perfect spacing, while covering and firming soil around the seeds. Different seeding plates can be switched out for each size of seed you are planting.” Your back and legs will thank you.
Weeding can be an onerous chore, but the younger the weeds and the less soil we move eradicating them, the easier the job. Unlike hoes that chop both weeds and soil, stirrup and scuffle types slice young weeds off at ground level or just below with simple back-and-forth motions. The weed seeds still lurking belowground are not moved to the surface where they can germinate.
Richter also recommends the Cobrahead weeder, especially for ease in removing established weeds. The arched shaft and flattened head can also be used for other gardening tasks. Both hand tools with short handles and long-handle versions are available.
By-pass pruners with removable, replaceable blades are superior to anvil types, according to the article. Some have rotating handles that might feel awkward at first but place less strain on joints. Curved handsaws that cut on both the push and pull strokes are handy. Keep pruning equipment sharp and oiled. It makes pruning easier and extends the life of the tools.
I have heard rave reviews from other gardeners about kneeling benches, but it was this article that convinced me to get one. I love it! The kneeling pad is kind to my old knees, the seat is a comfortable sitting height, and the handles make getting up easier. I bought one that was extra sturdy, with a plusher kneeling pad.
Save not just water but time by using drip irrigation in your beds and/or collection of container plants. Installing a timer is also helpful. There are some great videos on YouTube that can help.
Soil knives have so many uses I consider them the Swiss Army knife of the garden. “D” handles attach to the handles of rakes and shovels, minimizing bending and making lifting easier