How does your garden grow?

CanWest News Service
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

A survival kit brimming with tools is a great start

When it comes to garden tools, there are shears, spreaders, shovels and spades - and that's just gadgets that start with 'S.'

Walk into the garden-tool section of any home improvement or landscaping centre, and newbie gardeners can expect to be faced with an overwhelming selection of choices that leaves heads spinning.

When it comes to garden tools, there are shears, spreaders, shovels and spades - and that's just gadgets that start with 'S.'

Walk into the garden-tool section of any home improvement or landscaping centre, and newbie gardeners can expect to be faced with an overwhelming selection of choices that leaves heads spinning.

For the aspiring green thumb without a single rake to her name, the easiest way to get started is to assemble a survivor's kit of essential tools that will cover basic horticultural needs.

Gord Cline, a 66-year-old certified master gardener who says he has been gardening all his life, keeps seven items in his kit: trowel, cultivator, planter, hand rake, water wand, kneeler and root feeder.

Now retired, Cline has taken up a part-time, just-for-fun gig at Lee Valley Tools (780-444-6153). He gave At Home a rundown of each item in his arsenal:

Cultivator

"The two biggest things in gardening, period, are good soil and water," says Cline. "Each year, anybody who's gardening should put about two inches of organic matter on their gardens and work it in and that's where this comes in."

Cline's compact cultivator works like a rake, but can squeeze in close to plants without disturbing their roots.

"You can do a lot of work in a short amount of time without tiring the heck out of yourself."

Graduated bulb-planting trowel

Graduated trowels that mark depth by inches are hugely important when planting new bulbs, explains Cline.

"At my house, my wife and I plant a lot of bulbs," he says. "If you put them a little too deep, you're always worried, 'Is it going to come up? Is it going to come up?' And then, finally, you see a leaf. But if you plant them at the right depth, in about a week or 10 days, you'll see them pop up. It reassures you quicker."

This one, with well-marked, specific measurements, does the trick.

Trowel

A multi-purpose staple used by almost all gardeners, hand trowels are perfect for transplanting small plants, Cline says.

"Time after time, we have small spades that you can dig in among the plants, but half the time, you can't get in there without stepping on other plants," he says. "That's why the little transplant trowel is so good. They've saved my bacon more than once."

Collapsible hand rake

Good for storage and good for the garden, the collapsible hand rake offers a range of size and spread to cover every corner of the garden.

The rake is best used for collecting detritus, says Cline. "That's where bugs and slugs like to make their homes over winter, so if you can clean it up really nicely, ... it'll be less problematic next summer."

Water wand

"It's good for everything," declares Cline. Attached to your garden hose, this wand can convert the stream into five spray-pattern options - shower, cone, flat, jet or mist.

"If you've got little tiny seedlings just popping out of the ground, put it on mist and it comes out as a very fine mist. It doesn't blow the seedlings over," he says. "If you want to clean off the driveway, it's got that possibility" - the "jet" setting gives you a high-pressure flow to scrub away grime.

The three-foot-long wand is also good for reaching high up into hanging baskets.

Kneeler

This, says Cline, is "the first thing that my wife and I always take out of the garden shed." Especially essential for older gardeners with rusty knees, this collapsible stool makes it easy to get down to the ground and back up again without as much muscle strain.

It can also be flipped over and used as a stool for work that needs to be done at a sitting height.

"It folds up and goes into the garden shed very nicely," says Cline. "For an older gardener, this is a really good thing."

Root feeder

"Trees need a lot of water and they need it down at the roots," says Cline. But quite often, water evaporates before it trickles down deep into the earth. This can be especially tough on conifers - spruces and pines - which Cline says go through a tremendous amount of water.

"It's summertime, 30 degrees outside, they need a bunch of water to cool themselves off, and they don't get any," he says.

The root feeder, attached to the garden hose, acts like a syringe to bring much-needed moisture down several feet into the ground. Gardeners can also add fertilizer pellets into the feeder so that they dissolve and get distributed with the water.

A lot of people think conifers are maintenance-free, says Cline, but that's not true. "We had spruce around the house and they did so much better when we watered them."

New gadgets give gardeners that extra edge

If you've already got the tried and true staples for your gardening survival kit, you're good to go.

But if you're one of those early adopters, you may want to experiment with some bonus gadgets, too. Here are the latest garden tools, recommended by experts, to hit the market.

Organizations: Lee Valley Tools

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • margaret mc intyre
    August 03, 2010 - 19:14

    Gord- was your father Fen? mother Irma?