“The right tool for the right job” is a good quote for anyone who knows what it is to labor at a task with the very wrong tool. This is certainly true for the seasoned gardener with a shed full of assorted hoes, rakes, hand trowels, and spades for every gardening occasion. And there are few things more exciting for a gardener than coming across a tool that just may make cultivating, weeding, or harvesting easier and more enjoyable. While the following five tools may not have a coveted place in your shed just yet, by the time you are through with the following list you may find yourself making room next to some of your old standbys for these lesser known, but must-have, tools.
I came across this little gem of a tool my second year gardening. I was so excited by it that the woman I was gardening for gave it to me as a gift at the end of the season. Long used by Japanese gardeners, this strong and lightweight hoe is excellent for weeding. Many standard hoes behave more like cultivators, stirring up weed seeds and giving them an opportunity to sprout. The Nejiri hoe’s sharp blade skims the surface the soil quickly, eliminating shallow rooted weeds without disturbing the soil or bringing up the unwanted weed seeds. Traditionally a short-handled tool, you can also find long-handled versions, which will be easier on your back. If you are looking for a good hoe like the Nejiri that also does some cultivating, the Homi Korean plow hoe is a good choice. It is sharp enough to slice through thick stalks, and good for digging, thinning, transplanting and cultivating.
Just a couple of years ago, I was introduced to a favorite tool of mine called the scuffle hoe, also known as a hula or stirrup hoe. The open area in the middle, and its unique swivel motion and stirrup shape, made it great for cutting away weeds without moving soil especially along edges. Recently, however, I came across something called a circular hoe or circle hoe. Similar in design the circular hoe is exactly what it sounds like, a circular metal ring stuck on top of a long wooden handle. Unlike the hula hoe, the circular hoe doesn’t swivel, but it still cuts off weeds without moving the soil. It can also be used as a cultivator. It is best around and under foliage of your plants, and in tight rows. This might be one advantage of it over the scuffle hoe, which can sometimes be tricky to use in tight spaces. The circular hoe is easier to sharpen than the scuffle hoe, too. The circular hoe has been gaining in popularity, and has won quite a few different awards for its function and ergonomic design. Still somewhat new to gardeners, it is definitely going to become a favorite in the future.
Paper Pot Maker
If you are someone who starts his/her own seedlings and is a lover of the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle), this simple, ingenious tool is for you. A paper pot maker turns old newspaper into starter pots for seedlings. The pot maker is usually a solid wooden tool shaped like a cylindrical stamp with a complementary base. You take the paper strips, roll them around the wooden “stamp” and press and twist the paper into the pot-form. The pots slip off the press easily and are ready to be filled with soil and plants. Pots remain strong even as plants grow and penetrate the walls. The best part is, when the plants are ready to go in the garden, the pots can be put right into the ground with them. It is an economical and frugal way to start seedlings, without the use of too many plastic pots.
Some of the most annoying and hard to remove weeds are the ones that grow in cracks between patio stones, sidewalks or slabs of concrete. A paving weeder is a great tool to help keep these areas weed free. The bent finger shape of the stainless steel blade reaches down into these hard to reach crevices and scrapes away the unwanted grass and weeds. It’s an inexpensive and convenient tool to have around.
Easy-Pouring Watering Can
A neat new watering can on the market is a two handled can that holds almost three gallons. Its hinged two-handle design allows for a controlled and easy pour. The spout is adjustable and shifts from a shower to a stream, and the filling hole is on the side to make for easier filling. If you’ve got a good watering can that you like, it may not be necessary to get a new one. But if you’re looking for another, or don’t have one at all, this may be a good investment. It’s an old standby with a new design twist.