Whenever I enter the garden, to work, to observe, or to harvest… I bring the same three tools with me: A trug, pruners and a hori hori knife.
Whether I’ve planned to actively garden or not, I always catch myself in the act of gardening while in the garden. Funny how that happens! It’s inevitable that I find myself weeding… the job that never gets done!
When space is limited, both in the garden and in your storage area, versatility is key. With these three must-have tools, less is more.
1. The Hori-Hori Knife:
With the hori hori in my hand, I can dig, measure, plant, saw, prune, weed, deadhead – all at once. Meaning I can fulfill my fantasy of sitting my butt down in the garden and work in a 360 from one spot (although it’s rare that I actually sit still IN the garden).
The all-purpose hori hori knife is a handful of important garden tools shaped into one single tool. At initial glance, the tool resembles a trowel with a very sharp knife-like tip but it is multiple tools in one, making it the perfect “go to” tool.
Substantially more narrow than a regular trowel, the hori hori is also a weeding machine. It can get into narrow places where a wide trowel can’t. It has measurements down the centre of the blade making it excellent for planting bulbs, spacing seeds or anything you need to measure. On either side is a blade, one is a straight edge perfect for quickly deadheading flowers and the other has a serrated edge, perfect for sawing through rootbound soil or woody stems. Need to transplant a rootbound plant and saw off the bottom half of it? Que in the hori hori.
It will also last you a lifetime because it’s made from stainless steel with a wooden handle, which makes it lightweight and easy to hold and use. The hori hori knife is my number one “go-to” garden tool. If versatility is important to you, the hori hori is your master key. It’s even fun to say.
2. Good Pruners:
I avoided getting good bypass pruners for years. I didn’t want to spend the money. I even bought a pair at the dollar store one season. Hence, “one” season because you can bet they didn’t last more than that. With pruners, it’s quality over quantity. If you end up buying three cheap pairs that break or rust, you’ll end up spending the same amount for a good quality pair that will last you decades. It took me years to subscribe to the saying, “pruners are an investment….” but I am here, I’ve arrived. I finally agree.
When the growing season is in full swing, what I need in good day-to-day pruners is four things:
- Size and Feel
- Blade Quality
Size and Feel: How pruners feel in your hand is important, it’s easy to get a sore hand or blisters if you’re using pruners for several hours at a time that don’t fit your hand. I like when pruners have narrow handles, of the same width, with a soft grip, because I’m often caught without my gloves on and don’t want a slippery feel. I also like the safety lock to be at my thumb, not at the bottom of the handles.
Weight: There’s not much to explain here except that I like pruners on the lighter side that are evenly distributed as some pruners can be top-heavy. I garden on a very “micro” scale with lightweight plants. In my current garden, I don’t have any trees to prune or other woody species. It is mostly just annual vegetable and flower plants.
Blade Quality: What I look for in a blade is for it to be sharp and stay sharp. Often what happens with pruners that aren’t sharp enough, is they don’t cut all the way through or they crush instead of cut. This SUCKS! For you AND the plant. I despise pulling the branch away, not realizing it didn’t cut all the way through and have a piece tear down the tomato stalk. You are already wounding the tomato by cutting its branches off, damaging it further is no good. Most new pruners will start off with a sharp blade, but it’s the quality of the material that will keep it sharp.
Look and Design: I like my pruners to look like pruners. I don’t need futuristic looking pruners that look like they’re going to take on flight to space. I also can’t say no to some smaller “pocket pruners,” again, I am all about the micro!
3. A Trug or a Basket
I really try hard to never enter the garden without a good trug or basket. For me, this vessel functions for two important tasks: weeding and harvesting. Without it beside me, I get easily flustered.
Often, before I’ve spent much time at all in the garden, I have a handful of weeds that I don’t want to set down and forget…. along with my t-shirt acting as a harvest basket for those tomatoes that I didn’t-mean-to-harvest-but-couldn’t-help-myself.
If I don’t enter the garden without a trug or basket, I am basically in there for minutes before I have to return inside the house with an armload of garden goodies or to the compost or brown bag to dispose of the weeds.
A tug maximizes my time in the garden.
How often do you get into the garden, get into a groove of weeding, have nowhere to dispose of them and leave little piles everywhere? By weeding and leaving numerous piles, you’re creating more work for yourself and yet the solution is so simple. Get a trug. Then keep that trug by your side, everywhere you go in the garden. Put the weeds and garden debris straight into it and cut out the time it takes to return to clean your piles.
Like the hori hori knife, a garden trug is wonderfully versatile. Weeding and harvesting are only two ways to use it. Get creative. For example, it’s perfect for mixing soil, transplanting and potting up.
Stick it in the back of your vehicle when you go to the nursery and you’ll keep loose soil from making a mess. Inside, use it to store your gloves and garden tools. More than once I’ve used trugs as a temporary container for a plant that needed to be transplanted. I’ve even used filled trugs to transport water. The ways to use it are endless.
Working alongside a trug, is a simple and smart solution to my garden frustrations. And it can solve yours too.
There you have it… coming from the gardener who isn’t overly into “products,” who finds other people’s trash as her treasure – these are three tools that I can’t garden without.