Tools of the Trade for Vegetable Gardeners

George Knowles values his vegetable gardening tools. He writes about “the tried and true friends that have stayed with me.”

April 12, 2010 | | Leisure

If your vegetable garden was excavated, rather than turned over, chances are you live in Dufferin.

Gravel comes out – sand, small rocks and big rocks. Sometimes a reef of clay is part of the mix. Without a good bed, the parsnips have club root, the carrots turn sideways and everything suffers in dry weather. Sometimes we are lucky enough to begin digging in a reef of ancient river bottom and actually find topsoil. Oh relish those moments!

I’ve had many an infatuation with fancy garden tools that would make life easier. Someone once coined the term a “STING” relationship, meaning Short Term Immediate Needs Gratification. It applies to garden tools as well as relationships and the outcomes are usually the same.

I have been dazzled by stainless steel, swept off my feet by the latest ergonometric handle and swooned over an exotic looking tool from some ancient gardening culture. The dazzle disappears quickly.

And here are the tried and true friends that have stayed with me.

First is the short-handled rabbiting spade. Tough handle and easy to use in tight quarters or to get under a fruit bush that needs to be moved.

Second is the long-handled shovel for shifting larger quantities of loosened soil and emptying the wheelbarrow.

Third is my turning fork. Don’t pry out rocks with one of the tines. Use item four, a six foot bar with a wedge tip. No rock can stand an assault for too long.

Finally the robust garden rake. The teeth remove debris and smooth the bed and I use the end of the handle to trace a furrow when planting.

All those other exotic purchases hang on a hook in the tool shed recesses. These favourites respond to a little rub with used motor oil (handles and metal) and a tickle with a wire brush. That is all the maintenance needed.

About the Author More by George Knowles

George Knowles gardens at Larkspur Hollow in the Hockley Valley.

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