what garden tools would you recomend?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Hears The Water, Feb 6, 2004.

  1. Hears The Water

    Hears The Water Well-Known Member Supporter

    Aug 2, 2002
    S.W. MO
    Hi all, we will be buying some garden tools very soon. I was wondering what tools you would recomend to a newbie. I will tell you the tools I allready have.
    1 pointy shovel.
    1 long hedge trimmer, Loppers I think they are called, look like long scissors
    1 parrot beak looking hedge trimmer
    1 wide shovel, like a small coal shovel
    1 tree tine pitch fork
    1 large plastic leaf rake

    See, I told you I was a newbie, I don't even know the correct names for these things!!! :eek:

    And that is it. No hoe's or rakes. Man we do need some good tools. My problem is getting the kids to put them up when they are done with them. Gonna have to get realy tough on them this year. We plan on getting a little cultivator tiller as well as a sprinkler and hose, a couple of hoes and a short rake or two. What else would you get? And which brands of the above mentioned items would you get? I have a bad back and I wonder if there are any of those tools that are kinder on a back than others? Also, what are your favorite ways of trellising? Again in deference to my back I want to trellis my tomatoes, pole beans, and cucumbers. Thanks in advance for any and all help!!!
    God bless you and yours
  2. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    You definitely need a hoe. It is good for weeding and moving small amounts of soil. You might use a pitchfork. We use it for cleaning out the goat pens and using the straw for the garden. You might use a bulb planter for transplanting vegies. You need a scissors and small pruner of some kind for cutting off dead leaves, limbs, etc.

  3. gefozarks

    gefozarks Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2002
    I too have a bad back so I have found that i actually use less tools now as i only have raised beds. I use combination of square foot and intensive planting techniques. I would question the need for a tiller if you are trying to get started you might want to consider renting a tiller such as a troybuilt for a day to break up your garden area. I have not used it yet so don't know how it will work but to bread up the soil in my beds i bought a garden claw. The reason I went with this is that it will not require as much work for my back to break up the soil as any type of shovel. For trellis you might consider using concrete reinforcing wire tied to T posts or whatever you have. I used some cattle panels last year but plan to take those out to use in construction of a hoop type house to use for a broiler chicken house. I will replace with the concrete reinforcing wire as it is a lot cheaper even with having to use some type of post to hold up.

    RANDEL Well-Known Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    i gardened a quarter-acre with a shovel, hoe and rake. but i spent a lot of time at it. did little outside work. and it was hard work. and i genuinely enjoy digging.

    i use a regular spade, with a fibreglass handle that never breaks. i've broken a lot of cheap handles. i've even broken a blade. i really do work em

    an ordinary steel rake is ok, but i use a dethatching rake now. instead of tines these have blades. they level the soil like a rake but the blades do a much quicker job of harrowing the soil.

    the only hoe i like is a stirrup or wiggle hoe. it has a blade that runs parallel to the ground, and u just slide it under the weeds. works real good at least if the soil is soft.

    instead of a trowel i use a wide butcher knife. just as good as a trowel for planting seedlings; better i think. and it's handy for a lot of other things: dividing perennials, harvesting asparagus, cutting baling twine when mulching with spoiled hay, etc.

    i'm not a believer in having a huge array of overspecialized tools. if u use the basic ones, they'll be handy, u won't spend time getting them, putting them away, etc.
  5. Corky

    Corky Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2002
    First, Hon...... your city tools are of no value unless you do have a hedge and I doubt that you do now.
    Keep the shovel! Put the pitchfork in the barn.( that is the three prong thingy)
    Put the plastic rake up for raking leaves. Get rid if the rest!! Just takes up valuable space needed for all the other stuff we homesteaders thinK we need!

    I was going to till you what kinds of tools I have but I have a regular ground level garden. You really need to have someone build you some high raised beds.
    Ground level gardens are very hard on this old back. Someday I will have raised beds too. I mean. 2 1/2 to 3 ft tall ones!

    You will need a good set of hand tools if you do make raised beds. They have ones with long handles for getting to the middle of those raised beds.

    I use cattle panels tied to T posts that are formed in an arch for my tomatoes and vining plants. You could arch them over your raised bed from ground level so they will not be too high to reach the center. Then you will also have an instant green house if you should need it. Just stretch plastic over it when needed. Or stretch shade cloth over it if you should need that.
    Mine are arched over my path down the middle of my garden.

    You will need a spade for turning the soil ( not that little pitch fork you have) A spade has wide, strong, tines. I have two. one much smaller than the other. Thats my favorite. I am also small. :)
    a shovel for moving soil. You have that! :)
    a garden rake for smoothing the soil and removing any rocks.( not that plastic leaf rake) Ask someone at the store if you don't know what kind.
    a trowel for digging small holes to plant in.
    a hoe for weeding or making row trenches to plant in, and then covering the rows up again when you are done.
    also, a cultivater is nice. ( its like a bent fork) used to loosen the soil along your rows. I love mine!
    Strong string ad stakes for marking straight rows and so you will know where those little seeds are until they become recognizable plants.
    strips of rags or even better, Bailing twine for tying up plants.

  6. JJ Grandits

    JJ Grandits Well-Known Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    New york
    The stirrup hoe, also known as an action hoe or scuffle hoe is an extremely useful tool. It makes quick work of weeding but must be used when weeds are very small or in other words, often. Another cultivating tool is the "4 prong cultivator". It kind of looks like a small bent pitchfork with a long wooden handle. Because of a bad back I prefer a masonary hoe over a garden hoe. The masonary hoe is much larger and allows me to keep my back perfectly straight while working. It is heavier to use, but with a very sharp blade goes through tough stuff easily. A large butcher knike or meat clever is a good idea for weeding, planting, trimming roots or whatever. A 6' cu. ft. contractors wheelbarrow, 5 gallon buckets, 8'x10' tarp and some plywood planks are a must. You'll need an iron rake, a leaf rake and a bed rake. The bed rake looks just like a leaf rake but the head is only around 8" wide. It's useful for getting into tight areas between plants.
    The "pointy looking" shovel is called a " round point". Anyone who calls it a spade is probably wrong about most other stuff too. The real garden spade has a rectangular blade, 30-40" shaft and a "D" handle. It's one of the most useful tools there is. There are a lot of lousy ones out there so buy good quality. A good spade should be relatively straight. This means no "bends" between the blade, shaft and handle. The blade may be offset, but select the one that is as close to parallel to the shaft. It may sound stupid, but wil make a world of difference in how it works. Keep it sharp enough to cut a clothes line and it will work like a dream.
    Stay away from the new all improved garden tools. If you look in a 100 year old sears catalogue buy the same stuff that's on the self now. It works.
  7. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

    Jan 8, 2004
    I try to do as much of my gardening as I can off the seat of my tractor. ;)

    Seriously, when it comes to hand tools, buy good stuff. Around the place, nothing is worse than a cheap soft-metal handtool.

    Others can advise on what works best for them, but I'll add one tool to your list - a good file.

    Sharper is better. :worship:
  8. southerngurl

    southerngurl le person Supporter

    May 11, 2003
    A good pitchfork. Mine has 5 tines and is great for everything. I use mine for turning the soil, working the compost pile, mulching with hay ect., and right now I am using it to bust up and remove ice from watering pools.
  9. snoozy

    snoozy Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Kitsap Co, WA
    I recently bought a "Garden Weasel" (as seen on TV even, though I had not seen it on TV because I don't watch TV at those ungodly hours and anyway I don't look at the commercials.) I went to buy a hoe, and saw this thing and it seemed like a good tool. It cultivates the top 2 inches of your garden bed, with pairs of rotating stars that crisscross/act like scissors. I must say it works really well, and very easily. This is something to use after you have established your deepbeds, not the tool to use when you are overturning the soil or incorporating manure or whatever, but rather as a way of chopping up any weedlings while they are still small, and aerating the top layer of soil before you plant.

    It also jingles nicely like Santa's sleigh...
  11. joan from zone six

    joan from zone six Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    oh, about mid-season, when i'm up to my ankles in blister beetles, japanese beetles, june bugs, bean beetles,cucumber beetles, cut worms, aphids, white flies, etc, etc, - i often long for a supply of stun grenades
  12. Well, I'd like to recommend a Low Wheel Cultivator. It can be purchased from Lehman's. It is a replica of the Planet Junior, and comes with many accessories that allow you to plow, weed, harrow soil, etc.

    I own one, and its great. Warning:Its not low cost, but its worth it.

    Go to the following web address and search for Planet Junior.

    Below are some details from the Lehmans website for it.
    Low Wheel Cultivator: Our Best
    This reproduction (original no longer made) of the Planet Junior No. 17 is by far our best cultivator. It does everything our high wheel cultivators do, but it's much sturdier and easier to maneuver. Its design is proven in decades of use since the 1920s. Does the job of several tools- 1) Three duck foot teeth (see A) prepare beds by loosening crusted soil to let in vital moisture and air and keep weeds down. Tills to 6" deep, 8" wide. 2) Right turn shovel (9"L, see B) makes seed furrows, turns in fertilizers and hills up soil for raised beds. 3) Slicing hoes (see C) quickly cut off weeds just below the soil's surface. Cuts a 6" to 12"W swath and can be mounted to cut extremely close to plants. Special accessories can be added to make your hoe even more versatile! Double wheel kit, left turn shovel, V-tines, irrigation shovel, row maker, more.

    Easy to use-Tools and wheel are close to the handle ends, so your energy gets transferred directly to them. Low center of gravity makes it easy to maneuver.

    Built to last a lifetime-Cast iron frame, forged steel tools, 1" thick hickory handles and steel wheel with nylon bushing. No moving parts and nothing to malfunction. Securely held together with 3/8" hardened bolts. Assembles in 25 minutes. Includes 40-page manual; covers cultivating techniques, tool use, maintenance, more. Lifetime warrranty. Stands 33 1/2"H, handles 52"L, wheel 15"OD, 17 lb, USA made.

    Also, get a couple of good garden hoes and rakes.
  13. Jim L in Ohio

    Jim L in Ohio New Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    I am now in South Carolina but don't know how to change the name on this site with starting over.

    Tools this is my new favorite: http://www.weedox.com/ sort of a hoe but better.

    Jim Lang now in South Carolina
  14. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Guest

    I can't recall the brand names now and the labels have long since worn away.

    The first and most important tool I'd have as a gardener is a good hoe. The handle length needs to be long enough that you can use it well without bending much. Trying to use a hoe for long periods of time while bending over is a sure way to be unable to bend over at all in the morning when you wake up.

    The second most important thing about a hoe is that it should be FORGED steel. Cheap welded hoe blades will snap. Look for one that has a forged blade.

    There are basically two kinds of hoes that I use. The first, for general work, is a goose neck hoe. Just as the name says, the neck of the blade is shaped like a goose neck. The blade is forged with the neck so that short of beating it on boulders it won't break. This is for most weeding, making trenches for planting seeds and so on. If you're only going to get one hoe make it this one.

    The other hoe I use is an eye hoe. These aren't very common any more, but upon a time when people made their livings with those they were generally doing so with an eye hoe. The wooden hoe handle fits into a round socket forged into the blade itself which is what gives it the name it has. The hoe handles tend to be a bit heavier than with a goose neck hoe. These sorts of hoes will cut through just about anything you're ever likely to encounter in a garden - or corn field - and are meant to last a life time. They're also heavy which gets to be fatiguing after a while so if you don't really need something so heavy duty go with the goose neck.

    I've just now remembered where I got the hoes - http://www.doityourself.com They were not cheap but short of losing them in a fire I fully expect my children will inherit them.

    The next most important gardening tool I'd buy is a garden rake. These are the stiff, steel toothed rakes as opposed to the limber leaf rakes. Again, get one that has a forged rake head, the longest handle you can find if you're more than about 5' 10" in height and check to make sure the socket connection between the rake head and handle is stout. I suffered with cheap rakes for years before biting the bullet and spending about $30 for a good one. When you're raking out freshly tilled ground it'll rip grass clumps out of the dirt without any trouble at all.

    The next tool I'd have is a good spade - this is the pointed type of shovel. Eventually you'll want a flat-head shovel as well, but a good spade will get you through for a long time. Buy the best you can afford and make sure it is quality.

    Fourthly is a good leaf rake. I'm not fond of the plastic toothed rakes myself, I like a good quality spring steel rake. Whatever type you get make sure it's quality and most importantly long enough in the handle that you can use it without having to bend over too much. This is actually a major problem with a lot of garden tools - the handles are too short to use without having to stay in a bent position. A few hours of that and they'll just about put you out of the gardening business.

    While not what a lot of people would usually consider a tool, if you don't make your living with your hands, get yourself at least one pair of good leather work gloves. Search around if you have to, but they must fit your hands. Not too large which will wear blisters on you in a heart beat, nor too small which will cramp your fingers. A couple of hours with a hoe, rake, or shovel will blister you good if you're not accustomed to doing such work regularly.

    Even when I am accustomed to doing such on a regular basis I wear gloves. Some callous is a good thing, but a lot will have your wife edging away from you. ;-)

    Lastly, I'd get a good wheelbarrow. I don't like the broad shallow types, but instead prefer a deep contractors type of barrow. Mine is a Sears Craftsman that I bought fifteen years ago, have abused horribly and stills gets the job done. Did replace the tire about three or four years ago, but other than that it's quite sound, if not particularly pretty. Just don't load it real big with anything heavy until you're used to moving one, particularly over soft ground.

  15. snoozy

    snoozy Well-Known Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Kitsap Co, WA
    On the wheelbarrow -- get yourself a big two-wheeled one. You will be amazed at how much stuff you can move without fear of torque-ing out your back. Single-wheeled ones should be outlawed!
  16. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 7, 2002
    Besides our Troybilt which we need to sell as we rarely use it we have a Mantis tiller and I think they are great....it tosses the rocks out here in MO...we even use it to dig holes for fruit trees. Parts are easy to get--we've had to get new tines once --rocks again--and you must remember to drain the gas come fall and store properly but I like that I can actually start it without having to ask my DH every time. He has a rotovator for the tractor which does the garden beautifully so I only need the small tiller to go down the rows. We invariably plant the rows too close and fight the tomato vines but this year we are tying them up on wire. Problem is the heat and drought...certain tomato varieties don't have enough leaf cover and the 'maters actually cook on the vine! DEE
  17. cwgrl23

    cwgrl23 Chief Vegtable Grower :) Supporter

    Feb 19, 2004
    South Dakota
    I have to agree about the two wheeled wheelbarrow! I got mine in 1995 from Menards. I have hauled square bales of hay, chopped wood, rocks, dirt, you name it. I am only 5'4" and I can haul about 200 lbs of stuff in it by myself. It sure cuts down on the trips! The single wheeled ones should be outlawed! I dumped a load of wood on my foot with one and went out that day and bought my two wheeled one. My two wheel wheelbarrow lasted longer than my first marriage :rolleyes: I still have my wheelbarrow but a much better husband now :)
  18. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    East TN
    You can't have too many shovels. Seriously I have no idea of your budget but great deals can be had at yard and estate sales. Just pay close attention to any wooden handles. Replacing a handle will sometimes cost more than the tool. I have a lot of Sears Craftsman garden tools for no ther reason than the lifetime warranty. They have replaced my leaf rakes and other tools at no charge when I have a problem.
  19. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

    Aug 12, 2002
    This is not a garden tool but sure came in handy carrying the watermelon from the garden to the house. It carrys our tools, manure from the goat pens, you name it. It has a box on the back so things stay in there. We haul wood for our fireplace too.
  20. Dchall_San_Anto

    Dchall_San_Anto Active Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    If you have dandelions you should have a Weedhound. You step on the weed with the Weedhound and it plucks it out. Lehmans has something similar but it doesn't rate as well with the users as the Weedhound. Wal*Mart and the box stores have them.

    If you have a shovel and/or a hoe, you should invest in a sharpener. If you make them dangerously sharp you'll be surprised how much easier they are to use. Then when you use them, they need to be sharpened at least once a day if not once an hour. My sharpener drags a tool across the blade and scrapes off a little metal. One stroke and it's ready to go again.

    I think a great tool is a really good hose. How much time can you waste trying to unkink and untangle a crummy hose? I get all my hoses from Sears - the best one they have. They have cheerfully replaced every one of them at one time or another, even when I drove over one with my car over sharp gravel.

    If you have a hose, you need a hose reel. You can recoil your hose perfectly every time in just a few seconds of cranking. No tangles at all. Pulls out easily every time. The hose reel changed my whole attitude about watering with portable sprinklers (as opposed to underground sprinklers)!

    I also have hose shut off valves at the end of every hose. I can turn the hose on at the faucet and not lose any water at the end until I turn on the end. Saves me from walking back and forth, too.

    I'm a no-tiller, so I think rototillers should be outlawed. I don't mind my one-wheeled barrow but tillers do more damage to the soil and microbes than any ten tools you can mention. If you don't want to till, you'll want something to mow the crops down and let them mulch the ground. What this tool is depends on your crops. If you have something you need to till, consider a baby pig. They will till, cultivate, and fertilize all at once. Then when the pig retires, you eat it.

    Good hand pruners are a must. There are two kinds, one slices through like scissors and the other style has a blade that butts up against an anvil. I have both and both get used all the time.

    I like my digging style pitchfork for the compost pile.

    If you are going to spray anything, look at trombone sprayers. You dangle one end of the hose into a bucket of whatever you want to spray and use your arms to pump it out like sliding a trombone. These things can shoot your whole garden from one place.

    Another "tool" I have is my compost tea brewer. Basically it's an 18-gallon Rubbermaid bin with an aquarium air pump and air stone. Cost me $20 in parts and makes 10-15 gallons of aerated activated compost tea in a day.

    Depending on your crops, you might want a chipper shredder to make small pieces out of big ones for your compost pile. A goat (or your pig) is good for this, too.

    And of course you'll need a digging or transplanting trowel to make holes in the beds for planting.