Monday, December 28, 2015

Tools! More Tools! I LUV Good, Trusty Gardener Tools!

 I'm a tool sorta gardener guy. Absolutely LOVE good, sturdy, trustworthy, STRONG gardening tools! Ever go buy one of those flimsy, cheap wannabe garden tools only to have it break when it fell over in the shed?

Well, me too!:-)

My grandpa, an Extraordinary French Gardener in his own right(Grandpa Clewett and Grandma owned and milked up to 120 goats two & three times a day! Plus, Grandpa dug two shovel's deep into the garden soil to then back fill with goat manure! You gotta admire a man with double hernia from his days clearing heavy rocks in the San Fernando Valley to plant citrus orchards, now covered with concrete, blacktop, streets and buildings!)

My Grandpa NEVER used cheap anything! His budget never gave him luxury anything, but it always was adequate for quality farm buildings and tools.

Let's discover trusty, strong garden tools here! Together!

Throughout the garden section there are key tools and some photos of tools in use. The tool(s) you use are specific to your own unique situation and style of gardening, and your limitations and preferences. Never, under any circumstances, feel intimidated or slighted here, or by anyone else, for your unique set of, or lack of particular tools. Heck our hands make awesome weeding tools! They are absolutely the best digging tool for the beautiful soils we produce here, too!

Just be comfortable with what you have, and keep an open eye for better, if not quite satisfied with present tool(s) OK?

Tools I use.

10-time Horse Bedding Fork.

The fine materials handled with this soil require either a shovel(I recommend a transfer shovel(It has a straight end with near-square corners. Used for shoveling gravel, sand and loose soil.), or a fork with tines closer than 3 inches apart. The five-tine garden fork will barely do the job. A seven-tine garden fork works well. I like the 10-tine as it picks up a substantial amount of material each fork full.

Fairly heavy duty pruning shears. I cut up to 1-1/2 inch brush so a good, sturdy shears is best. It's a lot of cutting, too. Keep the shears oiled and watch for blade deformation due to small hard branches twisting as they are cut, being forced sideways between the blades. Bent blades usually can be straightened with a small hammer and a good thick chunk of steel as an anvil.

Small hand prune shears. My favorite is Fiskars brand. I use a straight blade crafter's model. It is sturdy, cuts cleanly, and has serrated edges.

Steel rod for probing the pile. I use what is called "Pencil Rod" by concrete form construction people. It is commonly available in 20 foot lengths at concrete form construction material businesses. You may find a concrete contractor who gives a five foot piece to you.

As I have hundreds of garden stakes I shape with pencil rod, I have no want for one. The construction I do to make these stakes makes for a nice handle to push and pull the stake in and out of the pile. It is a series of 3 90 degree bends at 90 degrees rotation of the rod in one direction between each bend, with a final 45 degree bend another 90 degrees turn. This produces a "screw" shape that simply "screws" around tall plant stalks. It is a convenient handle for the compost probe, too.

You may want a more accurate heat monitor. Find a temperature probe of at least 3 feet. It needs to reach the center of the pile. Temperature range of 100 to 200 degrees, F.

Water hose or buckets to water the pile. Collected rain water and pond water, duck pond water, river water, lake water, all except really nasty, smelly water will do. Not sea water, however. Too salty.

Wheel barrow, or wheeled container. The soil is heavy. Have a sturdy carrier to transport it.

Gardening tools. Eventually this book will have a selection of quality tools. A wise 19th century economist, John Ruskin, observed a universal fact about quality products: Buy cheap, easily damaged products, and prepare for endless replacement. Spend one third more for top quality, and enjoy lifetime hard use of the best of products." Somehow, his experience still applies today.

Post driver. I use rebar for anchoring permanent poles to the ground, for driving steel fence posts, and for driving steel stakes for raised bed support. If your garden is on the large side, using rebar and a good post driver can be a real time and effort saving investment.

Rebar tie wire. This cheap, easy to use steel wire is available at any store where rebar is sold. A spool may last a lifetime!

Saws and other light construction tools. Few gardens do not require some form of continuing construction. I prefer using weather treated wood screws and a commercial duty cordless drill to assemble wood frames and other small wood projects.

Electrician pliers. A good electrician pier with a quality wire cutter makes quick work of tying rebar, building wire fencing, and many wire projects.

Watering tools. Some prefer using a watering nozzle. It takes hours to apply proper amounts of water with these so I only use the end of the hose and my finger to apply water fast and deep into the root levels, Nozzles almost always wet just the surface of the plant bed, causing plant roots major issues of growing only at the surface, where inadequate nutrients are, and the sun can burn them.

If you insist on a nozzle, use one that shoots a heavy stream deep into the soil around the plants to water the roots, and deeper, This requires less watering time, and less water.

Camera. Really? Yes, a series of photos covering your soil producing experiences can prove invaluable in future times. It records what you do and gives you accurate memory for later reference.

Rakes, hoes, shovels. The better rake is a sturdy bow style. I also heavily use a lawn spring rake for mown grass from fields. With all tools, keep them inside, dry, and clean. The sun and rain destroy handles like you wouldn't believe!

Do you know why I recommend limited drip irrigation? Check this out and apply if it fits . . .

Drip irrigation, for surface watering, leaves water loss by evaporation WIDE OPEN! Cover the surface with four inches or more medium and fine mulch or your new nutrient-dense soil, and that surface drip system is better, but not best, yet.

The best drip systems employ a buried drip emitter. Usually this device has a flow regulator, but still, it is extremely limited for watering roots adequately, as it is just one tiny point of water, and the roots cannot spread out through all that awesome nutrient-dense soil you carefully produced!

So . . . I just simply do NOT recommend drip irrigation! Well, not for in-ground gardening!

Drip systems are AWESOME for pots! Troughs, too. The roots have limited soil to spread in, so the mulch covering and, depending on the size of the planter, one or more drip points create a very efficient moisture control and conservation system. Well, that is IF the system is tuned to water just enough, and to NOT fail!

Drip irrigation MUST have constant monitoring! You do not want to monitor by waiting till the leaves wilt!

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