Monday, September 19, 2016

Basic Tools for the Beginner Patio Gardener

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When you start gardening, it can be hard to know what basic tools will be needed. Which gloves are best? Which shovel do I need? What if I don't have a big garden shed to store everything? Bigger gardens can be a big job. If you have a lot of dirt to move, you would need big tools like wheelbarrows, large shovels and tillers. Luckily, for a potted patio garden, you don't need much and the tools are much more compact!  You can start simple, and with the help of these tools, you'll be able to work with ease.

1. Rubber-coated Gloves

This one is first on the list because it most important, you need a good pair of gardening gloves. Potting soil has all sorts of fertilizers, and things like peat, and wood. Don't learn the hard way by using your bare hands. The first time I potted some plants, I thought my hands would be just fine. Potting soil is nothing like your backyard sandbox. After getting several painful splinters, and burning from the fertilizer in the soil I used, I was sold on gloves. Make sure to get the kind that are coated in rubber, and they fit your hand well like a tight glove. These will be your hands'  saving grace. They will keep your hands clean, dry, and free from thorns and splinters. They also will allow you to grab your tools and plants with ease. You will not regret purchasing them, and you can find them most places for under $10. I never work in my garden without them.

2. Trowel, Rake and Transplanter

If you're gardening on a patio, you won't need a big huge shovel, but you will need a trowel. These come in handy for scooping dirt from soil bags into your pots. The rake helps to smooth the soil once in the pot and loosen it up for planting. The transplanter is a longer narrow shovel and is often marked with measurement lines. This helps to dig a hole when transplanting seedlings like the starts you get at garden centers. I use mine to dig the perfect spot quickly for plug transplants like kale, lettuce, flats of flowers, etc. Often they come in great priced sets, or you can buy them separately.

3. Pruning Shears

For a patio garden with potted plants, these simple handheld shears (below) will work on everything! Typically, potted plants don't have large enough branches to require the two-handed shears. I use these to deadhead my roses and other flowers, harvest my vegetables and herbs, and to cut everything down when it's time to cleanup the garden in the winter. They stay very sharp. If they ever do get dull, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe's, and CAL Ranch will help you sharpen your tools!

4. Watering Can or Hose with Spray Nozzle

Watering a patio garden doesn't have to be a daunting task. It really depends on how you do it. If you're lucky enough to have a hose connector, I recommend connecting a hose, and a spray nozzle like the one below. Not only does it save time on watering, but it will be very useful in many other ways. They come with a variety of settings, which have been very helpful. The mist function helps me gently mist my plants when it's been too hot and dry. The full shower helps me water them well without disturbing their roots, and the jet feature helps me spray off webs and bugs that are bad for the plants. (I had a huge spider mite infestation that died a painful jetspray death.)

If you can't connect a hose, a large watering can helps. I like to use the kind with the shower nozzle on them so the plants don't get too much water all at once. When you hit them with a hard pour of water it can loosen the soil, expose roots, or break larger leaves. Shower sprays eliminate this issue. (I recommend getting a watering can at your local garden center. They often have basic ones that don't cost much. If you don't need a lot of volume, Ikea has 40 oz. ones for under $1.)

As you can see, all the tools are small, and you don't need a big garden shed to house them. I keep my tools on the shelf in my pantry, and just pull them out when I need them. Make sure to clean off your tools when you're done, store them in a dry place, and they'll last a very long time!

Below, you can find all of the products I mentioned, and also an amazing deal on a set of tools, gloves, and shears. If I didn't have tools already, I'd start there!

++ What tools do you love to use for gardening?


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