Must-have Tools for Your Urban Garden
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Hand Fork, Claw or Hand Cultivator
This tool is good for small-scale loosening of soil and scraping the soil surface to remove weeds.
This tried-and-true tool is used for larger weeding jobs and for making furrows in the soil for planting. It’s more comfortable to hoe than to use a hand fork because the job can be done standing up. People with vegetable gardens live by their hoes. There are many different blade shapes used for different purposes. Some types work only on the pull stroke while others work on the push stroke. As with shovels and other cutting tools, the blade needs to be sharpened regularly.
There are two kinds of rakes, each with a different purpose. The fan rake is for raking leaves and debris off the lawn and out of garden beds. This tool can be made of bamboo, metal or plastic. The straight rake or bow rake is for leveling soil before planting seeds and for smoothing gravel on walks or patios.
Within these two categories, there are many variations. As with a shovel, choose a handle weight and length that are comfortable for you.
Tools for Carrying Loads
These common tools are helpful for taking around the garden with you when you’re weeding. The 5-gallon size is small enough to be lifted easily even when full. Plastic is lighter than metal.
This indispensable tool is excellent for carrying large loads fairly easily through tight corners. Soil, compost, mulch, gravel, weeds, debris and all your tools can be transported via this type of vessel. They can get slightly unstable when fully loaded. A deeper trough is somewhat more stable.
A 2-gallon can is a good tool for watering small areas or individual plants in need of special attention. Plastic is lighter than metal. A long spout is necessary for reaching the correct plant. A “rose” or nozzle attachment that reduces water flow to a finer spray will help keep seedlings from being washed away.
How far you need to transport water will determine how many hoses you need. A reel is convenient for storage or you can master the gardener’s art of coiling the hose by hand.
A hose with pinholes in it that you lay directly on the soil, this tool allows water to seep out of the holes and gently into the ground, directly soaking the plants’ roots. Because the water is directed where it’s needed most, a soaker hose is preferable to a sprinkler because of its efficiency. Less water is used while still meeting the plants’ moisture needs.
These basic garden tools are the urban gardener’s life essentials. Without space for giant machines, all the urban gardener needs are these tools and a little elbow grease. Know that there is no way to avoid some hard muscle-work in gardening—in fact, it’s one of the perks—but good tools will certainly make any job easier and more enjoyable.
About the Author: Emily Goodman writes and gardens in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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