Over the years some of the most common questions I’ve received have been about the products I use. I’ve always been mindful of how much product promotion I provide on this site because I know from experience that it doesn’t take a million dollars in fancy gadgets to grow a garden. A few essentials: a good quality digging tool that will stand up to difficult soil, well-balanced potting soil for container gardeners, and a bucket to haul water are all that’s truly required to get the job done.
That said, a few good tools can give you that extra, ready-to-rock, can-do confidence and make the the hard jobs a little easier.
Cobrahead Precision Weeder and Cultivator:The Cobrahead is my desert island gardening tool. It is the first and often the only tool I grab as I am heading out the door to one of my more distantly located gardens.
I was sent an early version of this tool to review back in 2002 and have been using it religiously ever since. It’s a hardcore weeder; it digs a mean hole for planting; it will cut through the hardest, most compact soil you can find (I should know, I’ve tried it all); it fits in a bag and doesn’t weigh a ton; it’s could be used as defense should you ever find yourself alone in your community garden plot after dark.
Water Right’s Ultra-light Drinking Water Safe Polyurethane Hose: No, this hose is not cheap, but it is worth the investment. Besides being light-weight, easy to pick up and move around the garden, and cink-free, they are also safe for drinking. This year, Ecology Center, a nonprofit environmental organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, released their findings on a study they conducted testing popular garden tools for chemical content. They tested the water left inside hoses that had been sitting in the sun for several days and found that many contained high concentrations of phthalates and BPA, and some contained smaller amounts of lead. Hoses that are made from natural rubber or Polyurethane (as this one is) are considered safe and free of these chemicals.
DeWitt Dutch Trowel: This trowel is considered to be the best of the best and based on what I’ve put it through, I have to agree: I can’t imagine that it will ever bend. The tip itself is incredibly sharp. Scary sharp. It can cut through anything. My only complaint is that the steel will rust so I can’t keep it outside indefinitely stuck into the edge of a raised bed as I did with my former trowels. That’s a small concession to make really for a tool that I may still be using 20 years from now, should I not lose it.
Fiskars Pruning Stik Tree Pruner: I’m an urban gardener. I garden in small, Lilliputian spaces so it came as a surprise when I realized I needed a gigantic gardening tool like this one. Over the years, weed tree growth along the edges of our community garden were encroaching on our space and casting more and more shade onto some of the plots — mine included. We used the 12′ Tree Pruning Stik to get at the tallest, most offensive branches and it has made a world of difference. The tool is light and can cut through surprisingly thick branches like butter.