By Gail Vanik
Like many women, I got some new kitchen toys for Christmas, and when I was using them the other day, it reminded me how important good tools are in order to have great results.
So this week, as you are dreaming of the gardening season, I’d like to spotlight a few of my essential garden tools and talk a bit about what to look for when you buy them.
First, I’ve found over the years that, although you get what you pay for, the most important thing is a tool that feels good in my hands so that I will use them. I’ve had some mighty pretty – and expensive – tools that simply do not feel good, and they remain in the garage.
The essential tool for me is a good pair of gardening gloves. There are as many kinds of gloves as there are chores, so choose a pair that is suited to the task at hand. For instance, if you are pruning roses, choose a pair that has protection for your arms. For most gloves, leather or cotton is a good choice, and some gloves combine the two such as a breathable cotton glove with a protective leather palm. I like the new nitrile gloves for most of my tasks because they are lightweight and flexible. If you garden in the morning when there is dew, latex or rubber gloves might be a good choice to keep your hands dry.
Be sure to try gloves on before purchasing and make sure they fit properly. Gloves whose fingertips are too long, for instance, will become a nuisance. Gloves that are too stiff won’t break in easily. The best pair for you will be the ones that, pardon the pun, fit like a glove!
I must confess I have an obsession with hand trowels and own many. My very favorite is the one tool that made the journey with us from Pennsylvania 22 years ago. It had one of the first cushion grips and is now beat up, but it’s another tool that fits my hand so well that I just can’t bear to part with it. If you are like most of us, you’ll use your trowel for a variety of things, so it’s a tool that you want to be sure is comfortable and not too heavy. Many have cushioned grips, which ease the strain on your hands. Be sure to choose one that is sturdy. I’ve seen inexpensive trowels break or bend in our hard, clay soil.
A good hand cultivator and weeder are must-haves in your garden. The cultivator has a claw-like head and breaks up the soil before planting, and weeds and loosens soil throughout the season. The weeder has a long handle with a fork on the end. Like a trowel, these are worth the investment because you are going to use them often. Look for sturdy and comfortable tools.
Pruners are another must have tool for me. They are sized by the size of the limb it will cut so you will see them as ½ inch, ¾ inch and 1 inch (the most popular). You will use pruners in a variety of ways, from pruning to cutting pumpkins and winter squash off the vines at harvest time. Choose pruners carefully. Mine aren’t the most expensive, but they fit my hands perfectly, and I can use them for hours without getting blisters. You get what you pay for, and what you’re paying for are the blades, so invest in a good pair. Clean and sharpen your pruners at the end of the season, and they will last you a lifetime.
Great tools should suit you. Having the right tools will help you enjoy your garden.
Gail Vanik can be reached at 970-565-8274 or by email at [email protected]