Garden Tools and Their Purpose
If you’re like me, and you’ve decided you want to grow something beautiful starting from seed, you’re ready to jump in and plant seeds. I’ve done it – bought seeds and just scattered them on the ground and waited for the results. Not much happened, certainly not what I was hoping for!
If you want to grow something beautiful starting from seed, you will get much better, more satisfying results if you get the right gardening tools, plan your planting, and organize your process first. And remember, starting from seed takes time. It may be days or even weeks before you see any results at all, so be patient. It will be worth it!
Getting the Right Garden Tools
Garden tools are pretty simple, and the basics do not cost much. You can find decent sets online, at Wal-Mart, hardware store, or garden center. Even the local dollar store may have some on their “seasonal aisle” during spring and summer. I recommend several different types of tools:
- Gardening Gloves
- Pruning Shears
- Garden Spade
- Bulb Planter
- Hand Tiller
- Multi-Pattern Water Hose Nozzle Attachment
- Seed Starter Pellets and Pots
Gardening gloves will keep your hands clean and dry and protect them from thorns, bug bites, and other hazards. I recommend gloves with a waterproof surface on the palms and fingers, but any gardening gloves will help. I like thrusting my bare hands straight into the dirt when I can, but it’s not always possible or advisable. Just make sure you have some of these handy gardening gloves nearby. Some recommendations are shown below, but gardening gloves are available just about anywhere – your local dollar store, Wal-Mart, and any garden center or nursery.
I really want to try out those ones with the claws! I’m a big fan of the Lego PlayStation Games (so much fun!), and I’ve been playing Lego Avengers lately. Tell me this doesn’t remind you of those claw gardening gloves! I want some!
A good set of pruning shears is an essential garden tool! From snipping fresh strawberries to pruning the larger branches of rose bushes, pruning shears serve many functions in a small, neat package. As I discovered recently, don’t leave these out in the elements because they will rust, but if they do (or any of your tools), a long soak in vinegar and a wire brush scrubbing will wash the rust away and have them looking almost as good as new again! I have to thank my husband for figuring that one out!
Garden Spade, Bulb Planter, Hand Tiller
The garden spade, bulb planter, and hand tiller are garden tools every gardener should have. My preference is Fiskars – they make quality products. I bought mine at Wal-Mart, and they were very reasonably priced. The garden spade is good for scooping potting soil, digging up weeds, and transplanting plants. The bulb planter makes the perfect sized hole for bulbs or for transplanting pellets and peat pots and gives you complete control over depth. The hand tiller is handy for cleaning up flower beds, aerating soil, and for making small, even holes in the ground into which you can drop and cover seeds. Again, this is helpful for controlling the depth at which you plant your seeds.
Multi-Pattern Water Hose Nozzle Attachment
If you’re like me, you have tried putting your thumb over the end of the water hose to create a spray. Far from ideal, this spray is hard to control, and the force may damage your plants.
I strongly recommend a multi-pattern water hose nozzle attachment as an essential garden tool, or at least an attachment that will allow you to spread the water into a light shower. Plants, and especially your little seedlings will benefit from a good, deep soaking that will water the ground around them. A hard spray can knock them over, plaster them to the ground, or even break their tender stalks and leaves. Watering the leaves themselves can encourage fungal growth like black spot, which we definitely want to avoid.
Think about rain showers versus storms. For the past month, we’ve had long, light rain showers several times a week. All of our plants and our lawn benefited from the repeated deep soakings. A couple of nights ago, we had a severe thunderstorm with hail. Some of our roses were damaged, and several of my seedlings were completely destroyed. While there is nothing we can do about nature, we can at least mimic that wonderful, gentle rain that nourishes without destroying. Deep watering encourages deep roots resulting in stronger, stouter plants.
Seed Starter Pellets
If you ask me, these are the coolest things to come out of modern gardening! I love seed starter pellets! They make starting from seed easy, they protect the seeds as they germinate and sprout, and they make transplanting easy and less stressful on the plant, itself. I order refills from Amazon, but you can find them at Wal-Mart also.
I’m not terribly impressed with the cost and selection on Amazon right now. I have linked to what I use below, but do yourself a favor, and buy the starter kits at Wal-Mart, garden centers, or your local dollar store. (Tip: When I get them from the dollar store, it is my preference to replace the dirt either with a peat pellet or with Miracle-Gro Potting Soil. You don’t have to do this.) Amazon is sold out of a lot of soil products currently (no doubt due to a lot of gardening projects among the home-bound because of coronavirus), and I can’t imagine the shipping costs associated with the weight of soil!
I am going to walk you through the process of using seed starter pellets in another post. I made the mistake of transplanting some of my moonflower and morning glory seedlings too early. As a result, they were destroyed by predators (snails, slugs, and tent caterpillars) before they got a chance to take hold. We’ll start them again, together!
Another item that I highly recommend are peat pots. These are a step up from the seed starter pellets, and you can even use them together. Peat pots look like little plant pots made out of pressed peat. You can fill them with potting soil, add your seeds or seedlings, and plant the entire pot in the ground or a container. Over time, the pot becomes part of the soil, and it protects your seeds and seedlings while they grow. This also reduces stress on the plant after transplant.
Organizing your Seeds
Okay, let’s say you’ve decided what you want to plant, got your tools, some peat pellets, and bought your seeds. Now what? A lot of what you need to know about growing your seeds is on the seed packet. This makes the seed packet another important garden tool you might not think of as a tool. Make sure you keep this information as well as the seeds you don’t use.
The back of your seed packet and the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map will give you important information on when to plant seeds based on your geographical location. With the pellet kits shown above, you can start your seeds indoors several weeks before planting outdoors. This gives your seeds the best chance of growing strong and healthy and gives you time to work out any problems with germination.
Folding over the seed packet and just finding some place to keep it is far from optimal. The packet will inevitably get lost, seeds will fall out, your dog will bury it in the yard, a marmot will break in and steal it… You know, it’s just too likely that you’ll never see that seed packet again. Here’s what I did.
These are sold as bead organizer systems, but they are perfect for storing and labeling your leftover seeds. You can find them at Wal-Mart, any craft store, or online. I wrote the name of each seed with a permanent marker on a piece of masking tape and put those seeds in that container. As a result, I created a very inexpensive, personalized garden tool! Since it’s clear, I can always see how many seeds I have left. They are safe from air, water, loss, dogs, and thieving marmots.
Scrapbooking Your Seed Packets
One of my many ongoing projects is scrap-booking, and that gave me an idea for another personalized garden tool. I took all of those empty seed packets, cut the edges off, and mounted them in my scrapbook. A photo album would work just as well, I’m sure. Either way, it will keep your seed packets organized, easy to find, and you can add notes and tips any time you like.
I do have one set of seeds that I keep in the packet – my Organic Herbal Tea Heirloom Seeds – purchased from Amazon. (That link is for a similar product from the same company. As of this blog post, the one I purchased is out of stock). They came in this cute little wooden box (that smells amazing!), so I decided to keep them together. The seeds themselves are inside little foil packets within the regular seed packet, so I’m not concerned about losing them.
Now that you’ve got the right garden tools for the job, let’s start planting some seeds! Please subscribe and check out our social outlets for more information and photos. As always, please leave comments and ask questions. I will do my best to answer them.
Stay safe and healthy!
Bunny & Greg
The Grey Gnome